September 2016

E-41: Courts Shift Registration Rules in Illinois and Georgia

There are 41 days until Election Day – or, as many election officials say, “E-41” – and we are still getting court activity that could have significant impact on the November election. Yesterday – somewhat fittingly, on National Voter Registration Day – there were key developments involving registration procedures in Illinois and Georgia.

National Voter Registration Day 2016

Today is the 5th annual National Voter Registration Day – a day dedicated to ensuring that every eligible American who wants to register to vote can do so. Backed by a national effort (with events in seemingly every community) and a presidential proclamation, it’s a great day for all eligible Americans to register to vote or check and update their registrations.

Appeals Court Blocks Ohio Law on Voter Roll Maintenance

A federal appeals court has ruled that an Ohio law, which identifies voters who have failed to vote and then gives them four years to vote or update their voter record before removing them from the rolls, violates federal law. The case turns on some ambiguous statutory language, which likely means the case will be appealed – but won’t be decided (at least not quickly) because of the current composition of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Candidate’s Death Prompts Last-Minute Montana Ballot Scramble

Today is the day that election offices across the nation are supposed to send ballots to military and overseas voters around the world. But in Montana, a candidate’s tragic death – and uncertainty about his replacement – is making that a challenge. It’s an excellent example of how circumstances beyond election officials’ control can conspire to create a sudden hurdle with less than seven weeks to Election Day.

The Flag Flies Everywhere: New FVAP Study on Overseas Citizen Voters

The Federal Voting Assistance Program has released a new study of overseas citizen [i.e. non-uniformed] voters around the world, which simultaneously shows how far-flung the community is and highlights its low participation rate in American elections. Hopefully, it will spur further analysis- and better yet, action – to address why participation rates for this community are so low.

Space for Disagreement: Summit County, OH Officials Clash Over Voter Parking

The headlines in this election season have been dominated by concerns about high-tech threats to the voting process, but in one Ohio county there is an argument brewing over something far less complex but arguably just as important: parking for voters. As Election Day approaches these kinds of concerns and disputes, about issues that potentially affect the everyday experience of voters, will likely proliferate.

EAC Announces Winners of Election Worker Best Practices Competition

Yesterday, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) announced five winners in its competition to identify best practices in recruiting and training individuals to work as election workers: Brevard County, FL; Franklin County, OH; Hamilton County, OH; Montgomery County, MD; and New Hanover County, NC. The winning entries are all innovative and should be fantastic resources for the field.

DHS Statement on Voluntary Cybersecurity Assistance Available to Election Officials

Last Friday, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson released a statement detailing all the ways in which the agency is prepared to assist – but emphasizes that such assistance would only be provided on a voluntary basis. It’ll be interesting to see how many states take up that offer, given the short time before Election Day and concerns about upsetting the federal-state balance in elections.