Attorney General Eric Holder said on Tuesday that U.S. election officials should register eligible voters automatically and take steps to reduce the long lines Americans encountered in national elections on Nov. 6.
In an interview with the Palm Beach Post published on Sunday, the former chairman of the Florida Republican party said voter suppression was the sole reason for the change to the election rules. Jim Greer, the party chairman in from 2006 to 2010, said he went to several meetings during which Republican officials discussed the damage that early voting — which brought an unprecedented number of black voters to the polls in 2008 — had done to the party.
From the Maker of Unskewed Polling Comes: The Obama Voter Fraud Map
Dean Chambers brought the Republican party great comfort and solace prior to the election. His site Unskewed Polls provided them with the false hope that Romney would win the election. But rather than engaging in anything like reflective self-criticism or learning from his mistakes, he’s on to his next project: stamping our voter fraud.
So, if you thought the 2012 election and the backlash against Voter ID requirement put paid to phony hysteria over fraud, think again….
While President Obama was delivering his victory speech in the early hours of Wednesday, Nov. 7, people were still standing in line in Florida to vote. Thousands had waited hours to vote in New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio, some in the cold, some giving up wages to do so. In a spontaneous aside — “by the way, we have to fix that” — the president acknowledged the unnecessary hardship of casting a vote in the United States and established a goal that he now has an obligation to address.
The problem goes beyond just young people. There were many stories about long voting lines during the 2012 election. One positive takeaway is that these lines can partially be attributed to the number of individuals participating in the voting process. However, the lines were certainly longer because of the number of people who were tripped up by many of the common barriers to the voting process. Individuals who arrive at the polls to find out they are not listed in the poll book, that need to fill out a change of address form or provisional ballot add to the wait time for all voters.
Voting doesn’t have to be a mess. In a piece in today’s Huffington Post, one of our favorite election law experts discusses some potential solutions.
Source: The Huffington Post
New York Times Editorial on the Electoral College
The Electoral College remains a deeply defective political mechanism no matter whom it benefits, and it needs to be abolished.
Yesterday’s Times contained its quadrennial howl calling for the abolition of the Electoral College. (The Tarnish of the Electoral College - NYTimes.com). I confess, I don’t know if the paper really calls for the college’s elimination every four years, but it should.
The editorial admirably goes through the reasons for its abolition. At heart, the college is undemocratic—with real consequences. Reforming or eliminating is not just an abstract need driven by “mere” democratic principles. It should be reformed because it grossly distorts governance.
Yet, people have been calling for the college’s demise almost since the beginning. A large majority of the American public has favored its elimination for the last 50 years at least. And we have never gotten close to the goal.
There’s one initiative underway that seems to have some promise. It circumvents rather than eliminates the college. The National Popular Vote is an interstate compact, whereby states sign on committing to allocate their Electoral College votes to the winner of the national vote, rather than of that state’s vote. Once a group of states that cumulatively have 270 college votes sign the compact, it will go into effect. And voila, the winner of the national popular vote will automatically become President. (Check out the website for more information on how the compact works).
Right now the Compact has about 134 votes under its belt. So it’s halfway there.
If you want to read more about how the college works and arguments pro and con, you can check out this very nice excerpt from the book in slideshow form produced by Newsbound.
Image of 1824 Electoral College tally which propelled John Quincy Adams to the presidency over Andrew Jackson. Adams almost certainly lost the popular vote. Source: National Archives
One of the big stories from last week’s election was long lines for the polls. It got really ugly in some places. In Fairfax County, Virginia, some voters had to wait on line until 10:30 at night to vote. In Miami, lines lasted as long as seven hours. Some voters in Florida cast their ballots for President after Mitt Romney began his concession speech. In Ohio, long lines plagued many voting districts.
The good news: people are fed up with it. A post-election survey conducted by the MacArthur Foundation found that 88 percent of Americans who voted last week support national voting standards, including polling hours and ballot design.
Another interesting outcome from the poll: more people are concerned about legitimate voters being turned away from the polls than are concerned about ineligible voters. (“Voters surveyed are more likely to express concern about “eligible voters being denied the opportunity to vote” (64 percent) than about “ineligible voters getting to vote (36 percent).”)
Maybe, just maybe, we’ll finally see momentum toward dealing with the problem. In fact, just today one Senator introduced legislation to create a federal grant program for states to improve their election administration. I think we’ll be seeing more on this in the coming months.
Also…to just try to wrap the long line story in a few more facts… Anecdotal stories aren’t necessarily the best way to gauge the extent of a problem. In fact, most American voters probably did not have intolerable waits. There’s actually some data about this from the 2008 election.
- 86 percent of voters waited 30 minutes or less to vote.
- 9 percent waited 30 to 60 minutes
- 5 percent waited more than an hour.
It’s worth noting that 5 percent of the electorate in 2008 means more than 6 million people.
The problem was worse for African-American voters. Twenty-seven percent of African Americans reported long waits to vote compared with 11 percent of whites.
It will be interesting to see what the 2012 survey results are….
FYI Photo is of voters waiting in line in Clarendon, Virginia, in 1924. You can see many of the voters holding posters supporting Democratic presidential candidate John W. Davis. He lost to Calvin Coolidge…which of course brings to mind Dorothy Parker’s famous quip about him when told he had died: “How could they tell?”
Image Source: Library of Congress
Election Day has come and gone, ballots have been cast, winners and losers have been declared. Right? Wrong. There are still a handful of congressional races still yet to be decided, due to a variety of reasons — ongoing counting in some districts, Louisana’s run-off system, and candidates who refuse to concede even though all the votes are in.
Monday’s Historical Images(s)
The only major party candidate to lose the vote in his home state by more than Mitt Romney was John Fremont of California in 1856. Fremont lost the popular vote in California by more than 29 percent to Democrat James Buchanan. Romney lost the popular vote in Massachusetts to Obama by almost 26 points.
Ouch. That hurts.
Fremont was the Republican Party’s first ever presidential candidate, back in the days when the Republican Party was the progressive party, favoring the abolition of slavery. Fremont’s loss of the presidency in 1856 just put off the Civil War by four years. In 1860, shortly after Abraham Lincoln’s election, the war broke out. Fremont served as a general for part of the Civil War. In 1864, he ran against Lincoln for the presidency but withdrew from the race in September. There’s lots more on Fremont than his rather bland congressional biography suggests, including the discovery of gold on his land in the midst of the California gold rush.
Fun piece here in Smart Politics about other party candidates getting spanked in their home state.
The defeat of the [Minnesota] voter ID constitutional amendment, along with the [state] Legislature’s flip from Republican to Democratic control, is likely put that issue on indefinite hold. But it won’t end the debate over the need for some changes in state election law.
A lot of news Tuesday night, and oddly the presidential and senatorial races plus marriage equality and marijuana decriminalization initiatives got more attention than this. (Ha!)
But it’s worth noting that Minnesota’s Voter ID ballot initiative failed approximately 54 to 46 percent. In light of the fact that voter ID requirements generally are supported by upwards of 75 percent of the population, this was a huge win for voting rights activists. It just goes to prove that when you explain the issue and fight for the vote, you can win.