How Florida Fixed Its Vote-Counting Problem After the 2000 Election

“Though it took a crisis to get the ball rolling, at least the Florida state government didn’t take long to respond to the chaos of the 2000 election.
Just five months later, at the urging of Jeb Bush, the state Legislature enacted a sweeping overhaul of Florida’s election rules. The Election Reform Act of 2001 banned the use of punch-card voting machines and required the secretary of state (rather than county-level elections officials) to have the final say over which kinds of voting machines could be used in the future. The law also clarified Florida’s rules for automatic recounts and set more stringent time frames for the certification of vote counts—a move intended to prevent the seemingly interminable recounts in 2000. It also created new statewide rules for issuing provisional ballots and how those would be counted, with an eye toward ensuring as many Floridians as possible could vote.”

“The Election Reform Act was far from perfect, though. One major problem that emerged in later years had to do with the computerized touch-screen voting systems that largely replaced the punch-card ballots. Because they did not provide voters with a printed-out receipt of their choices, those voting machines came under intense criticism for not leaving a trustworthy paper trail, which is necessary in the event of a hack or glitch.

Faced with that problem, Florida lawmakers adapted again. In 2007, an update to the 2001 law required that all electronic voting machines also provide a paper trail so voters can trust their choices were accurately recorded and to help with recounts.”

“There are good reasons that many voters prefer not to vote until Election Day. It means getting as much information as possible before making your choice. It means a late-breaking scandal is less likely to leave you wishing you could reverse your vote. But many Americans will have good reasons to prefer early voting. From the perspective of a state government trying to run an efficient and effective election, more votes being cast early means more time to do the counting.

Equally important, it means more time to be sure every vote is being counted accurately.

“Florida is famous among election nerds for having the fastest reporting of vote totals in the country, with near-instant results on election night,” says Andy Craig, the director of election policy at the Rainey Center, a centrist think tank. In a report he authored earlier this year, Craig calls Florida’s vote-processing procedures “the gold standard” for other states to follow.

Per state law, counties can begin processing mailed-in ballots up to 25 days before Election Day. That includes just about everything except the actual counting: checking that signatures are valid and that the votes have been legally submitted. Counting those ballots officially begins 15 days before Election Day and must be completed by the time the polls close.”

“The process buys valuable time to get things right.”

“”If every state had Florida’s model,” Craig explains, “the 2020 election would have been called much sooner rather than dragging on for several days like it did.””

“states like Pennsylvania and Arizona invited criticism and groundless allegations of impropriety solely because they took days or weeks to finalize their tabulation. That was not an accident. In Pennsylvania, for example, local election officials are prohibited from even beginning to process mailed-in ballots until after the polls close on Election Day—in other words, 25 days after Florida begins handling mailed-in ballots.

In that environment, there is no way for a close race to be resolved in a timely manner. Worse, it limits the ability to “cure” ballots that are improperly submitted, cutting some voters out of the process entirely.”

“That election highlights why Florida’s experience with mail-in ballots and other forms of early voting is an interesting case study. After all, Florida has become a more reliably Republican state even asit has seen a dramatic increase in the number of ballots cast by mail. It’s not hard to come up with theories as to why this might be. Most notably, elderly voters, legions of whom reside in Florida, are among the biggest beneficiaries of voting systems that don’t require in-person attendance at polling places. They, of course, skew conservative. (It’s worth noting that Trump voted by mail in Florida in 2020.)

It wasn’t until 2020—and probably due to Trump’s extensive preelection effort to undermine the validity of mail-in voting—that more Democrats than Republicans voted by mail in a Florida election. The same thing happened again in 2022, and DeSantis responded by trying to limit mail-in voting in the future by limiting the number of available ballot drop boxes, among other measures.

Running efficient, accurate elections should not be a partisan issue. It would be a shame to see Florida backtrack on two decades of sensible bipartisan reforms simply because some conservative voters and one former president got grouchy about mail-in voting.”

The Most Popular Police Reforms Can’t Stop the Next Tyre Nichols From Being Killed. Here’s What Might.

“Units like these don’t just suffer from a lack of transparency and use tactics likely to spawn violence. Their rhetoric attracts “police officers who enjoy being feared,” Balko notes, and it positions these officers as both elite and beyond the normal rules. There are all sorts of horror stories about similar units, such as Detroit’s STRESS unit (“Over a two-year period, the units killed at least 22 people, almost all of them Black”) or Los Angeles’ CRASH unit (“More than 70 officers were implicated in planting guns and drug evidence, selling narcotics themselves and shooting and beating people without provocation”).
Memphis has now disbanded the SCORPION squad.”

“This is far from the first time that police have drastically misrepresented the way things went down before surveillance footage or body camera videos showed that they weren’t telling the truth. To distill this to its essence: Police lie. They lie to protect themselves. They like to give their activities a more noble sheen. They lie to dehumanize those they arrest or aggress against. And yet members of the media often take cops at their word and move on.”

Ranked choice is good, but we can do better: STAR, range, and approval voting. Video Sources

RCV vs STAR Voting FairVote. Independent Party of Oregon STAR Voting Primary Spotlight on the Data: STAR Voting. 9 28 2020. The Limits of Ranked-Choice Voting Aaron Hamlin. 2019 2 7. Election Science. Overvoting and the Equality of Voice

Opinion | The Supreme Court Reform that Could Actually Win Bipartisan Support

“There is one idea, though, that has longstanding bipartisan support, a proven record of success, and practical wisdom behind it: term limits. Imposing term limits on Supreme Court justices would be good for the country and the court. It would help ease the bitterness of the confirmation process and make the court more representative of the public’s views. And while conservatives might currently balk in light of their 6-3 majority, it’s a change that would not necessarily advantage either side over the long run.

The most common version of this reform contemplates justices serving nonrenewable 18-year terms, staggered so that one term ends every two years. This would mean that presidents would get to nominate new justices in the first and third years of their own administrations. Retirements and nominations would occur like clockwork. The result would be a court whose membership, at any given time, would reflect the selections of the past 4 1/2 presidential administrations.

Because Article 3 of the Constitution confers life tenure upon all federal judges, term limits would likely require a constitutional amendment.”

LAPD’s Militarized Response to Peaceful Abortion Protests Makes the Case for Police Reform—Again

“Armed with riot gear and brandishing rubber-bullet guns, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) mobilized rapidly in response to pro-abortion protests near the city’s federal courthouse from June 24–27. Activists and journalists claim excessive use of physical force was rampant, with officers using batons against peaceful protesters.

The LAPD has maintained that it did not use force against peaceful protesters. “The vast majority of those involved [in pro-abortion protests] were peaceful and law abiding, however, a much smaller group of individuals took to the streets with the intention of creating chaos and destruction,” the LAPD said in a June 27 statement. “The Los Angeles Police Department has the distinction of facilitating First Amendment Rights for all Angelinos. Equally the Department will enforce the law when individuals engage in violence,” the statement continued.

While there were violent actors present at the protests, including one man who attacked police with a torch, videos shared online appear to show police using force against nonviolent protesters, including those trying to deescalate the situation. In one clip that received particular attention on social media, LAPD officers seemingly shoved Full House actress Jodie Sweetin to the pavement as she tried to defuse a confrontation between police and protesters on a Los Angeles freeway.”

The Republican Party is still fractured on criminal justice reform

“Recent progress on criminal justice reform indicates that there’s still bipartisan interest in narrower policies.
Republicans’ backing for the Equal Act — a pretty limited bill — is still significant. It’s not yet clear if the legislation will move forward in the Senate, though it now has sufficient Republican support.

In the past, Republicans have similarly been open to very targeted policies.
The First Step Act, for example, enables just a subset of federal inmates to shorten their sentences. Other more ambitious reforms, meanwhile, have floundered.”

Why Democrats’ ambitions for health care are shrinking rapidly

“America still has the highest uninsured rate in the developed world and the highest health care costs. So long as the health care industry wields a veto pen over any plan that would cut into its profits to address those problems, little is going to change.”

House passes police reform bill

“The bill would prohibit racial and religious profiling by law enforcement at every level while banning chokeholds at the federal level and no-knock warrants in federal drug cases. The federal policies would be tied to law enforcement funding for governments at the state and local levels.

The measure would also eliminate qualified immunity for law enforcement, mandate data collection on police encounters and create a nationwide police misconduct registry to hold accountable problematic officers who are fired or leave an agency.”

“the bill’s fate in the upper chamber is still uncertain, as Democrats would need at least 10 Republicans to send the legislation to President Joe Biden’s desk.”

Police reform was a big winner this election

“Despite being a contentious issue across party lines, cities in six states overwhelmingly approved 18 of these ballot measures, including creating and improving police oversight boards, changing police department staffing and funding, and requiring public access to police body and dashboard camera recordings. While most of these measures are a step toward reform, almost none are radical in terms of reimagining policing. Many are standards already implemented in other cities — and a bare minimum for police accountability, activists say.”