Voting Blogs: If Donald Trump Carries California, He Won’t Get California’s Electoral Votes | Ballot Access News

Due to a combination of eccentric behavior on the part of the California Secretary of State, and the California Republican Party, if Donald Trump carries California in the popular vote on November 8, he still won’t get California’s electoral votes. See the post immediately underneath for an explanation. Due to the ballot format, California voters who wish to vote for Donald Trump will be forced to cast an overvote. The ballot design forces Trump voters to vote for 108 different individuals for presidential elector, yet California is only entitled to 55 electoral votes. Therefore, the votes for Trump will be overvotes and all will be invalid. The California Republican Party was free to have nominated the same presidential elector candidates as the American Independent Party. The AIP turned in its list first, so the Republican Party was aware of the AIP names. But the Republican Party, which filed its slate at the last hour before the deadline for electors, chose to ignore the AIP list and submit different candidates. The AIP had been suggesting a joint list to the Republican Party ever since August, and had even offered to let the Republicans choose 50 members, but the Republicans ignored the AIP request.

Voting Blogs: Voter registration numbers soar: Social media helps break registration records | electionlineWeekly

With the 2016 general election about a month way and the first voter registration deadlines just around the corner, it’s been a record-breaking voter registration week for states and counties across the country. Not only did we celebrate National Voter Registration Day this week, but many elections officials are thanking Google, Facebook and other social media outlets for the push. On September 23 Washington State saw a record one-day registration spike of 14,824 new registrants with nearly 13,000 of those via the state’s online portal MyVote — which was the second most for a single day since the portal launched. The spike follows a prompt from Facebook which urged Washington residents aged 18 and older to register to vote and included a link to connect people to the state’s online voter registration system.

Voting Blogs: Update on the Election Administration and Voting Survey | EAC Blog

The EAC is pleased to announce the Fors Marsh Group (FMG) will administer the 2016 Election Administration and Voting Survey (EAVS). The biennial survey, which has been administered since 2004, collects election administration data from the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands. The biennial Statutory Overview is also being administered by FMG and will provide an overview of state laws and procedures governing federal elections. To prepare for administering the survey, in late August FMG hosted a webinar including EAC Commissioner Matt Masterson, Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) director Matt Boehmer, former San Diego County, CA Registrar of Voters Deborah Seiler, and FMG subject matter expert Thad Hall to discuss the 2016 survey with the states. More than 30 states joined the webinar along with more than half-a-dozen counties. A video of this webinar is now available on the EAC’s website.

Voting Blogs: Election Verification Network’s Top Ten List on Election Security | Election Academy

There’s been a lot of attention recently in the media on potential threats to the election system from hackers – but the focus has tended to be on what might happen or who plans to get involved. What’s been lacking up until now is a sense of what can be done about it; namely, what concrete steps that election officials across the nation can do to harden their systems. Fortunately, members of the Election Verification Network (EVN) have worked together to develop a “Top Ten list” that is intended to be an intensely practical guide for offices seeking to do something right now:

The ten recommendations below address these concerns by providing specific steps election officials and individuals can take during the next few weeks to reduce risk and improve public confidence in the upcoming elections. Because of local laws and regulations, not every suggestion will be appropriate to every election jurisdiction.

Voting Blogs: Monitoring the Vote With Electionland | ProPublica

There is no more essential act in a democracy than voting. But making sure that the balloting is open to all and efficiently administered has been, at best, a low priority for many state legislatures, a victim of misplaced priorities and, at times, political gamesmanship. Historically, newsrooms have focused on covering the outcome of Election Day, relegating voting snafus to be followed up later, if at all. Today we’re announcing Electionland, a project to cover voting access and other problems in real time. The issue is particularly urgent this election year, as states have passed laws that could affect citizens’ access to the ballot box. We’ll leave the horse race to others and focus on the ways in which problems prevent people from voting: Which voters are getting turned away (and why)? Where are lines so long that people are giving up? Is there actually any evidence of people casting fraudulent votes?

Voting Blogs: On the Vetoed New Jersey Automatic Voter Registration Bill | Democracy Chronicles

As the United States moves toward the conclusion of the 2016 Presidential election cycle with only two months remaining, it seems that every issue that would be considered a non-partisan one has become exactly that, including the issue of automatic voter registration. The latest issue, which has become a hot button topic dividing the two political parties and ideological sides, is the issue of implementing automatic voter registration. The issue has come up in the national spotlight over recent weeks as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a key figure in the Donald Trump campaign, recently vetoed legislation that would allow people getting drivers licenses, drivers permits or state IDs to be automatically enrolled in the voting process. “I continue to fully support efforts to increase voter registration” Gov. Christie said in a written statement following his vetoing of the bill on Thursday, August 18th.

Voting Blogs: Federal reports on military voting often flawed | Voting by Mail

When Americans vote for president in November, many of the 1.4 million active-duty U.S. military personnel stationed or deployed overseas will not know whether their absentee ballots have reached their home states to be counted. The federal Election Assistance Commission, charged with monitoring their votes, may not know either. Under the Help America Vote Act, the ballots of military and overseas voters are supposed to be tallied by their home states and sent to the EAC, which reports them to Congress. But a News21 analysis of the EAC’s data found at least one in eight jurisdictions reported receiving more ballots than they sent, counting more ballots than they received or rejecting more ballots than they received.

Voting Blogs: Want a role on Election Day? Go work — or watch — the polls | Wendy Underhill/electionlineWeekly

What’s all this we hear now about partisan poll watchers? Amid the heat of this election, candidates have already begun encouraging more partisan poll watchers to participate on Election Day. If this worries you, it shouldn’t. Poll watchers aren’t watching anyone actually cast a ballot. Most likely, they’re watching people check in to vote, and reporting back to their local political party headquarters about who has voted, and who still needs a rousing “get out the vote” call. Sometimes, in some states, poll watchers are authorized to question, or “challenge,” a person’s ability to vote at that location, based on information that indicates he or she doesn’t live in the jurisdiction or for some other concern. What they aren’t authorized to do is to campaign, to interfere with the voting process, or to talk directly to the voters. Instead, they can observe and report to the administrators if they see a procedural hitch. Traditionally, allowing representatives from major parties observe elections was intended as an integrity check. They still serve this function.

Voting Blogs: EAC Continues to Collect and Share Essential Election Administration Data | EAC Blog

Earlier this month, the EAC released two videos from experts in the field about how to visualize elections data and how visualizing these data can be used in policy and budget discussions. And last week the Pew Charitable Trusts released its most recent iteration of the Elections Performance Index (EPI) with data from the 2014 elections, using 17 indicators to examine how states administer elections. What do these videos and the EPI have in common? Both highlight or use data from the EAC’s very own Election Administration and Voting Survey (EAVS) – for example more than half of the EPI’s indicators use data from the EAVS. This survey is the only effort to gather in-depth election administration data from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. And of course it is hardworking state and local election officials who supply these data to the EAC, responding to this massive survey every two years.

Voting Blogs: Assessing Elections with a Clear Eye: What the EPI Tells Us about Election Performance | electionlineWeekly

On Tuesday, The Pew Charitable Trusts released the latest version of the Elections Performance Index (EPI), its effort to take ideas proposed by Heather Gerken in The Democracy Index and turn them into flesh and blood (or at least electrons). The website captures what happened during the 2014 midterm election, adding to existing measures from 2008, 2010, and 2012, as well. Having data from a series of elections makes it possible to examine the process of change across time. Most importantly, now that the EPI has two midterm elections under its belt, it is possible to do an apples-to-apples comparison of each state with how it performed in successive midterm elections. The headline for this release — that the administration of elections in the U.S. continues to improve, slowly but surely — will certainly strike a discordant tone with many in the public, who have been fed a steady diet of stories claiming that American elections are rigged or vulnerable to hacking. Yet, the EPI points to a set of deeper truths about American elections that, one hopes, will gain the attention of the public, lawmakers, and election administrators once this election season is over. The EPI is constructed by combining 17 measures of election administration, most of which are performance outputs, such as the percentage of absentee ballots rejected and the percentage of UOCAVA ballots unreturned. As explained in the methodology document that accompanies the EPI website, these 17 measures were chosen because they provide a comprehensive view of election administration at the state level, conceived along two dimensions. Along the first dimension are the functional requirements for potential voters to have their ballots successfully counted: they must be registered, successfully cast a ballot, and the ballot must be accurately counted. Along the second dimension are the two normative goals we wish to achieve through our electoral process: it should be convenient to vote and the electoral process should be secure.

Voting Blogs: Fate of Democracy in Hands Of the Electorate Following Recent Election Law Victories | Brad Blog

The good news is that over the past week two federal courts struck down multiple provisions of GOP-enacted voter suppression laws in Wisconsin and North Carolina. The cautionary news is that the rejection of 21st century Jim Crow-style disenfranchisement at the polls, and, indeed, the fate of democracy itself, may well now hinge on the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election. … In the first voting rights case to see a ruling come down last Friday, North Carolina NAACP v. McCrory, the good news is that a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeal struck down as unconstitutional a comprehensive GOP voter suppression scheme that the court determined had been deliberately designed to have a retrogressive impact on the right of African-Americans to participate in electoral democracy. The state Republican legislature’s scheme, the court held, was specifically designed to “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision.”

Voting Blogs: Voter ID Laws and the Future of Judicial “Softening” | More Soft Money Hard Law

As the courts work their way through claims against ID and other voting restrictions, they continue on a course of “softening” voting impediments but not eliminating them altogether. They remain reluctant to deny states the authority to enact rules, on virtually non-existent evidence, to protect against in-person voter fraud. Remedies are then fashioned that provide relief to voters facing a “reasonable impediment” to voting but the question has been legitimately raised: how much of an impact can these sorts of measures be expected to have? Like the right to a provisional ballot provided for under HAVA, these other remedies– like accommodating indigent voters with access to cost-free identification–help voters, but only a limited number. The reach and effectiveness of these measures depend upon the states’ performance of their obligations: the information they provide to voters, and the good faith and competence with which they administer the remedies. The same may be true of more robust remedies, like the option recently ordered for Wisconsin, affording access to an affidavit alternative to documentary identification.

Voting Blogs: Breaking and Analysis: Partially Divided 4th Circuit Strikes NC Strict Voting Law, Finds Discriminatory Intent | Rick Hasen/Election Law Blog

You can find the 83 pages of decisions at this link. A partially divided panel of 4th Circuit judges reversed a massive trial court opinion which had rejected a number of constitutional and Voting Rights Act challenges to North Carolina’s strict voting law, a law I had said was the largest collection of voting rollbacks contained in a single law that I could find since the 1965 passage of the Voting Rights Act. The key part of the holding is that North Carolina acted with racially discriminatory intent. However, despite this finding of discriminatory intent, the 4th Circuit refused to use its discretion to put North Carolina back under federal supervision for up to 10 years for its voting. “Such remedies ‘[are] rarely used]’ and are not necessary here in light of our injunction.” Nonetheless, the finding of intentional discrimination could be the basis for a future argument for section 3 should North Carolina pass other discriminatory voting laws. What happens next? North Carolina could decide to go along (there’s nothing to do on remand in this opinion as the 4th Circuit wrote it). Or it could seek to take the case to the 4th Circuit en banc or to the Supreme Court. The state could well go to the 4th Circuit en banc; although that court is not nearly as conservative as it once was, not sure what North Carolina has to lose. And NC could go to the Supreme Court, as the case presents the very rich question of what it means to to engage in racially discriminatory intent when race and party so overlap. (I addressed this question in this Harvard Law Review forum piece: Race or Party?: How Courts Should Think About Republican Efforts to Make it Harder to Vote in North Carolina and Elsewhere). It is not clear that the evenly divided and shorthanded Supreme Court will bite, and I expect any attempt to get emergency relief from the Supreme Court will fail.

Voting Blogs: With clock ticking elections officials faced with known unknowns | electionlineWeekly

With legal action pending or recently decided, but certainly not settled and with the clock ticking until the November 8 general election — and some primaries yet to happen — elections officials in several states are faced with some looming known unknowns. For example, in Texas and Wisconsin, it’s voter ID. In Virginia it’s voting rights restoration. In Ohio it’s voter purges. In Kansas it’s a dual-system for voters with proof-of-citizenship and those without. And in North Carolina, it’s a bit of everything — ID, same-day registration, early voting. “The nature of our job is to adapt to constant change,” said Sharon Wolters, Smith County, Kansas clerk and current president of the Kansas County Clerks and Elections Officials Association. “We expect it and work together to give ideas that will facilitate the changes in the most efficient way possible.”

Voting Blogs: First-in-the-nation course on election design | Whitney Quesenbery and Dana Chisnell/electionlineWeekly

If you want to bring out your inner election designer, or just learn how identify good and bad election design, there’s a new opportunity designed just for you. As part of the first-in-the-nation Certificate in Election Administration at the University of Minnesota, we are really proud to be teaching the first-in-the-nation course on election design. The program is the brainchild of Doug Chapin, aiming at current and future election administrators and anyone interested in civic engagement. The course is entirely online, and built on the idea that adults learn best by doing. Through small, weekly assignments students practice new skills with real election materials. We will be there with students the whole way, with group discussions and collaborative reviews because we’ve seen that the best ideas happen when there’s a place to brainstorm and people to do it with. Usability testing will help students learn from their own voters (and to see how to make it part of all of their work).

Voting Blogs: The Numbers Don’t Lie: Debunking Ohio’s Rationalization for Discriminating Against Voters Who Miss an Election | Project Vote

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted says he has a good reason for targeting voters for removal from the rolls if they haven’t voted in a while. The problem is, the facts don’t bear him out. Telling someone that they cannot vote now because they didn’t vote in the past is a time-tested method of voter suppression. In years past, to make it harder for people of color and people in other underrepresented groups to vote, some states required all voters to re-register to vote before every election. Congress ended this practice when it passed the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) in 1993. The NVRA ensures that registered voters do not have to re-register simply because they missed an election or two. Now, before states and counties may remove registered voters from the voter rolls, they must respect certain safeguards—such as confirming that a voter moved to a new home in a different jurisdiction—that are designed to protect eligible voters’ rights to have their say. But when one form of voter suppression is taken away, there is no shortage of creativity in finding ways around it. Now, Husted is attempting to flout the NVRA’s protections by using a person’s failure to vote as a supposed indication that the person has moved.

Voting Blogs: Working with observers to improve voting system reliability | David Levine/electionlineWeekly

The goals of election observation are enhanced public confidence in the efficiency and integrity of the election process, and more efficient election operations. Any voting system — whether an optical scan paper ballot system, a Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) system, or something else — has to function for the duration of the voting process, and election observers are trained to spot situations in which malfunctions, power outages, lengthy-set up times or other problems prevent voters from casting their votes, discourage them from doing do so, or cause votes already cast to be lost. Election observers look at how voting machines protect against malfunctions, whether election officials can easily repair basic problems, and whether officials have been trained to deal with problems that arise during the voting process. This means that one way to improve the reliability of voting systems in the United States is to have election officials work more closely with election observers.

Voting Blogs: Voting by mail and the next election meltdown | Voting by Mail

Polls released this week indicate that the November presidential election could be very close, much closer than previously expected. In most elections, the margin of victory is large enough to avoid questions about how the votes were cast and counted, but when elections are close and contested, things like how the voting machines function and what constitutes a valid ballot can become very significant. With voting by mail becoming increasingly common — according to a recent study by PEW Trusts, more than 20 percent of votes are now cast by mail nationwide — the possibility of a major controversy involving mail ballots is also increasing. Like other voting methods, voting by mail is not perfect. Sometimes ballots are lost in the mail, sometimes they arrive at election centers after the deadline. Mail voting is susceptible to fraud, there can be disagreements over whether a ballot is valid due to a postmark issue, and it may take days or weeks to count all the ballots, which can mean long delays without a clear victor.

Voting Blogs: Citizens United and the “Impossible Dream” | More Soft Money Hard Law

Justice Ginsburg’s recent press comments have been noted mostly for her openly expressed disdain for the Trump candidacy. Less surprising in the remarks was the Justice’s “impossible dream” that Citizens United be overturned. She has said this before, and since she dissented in that case, there is not much news here, unless anyone still had doubts that for this Justice, the killing off of that decision is a priority. The comment was reported at the same time as the Complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission by Representative Ted Lieu and others who intend to set into motion the reconsideration the Justice is hoping for. And so it invites an appraisal of its prospects for accomplishing the Justice Ginsburg’s “impossible dream.” As my colleague Marc Elias has pointed out, the FEC cannot succeed; this is a lost cause. When the Complaint fails, it may do little more than unnecessarily promote the belief that CU is here to stay. It is not clear why this is the best legal maneuver, or the most effective exercise in public communications, in the attack on Speechnow and Citizens United.

Voting Blogs: Austrian Court’s Call for Second Presidential Election is a Victory for Election Integrity | BradBlog

Erik Kirschbaum of the Los Angeles Times appears to be deeply troubled. According to last May’s official count, Austria Green Party presidential candidate Alexander van der Bellen defeated Norbert Hofer of Austria’s far-right “Freedom Party” by 30,863 votes. Now, as the result of what Kirschbaum describes as “irregularities in the counting of absentee ballots,” Austria’s Constitutional Court has ordered a second, nationwide election for the largely ceremonial post. From a political perspective, Kirshbaum’s concerns are understandable. After all, we are talking about providing a second opportunity for a presidential candidate whose “Freedom Party” was founded by former Nazis. But, as Brad Friedman has so frequently urged, election integrity is not about Left or Right. It’s about right and wrong.

Voting Blogs: TGDC Releases Draft Project Charter for New Voting System Standards | Election Academy

The Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC) may not be well-known, but it plays a crucial role in the process of standards-setting in the field of voting technology testing and certification. About a year ago, the TGDC announced that it was going to convene a series of public working groups as part of a new approach to updating the federal Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG). Late last month, the TGDC issued a draft project charter for VVSG version 2.0 that attempts to define both the scope of the project and lay out a way forward.

Voting Blogs: BPC Report Looks at “The New Realities of Voting by Mail in 2016” | Election Academy

Regular readers of this blog will remember that the last year has seen a sharp uptick in stories about how issues with the U.S. Postal Service have begun to affect states’ and localities’ management of vote by mail ballots. Many of those officials have wondered what to do about it – and the Bipartisan Policy Center has just issued a new report that examines the “new realities” of vote by mail and makes recommendations about how everyone involved can and should respond. Here’s an excerpt describing this “new reality:”

The Postal Service of 2016 does not operate under the same service standards as it did even one or two presidential cycles ago. Mail volume is down, and the USPS has adjusted its infrastructure accordingly. A restructuring of the USPS’s backbone—called “rationalization”—has resulted in the closing of many smaller processing plants across the country. Mail is now routed to larger plants equipped with sophisticated automation equipment that allows for ballot tracking. Delivery standards have also changed. First-class mail is now delivered to recipients within a two-to five-day window; standard mail now reaches its destination in three to ten days.

The reduction of mail-processing plants coincided with a shorter production schedule at each remaining processing plant. The shorter schedule helps the post office to maximize efficiencies of resources and has resulted in many fewer plants operating during the weekend. The impact of this change, though, is slower mail and less processing capacity ahead of Election Day, when ballots must be returned to election offices.

Where a voter lives determines the ways by which he or she can request a ballot, receive it, and return it. Laws about ballot counting govern what a voter must do to ensure that the ballot is counted. There are policies that can be implemented to work within this new reality and to maintain a vibrant alternative to funneling all voters to the polls on a single Election Day.

Voting Blogs: Fourth Circuit Upholds Virginia’s Discriminatory Ballot Listing for Candidates | Ballot Access News

On June 20, the Fourth Circuit agreed with the U.S. District Court that Virginia’s discriminatory listing of candidates on the general election ballot is constitutional. Libertarian Party of Virginia v Alcorn, 15-1162. The decision is by Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson, a Reagan appointee. It is co-signed by Judge G. Stephen Agee, a Bush Jr. appointee, and Andre M. Davis, a Clinton appointee. The Virginia law says the nominees of the qualified parties are always listed first on the ballot, followed by the nominees of the unqualified parties, and then by independent candidates. Ironically, Virginia does require random placement of each candidate within each category, so a random order procedure is used in every election to determine whether the Republican or the Democratic Party nominees are listed first or second. The decision does not mention any of the court decisions that say the U.S. Constitution requires an equal chance for all candidates to be listed first on the ballot, except for a U.S. District Court decision from Oklahoma that struck down a law saying the Democratic Party should always be listed first (the law mentioned the Democratic Party by name). The Fourth Circuit decision ignores contrary decisions of the Seventh and Eighth Circuits, a U.S. District Court in New Mexico, and the California and New Hampshire Supreme Courts.

Voting Blogs: Election Toolkit launches: Free and low-cost tech tools will help promote civic engagement nationwide | electionlineWeekly

This election year, election officials will have a new collection of tools to help them engage their communities in the electoral process and improve how elections are run throughout the U.S. The Election Toolkit, an online library of resources for election officials, includes tools like a free app to measure voter wait times, guidelines on how to create short videos and infographics, and a collection of civic icons and illustrations. All of the tools in the Toolkit are either free or low cost and come paired with step-by-step instructions, making them accessible to any election official, regardless of their budget or tech skills.

Voting Blogs: Again Before the Supreme Court: Can There Be “Issues Speech” During Campaigns? | More Soft Money Hard Law

The Supreme Court will soon decide whether to take up a major case about disclosure and this has received little attention—far less than it should. At issue is the clarification of how far government authority extends in requiring the disclosure of the financing of “issues speech”–speech or just information about candidates’ positions that does not involve engaging in advocacy of their election or defeat. There are reasons why the case might have been overlooked: it involves a small organization in a small state, and the activity concerns state and local, not federal (much less presidential), candidates. Perhaps, also, because it is “just” about disclosure, this case might be supposed to pose little danger of harm to anyone’s rights or legitimate expectations. This is serious business. As the states move along with their own reform programs, and as litigation proceeds under different standards applied by different circuits and diminishing consistency in the treatment of federal and state or local-level enactment, disclosure doctrine is losing its coherence, and key constitutional distinctions once taken for granted are being rapidly eroded. One disturbing result: the “big” and sophisticated spenders at the federal level are more protected than the “little guy” at the levels below.

Voting Blogs: When Should a Voter’s “Clerical Error” Invalidate a Ballot? | Edward B. Foley/Election Law @ Moritz

Roland Gilbert accidently wrote the current date, instead of his birthdate, when filling out the form on the envelope for submitting his absentee ballot in Ohio’s 2014 general election (which included a gubernatorial race). It’s a mistake that all, or at least most of us, have made at one time or another in our lives when filling out forms. Is it a mistake that should disqualify Roland Gilbert’s absentee ballot from being counted? As a policy matter, I certainly think not. Moreover, this policy position recently has been adopted by the American Law Institute, a prominent nonpartisan organization most famous for its Model Penal Code, Uniform Commercial Code, Restatements of Law covering a wide variety of fields (like contracts, torts, and property law), and other law-improvement projects. In its new Principles of Law project concerning Election Administration, the ALI takes the position that an absentee ballot should not be invalidated if the identity of the absentee voter can be verified and the voter is registered and eligible to cast the ballot. (Full disclosure: together with my Election Law @ Moritz colleague Steve Huefner, I serve as Reporter to the ALI project that developed this and related principles.)

Voting Blogs: Voting day in D.C. Jail| electionlineWeekly

Despite the chaos around them — loud voices, clanging metal doors, carts being rolled here and there across cement floors, a line of seven voters stood patiently waiting their turn to cast their ballot in Washington, D.C.’s primary. “John” was first in line to vote and after receiving his ballot he studied it carefully and began to fill it out. Before he had even completed the process, he wanted to know about getting his “I Voted” sticker. Could he have two? After he completed his ballot and put it in the secrecy envelope, “John” carefully peeled the sticker off the paper backing and proudly slapped it on his chest. The red, white and blue “I Voted” “Yo vote” sticker was in stark contrast to the orange prison jumpsuit “John” and his fellow voters were wearing. This week, two teams from the D.C. Board of Elections (DCBOE) headed to the D.C. Jail and to the Correctional Treatment Facility to allow eligible inmates to cast an absentee ballot for D.C.’s June 14 primary.

Voting Blogs: Bringing Common Sense to the Sunshine State | Ciara Torres-Spelliscy/Brennan Center for Justice

In 2000, Florida became ground zero for the debate over poor election administration as Vice President Al Gore and Governor George W. Bush both thought for weeks that they had won Florida’s (then) 25 electoral votes and therefore the presidency. The Supreme Court resolved the controversy in the infamous Bush v. Gore ruling. Florida’s election administration problems in 2000 included the poorly-designed butterfly ballot, in which the name of a candidate and the hole to be punched for the candidate were slightly askew; resulting in one vote total on day one and a different vote total in a mandatory machine recount. There were also long lines at many precincts, fueling voter dissatisfaction. In 2012, Florida was the next Florida. Fortunately for the nation, the Electoral College vote between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney wasn’t close and did not hinge on Florida’s (now) 29 electoral votes. Florida in 2012 witnessed such long lines at certain polling places that voters had to wait seven hours or more to vote.

Voting Blogs: Deadlock and Ominous Uncertainty at the FEC | More Soft Money Hard Law

The FEC has once again deadlocked on an enforcement case and left an important question dangerously open. Months ago, the FEC could do nothing useful with a case about the use of LLCs to make contributions. Now it is inviting trouble, and not for the first time, with a case about how hard a corporation may press its employees to support the employer’s political program. In the recent case, the FEC was forced by the usual 3-3 division to dismiss a complaint that a company pressured employees to make political contributions to its PAC and favored candidates. The question before the agency was whether to investigate. There were reasons, including internal company documents. In one of them, the company advised managers that “we have been insulted by every salaried employee who does not support our efforts.” There was a press report recounting the experience of unnamed employees with coercive practices, and one employee put her complaint on the public record as part of a wrongful termination action.

Voting Blogs: Virginia Election Data Project | electionlineWeekly

This week, the Virginia Department of Elections released the Virginia Election Data Project, a cooperative effort between the department and local registrars with assistance from The Pew Charitable Trusts Election Initiatives. The project analyzes election and voter data provided to the Department by local election offices and presents the data visualized in a user-friendly online format. “Like most election offices, we house a huge amount of data,” explained Edgardo Cortes, commissioner of elections. “While much of it is personal information that needs to be kept securely, there are ways we can be transparent about the data related to election processes to help the public understand election administration better. This is a way for us to use objective data to improve how we administer elections by figuring out best practices and sharing them across the state.”