State of Elections

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Tag: 2018 midterms

Republicans Remain the Majority Party in Georgia; But all is Not Gloom and Doom for Georgia Democrats

After a highly touted 2018 campaign season which led to historic numbers of early votes in the State of Georgia, it appears that the Republicans will continue to control both the state legislature and executive branch. Additionally, a majority of the state’s Federal House seats went to Republican candidates. But all is not gloom and doom for Georgia Democrats, the Democratic Party did gain eight seats in the State House (six of which were from Republican incumbents), two seats in the State Senate, and one seat in the Federal House.

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Massachusetts’s Automatic Voter Registration System to be in Place in Time for 2020 Primaries

By: Jared Mullen

As the final votes are counted following the 2018 midterms, attention inevitably shifts to 2020 and the presidential primaries. In Massachusetts, that will mean a new automatic voter registration (AVR) system, which will automatically register any citizen who completes a transaction at the Registry of Motor Vehicles or signs up for MassHealth, a state insurance provider. The AVR system, which was signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker in August 2018, also allows the Secretary of State to expand the program to other state social agencies once state employees verify that they collect the requisite information to register voters. Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts, estimates that AVR could bring 500,000 new voters on to the rolls in the state. Common Cause estimates that there are approximately 650,000 Massachusetts residents who are not registered to vote despite being eligible.

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In North Carolina, Voters Choose the Devil(s) They Know

By: Andrew Pardue

North Carolina, a notoriously divided swing state, managed to find a surprising degree of political consensus on a variety of proposed changes to the state constitution in the 2018 midterm elections. Voters considered six potential amendments to the state constitution, three of which concerned various aspects of election law. One amendment would require voters to present photo identification in order to vote in-person. A second would change both the composition and the appointment process for the state’s Bipartisan Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement. The third would allow the legislature to nominate judicial candidates for vacancies that arise in between elections, and then require the governor to select an appointee from among that pool of candidates.

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Release from a Political Life Sentence: How Florida Voters Approved the Largest Enfranchisement in 47 Years – Part I

By: Zach McDonnell

In the 2018 midterm elections, Florida had such close elections that both its Senate and Governor’s races appeared headed for a recount, even several days after November 6. One election in the state, however, presented a resounding victory for a population that’s not used to seeing very many wins, in court or in the political process: convicted ex-felons. 64.5% of Florida voters approved of Amendment 4, a Florida state constitutional amendment that will automatically restore the voting rights of at least 1.4 million people—the single largest enfranchisement of Americans since the ratification of the Twenty-Sixth Amendment in 1971. Now, all felons—with the exception of those convicted of murder and felony sexual offenses—will automatically have their voting rights restored upon the completion of their sentences, including probation and parole. Those convicted of murder and sex offenses will instead be relegated to the restoration system that, prior to Amendment 4’s passage, all Florida ex-felons had to endure.

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The White Rabbit of Pennsylvania: Absentee Ballots [Are] Late For a Very Important Date

By Allie Amado

So you want to use an absentee ballot in a Pennsylvania election? Here are a few tips to make it worth your trouble:

  1. Mail your absentee ballot request at least one week before the election. But I suggest much earlier.
  2. Once you receive your ballot, take care to mark it according to the instructions.
  3. Place your ballot in the mail as soon as possible.
  4. Cross your fingers and hope your ballot reached the county election office before 5 p.m. on the Friday before the election.

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150 Unfortunate Voters

By: Matthew Catron

Again…all eyes are on Florida, this time after the 2018 Midterm Election. While Broward County and the statewide recount seem to be caught in the spotlight, another controversy is brewing in the Florida Panhandle. In this case, the chief election official of Bay County allowed approximately 150 voters to cast their ballots via fax or email.

Hurricane Michael hit the Florida Panhandle in mid-October and had a lasting effect on the infrastructure and residents of several coastal counties. As a result of the devastation, Gov. Rick Scott issued an executive order extending the deadline for early voting and increasing the number of early voting locations in eight hurricane-hit counties. Gov. Scott issued this executive order pursuant to the governor’s power under the Florida Elections Emergency Act. However, Bay County Supervisor of Elections Mark Andersen went beyond the governor’s executive order and accepted roughly 150 ballots via fax or email. These electronically transmitted ballots were cast by voters who were displaced by Hurricane Michael.

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Virginia Awarded a $9 Million Grant to Improve Election Security, Has Yet to Spend a Dime

By: Chelsea West

The November 6th midterm elections will soon be upon us and U.S. voters are preparing to go to the polls. Federal, state, and local officials are preparing as well. While voters are debating which candidates to elect, government officials are rigorously working to beef up election security. They intend to do all they can to make sure everyone who is eligible has the opportunity to cast a ballot and that those votes are counted correctly.

Election security is on the forefront of conversation regarding the upcoming November elections. There exist many fears among U.S. intelligence and security officials over possible hacking or cyber-attacks. These fears increased after the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security both accused Russia of orchestrating an operation to hack into the emails of U.S. political organizations and selectively release them to the public.

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Wisconsin’s 1st District: How the Race to Replace Paul Ryan Was Won Long Before 2018

By: Colin Neal

Wisconsin’s 1st District has been in political prominence since its young Congressman, Rep. Paul Ryan, was tapped as Gov. Mitt Romney’s running mate in the 2012 Presidential election. In 2015, riding the popularity of his Vice Presidential campaign, Rep. Paul Ryan became the youngest Speaker of the House of Representatives in over a century when he replaced Speaker Boehner. More recently, the race to replace outgoing Speaker Ryan in the Wisconsin’s 1st—a district Ryan has represented since 1999—has come under the national spotlight due to excitement about Democrat Randy Bryce, an ironworker and community activist with a bombastic, yet compassionate, attitude. However, Bryce’s race to replace Rep. Ryan may not be so simple. In the midst of a “blue wave” responding to the unpopularity of President Trump, Wisconsin’s 1st is seen as a potential pick-up district for Democrats. However, Wisconsin’s 1st is a product of a statewide gerrymander plan that may very well raise the Republican shoreline above the incoming blue wave, despite Randy Bryce’s efforts. This is due to a failure of the Wisconsin Constitution and Wisconsin statutes to codify requirements for Congressional districting beyond mere administrative advice, namely requiring compactness and respect for existing political borders. Although the Wisconsin Constitution requires such for the redistricting of the state legislature (the compliance with such constitutional mandate notwithstanding), its failure to include such requirement for federal elections has led to a near-insurmountable gerrymander in Wisconsin’s 1st, which may otherwise be quite competitive.

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