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.”

Why Two Supreme Court Conservatives Just Saved The Voting Rights Act

“Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined the court’s three liberal justices, ruling that Alabama’s congressional map likely violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits racially discriminatory voting practices or procedures. Last year, a panel of three federal judges threw out Alabama’s map, which was drawn by the Republican-controlled state legislature in 2021 with only one majority-Black district out of seven, because it was possible to draw a second majority-Black seat in a state with a population that is more than one-quarter Black. Now, Alabama will have to redraw its map to include a second predominantly Black district.”

Thai voters choose democracy in a stunning election

“Progressives — and other members of Thailand’s pro-democracy opposition parties — scored a stunning victory in the country’s elections.., dealing a major blow to military-backed incumbents. Their overwhelming success, which came as a shock to political observers of the region, indicated that Thai voters are interested in a change from the current military-led regime and sent a significant message in favor of a more representative government.
The progressive Move Forward Party, led by Pita Limjaroenrat, is projected to win 151 seats in the House — the highest of any group — while the populist opposition party Pheu Thai, aligned with former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, will likely win 141 seats. Collectively, the two parties will now hold at least 292 of 500 seats in the House.”

“The military has long had a hold on Thai politics, a grip only strengthened by military coups in 2006 and 2014. That latter coup was led by current Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who ushered in a new constitution that gave the military unprecedented power over government. One of those post-coup reforms threatens Move Forward’s coalition: 376 members of parliament are needed to elect a new prime minister, and the 250-person Senate was appointed by the military.

Move Forward said Monday that several parties have agreed to join its governing coalition, giving it control of 309 of parliament’s 500 seats. That leaves Pita Limjaroenrat 67 votes short of the majority needed to become prime minister. It’s unclear whether the Senate will work to cobble together a military-aligned minority government, or split its support between the two factions.”

Fox News won. Dominion won. The rest of us lost.

“The embarrassment angle is the easiest to dismiss: Remember all those headlines, generated by damning admissions and documents from the likes of Tucker Carlson and Rupert Murdoch, that showed how Fox’s on-air talent and their managers knew they were peddling untruths to their audience about the supposed 2020 election fraud? You probably read those because you consume Actual News. (And, let’s be clear: If you’d thought about this at all, you weren’t surprised to see the deep cynicism that powers Fox spelled out in writing.)
But on Fox, the lawsuit was barely covered at all, and Fox’s media correspondent even said he was prevented from reporting on it. That’s not surprising, given the channel’s consistent commitment to presenting alternative facts, a practice which long predated the Trump era.

You may recall that in an effort to stave off lawsuits like the one Dominion filed, Fox grudgingly offered some non-apology clarifications in late 2020, then went right back to making things up. A few months later, they were providing cover for the January 6 rioters.”

“Yes, the $787.5 million settlement is much less than the $1.6 billion the company initially asked for in damages. But it is a giant windfall for the small company and its private equity owners. It would be crazy not to take a deal like that, and let media critics worry about what happens to Fox.

And yes, $787.5 million is a lot of money, even for a big company like Fox: It represents about 20 percent of Fox’s $4 billion in cash, which means it could impact Fox’s ability to buy things or pay out dividends to its shareholders. On the other hand, Fox posted profits of $321 million in the last three months of 2022, which means it can build back up its cash pile pretty quickly.

That seems to be Wall Street’s take: 21st Century Fox stock opened down a few points the day after the settlement was announced, but as of this writing it has almost completely rebounded; the company remains worth about $17.5 billion.

In other words: Even after Fox agreed to pay nearly $788 million in a settlement (on top of the legal fees it has already spent), investors have decided the payout will have no impact on Fox’s operations.”

“The most plausible threat to Fox News is the same threat facing every TV network in 2023: that its viewership erodes as TV viewers migrate to the internet. But Fox’s viewers, like other cable TV news operations, skew old, and that means they’re the ones least likely to give up their cable boxes. They’re also incredibly loyal, which is why Fox can charge cable TV operators — who pass the fees on to you, if you’re paying for cable TV — more money than anyone else in TV, with the exception of sports.

So until that audience, along with the revenue and clout it generates for its owner, dwindles, don’t expect Fox to budge at all.”

How the backbone of American elections is being upended

“A bipartisan behind-the-scenes organization that helps states maintain their voter rolls is facing an uncertain future, after several Republican-led states left the group.
The board of the Electronic Registration Information Center — or ERIC — met on Friday, as the remaining members of the organization try to chart the organization’s path following the high-profile departures of Florida, West Virginia and Missouri earlier this month. Some officials fear more states are eyeing the door.

The division roiling ERIC is just the latest example of a previously apolitical organization involved in fostering cooperation on the mechanics of running elections, finding life a lot more dramatic in the post-Trump world. At risk: the upending of the backbone of the nation’s electoral system.”

““States claim they want to combat illegal voting and clean voter rolls — but then leave the best and only group capable of detecting double voting across state lines,””