Congressional Wants Legislation Likely in next few years
Current Ideas Circulating as Potentials • federal voter registration and government responsibility for VR; • federal requirement for Election Day Registration; • federal requirements on how to administer voter information mismatches in VR; • uniform definition of how provisional ballots are to be administered; • federal requirements on ballot design and layout; • federal requirements on post election audits; • potential legislation for restrictions on challenging eligibility of voters; and • the continued push to eliminate or restrict use of DREs; • potential requirements to make absentee mail balloting to any voter;
Current Ideas Circulating as Potentials • All states to allow no excuse AB or Early Voting • Standards for purging voters • Prohibition of ID requirements • Restoration of Rights for Felons • Prohibition of Voter Caging (including any use of non-forwardable or nonreturnable documents) • Shortening of waiting times for voters • Paper ballots at all polling locations • Poll Worker Training Programs • Creation of grants for election software • Equitable allocation of voter resources (equipment, pollworkers, polling places, etc.) • Statewide Voter Database interoperability with other states
Federal Voter Registration • The thought is that all voters should have the right to vote in Federal elections regardless of where they live – especially for President/VP and US Senate races. States are “denying” otherwise qualified citizens from participating
VR As Government Responsibility • Those principally offering this want the Federal government to be responsible for this but many are willing to have states and locals take over the function • This is one of those EOs should give consideration: • it eliminates most of the abuses of 3rd party registrations; • allows full control by EOs; cannot eliminate totally voter initiated – has to be way to all voters to initiate if government misses them.
VR As Government Responsibility • Considerations: • Cost Factors – New Costs for government • According to recent research 95% of voters have drivers license • 99% of voters have some form of official government ID – which means it is likely they are in databases where elections can access the information for automatic registration efforts
VR As Government Responsibility • If government does the function then registration lists can be determined in advance of elections • If government does this, EDR may no longer be necessary or makes EDR easier for states employing it. • If government does this, should reduce numbers of Provisional Ballots
Federal Requirement for EDR • From an administrative standpoint is government VR preferable to EDR? • Will positive ID be prohibited with EDR or a feature of EDR?
Federal Requirements for Voter Information Mismatches • Aim is to forestall states establishing “absolute” matches; • Also question SSA information as often inaccurate; • Other issues
Uniform Handling of Provisional Ballots • Intent is to eliminate states requiring voter to go back to correct polling place and count the ballot for all races if the voter is otherwise qualified • Depending on whom is supporting the changes, make the assumption that the voter has correctly handled and that government made the mistake • Other assumptions
Requirements on Ballot Layout & Design • Brennan Center and others pushing the Design for Democracy findings about Ballot Design and Layout • Clearly there are some good ideas in the EAC sponsored study that need to be learned and taught • However, if followed absolutely, then ballots will be many pages – and that will bring both administrative and integrity questions (how to keep ballots together for recounts or audits)
Requirements on Post Election Audits • Disagreement on whether this is necessary and useful • Disagreement on whether an audit is preferable to an automatic recount • Unclear what purpose this serves beyond that a percentage of advocates want it
Restrictions on Challenging Eligibility of Voters • Age old argument between the 2 parties • May become moot if Government takes over VR • Aimed more at the Poll Watchers than at election administration but still may have some impact
Eliminate or Restrict use of DREs • Continued push to paper • Requirements for DREs that paper doesn’t meet either • Software and security requirements
Expansion of No Excuse AB • Not referred to as Vote By Mail but as no excuse AB available to any voter • Restrictions on states as to ID requirements
Early Voting for all States • Force all states to employ forms of early voting
Standards for Purging Voters • To assure voters are kept on the rolls and “not wrongfully removed”
Prohibition of ID Requirements • Establish Federal standards to override states that have established ID requirements • According to new research • 12% of voters in 23 “HAVA only” states had to show Photo ID • 80% of voters in the 3 states requiring Photo ID had to show Photo ID • Hispanics asked to show more ID than whites or blacks in these states
Restoration of Rights for Felons • The case is explained that this affects African Americans far more than any other segment of society. • JEOLC has looked at the issue for more than 10 years – Principal reaction of EOs is if it becomes law, force courts to issue a certificate of restoration of rights so EOs know that rights are restored.
Prohibition of Voter Caging • Aimed principally at the “other” party but also can affect how EOs use non-forwardable and non-returnable documents
Shortening of Waiting Times for Voters • According to recent survey by MIT, Caltech and Utah, average wait time for voters (in survey of 12,000 voters nationwide), avg wait time was 13 minutes • However, avg wait time reported by African Americans was 29 minutes; whites 12 minutes, Hispanics 13 minutes and Asians 9 minutes on ED • We don’t know for certain what causes longer wait times for African Americans – resources or unusually high numbers voting in this election. We should know.
Paper Ballots At All Polling Places • Some states are handling with Ballot on Demand systems (BOD) • For some it is dual processing in the precincts – but DC does both and makes it work
Poll Worker Training Programs • Personal: This is best left to local governments. • Critics think that mandates and training can improve poll worker selection and performance. • More narrowly, some think this can apply to Federal workers only.
Creation of Grants for Software • The grants are aimed principally for academic and nonprofit institutions rather than for manufacturers • There are some who want government to create software and then have it used universally • Potential dangers: • eliminate voting systems companies • Becomes easier to manipulate software • Would tempt parties in power to stay in power
Equitable Allocation of Resources • There are claims that African Americans receive fewer resources than other voters • Academic research on the subject is muddled – some say yes, some say no evidence that supports the allegation • We need to know as a profession if it is so – If yes, then we need to fix it – voting has to be fair. If no, then we need to be able to show real information.
Statewide Voter DB Interoperability • This is one of the most confusing issues: • Republican Right and Democratic Left fear a national database and allege that it will be used for ill advised means • Yet some of both parties want this to evolve • EAC has a grant out to National Academy of Sciences on Statewide DBs, standards and performance and data sharing
Is There a Better Way? • Bandaid approach to elections • What if we evolved elections into something that works better as a designed process rather than locking pieces into law? • What would it look like? • What could be agreed to? • Some ideas:
New Ideas • Suppose government takes over VR (preferably at State and Local levels)? • Suppose we built on Vote Center concept for much of America (may not work as well in less urban settings). Then PV not much of an issue. • Suppose we eliminated Early Voting and AB and went to an election season of multiple days of voting – As we are now, EOs running 3 elections at once • OR suppose we eliminated all polling sites and went to national Vote by Mail • Connie Schmidt has agreed to head up a new Task Force on Future of the Elections Process and finding new ideas