Regular readers of this blog know that I have a favorite saying: “The good news about election administration is that you don’t have to sweat the small stuff. The bad news is that there is no small stuff.” That once again came to mind this week as election officials in Youngstown, OH discovered that an error on state absentee ballot requests is causing them to be returned to sender. It’s not a huge problem – officials caught it in time and are working with the Post Office – but it’s a reminder that even the smallest things can potentially be big problems as Election Day approaches.
Articles by Doug Chapin
One of the nation’s highest-profile state election jobs is up for grabs in Ohio between two state legislators with a record of interest in election issues: Kathleen Clyde (D) and Frank LaRose (R). Ohio has long been a state to watch in the election community, both for its impact on election policy but also for high-profile litigation – and yes, partisanship – that often drives the national conversation. Both candidates are making a shared commitment to a healthy, fair and secure voting process; here’s hoping that survives the heat of a statewide campaign in the Buckeye State.
Last week, the State of Colorado hosted a cybersecurity tabletop exercise outside of Denver entitled Election Preparedness for Infrastructure and Cybersecurity (EPIC TTX). It was an amazing event; 180 days of chaos packed into two frenetic hours – all dedicated to preparing state and local officials for whatever life throws their way on and before Election Day.
The Fall 2018 issue of Minnesota Alumni Magazine has a really nice profile of our Certificate in Election Administration Program. It’s especially great because it because it highlights the stories of our students – who are the reason we do what we do and are the best advertisement for the future of the program.
Late yesterday, the Federal Voting Assistance Program released the results of its latest Overseas Citizen Population Analysis. One notable conclusion was the existence of an “obstacles gap” which affects the overall voting rate for these voters – and if successfully addressed, could increase overseas participation fivefold. It’s a blueprint for improving the voting process for that segment of the overseas community that is interested in voting but is prevented or deterred by these obstacles from doing so.
It’s Election Day today in New Hampshire, and the Concord Monitor has a great (and unusual, in my experience) look at the work that happens before voting starts to get precinct locations ready for pollworkers and voters alike. The next time you vote, take just a moment to think about all the people across the nation whose effort goes into making it ready for you to do so.
Late last week a federal judge ordered dozens of counties in Florida to make Spanish-language sample ballots available to assist Puerto Ricans living in the state in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. It will be a challenge for the election offices named in the order, but I think this ruling gets the balance right as Election Day approaches; Spanish-speaking voters will get access to tools they need to cast an informed ballot and affected counties will not be required to provide the full range of assistance that other jurisdictions with longstanding language-minority communities currently offer.
electionlineWeekly’s Mindy Moretti has a timely look at an issue that arises when election offices are caught between making elections accessible to voters and protecting themselves from outside threats. It’s yet another layer in the cybersecurity challenge for the election community.
North Carolina’s State Board of Elections and boards in 44 counties have received a sweeping federal subpoena for tens of millions of voting documents – including ballots! – less than two months before the 2018 general election. It’s an *astonishing* development, even for a state like North Carolina where election battles have been ongoing for years.
Political parties and county election boards are lining up – and heading to court – against a proposal by New Mexico’s Secretary of State to restore straight-ticket voting for the 2018 general election. This story is fascinating on many levels – an opportunity to explore the theory behind straight-ticket voting, a test of the SoS’ rule-making power, a cautionary tale about lack of clarity in legislation – but however it plays out it will likely do so quickly as Election Day approaches.