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?
To answer these questions we’re teaming up with a group of media partners to create a virtual newsroom that will produce stories on voting problems as they happen, and distribute leads about voting problems to local journalists who can follow up on them. It is our hope that this journalism will have immediate impact, helping people who might otherwise have been turned away to cast their ballots.
The rules for voting are changing fast. A 2013 Supreme Court decision, Shelby County vs. Holder, made major changes in the Voting Rights Act, ending the requirement that states and counties with a history of discrimination pre-clear changes to election laws. A number of states moved immediately to revise their laws, including North Carolina, which rewrote its rules to do what state GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse described as “attempting to rebalance the scales” in favor of Republican voters.
Full Article: Monitoring the Vote With Electionland – ProPublica.