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Author Topic: State voting laws  (Read 1009 times)
greenforest32
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« on: April 18, 2012, 09:28:25 am »
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Thought it would be interesting to have a thread on state election and voting laws.

One relatively new development is online voter registration: http://www.ncsl.org/legislatures-elections/elections/electronic-or-online-voter-registration.aspx

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Arizona Reports Success with Electronic Voter Registration

Arizona first implemented online voter registration in 2003, and has reported success with their program.  The secretary of state reports that over 70 percent of all voter registrations are now performed online, and that the state saw an increase of 9.5 percent in voter registrations from 2002 to 2004 with the implementation of online registration.

Arizona also reports cost savings by eliminating the data entry process for state and county employees that a paper-based system requires, as well as increased accuracy in its voter rolls. The costs associated with a paper registration were 83 cents, while the cost of an online registration was 3 cents, according to the 2010 report, Online Voter Registration: Case Studies in Arizona and Washington.

Online voter registrations require a driver's license number or the last four digits of a social security number, and the inclusion of this data in all online registration allows for quick and accurate checks for duplicate records. For more details on online voter registration, see the June 2011 issue of NCSL's elections newsletter, The Canvass.

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States with Online Voter RegistrationMap of states with online voter registration

Arizona -- implemented in 2002; see EZ Voter Registration
California -- passed in 2008 (SB 381);this law is to be implemented in 2014 or after; passed in 2011 (SB 397) permitting counties to implement online registration
Colorado -- passed in 2009 (HB 1160); see Go Vote Colorado
Indiana -- passed in 2009 (HB 1346); see IndianaVoters.gov
Kansas -- implemented in 2009; see Vote Kansas
Louisiana -- passed in 2009 (HB 520); see Geaux Vote
Maryland -- passed in 2011 (HB 740); implementation is currently in process
Nevada -- see Online Voter Registration; presently only available for residents of Clark County
Oregon -- passed in 2009 (HB 2386); see OreStar
Utah -- passed in 2009 (SB 25); see Office of the Lt. Governor
Washington -- passed in 2007 (HB 1528); see Online Voter Registration

« Last Edit: June 04, 2014, 11:59:15 pm by greenforest32 »Logged
greenforest32
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« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2012, 09:50:23 am »
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Absentee/Early Voting laws (July 22, 2011)

http://www.ncsl.org/legislatures-elections/elections/absentee-and-early-voting.aspx



Colorado is heading towards becoming the third all-mail voting state I think: http://www.governing.com/topics/politics/colorado-collects-popular-votes-mail.html

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Colorado is quite possibly the easiest place in the country to vote. That's because the state offers voters three major options: They can sign up and become permanent absentee voters, receiving a ballot in the mail each election; they can vote early in-person; or they can vote at a standard precinct on Election Day. In the August primary, however, most of the precincts were gone.

Instead, 46 of Colorado's 64 counties held their elections almost entirely by mail, with ballots sent to every registered voter. The shift reflects the current dismal fiscal climate for local governments -- Colorado counties saved hundreds of thousands of dollars by doing away with precincts. But the shift may also reflect the natural progression of states that experiment with mail-in balloting. Oregon and Washington also started by offering the option of either precincts or mail ballots. Today, both states vote almost exclusively by mail.

http://www.governing.com/blogs/politics/Colorado-Mail-Voting.html

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Forty-six of the state's 64 counties are holding all-mail elections.

That's quite a change from just a couple of years earlier. In 2008, when I last took a national look at voting by mail, only two states, Oregon and Washington, were embracing (almost) exclusive postal voting.

Colorado and California had a different model. They were letting voters opt to be "permanent absentee voters." Permanent absentee voters receive a mail ballot every election. At the same time, citizens that didn't want to vote absentee could vote on Election Day at traditional polling places. In terms of making it easy to vote, it's hard to argue that this hybrid model isn't the best approach. Vote by mail or in person, whichever you please -- what could be easier than that?

Easier, that is, for voters. For election administrators, nothing could be more difficult or more expensive than having to conduct a full precinct election and provide mail balloting at the same time. My story ended by quoting Bill Bradbury, Oregon's then-Secretary of State:

How long the hybrid system will remain dominant in Colorado, or anywhere else, is anyone's guess. In Oregon, a hybrid similar to Colorado's led gradually to a declining use of polling places and eventually to all mail. "It really doesn't make sense," says Secretary of State Bradbury, "to spend all the time and all the money to have polling places for a smaller and smaller group of people."

Lawmakers in Colorado seem to be taking that message to heart. In 2009, state legislators passed a law that allowed counties to conduct all-mail primary elections. Of Colorado's eight most populous counties, only Republican-tilting El Paso County (where Colorado Springs is located) will have precincts for next month's primary.

66.7% of active registered voters have requested permanent mail-in voter status as of March 2012: http://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/elections/VoterRegNumbers/2012/March/TotalPMIVRequests.pdf

Vote by mail is increasing in California too as you can see from these 1962-2010 stats: http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/hist_absentee.htm

37.5% of registered California voters have requested permanent vote-by-mail status as of November 2010: http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/vote-by-mail/pvmb-voter-survey-1992-2010.xls
« Last Edit: April 18, 2012, 09:54:42 am by greenforest32 »Logged
wormyguy
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« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2012, 09:52:10 am »
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All-mail voting is of course the most conducive to fraud since the counting can be done in total secrecy.
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greenforest32
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« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2012, 10:27:28 am »
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All-mail voting is of course the most conducive to fraud since the counting can be done in total secrecy.

Secrecy = what? Counting by election officials? How is that any different than how they count all paper ballots?
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wormyguy
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« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2012, 10:38:47 am »
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All-mail voting is of course the most conducive to fraud since the counting can be done in total secrecy.

Secrecy = what? Counting by election officials? How is that any different than how they count all paper ballots?

At least in Massachusetts, the voter puts his/her own vote in the ballot box, in full view of the (volunteer) election officials, who then count the ballots immediately after voting ends.  It's very difficult to have counting fraud unless all the volunteer election officials are in on it (which is not unheard of, certain Boston precincts occasionally break 100% turnout).  You essentially have to take their word for it much more in an all-postal situation.
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greenforest32
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« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2012, 11:04:03 am »
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All-mail voting is of course the most conducive to fraud since the counting can be done in total secrecy.

Secrecy = what? Counting by election officials? How is that any different than how they count all paper ballots?

At least in Massachusetts, the voter puts his/her own vote in the ballot box, in full view of the (volunteer) election officials, who then count the ballots immediately after voting ends.  It's very difficult to have counting fraud unless all the volunteer election officials are in on it (which is not unheard of, certain Boston precincts occasionally break 100% turnout).  You essentially have to take their word for it much more in an all-postal situation.

There is some level of control given up in any election system. The system I could see having the lowest possibility for counting fraud is for each voter to independently watch their ballot be counted and have full access to the tallying system to double-check (pre and post election). That seems relatively easy to achieve with internet voting but even then, I doubt everyone would check.
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« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2012, 01:18:03 pm »
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My only issue with all mail voting is that the results of marginally close elections can take several days (like Murry v Rossi) to complete.
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So it goes. heya.
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« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2012, 11:29:42 pm »
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I like all mail voting.
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greenforest32
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« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2012, 02:52:19 pm »
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Same-day voter registration: http://www.ncsl.org/legislatures-elections/elections/same-day-registration.aspx

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Eight states have same-day registration (SDR), whereby any qualified resident of the state can go to the polls on election day then register and vote.

State - Year enacted

Wisconsin - 1971
Maine* - 1973
Minnesota - 1974
Idaho - 1994
Wyoming - 1994
New Hampshire - 1996
Montana - 2005
Iowa - 2007

*Maine’s same-day registration law, enacted in 1973, was repealed by the legislature in 2011. A people’s veto of the law in November, 2011, was successful, and same-day registration remains the law in Maine.

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Two others allow voters to register and cast a vote during the early voting period.

Since 2007, North Carolina has allowed voters to register and vote on the same day at early voting locations that are open from 19 days before the election to 3 days before the election. Ohio also allows same-day registration during early voting, which is conducted beginning on the last Tuesday in September through the first Monday in October. These two states do not permit same-day registration on Election Day, however.
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greenforest32
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« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2012, 11:04:46 pm »
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Colorado is heading towards becoming the third all-mail voting state I think: http://www.governing.com/topics/politics/colorado-collects-popular-votes-mail.html

Wow, maybe Montana is up there too: http://www.greatfallstribune.com/article/20120511/NEWS01/205110318

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VOTING ABSENTEE A GROWING TREND

How Montanans vote has changed dramatically since the turn of the century.

In 2000, only 15 percent of Montanans voted absentee in the general election. That meant they would be traveling on Election Day; had a good reason they could not vote in person, such as being disabled; or they simply did not feel like going out to vote on the day of the election. That latter reason became acceptable when the 1999 Montana Legislature approved "no-excuse" voting.

Absentee voting grew in popularity, with 22 percent of Montanans voting absentee in the 2004 general election, according to Montana's secretary of state.

Then, in 2005, the Legislature agreed to allow Montanans to become permanent absentee voters if they chose.

In 2006, absentee voting in the general election rose to 29.17 percent; in 2008, to 42.21 percent; and in 2010, 47.15 percent of the 367,010 votes cast came by absentee ballot.

One historic vote for Montana came in the June 2010 primary, when 54.26 percent of all votes, or 112,204 Montanans, voted using an absentee ballot.

The Nov. 6 general election could be the first time a majority of Montanans vote absentee in a general election. Most absentee votes these days are cast by mail.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2013, 03:25:43 pm by greenforest32 »Logged
greenforest32
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« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2013, 04:59:33 pm »
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Bump with some updates.

Same-day registration (As of June 7, 2013) - California, Connecticut, and Colorado have recently passed same-day registration with CT's law taking effect July 2013, CO's law sometime later this year, and CA's perhaps in 2014. Maryland also passed same-day registration during its early voting period (but not on Election Day itself) though it won't take effect until January 2016. Democrats in the Nevada state legislature passed a law much like Maryland's but Governor Sandoval vetoed it. Delaware is also considering same-day registration this legislative session.

Same-day registration states consistently have higher turn-out:



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Online voter registration (As of June 7, 2013) - Now available in 12 states with 6 more states recently passing legislation for it or working on implementation. Map (grey = not available, white = in process, green = available):



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Early/absentee voting (As of June 7, 2013) - Washington state is now completely vote-by mail like Oregon. Colorado's same-day registration bill referenced above also has a provision to mail ballots to every registered voter, whether or not they requested absentee status (they're still able to vote in-person instead if they prefer). Minnesota passed no-excuse absentee balloting with the bill taking effect in 2014. The Connecticut state legislature recently referred a measure to the 2014 ballot to amend the state constitution to authorize early voting. Early/absentee voting map:



^^ The Northeast does stand out here compared to the rest of the country. I know the Republican/coalition controlled state senate in New York has been blocking early voting and Pennsylvania has a solid gerrymander among other things but Rhode Island and Massachusetts have nothing in the way. No Republican governor like Christie in New Jersey vetoing early voting and yet they have no online voter registration, no same-day registration, and no early voting. Connecticut's been doing a lot better than them at expanding voting rights.

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Automatic voter registration - This is a new area. No state has passed this yet and Oregon is currently considering a bill on it with estimates suggesting the bill would raise the percentage of the voting-eligible population that is registered to vote from about 74% to around 93% and potentially even 95%+ as more agencies besides the DMV share data with the Secretary of State (for reference, this registration percentage number ranges from 59% to 84% among the states with the national average being 71%).

The bill is currently in committee and I'm not sure if it's going to pass this session. Haven't heard anything in about a month and the legislative session ends in about four weeks. On the other-hand, even if it fails here, there will be more and more pushes for this as time goes on and states keep adopting online voter registration, something that links their statewide voter databases to their statewide DMV databases.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2013, 05:01:26 pm by greenforest32 »Logged
greenforest32
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« Reply #11 on: June 08, 2013, 06:34:35 pm »
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The bill is currently in committee and I'm not sure if it's going to pass this session. Haven't heard anything in about a month and the legislative session ends in about four weeks. On the other-hand, even if it fails here, there will be more and more pushes for this as time goes on and states keep adopting online voter registration, something that links their statewide voter databases to their statewide DMV databases.

Should probably mention that these databases are a new thing too. They were mandated by the 2002 Help America Vote Act:

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Computerized statewide voter registration

HAVA requires states develop a single, uniform, official, centralized, interactive computerized statewide voter registration list defined, maintained, and administered at the State level. (Previously, voter registration lists were maintained by local officials.) HAVA requires the statewide list be coordinated with other agency databases within the state

Not all states have them completed yet either. Just as an example, California's same-day registration law is supposed to take effect once the state has its database up and running: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/california-politics/2012/09/gov-jerry-brown-approves-election-day-voter-registration-bill-.html

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September 24, 2012

Californians will someday be able to register to vote on election day under legislation signed into law Monday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

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The measure becomes law Jan. 1, 2013,  but election-day voter registration will not begin until after the California secretary of state begins operating Vote-Cal, a much delayed statewide voter database, which will allow real-time verification of whether applicants are registered in other counties. 

VoteCal is not expected to be up and running until 2015, said Nicole Winger, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state.

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And as bad as things are in 2013, voter registration in the US was (obviously) even worse in the past: http://www.demos.org/registering-millions-success-and-potential-national-voter-registration-act-20

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The first major overhaul of election registration laws and practices—the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA)—eliminated some of the most obvious obstructions to voter registration, such as literacy tests and poll taxes. It also provided federal oversight over election procedures in states that had deliberately impeded voter registration historically and had low voter turnout. The impact of the VRA was clear and immediate: In the five years after its enactment, as many African-Americans were registered to vote in the South as had been registered in the previous 100 years. In Mississippi, for example, African-American registration increased from below 6.7 percent in 1965 to 60 percent in 1968.

The VRA greatly improved the process of registering and voting for millions of Americans, yet decades after its passage, our nation continued to suffer from wide gaps in voter registration by both race and class. Local laws and procedures often created a complicated maze for citizens to navigate just to register to vote. For example, long after the VRA was enacted, many states still required eligible persons to appear in person at a registrar’s office. And, often there would be only one registration office in an entire county with limited hours and/or there would be no registration office in communities of color. As a result, millions of eligible persons remained unregistered.

...

Some states had even more extreme barriers to voter registration. Mississippi, for example, had a dual registration system that required eligible voters to register separately for state and municipal elections up until 1987.

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Recognizing that the voter registration process remained a major obstacle to voting, Congress passed the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) in 1993 in a deliberate attempt to increase voter participation. Fundamentally, the NVRA was designed to streamline and facilitate the process of voter registration and provide uniform registration procedures for federal elections in order to end many of the confusing, and often obstructive, laws affecting voter registration across states and localities. In particular, the NVRA set the first ever national standards for mail-in voter registration, required states to provide registration at public agencies, outlawed the purging of voters solely for non-voting, and established the nation’s first federal standards for voter list maintenance.

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greenforest32
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« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2014, 12:04:49 am »
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Bump

Same-day registration (As of June 4, 2014) - Republicans repealed same-day registration in Ohio and North Carolina and have referred a measure to the Nov 2014 ballot to repeal it in Montana. Hawaii will have approved it after the Governor signs it (highly unlikely he'll veto), Illinois approved it for 2014 and Delaware passed it in the state house so it could be the next state to approve it.

States with SDR (grey = not available, green = available, white = in-process):



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Online voter registration (As of June 4, 2014) - Recently approved in a few states. Map (grey = not available, green = available, white = in process):



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Early/absentee voting (As of June 4, 2014) - Minnesota's bill is in effect this year and I think the only other change is Massachusetts passing an early voting bill that will take effect in Nov 20142016. Hopefully Connecticut approves that referendum this year too.


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Automatic voter registration - The Oregon proposal passed the state house last year but
failed 15-15 in the state senate as a Democrat (Betsy Johnson) voted with Republicans against it. Oregon has no lieutenant governor or similar office so ties in the state senate can't be broken.

I have heard the Secretary of State would still like to pass the bill in the 2015 session. There was talk of primarying Betsy Johnson but it didn't happen and Republicans aren't running an opponent against her perhaps as thanks for some of her recent votes. However this year's legislative elections have two Republicans in the state senate running for reelection in 55-56% Obama (2012) seats so it's possible Democrats could up their majority in the state senate from 16-14 to 17-13 (maybe even 18-12) if they don't lose any seats of their own. That could put it back on the table in 2015.

Meanwhile, California might vote on automatic voter registration this year?
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