electionlineWeekly’s Quick Election Roundup: That Was The (Election) Week That Was

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Election Day 2018 is past (if still far from over) and electionlineWeekly’s Mindy Moretti has a quick initial roundup of how the day went:

The 2018 election has already been hacked! Voter suppression! Voter fraud!

Those were some of the headlines that screamed at voters and elections officials in the days leading up to the 2018 general election, but in the light of the day, the 2018 election turned out to be far less chaotic than many people anticipated.

Yes, there were lines. There were machine malfunctions. There were bomb and gun threats. Some people were denied their right to vote. There were goats. But with turnout hovering around 49 percent, from a seasoned-election observer’s eye, the 2018 election was fairly business as usual—at least as far as the process goes.

This week, given time constraints, we’re just doing a brief review of Election Day 2018. Next week we’ll take a look at what happened — good, bad, silly and sad — state-by-state and in the coming weeks we’ll drill down into some of the bigger issues that arose, why they arose and what the next steps are. You can also check out our Election Day Dispatches.

Election Security — For two years the security of America’s elections have been drilled into our heads. From the Department of Homeland Security, all the way down to the smallest election authority, officials worked and worried to make sure that the 2018 elections were secure. And at the end of the day, election security really turned out to be a non-issue in 2018. The Department of Homeland Security’s cyber unit fielded some false alarms, but no hacks.

Voter ID — Voters in Missouri and Iowa faced new voter ID requirements this year and some issues did arise in Missouri where a judge had altered the rules in the days leading up to the election. In Iowa, initial reports indicate that overall things went smoothly. In North Dakota, where Native American tribes had fought the state’s ID law to the last minute, turnout of Native Americans broke records. In additional ID news, voters in North Carolina and Arkansas both voted to amend their state’s constitutions to institute voter ID.

Voter Registration — Millions of voters registered to vote in the waning days of the election cycle and overall it seems that counties were able to get all those folks on the rolls. Election day registration in Connecticut created huge lines in some towns. Voters in Nevada approved automatic registration. In Maryland, voters approved election day registration and in Michigan, as part of a larger election-reform package, voters approved same day registration.

Lines/Turnout — Although the numbers aren’t final yet, turnout is hovering right around 49 percent which is the highest midterm turnout in years. The last time midterm turnout broke 49 percent was 1966. Not every state broke midterm records, but many did. Large turnout lead to lines in many places as well as ballot shortages some states including Ohio and Maryland. And a preliminary analysis by CIRCLE found that voters aged 18-29 increased their overall turnout to 31 percent which is 10 percent higher than for the 2014 midterms.

Voting Equipment — While prior to Tuesday, we expressed some concern about voters seeing new equipment for the first time might cause confusion or delays, in reality it was aging voting equipment that seemed to cause the most of the issues both in voting and counting. Issues ranged from ballot printer malfunctions, calibration problems with aging touchscreen machines, and humidity and dampness-warped paper ballots. [As one wag noted on Twitter, “democracy dies in dampness” – DMCj]

Power Outages — Due to severe weather, polling places across the country faced power outages throughout the day on Tuesday although there were no reports of the voting being affected by the outages.

Secretary of State Races — Secretary of state offices were on the ballot in 24 states. There will be nine new secretaries (Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Michigan,Ohio, Nebraska and South Dakota), in the coming months and we’ll meet them all in due time and incumbent secretaries (Alabama, California, Connecticut, Idaho,Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wyoming)  were re-elected in 13 states. There will be runoffs in Georgia and Louisiana.

A sincere and well-deserved thank you to Mindy for this roundup; she manages to find and share literally hundreds (if not thousands) of stories in the weeks leading up to Election Day … as she notes, there are many stories to discuss in the weeks and months ahead (recounts, new faces, new movement on old issues in Washington DC) but for now election officials almost everywhere can start finishing up and winding down Election 2018 and start thinking about what’s next … including the 2020 Presidential election, which is a little more than 100 weeks away. Stay tuned …

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