State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Tag: Presidential Primaries

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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The Uninstructed Delegate: How Wisconsin’s Presidential Primary System Respects the Power of Voters and Parties

By: Colin Neal

In the wake of the historically violent 1968 Democratic National Convention, there was a national surge in favor of placing more of the political power of parties in the hands of the voters rather than the party elites. In the following decades, states have shifted towards a nomination system that ensures that the winner of a state’s primary—in which citizens have the right to vote for the candidate they choose for the nomination—will receive that state’s votes for nomination at the national party. The safeguards in place for maintenance of party power, such as the Democrat’s Superdelegates, ensure that some power remains in the hands of the party elites. However, these safeguards have also come under attack for their fortification of the party favorite early into an election, regardless of the popular will.

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