The NC legal case continues, even as the election approaches.  The legal wrangling has to stop and the voting has to start at some point.

I have gotten onto the email distribution list of Election Oregon, a group that appears to be a spin off of True the Vote.

The more citizens that learn about the election process in this state the better, but I can’t imagine a more tedious election observation activity than watching a drop box in Oregon (follow this link to see all the individual drop boxes in the state)!

Here’s the plan:

We need individuals posted at each drop box on the last two days of the Election to follow every last ballot directly to your county’s Election office. We need people to volunteer in teams one to drive one to video record the entire journey. I would be happy to act as dispatcher on Election night. Only catching these vote fixer in the act with a video record will make our case.

The problem lies in the trajectory of the vote by mail ballot in this state.  Once a ballot is completed by an individual and dropped at a drop box, it follows this path:

  1. The sealed drop box is transported, generally at 8 pm on election day, sometimes earlier (and then replaced) in popular locations, by an employee from the county office.
  2. The box is  inspected and opened in a secure location at the county elections office.
  3. The ballots are marked and begin to be processed.
  4. Signatures are inspected and validated.
  5. Ballots are separated from the security envelopes and are inspected for stray marks.
  6. Voter intention, if in question, is determined and ballot remarking may occur.
  7. Ballots are scanned and tallied.

It is simply difficult to know at what point “vote fixing” could possibly occur once ballots are dropped in the box.

Most election experts agree that the points of vulnerability in voting by mail system occur when the ballots leave the hands of government officials–after they are mailed and before they are returned.

I’ve done some election observation myself, and it’s never exciting.  But spending all day videotaping a plastic box at a library even makes me feel sleepy!

 

The text of the NC decision is here:

http://www.ca4.uscourts.gov/Opinions/Published/141845.P.pdf

Link obtained via the “Scout” system of the Sunlight Foundation.

Partisan breakdown of the non-citizen vote, from Richman, Chattha, and Earnest (2014), courtesy of Elsevier Publications

A new paper by Jesse Richman, Gulsham Chattha, and David Earnest, available on first release in Electoral Studies, makes the controversial claim that:

We find that there is reason to believe non-citizen voting changed one state’s Electoral College votes in 2008, delivering North Carolina to Obama, and that non-citizen votes have also led to Democratic victories in congressional races including a critical 2008 Senate race that delivered for Democrats a 60-vote filibuster-proof majority in the Senate…

The authors follow a creative strategy by leveraging the large sample sizes in the Cooperative Congressional Election Study  in 2008 and 2010, and vote validation that occurred in 2008, to show that somewhere between 3.3%-25.1% of non-citizens were registered, and 1.5%-11.3% of non-citizens turned out to vote.

Extrapolated to the general population, they estimate anywhere from 38,000 to 2.8 million ballots were cast by non-citizens, and the bulk of these were Democratic votes (see figure above, reproduced from the paper).

The study is the first careful look at non-citizen voting that takes advantage of vote validation, and is almost certainly going to enter into the debate over photo ID.

 

Great article by Rick Hasen in Slate: The Voting Wars Heat Up.

Rick does a wonderful job highlighting how law and politics intersect in this arena

For a nice illustration of the conflict, see these articles by two dear friends, Ned Foley and Dan Tokaji.  Ned and Dan are right down the hall from one another.  Both are smart and reasonable, but on the issue of early voting in Ohio and undue burdens, they come down on different sides.

One thing is for sure–classes and seminars on election law at the Moritz College of Law must be interesting affairs!

Paul Gronke interviewed on early voting and the 2014 GOP get out the vote strategy.

http://online.wsj.com/articles/gop-pushes-early-voting-1411081503

Recent legal decisions in Wisconsin, Maryland, Ohio, Alaska, and other states have left election administrators scrambling as election deadlines approach–or are already well past due!

More in this week’s electionline weekly.

The latest issue of Election Law Journal marks the debut of Policy Central, a new section that recognizes the need for smart and rigorous analysis of election practices and procedures at every level. We invite brief policy-focused submissions from election officials, legal scholars, political scientists, and others working in the field. For submission guidelines, please contact Doug Chapin, Director of the Program for Excellence in Election Administration, University of Minnesota.

Please enjoy complimentary, two-week access to this important new section:

Policy Central: Designing and Evaluating Independent Redistricting Commissions

Introduction
D. Chapin

Redistricting, Risk, and Representation: How Five State Gerrymanders Weathered the Tides of the 2000s
N.M. Goedert

Making Local Redistricting Less Political: Independent Redistricting Commissions for U.S. Cities
S. Bickerstaff

Fair Redistricting in New Jersey and the Role of the Eleventh Member
J. Newton-Farrelly

EVIC's 2014 Early Voting Calendar and Spreadsheet

If you follow EVIC you already know that early and absentee voting laws and policies are complex and vary widely across the fifty states. That’s why EVIC publishes an early and absentee voting calendar and spreadsheet for every general election.

This year, we’ve updated our products and hope the additional information encourages further dialogue about how these rules affect voters. So, make sure to try out all the new bells and whistles. Below, we explain what our information means and provide some basic context. If you’re worried that we misrepresent any state’s election law or policy, do not hesitate to let us know and post below.

Finally, EVIC wants to thank Jonathan Harvey and Tony Moreno, from Reed College CIS, who helped program and design the new calendar. I also want to thank Alex Arpaia, who helped gather the early and absentee voting data.

More information below the split.

Continue reading

The short summary of the Federal Appeals Court hearing on voter ID in Wisconsin had two interesting statements from the judges.

First:

Adelman found some 300,000 people in Wisconsin do not have IDs and determined requiring people to show IDs at the polls would discount far more legitimate votes than fraudulent ones. He concluded voter impersonation — the only kind of fraud the voter ID law would curb — is essentially nonexistent, noting state officials could not cite any examples of it.

But Sykes said Adelman’s findings are “hard to reconcile” with a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding Indiana’s voter ID law. Easterbrook also questioned how Adelman could render his ruling in light of that decision.

“He took evidence and found the Supreme Court was wrong,” Easterbrook said.

I defer to the legal experts on what the Supreme Court said in the Crawford decision (see Dan Tokaji and Chris Elmendorf), but early on in Stevens’s decision, he wrote:

Indiana also claims a particular interest in preventing voter fraud in response to the problem of voter registration rolls with a large number of names of persons who are either deceased or no longer live in Indiana. While the record contains no evidence that the fraud SEA 483 addresses—in-person voter impersonation at polling places—has actually occurred in Indiana, such fraud has occurred in other parts of the country, and Indiana’s own experience with voter fraud in a 2003 mayoral primary demonstrates a real risk that voter fraud could affect a close election’s outcome. There is no question about the legitimacy or importance of a State’s interest in counting only eligible voters’ votes. Finally, Indiana’s interest in protecting public confidence in elections, while closely related to its interest in preventing voter fraud, has independent significance, because such confidence encourages citizen participation in the democratic process. 

The objection some scholars have is that the evidence is wrong, and that calls into serious question the basis upon which the Court rendered it’s decision.

There was no evidence of in-person voter impersonation in Indiana (see page 8 here) and there is no evidence in Wisconsin, either.  The 2003 mayoral primary fraud case involved absentee ballots, a method of casting a ballot that does not require a voter ID.  Thus, the 2003 case is irrelevant for Crawford, and is irrelevant in Wisconsin.

Perhaps the evidence in the Wisconsin case was different from Indiana.  Perhaps there was not a single, irrelevant case of absentee voter fraud that could be used to justify the imposition of voter id requirements.  Perhaps proportionally more voters in Wisconsin lack a photo ID than in Indiana.

And perhaps the quotes in the story are incomplete.

But they seem to imply that the facts from a different case in a different state with a different body of evidence cannot possibly yield a different conclusion than the Crawford case.  I hope that’s not the way that evidence works in the Courts.

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