Florida: A Judge Upheld Florida Rules Requiring “Magic Words” And “Consistency” To Determine Voter Intent | Buzzfeed

A federal judge in Florida late Thursday rejected a constitutional challenge by Sen. Bill Nelson and Florida Democrats to state rules that govern how counters in a recount determine what candidate a voter meant to choose on their ballot. The decision on the so-called “magic words” and “consistency” rules came as Florida officials undertake on a hand recount in the close US Senate race between Nelson and Republican Gov. Rick Scott. Nelson’s lawyers argued that the rules could unconstitutionally imperil the votes of thousands of Floridians. US District Chief Judge Mark Walker held that they were “neutral, reasonable, standard” practices. “They are uniform, nondifferential standards that provide a reasonable procedure to determine the intent of voters. This is not to say the rules are perfect or the best way to do things. But they are constitutional,” Walker wrote in his opinion. Under the “consistency requirement,” a vote won’t be counted if the voter didn’t mark their preference in the same way throughout their ballot. For instance, if a voter filled in a box in one place, and wrote a check mark in another place, those votes wouldn’t be counted.

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.)

Minnesota: Tweaking ranked-choice voting: Minneapolis considering three changes | MinnPost

Members of the Minneapolis City Council got scolded by a member of the Charter Commission as they prepared to change some of the rules on how ranked-choice voting will be administered in this fall’s election. “I would submit that 13 declared candidates for office, in an election year, five months prior to an election, have no business changing election laws,” said Devin Rice of the Charter Commission. He also was critical of an earlier council decision to reduce funds available for voter education, given the incidence of voter error in the 2009 election. Errors in using ranked-choice voting showed up on 6.5 percent of ballots cast, Rice said.

Oklahoma: Cherokee Nation Chief Still Undecided After Weekend Recount | KOTV.com

After two days recounting the recount, there’s a new vote tally, but not a new Chief of the Cherokee Nation. In a hand recount of votes over the weekend, Chad Smith won by a narrow five votes but that may not mean he gets to keep his job.

A Cherokee Nation lawyer compares it to the Bush-Gore race in Florida. It was unchartered territory for America. Now, Smith-Baker is testing the laws of the Cherokee Nation. After a painstaking two days of counting more than 15,000 ballots, this announcement from Chief Chad Smith:

“I’ve come out ahead,” Chief Chad Smith said. But his challenger, Bill John Baker, says not so fast.