State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Tag: Midterm Election

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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Special Election Battle in Wisconsin

By: Richard J. Batzler

As pundits assess the political climate in the lead up to the 2018 midterm elections, special elections provide key insights into electoral trends. Earlier this year, Wisconsin was the site of two State Senate races that buoyed the hopes of those working toward a “blue wave.” But one of these elections almost never took place, as all three branches of state government clashed over whether the Governor had to call special elections in the first place.

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If You Build It, They Will Come: College-Age Voters in North Carolina

By: Julie Tulbert

As another election season wraps up, the eternal question remains: why don’t young people vote in midterm elections?   Continue reading

The Tea Party and Voter Fraud

In anticipation of the impending midterm elections, officials from various Tea Party affiliated groups are concerned that Republicans are losing elections because of voter fraud. Dick Armey, former Republican Congressman, recently asserted that up to 3% of the votes Democrat’s received in 2008 was illegitimate.

Ignoring for a moment that most voting experts refute these claims, the debate is interesting for several reasons. First, it shows the ever-increasing role the Tea Party plays in the Republican Party, a dynamic certain to have a huge impact in November. This broad discussion, however, has been extensively covered by the national news media, so we don’t need to get into it now.

Second, it illustrates the importance of conducting fair and open elections. If these claims have any basis in fact, the implications would be staggering.  The 2008 election cycle fundamentally altered the direction of local, state and national politics, as Democrats dominated, even in traditionally Republican districts. If for some reason that move was illegitimate, it would change our view of the direction American politics. Perhaps that is what these claims are really all about – the Tea Party questioning whether 2008 was really an indication that the country moving to the political left. Continue reading

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