India’s election shows the world’s largest democracy is still a democracy

“If the basic test of whether a country remains a democracy is that the party in power can still suffer a setback at the ballot box, India passed”

“Results from the nation’s parliamentary elections — the largest in the world — indicate a shocking electoral setback for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
“Setback,” to be clear, is a relative term here. At the end of the staggered six-week election, Modi will become only the second Indian prime minister to win a third consecutive term. As of this writing, the BJP-led National Democracy Alliance (NDA) has won 289 seats in the 543-seat parliament and is leading in one more. A majority requires 272 seats.

The BJP itself has won 240 seats. That’s more than any Indian party won between 1984 and 2009, when Modi first came to power, and in most elections, it would have been an amazing result. But the expectations game is real, and Modi and his party lost it.

During the campaign, the NDA had a stated goal of winning 400 seats: a supermajority that would have allowed them to push through major legislative and constitutional changes. They didn’t come close. And after winning an absolute majority on its own in the last election, the BJP will likely now have to rely on its smaller coalition partners in the NDA to form a government.

Exit polls over the weekend were also wildly wrong, with most incorrectly projecting around a 350-seat victory for Modi. (One of the more bizarre media moments on Tuesday was a prominent pollster breaking down in tears on Indian TV over his erroneous forecast and being comforted by his fellow panelists on camera. Not something you’re likely to see from Frank Luntz.)

The opposition Congress Party, which very recently looked headed for political oblivion under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi, the much-mocked fourth-generation scion of India’s most prominent political dynasty, appears likely to double its tally from the last election.”

https://www.vox.com/world-politics/353785/india-election-2024-modi-bjp

India just showed the world how to fight an authoritarian on the rise

“the BJP held just 240 seats. They not only underperformed expectations, they actually lost their parliamentary majority. While Modi will remain prime minister, he will do so at the helm of a coalition government — meaning that he will depend on other parties to stay in office, making it harder to continue his ongoing assault on Indian democracy.”

“after looking at the information that is available and speaking with several leading experts on Indian politics, there are at least three conclusions that I’m comfortable drawing.
First, voters punished Modi for putting his Hindu nationalist agenda ahead of fixing India’s unequal economy. Second, Indian voters had some real concerns about the decline of liberal democracy under BJP rule. Third, the opposition parties waged a smart campaign that took advantage of Modi’s vulnerabilities on the economy and democracy.”

https://www.vox.com/politics/354424/india-election-results-2024-modi-congress-economy-democracy-liberalism

Four Things to Know about Noncitizen Voting

“The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, explicitly prohibits noncitizens from voting in federal elections. It is not legal in any state for a noncitizen to cast a ballot in a federal election. Any instance of illegally cast ballots by noncitizens has been investigated by the appropriate authorities, and there is no evidence that these votes—or any other instances of voter fraud—have been significant enough to impact any election’s outcome.”

“no state currently allows noncitizens to vote in statewide elections. Three states and Washington, DC, have municipalities that allow noncitizens to vote in certain local elections. San Francisco allows resident noncitizen parents and guardians to vote in school board elections. Oakland is currently attempting to enact a similar law. Some cities in Maryland and Vermont permit noncitizens to vote in municipal elections. New York City enacted a law allowing noncitizens to vote in local elections in 2021, but it was ruled unconstitutional by a state judge in 2022. Washington, DC, recently enacted a law to allow noncitizen residents to vote in all non-federal elections.”

https://bipartisanpolicy.org/blog/four-things-to-know-about-noncitizen-voting/

Why Trump is a Threat to Democracy

Dismissal of James Comey Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dismissal_of_James_Comey The Comey firing, as retold by the Mueller report Eric Tucker. 2019 4 23. AP News. https://apnews.com/united-states-government-4ff1ecb621884a728b25e62661257ef0 Giuliani: Trump fired Comey because former FBI director wouldn’t say he wasn’t a target in investigation Politico Staff. 2018

Does Ranked Choice Voting Disenfranchise Minorities?

“McCarty concluded that minority voters exhaust their ballots at higher rates when there is not a candidate of their same ethnic group. But ballot exhaustion does not necessarily mean a voter didn’t vote their conscience. “We simply cannot assume that not using every RCV choice amounts somehow to being deprived of influence,” says Walter Olson, senior fellow at the Cato Institute’s Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies. He characterizes the choice not to rank all candidates as “the functional equivalent of not choosing to vote in a runoff when no candidate you found acceptable made it to the final round.”
Will Mantell, FairVote’s communications director, agrees: “RCV actually makes more ballots count compared to single-choice elections or runoffs. It’s really hard to say that RCV doesn’t make more votes count in New York City, for example, when the last citywide primary runoff in 2013 had a 62 percent turnout dropoff from the primary to the runoff.””

https://reason.com/2024/01/16/does-ranked-choice-voting-disenfranchise-minorities/

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.”

https://reason.com/2023/12/17/how-florida-fixed-its-vote-counting-problem-after-the-2000-election/

3 winners and 1 loser from Election Day 2023

“Democrats did well.
Gov. Andy Beshear (D) won reelection in deep-red Kentucky. Democrats seemed set to hold onto the Virginia state Senate and take over the Virginia state House, blocking Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s hopes of passing conservative policies (and perhaps his ambitions in national politics). Meanwhile, Ohio voters enshrined the protection of abortion rights in the state constitution and legalized recreational cannabis.

Strangely, all this happened while President Joe Biden has been getting some of his worst polling numbers yet. As in the 2022 midterms, though, national dissatisfaction with Biden did not lead to a red wave sweeping out Democrats across the country or to wins for conservative policy proposals in ballot initiatives.”

https://www.vox.com/politics/2023/11/8/23951783/election-day-2023-results-analysis-winners-losers-beshear-cameron

Ukraine’s democratic dilemma: When to hold elections

“If Russia hadn’t invaded, Ukraine was meant to hold parliamentary elections next month and a presidential vote in March 2024.
Whether elections could or should happen is once again a lively topic of discussion in Kyiv, after U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham in late August called for Kyiv to organize “free and fair” elections even when it is under all-out assault from Russian attacks.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is strongly suggesting he wants to run for a second term. “In 2024, if the war continues and if elections are held, I will never in my life abandon my country. Because I am the guarantor of the Constitution, and I will defend it in any case,” he said in a recent interview with the Portuguese public broadcaster RTP.

Zelenskyy responded to Graham by saying he is ready — if parliament agrees — to overturn the martial law that bans the country from holding elections in time of war, but it’s a topic that raises major questions about democratic legitimacy: most TV channels are heavily controlled by the government, soldiers would have to vote in frontline trenches and millions of Ukrainians have fled abroad.”

https://www.politico.eu/article/ukraine-war-democracy-dilemma-elections/

GOP states quit the program that fights voter fraud. Now they’re scrambling.

“Over the past year and a half, eight Republican-led states quit a nonpartisan program designed to keep voter rolls accurate and up to date.
Top Republican election officials in those states publicly argued the program was mismanaged. The conspiracy theorists who cheered them on falsely insisted it was a front for liberals to take control of elections.

But experts say the program, known as the Electronic Registration Information Center, was among the best nationwide tool states had to catch people trying to vote twice in the same election. Now, those Republican-led states who left — and other states who lost access to their data — are scrambling to police so-called “double voters” ahead of the presidential election in 2024.”