Next month’s elections in King County (Seattle), WA will test an idea about which voters often ask and election officials often wonder: postage-paid ballots. The data will be valuable not just in King County but nationally as more and more communities give voters the option of voting by mail – both on turnout and on per-voter cost.
The report of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration (PCEA), and the rest of its work, is no longer available online after the new Administration decided to remove it from its home at supporttthevoter.gov. Losing that public resource is worrisome, as it suggests that any new effort to study American elections might not share the seriousness of purpose that characterized the Commission’s work.
One of my favorite features at electionlineWeekly is the occasional “exit interview” with an experienced election official who’s leaving the field. The latest installment features former Maricopa County, AZ recorder Helen Purcell – and editor Mindy Moretti had the brilliant idea to give the interview to the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Tammy Patrick, who served for eleven years in Purcell’s office.
Yesterday’s headlines were dominated by reports that the new Administration is considering calling for an investigation into voter fraud in the 2016 election. While a few election officials support the call, the majority is either outright opposed or convinced that it isn’t necessary given their own existing efforts to protect the nation’s voting system.
In Washington DC, talk of the 2016 election still dominates the conversation – but in the states, the work to prepare for elections in 2017 and beyond continues. In Michigan, the state has authorized up to $82.1 million over ten years to replace its aging voting machines. The State will share the costs with localities, but new machines should start arriving as soon as this summer.
Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would not be reviewing a case from Texas that blocked implementation of the state’s strict voter ID law. But the Court signaled that its stance on the case has as much to do with its timing as it does the merits, indicating that the dispute is all but certain to return – at a time when there are once again nine Justices on the bench.
The election community lost a great friend and colleague when former Vermont state election director Kathleen Christie (“Kathy”) Scheele passed away this weekend. She was always a reliable source of data, guidance – and straight talk – about election administration and the people who do it for a living. The field, and I, will miss her.
The November 8 US election was the latest to be the subject of observation by a delegation of international observers through the Organization for the Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The report for that mission was released yesterday – and while much of it is familiar to anyone who follows election administration in the US, it provides a valuable election-focused but outside view of our nation’s system.
States across the nation are expressing interest in the “Colorado model” of elections, but now some county clerks are wondering whether some early voting requirements are serving too few voters and costing too much money. It’s the latest variant of the tension between state consistency vs. local flexibility in election administration, and how it plays out could be important not just in Colorado but nationwide.
In Iowa, the somewhat predictable emergence of the voter ID issue is taking an unexpectedly different shape as Secretary of State Paul Pate says it’s aimed not at voter fraud, but efficiency. The SoS is so interested in improving election administration that he’s proposing to put IDs in the hands of voters without them. Questions remain but it’s definitely a new approach to a very familiar debate.