At this point in a closely fought presidential campaign, pundits and pollsters are checking their guts and sifting through data to try to predict November’s winner. Those of us who specialize in election law engage in a more heart-wrenching task: attempting to make an educated guess about the likelihood that one or another election irregularity will lead to a Bush v. Gore-style meltdown. My candidate for the honor of the next potential chad to dangle: absentee ballots. Competition for this year’s biggest potential ballot box nightmare is pretty stiff. We can expect the rise in voter identification laws to lead to some confusion at the polls. This confusion may arise both from the voters who face unfamiliar barriers to entry and from untrained poll workers who must enforce sometimes arcane, novel laws on the fly. This will probably lead to a large number of provisional ballots — the kind a poll worker gives you when they can’t find your name on the rolls. The legality of these would be determined in a post-election recount, if one comes to pass. But the silent, creeping revolution in the timing and method of voting presents bigger opportunities for trouble. In recent years, absentee and mail-in ballots have been steadily rising as a share of total ballots cast. The majority of states now allow “no-excuse absentee” voting, meaning anyone can ask to cast a ballot by mail. You don’t need the political equivalent of a doctor’s note, as was true previously.Full Article: Meet the hanging chad of 2012 - NY Daily News.
Jul 12 2012