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Election Academy

June 2014

No Small Stuff: "Chain of Events" Results in Ann Arbor Candidate Being Left Off Ballot

Ann Arbor, MI is scrambling to fix hundreds of incorrect absentee ballots that omitted a candidate's name. How that happened, and who contributed to the error, is a cautionary tale for election officials nationwide.

Lexington County Warns Voters, Policymakers: Long Ballots = Long Waits

Lexington County, SC election officials are warning that a lengthy tax question could lead to a 20-page ballot this fall - which will inevitably result in long lines and frustration at the polls.

Heather Gerken on the Voting Rights Act Amendment: The Role of Bargaining

Heather Gerken's new look at the Voting Rights Act Amendment examines how a new bill might encourage the kind of bargaining between local governments and voters that works well in other contexts.

Meditations on an (Unusual) Runoff Ballot in Richland County

An Richland County ballot that qualifies as "news of the weird" is an opportunity for a handful of observations on the field of election administration, social media and the value of public confidence.

NCSL Releases Election Administration Research Database

The National Conference of State Legislatures has released a new Pew-funded database intended to help policymakers and others get comprehensive and up-to-date information about election administration policy nationwide.

David Kimball on Absentee Voting in Missouri: "Hamsterdam"

David Kimball of the University of Missouri-St. Louis dips into The Wire for an analogy that explains the growing popularity of absentee ballots in Missouri - an observation that has validity outside of the Show Me State.

Rhode Island Poised to Eliminate Straight-Ticket Voting

Rhode Island is poised to eliminate the "master lever" straight-party voting option after large (but not unanimous) majorities in both houses of the Legislature. If it becomes law, it will create new challenges for election officials and voters alike.

This Week in "Change Ain't Easy": South Dakota Vote Centers

South Dakota's adoption of vote centers is slowing somewhat because of concerns about cost, technology and staffing at the county level - an increasingly familiar story as the field of elections grapples with a desire to change how Americans vote.

Minnesota Debuts Online Absentee Ballot Request Tool

Minnesota is launching a new online tool for voters to request and track absentee ballots; this new capability - plus a switch to no-excuse absentee ballots - is bound to have a significant effect on voting (and vote-counting) in the North Star State.

Economies of Small-Scale: Vote-by-Mail and High Turnout in Alpine County, CA

Alpine County, CA - which has fewer voters than thousands of precincts nationwide - combines vote-by-mail and a small-town sense of civic engagement to create turnout levels their larger neighbors must envy.

Hawaii Early Voting Site Closure: Money Talks

Hawaii election officials are closing a popular early voting location on Oahu's Windward side, ostensibly in favor of more vote by mail ballots - but when you look closely it's pretty clear it's nothing more than old-fashioned cost savings on a tight budget.

electionlineWeekly on Low (No) Turnout: "What if you throw an election and no one shows up?"

The latest electionlineWeekly looks at the impact of low turnout and the challenges and opportunities it presents for election officials nationwide.

Early Voting Order: The Only Way to Get Things Done in Ohio?

Ohio voters will have the opportunity to cast early votes up until the day before Election Day, in the wake of a federal court ruling yesterday. Could the order be a harbinger of future end runs around a recalcitrant Legislature?

Staying Tuned: Richland County Survives First (Small) Test

We return again to Richland County, SC where yesterday's low-turnout primary surfaced a few "hiccups" but by and large gave the county election office hope that the big(!!!) problems of 2012 and 2013 are behind them.

Iowa Study Finds No Postmark on Many Ballots

Following up on last week's story about late mail ballots, today's post examines recent data from Iowa showing that not all mail ballots receive postmarks - requiring policymakers and election officials to decide what to do when such ballots arrive late.

Not Just ID Anymore: Early Voting Divides Parties

A new Associated Press article details how the parties are circling the wagons on a new partisan fight over early voting - one which may or may not have a basis in fact but has a very real possibility of disrupting voting in 2014 and beyond.

Late-Arriving Mail Ballots Rekindle California Calls for "Postmark Rule"

More than 1,000 primary ballots mailed on or before Election Day in Sacramento County, CA won't count because they arrived too late - a symptom of a larger statewide problem. Policymakers, election officials and reformers are looking at ways to address the problem.

Gerken on the EAC: "Let Them Play"

Yale Law's Heather Gerken has a new op-ed in The Hill in which she likens the EAC to the Bad News Bears - and encourages policymakers to acknowledge the agency's value (especially on data collection) and "let them play!"

Yeah, It's Big: Primary Election Night in Los Angeles County

The numbers tell you how big Los Angeles County elections are, but then you watch a helicopter land and offload ballots and you realize just how big the County - and its efforts to manage its considerable election administration challenges - really are.

Indiana Still Weighing Impact of Vote Centers

Indiana counties have slowly but steadily been transitioning to vote centers - and a new article looks back at what impact they are having across the state.

Ohio SoS Channels PCEA and EAC, Directs Counties to Prepare Election Administration Plans

A new directive from the Ohio Secretary of State requires counties to prepare election administration plans and cites well-known resources like the PCEA report and EAC guides. It also requires some time and data work that should prove to be interesting.

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