Amid the ruins of the ugliest presidential campaign in modern history, Democrats are bemoaning an election apparatus so balky and politically malleable that throngs of would-be voters either gave up trying to cast ballots or cast ones that were never counted. The first presidential election in a half century that was held without the full protection of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, so few Americans cast ballots that a new president was elected by barely a quarter of Americans eligible to vote.
Civil rights groups say that Republican-backed “voter suppression” laws enacted since 2010 probably helped tip the scale for Republican nominee Donald Trump in some closely contested states on election night. Some scholars and election analysts questioned this week whether a better run and less politically influenced voting process might have changed the outcome in some close races and made the presidential contest even closer. The headline example is Wisconsin, where a Republican-backed law requiring voters to produce one of a limited number of acceptable photo IDs was in effect for the first time.
In a USA Today Ron Rivest and Philip Stark advocated “risk-limiting” audits of election results, an audit that manually examines a random sample of the ballots in a way that has a large chance of detecting and correcting incorrect results. Rivest and Stark note in their oped “risk-limiting audits are a crucial check on election integrity and accuracy even when elections are not controversial and margins are wide. They have been endorsed by the Presidential Commission on Election Administration and many organizations concerned with election integrity.”
The Illinois Senate has voted to override Governor Rauner’s veto of automatic voter registration legislation. Opponents of ballot initiatives in Maine that would legalize recreational marijuana and tax the state’s highest earners to help fund public schools have submitted requests for recounts. A statewide recount is also possible in the North Carolina gubernatorial contest. The ultimate of Texas’ voter id requirement remains up in the air.
Voters went the polls in China. Eager to show off what authorities describe as democracy “with Chinese characteristics”, China holds local legislative elections every five years, the only direct elections in the country. However, though all Chinese citizens over 18, who has not been stripped of their political rights, can stand for election and vote, harassment of non-party candidates is widespread.
Long-delayed presidential elections are being held in Haiti today. First held in October 2015, the election was annulled over allegations of fraud, and a rescheduled vote was postponed last month when Hurricane Matthew struck, killing up to 1,000 people and leaving 1.4 million in need of humanitarian assistance.