ElectionlineWeekly’s “What to Watch” Election Day 2018

[Image via focusonmarshfield]

electionlineWeekly’s Mindy Moretti is back with the latest installment of the site’s “what to watch” on Election Day 2018. Check it out:

This is it. The end is finally nigh…well at least (we hope) for the 2018 election cycle.

Although millions of voters have already cast their ballots in record number either through early voting, absentee voting or vote-by-mail, millions more will head to the polls on November 6 and cast their ballots in what has become, for a variety of reasons, one of the most watched elections of our time.

It’s been a very busy two years since the last nationwide election to say the least. Federal, state and local officials have spent thousands of hours and dollars beefing up election security. In addition to that, voters will face new laws, new voting machines and new voting sites on Tuesday.

There’s a lot to watch on Tuesday and electionline will be doing Election Dispatches through the day. And while we will no doubt be following everything, these are 10 things we will be paying special attention to.

Good luck and may the gods of democracy have mercy on our souls!

Oh, and as Agatha Christie said in Death Comes at the End, “Sometimes what you think is an end is only a beginning.” November 3, 2020 is only 728 days away!

Election Security —While all eyes are already on the midterms in anticipation of the outcome, everyone will also be keeping a very close on election security. Counties and states have worked tirelessly since the 2016 to bolster their election security, especially cybersecurity. Will it be enough? Also on the security front, tempers are running high in America and there have already been several instances of minor violence and intimidation at early voting sites, will everyone remain calm on Election Day?

Voter Registration —Hundreds of thousands (millions?) of people registered to vote in the waning days of the 2018 election cycle. Some counties struggled to get the voter registrations processed before early voting began. Come Election Day, will all those registrations be processed and voters find their names on the rolls? And in Georgia, will the thousands of suspended voters be able to cast their ballots without issue?

Voter ID — Issues with voter ID arise every election, but this year, Iowa and Missouri will see the first, large-scale, statewide roll out of their voter ID laws. Missouri’s was mired in litigation till about two weeks before the election. Are poll workers prepared to know what to ask for? Are voters prepared to show the required IDs? And in North Dakota, after the U.S. Supreme Court failed to take up the case, the state’s voter ID law, which requires a valid street address is on the books. Many Native Americans living on reservations may be impacted. Will they get the necessary ID in time?

Turnout — Americans have turned out in record numbers for early voting this year. Will that impact overall turnout? Will voters turnout in record — for a midterm — numbers on Election Day as well? Are elections officials prepared for crowds? Will there be lines? Will polls have to stay open late?

Displaced Voters — Voters in several states, including North Carolina, Florida and Texas are displaced from their homes due to natural disasters. While the voters inTexas have been displaced for a year now, the displacement only recently occurred in North Carolina, Florida, Georgia and other states. Will these displaced voters be able to cast a ballot? Will they face issues if they show up at their designated polling places on Election Day? How will the counties in the Florida Panhandle, especially Bay County, pull off Election Day?

New Machines/Technology — Thousands of voters will be using new voting machines for the first time this election. Are voters and poll workers ready? Will this slow down or speed up the process of casting ballots? Will the voting booth technology help speed up election night? Some voters encountered problems with electronic voting machines during early voting, will those problems persist? Additionally, jurisdictions in several states are using e-poll books for the first time. How will roll out go?

Litigation — It seems like, in the lead up to the 2018 midterm election, there was a lawsuit filed almost every day. From polling place location to voter ID, to absentee ballot acceptance. Will all these suits be settled by Tuesday and if so what impact may they have? Will more lawsuits be filed as a results of Tuesdays’ process or outcomes?

Secretary of State Races — There are 24 secretary of state seats up for grabs this election cycle with eight of those being open seats. In addition to those 24 seats, there are several governor’s races that may determine the future of the state’s election authority.

Ballot Measures — As we reported a few weeks ago, there are eight statewide ballot measures that will cover voter ID, ballot harvesting, election-day registration, automatic voter registration, citizens-only voting, ex-felon voting, and no-excuse absentee voting. There will also be at least 10 local elections-related measures covering everything from voting rights for 16-year-olds, approval voting, instant runoff voting and non-citizen voting.

Vote by Mail — More and more people are choosing to cast their ballot via mail. Will those ballots get to elections officials on time? Will there be issues with signature matches? How long will processing and counting all those ballots take?

And finally there are the unknown unknowns.

As Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said back in 2002,  “But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.” There are things that may happen on Election Day that no one could anticipate happening and elections officials live by the unknown unknowns rule. Will there be any unknown unknowns on Election Day 2018 and if so, what impact may they have and at what level?

As always, it’s a target-rich environment; thanks to Mindy for the heads-up round-up. Everybody get some rest this weekend – because the fun starts in earnest first thing Tuesday! Stay tuned …

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