February 2017

U-Turn: Potential Big Changes in Voting Rights Cases in TX, NC

Currently, there are two big voting rights cases pending in Texas and North Carolina which involve issues that could not only reshape election law in those states but also help sharpen and redefine the contours of the Voting Rights Act. But recently we have seen changes in both cases that could substantially change – or even end these proceedings.

New EAC Chair Matt Masterson on Priorities in 2017 and Beyond

Last week, Matt Masterson became the new Chair of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. On Friday, Chairman Masterson posted a blog entry at EAC.gov that lays out the priorities for the EAC in 2017 and beyond. His piece suggests that despite what you may hear on Capitol Hill, the EAC plans to stay on the job providing the assistance to state and local election officials envisioned by the Help America Vote Act.

“Preventable Human Error”: 1,816 Missing Ballots in Hays County, TX

Hays County (San Marcos), TX’s new elections administrator is putting new procedures in place after discovering that 1,816 votes were missed during the November 2016 election. The incident raises all kinds of issues, including the need for written procedures, discussions about the benefits of paper vs. electronic ballots and the importance of auditing.

Dispute Over Montana All-Mail Election Raises Partisan, Cost Concerns

Very soon, Montana is is expecting a special election to replace its lone member of the House of Representatives, but the plans to do so using an all-mail election are generating a strong objection from a Republican leader – despite the fact that a fellow Republican is pushing the idea (with support from election officials) as a way to save taxpayers money.

NASS Approves Two Election Resolutions at Winter Meeting

Secretaries of State from across the nation were in Washington, DC this past weekend for the annual Winter Meeting of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) – and before leaving town, the membership approved two resolutions registering NASS’ position on key issues (federal election legislation and critical infrastructure) in the ongoing struggle to balance federal and state control over elections.

Lone Star Loophole? Affidavits Reignite Debate Over Texas ID Requirement

The already simmering debate over Texas’ voter ID requirement has heated up again after reports that hundreds of voters took advantage of an affidavit requirement to cast a ballot despite possessing the necessary ID. Whether or not these otherwise eligible voters are subject to any further legal action remains to be seen – but either way voter ID is once again back on the front page in the Lone Star State.

Happy Presidents’ Day!

The peaceful transition of power is what will separate this country from every other country in the world. – George Washington | Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. – Abraham Lincoln
[Regular blog returns tomorrow.]

“The Importance of Their Middle Name”: electionlineWeekly on the Future of the EAC

electionlineWeekly’s latest edition focuses on the battle over the future over the Election Assistance Commission – and finds that while some policymakers argue it’s obsolete, many others appreciate the role it plays as a set of eyes and ears (and voice) in Washington, DC. As Colorado SoS Wayne Williams notes, “they have recognized the importance of their middle name.”

States Still Not Clear, Comfortable With DHS “Critical Infrastructure” Plans for Elections

During this week’s Technical Guidelines Development Committee meeting, the group heard a presentation from a representative of the Department of Homeland Security on the recent designation of elections as critical infrastructure. The presentation left many states uncertain about what happens next – suggesting that the plan likely faces a bumpy ride for the foreseeable future.

Plug, Play and Vote? New Functional Approach to Voting Technology Could Change Market

The Technical Guidelines Development Committee is working on a function-based approach to voting technology standards. This approach, reminiscent of how USB “plug and play” changed the PC market, could liberate buyers and sellers alike by allowing them to focus on specific components that meet specific functions – opening up the market, allowing election officials to focus on targeted upgrades and reducing costs.