ElectionlineWeekly’s “What to Watch” on Election Day 2019

[Image via communitynews]

Next Tuesday, November 5, is Election Day in many states and localities – and electionline’s Mindy Moretti is back with a short list of what to watch as the day unfolds. Take a look:

While most eyes are on 2020, those in the elections world know that Tuesday November 5 is also an Election Day and for many cities/counties/states this will be a way to test new equipment and laws during a typically lower-turnout election.

As with any election, there will mostly likely be lines at some polling places. Polling places may open late. A ballot tabulation machine could get stuck. Results will be late. A website might go down. The weather will be terrible somewhere. There may be a power outage. A gas leak may force an evacuation. A car could even crash into a polling place.

Those things happen every election. This year will be no different. But there are six particular things that we’ll be keeping an eye on Tuesday…

Voters in many states including Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and South Carolina, will be facing new voting equipment for the first time. How will the voters handle it? Will poll workers have everything up and running at the times the polls open? Will there be any end-of-the day shut-down problems at polling places? What will elections officials learn from this “small” roll out of new machines that may help them prepare for 2020?

Ranked choice voting
Ranked choice voting is having a relatively big year and it could get even bigger depending on how voters in New York City vote on a charter amendment that would the city to the voting system. Although Mayor Bill de Blasio has not said one way or another where he falls on the measure, some lawmakers have voiced their support for the new system.

Ranked choice is also being used for the first time in Las Cruces, New Mexico. There have been some questions about the system during early voting, but only time will tell whether the voters really approve.

Expanded early and absentee voting
Voters in Virginia and Michigan have expanded opportunities to vote absentee this year. How will that affect turnout, if at all, and more importantly how will that affect local elections officials’ ability to provide election results in a timely manner?

In case you hadn’t heard, New York kicked off early voting for the first time this year. How will that impact turnout, if at all? How will that impact results reporting? Will it be considered an overall success or not?

Young voters
Young people turned out in record numbers in 2018. Will they keep up that momentum? In the days and months leading up to the 2019 election, they’ve also run into problems such as residency issues, non-compliant voter IDs and lack of access to polling places. Will those issues factor in to 2019 turnout?

Vote by mail
Voters in Rockville, Maryland will be voting entirely by mail this election. Will the voters meet the deadline? How long will it take the city to process and tabulate the ballots?

In New Jersey, an expanded vote-by-mail law could mean more people than ever casting their ballot that way. What impacts may that have on the turnout and the tabulation?

Secretary of state races
There will be at least two new secretaries of state following the November 5 election when Michael Adams (R) takes on Heather French Henry (D) in Kentucky and Johnny Dupree (D) takes on Michael Watson (R) in Mississippi.  In Louisiana we’ll have to wait a few more days till their runoff election on November 16 to see how incumbent Kyle Ardoin (R) fares against challenger Gwen Collins-Greenup (D).

Unknown unknowns
And then, to quote former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield, there are the unknown unknowns.

Good luck to all the elections officials out there!

Thanks as always to Mindy for putting this together … In some ways, the 2019 election could give us a clue about what might be the big stories in 2020 – though, as Mindy suggests, there always going to be surprises. Best of luck to everyone voting (and running elections) next Tuesday – stay tuned!

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