June 2018

Senate Rules Committee to Hold Hearing Today on Election Security

This morning, the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration will hold a hearing entitled ELECTION SECURITY PREPARATIONS: A STATE AND LOCAL PERSPECTIVE. The hearing is designed, in part, to try to spur movement in Congress on election security after the latest setback: failure to get Secure Elections Act language included in the National Defense Authorizations Act.

Off Again: Federal Court Strikes Down Kansas Proof-of-Citizenship Law

The long-running, on-again-off-again battle over Kansas’ proof-of-citizenship law for voter registration took another turn yesterday, as a federal court once again struck down the law and imposed strict orders on the Secretary of State to comply with the ruling. This is a significant ruling, not just for Kansas but also for the potential issues it raises – including balancing federal and state control over elections – that could eventually find their way back to the U.S. Supreme Court. For now, though, it’s a big win for plaintiffs and a vivid reminder of a key rule in litigation: win or lose, don’t irritate the judge.

electionlineWeekly on How States are (Planning on) Spending Federal Cybersecurity Funds

Mindy Moretti’s latest electionlineWeekly newsletter takes a look at how states are thinking about spending their share of the $380 million in federal funds for election cybersecurity included in the recent federal omnibus budget bill. Federal funding is crucial, but it is also highlighting the need for sustained commitments of state and local resources to continue the work long-term.

SCOTUS Rules Against Minnesota Polling Place Apparel Restrictions in MVA v. Mansky

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its ruling in Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky, re-confirming that state laws banning certain political apparel in the polling place are permissible but finding that Minnesota’s law sweeps too broadly and thus violates the Constitution. It was nonetheless a net positive for the field given the Court’s endorsement of polling place apparel restrictions, though fights remain over changes to the state’s law – and efforts to narrow those restrictions even further.

In Kansas, Two Ron Estes Create Challenges for Election Officials

Sometimes the trickiest election issues are the simplest and smallest – like how to handle the situation when two Congressional candidates in the same contest, one an incumbent, have the same name. That’s the case in Kansas, where two candidates named Ron Estes are generating controversy and forcing state election officials to go the extra mile to distinguish them.

I Meant What I Said: Maine Voters (Re)Approve Ranked Choice Voting

Yesterday, Maine voters once again told Maine policymakers that they want to use ranked-choice voting, overriding a legislative move to repeal a previous vote to adopt RCV. The story likely isn’t over yet, but the result is a testament to the persistence of RCV supporters and an indication of how seriously Mainers take voters’ authority to make law in the Pine Tree State.

SCOTUS Rules for Ohio in Husted v. Philip Randolph Institute

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in the highly-anticipated case of Husted v Philip Randolph Institute involving Ohio’s voter list maintenance procedures – and the result was what I expected: a narrow majority siding with the state on the issue of whether voters’ failure to vote may be taken into account when updating the rolls. The case clarifies one key issue but raises several new questions about the impact of the opinion in states across the country.

Final 2016 EAC Deep Dive Looks at Provisional Ballots

Last week, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) released the last of its Deep Dive series on 2016 election data – this time looking at provisional ballots.The EAC’s Deep Dive series has been a tremendous asset to the field and is a fantastic vehicle both for highlighting the depth and breadth of the EAVS data but also for encouraging practitioners and researchers alike to mine the information for insights into the conduct of elections across the United States. It’s also the farewell for my friend and longtime colleague, EAC research director Sean Greene, who’s leaving the EAC (but not elections)! for a fantastic family opportunity in Italy.

DHS’ Matt Masterson in electionlineWeekly on “Changing Threat Environment”

Matt Masterson of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has a guest post in this week’s electionlineWeekly on the current state of election cybersecurity and what DHS can do (and is) to help election offices nationwide. It’s fortunate that Matt was able to transition seamlessly from the EAC to DHS where his work to coordinate and assist states and localities with developing resilient election systems continues – and this post demonstrates everything he’s been up to since the switch (it’s a lot).