August 2016

Waiting for the Mail: Wisconsin ID Procedures Raise Concern

Wisconsin’s voter ID law has been a moving target lately, with courts blocking then reinstating it in the last month – but now there is concern that the state’s procedure for making IDs available to people who lack them won’t actually work for voters this fall because of the time it will take to have them delivered.

Colo-fornia Here We Come? SB450 Heads to Governor

California legislators took another step toward a major overhaul of the Golden State’s voting model with passage of SB450, which would move away from reliance on neighborhood polling places and toward the so-called “Colorado model” which involves a combination of mailed ballots, drop boxes and vote centers. The bill awaits Governor Jerry Brown’s signature.

Pushing the Envelope: St. Louis Dispute Over Absentee Voting

[UPDATED to correct that this is in St. Louis city, not County] A close primary in St. Louis has generated a dispute that centers on an unusual subject: envelopes – or rather the lack of them. A challenger is claiming that in-person absentee ballots are not permitted – a dispute which highlights both the degree to which statutes structure the electoral process and the challenges that arise when technological developments and/or evolving practice outstrip the letter of the law.

Into the Wild: Inyo County Outreach to Thru-Hikers

This week’s electionlineWeekly features a guest column by Inyo County, CA registrar Kammi Foote, who writes about her “wilderness civics effort” focusing on outreach to hikers on the many trails passing through her beautiful Southern California county.

Voters with Disabilities Seek Restoration of Voting Rights in California

Last year, California enacted legislation protecting people with disabilities from losing their right to vote when they are placed under a court guardianship by establishing the presumption that they are competent to vote unless proven otherwise. That bill passed and went into effect in 2016 – and now there is a push for affected individuals previously stripped of their rights to get them back in time for this year’s election.

Investment or Overspending? Lynn Wrestles with New Election Job

In most communities across America, election officials are in the final stages of preparing for this fall’s vote, and likely aren’t thinking much beyond November 8. In the Massachusetts city of Lynn, however, a funding dispute over a new elections position has left the city with more than a little uncertainty over who’s in charge – and for how long.

77 Days to Go: Election Litigation Update by Rick Hasen

Today marks seventy-seven days until Election Day on November 8 … and yet, as the big day draws near(er), there is still a lot of uncertainty about what will happen with election litigation in numerous states. Fortunately, UC-Irvine law professor Rick Hasen has a handy roundup in his (must-read) Election Law Blog.

NCSL’s Wendy Underhill on Poll Watching and Poll Work in 2016

There’s been a lot of talk (and concern) about the potential for for “poll watchers” during this fall’s elections – and Wendy Underhill, who heads up the elections team at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), has some thoughts on the roles of observers (and the need for poll workers) based on a joint report with the Carter Center and NCSL’s work with election officials nationwide.

New Report Discusses Risks to Secret Ballot, Encourages Voters to Take Precautions

A new report by three groups highlights risks to the secret ballot presented by the growth of online ballot marking tools and online transmission of voted ballots, and lays out steps that voters can take to minimize these risks. Just as election officials highlight the risk of late delivery associated with last-minute postal return of mail ballots, voters should know their secrecy risks when marking or returning a ballot online.

Let’s Make a Deal: Muscogee County Gets Upgraded Machines at Bargain Price

One underappreciated aspect of an election administrator’s job is the need to operate within a tight budget, meaning they are always on the lookout for ways to save money. In Muscogee County (Columbus), GA an employee’s relocation and some resourceful fundraising helped the election office get upgraded voting machines for next to nothing.