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Tag: 2016 Election (page 1 of 3)

Are Absentee Ballots as Helpful to Voters as They Appear to Be?

By: Alyssa Kaiser

My experience in voting with an absentee ballot in New Jersey in the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections, as well as the 2017 gubernatorial election, alerted my attention to flaws in the system. As an active voter, these experiences have left me to wonder if absentee voting is worth it. I am thankful that my home state of New Jersey has an absentee ballot system that allows me to vote as a New Jerseyite even though I go to school in Virginia. Although New Jersey’s absentee ballot rules are arguably less stringent than other states, I learned the hard way that absentee voting can be difficult.

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Florida Online Voter Registration: Cybersecurity vs. Burdening Eligible Voters

By: Alannah Shubrick

In 2015, the Florida Legislature passed a bill permitting Floridians to register online to vote. Two years later, registertovoteflorida.gov  finally went live in October. Now, Florida is one among 35 states that allow voters the option to register to vote online. The new online voter-registration system is part of broad efforts across the state to modernize the Florida voter registration system and enable all eligible Floridians to join the electorate.

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Keeping Things Straight: Michigan’s Fight Over Straight-Ticket Voting

By: Simon Zagata

For over 125 years, Michigan residents had the option of killing many birds with one stone, at least at the ballot box. This option is called straight-ticket voting, and it allows voters to fill in one bubble on a ballot for Democrats or Republicans, instead of filling in individual bubbles for every race. Proponents of straight-ticket voting claim that it makes the voting process faster, which helps eliminate long lines at the polls. In January 2016, Governor Rick Snyder signed into law a bill that eliminated Michigan’s straight-ticket voting option.

The bill passed along mostly partisan lines, with Republicans claiming that it would encourage nonpartisan voting and force voters to be informed on individual candidates, instead of voting by party. Democrats, on the other hand, saw it as a bare attack on voters in urban areas like Detroit and Flint, where long waits at polling places were already common. Straight-ticket voting has been a boon to Democrats in past elections, with more people voting for Democrats on straight tickets than Republicans. The Michigan Democratic Party was not alone in its concern with the law.

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PA Voter ID Bill Dies In Body, if Not in Spirit

By: Scott McMurtry

After taking unified control of the state government in the 2010 election, Pennsylvania Republicans set out to change the state election laws in two fundamental ways: a redistricting overhaul and an enhanced voter identification law. While the state and Congressional-level redistricting have survived legal challenges to date, plaintiffs were successful in persuading Pennsylvania courts to first stay, and ultimately strike down, the voter ID measure. While confusion over the implementation of the policy persisted even during the 2016 elections, it appears that Pennsylvania’s foray into stringent ID enforcement is over for the foreseeable future.

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Passing Your Vote Through Security:  The Rise of Risk Limiting Audits in Rhode Island 

By: Eric Lynch

In the 2016 election’s aftermath, United States intelligence agencies speculated that the Russian government hacked various government entities and the major political parties in order to influence the election’s results. It was recently confirmed that twenty-one  states were subject to that foreign attack. Experts cautioned states to take responsive measures since many states take little to no precaution at all.  

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Judge Blocks Controversial New Hampshire Voter Registration Law 

By: Samuel Holliday 

On Tuesday Sep. 12, 2017, a New Hampshire Superior Court judge placed a temporary restraining order on the enforcement of penalties under the controversial voter registration law known as Senate Bill 3 pending further judicial review. The law, signed by Governor Chris Sununu (R) on July 10, 2017, provided stricter penalties ‒ a fine up to $5,000 and a jail sentence of up to a year ‒ for failure to provide documentation that supports a voter’s domicile in the state if they register within 30 days of an election. The decision was handed down on the day of the first election in the state which would have been affected by the new law, with instructions that the decision be relayed to localities holding elections. 

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Easy Reading? California’s 224-page Voter’s Guide

By: Tyler Sherman

As November 8—election day—drew closer and Californians geared up to cast their ballots, election officials mailed out the state’s Official Voter Information Guide. The guide listed and explained each of seventeen ballot propositions—the most to appear on a single ballot in sixteen years. But not only was the ballot replete with more propositions than in any election in nearly two decades, the Guide itself set the record of being the longest voter guide in California’s history, at an enormous 224-pages long.

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Idealism vs. Realism: Alternative Paths to Redistricting Reform in an Anticompetitive World

By: Ben Williams

In my previous post for this blog, I compared the competitiveness of congressional races in various states which have enacted redistricting reform to one another—and to the nation as a whole—to discover if Iowa’s acclaimed redistricting reform lives up to the hype surrounding it. Since that post, the 2016 electoral map has changed significantly: several news outlets, such as poll aggregator RealClearPolitics, liberal news outlet Vox, and Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight are all suggested that—while unlikely—there was  at least a conceivable possibility that the Republican Party could lose the House of Representatives. The fact that the House would only be in play in a Democratic wave election speaks volumes about how successful the Republicans’ REDMAP project was in 2011. But this is a blog about election law, not politics.  The 2016 House races brought up several important questions: (1) Were House races truly competitive this year? (2) How did the states which have enacted redistricting reform compare to the national average? And (3) Which method of redistricting reform should reform advocates look to emulate in the non-reformed states?

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De-Clawing a Badger: Western District of Wisconsin Softens State Voter ID Law

In a sweeping opinion handed down in late July, United States District Judge James Peterson struck a substantial number of voting provisions from the books in Wisconsin. The opinion, which spans 119 pages, found that multiple voter restrictions enacted by the state legislature were motivated by a desire to advantage incumbent and aspiring Republican officials. The court first rejected the plaintiffs’ facial challenge, relying on a 7th Circuit decision which held that even if some voters have trouble complying with the law, and those voters tend to be racial minorities, the law is not necessarily facially unconstitutional. This initial victory in preserving the overall voter ID law marks the extent of the defendants’ success in the case.

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Texas: District Court Orders Texas to Re-Write Voter ID Educational Materials, Requires Preclearance Before Publishing Materials

By: Benjamin Daily

In a new development in Texas’ Voter ID saga, U.S District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos found that Texas had misled voters and poll workers about the ID requirements to cast a ballot in the November 2016 election. The new order also requires Texas to obtain preclearance before publishing its educational material. The challenge comes after the Fifth Circuit struck down SB14, the Texas Voter ID law, in Veasey v. Abbott, the Texas Voter ID law last July.

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