I have a guest column in the August 17 electionlineWeekly highlighting the University of Minnesota’s new undergraduate certificate program and (re)introducing the course catalog for 2017-18. Join us!
Articles by Doug Chapin
Polling places are vital to most election offices, but a story from Manatee County (Bradenton) FL – about a near-miss conflict between ballots and bingo cards – reminds us that the buildings involved are also vital, albeit for different reasons, to the owners. The underlying issue – conflicting priorities for building owners as the election office stands by, essentially helpless – repeats itself across the country every election cycle.
Issues with accessibility have resulted in the closure of a key Queens, NY polling place in the LeFrak City apartment complex, and as of now there is no on-site replacement despite the fact that the September 12 primary election – featuring a fierce City Council race in which the complex is a crucial voting bloc – is fast approaching
Precincts in Georgia’s Fulton County (Atlanta) will remain unchanged for now after the county reversed a plan that community advocates say would create problems for many African-American voters. It’s illustrative of the kinds of changes other communities may need to consider as voters as a whole begin to rely less and less on traditional neighborhood polling places. Numbers are important – but conversation is, too.
Efforts to assist state election officials with identifying and responding to cybersecurity threats will get a boost soon as the Department of Homeland Security plans to offer security clearances that will allow officials to see more detail about past, present and future attacks. Local officials should be included too, but this is huge (and welcome) first step.
This week, the Federal Voting Assistance Program released its report on the 2016 election and military and overseas voting. As usual, electionlineWeekly’s Mindy Moretti has the story – which illustrates the importance of voting assistance to Americans abroad.
The City of Tucson, AZ has several elections this fall and in an effort to save money, put the November process out to bid. Ultimately, however, a familiar face will be in charge – Pima County, which wasn’t the low bidder but convinced the City Council that using another office (even its own Clerk) could potentially cost Tucson more than the money saved.
The already high-stakes Supreme Court case regarding Ohio’s use of non-voting as a trigger for list removal got even more interesting recently when the Department of Justice filed a brief reversing its position in the case. That reversal both is and isn’t a big deal – which makes it something like the famous physics paradox of Schrodinger’s Cat.
Things are tense in Montana these days, as county election officials gather for their annual meeting in the midst of growing tension with the Secretary of State over his increasingly harsh rhetoric on voter fraud. Tension between state and local election officials is nothing new, but this kind of “beef” is something different: evidence of a deep-seated mistrust and frustration that cannot be good for the state in the short- or long-term.
The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned an injunction against Illinois’ same-day registration law, saying that plaintiffs failed to demonstrate any evidence that it disadvantages voters in small counties. This “one size need not fit all” approach could be significant elsewhere as well as states seek to balance expanding voting opportunities with smaller communities’ ability to pay for them.