HOT TOPIC: Elections

Source: Capitol Ideas, Vol. 57 No. 5, September/October 2014

Articles include:
States Make Changes to Get Out the Vote
By Mary Branham
Ten states this year passed laws that would expand voter access, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. The most common improvements have been in online voter registration and other measures to modernize the voter registration system, as well as increasing early voting.

Voting System Technology a ‘Ticking Time Bomb’
By Kamanzi Kalisa
Voters want technology that matches what they are doing in their everyday lives. Current voting technology has become obsolete and, according to former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson, it’s “a ticking time bomb.”

Faceoff on Voter IDs
By Jennifer Horne
Since 2010, 13 states have passed more restrictive voter ID laws. With a 2013 Supreme Court ruling invalidating Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Acts, challenges to these types of voter ID laws have moved to a new section of the act. Experts believe states should prepare for more lawsuits.

Going the Extra Mile for Military Voters
By Kim Wyman
Washington state currently has almost 4 million active registered voters. Nearly 65,000 of them are military or overseas voters. As secretary of state, it is my highest priority to make sure all of our registered voters have a chance to take part in our elections, no matter if they live in my state or serve in the most remote corners of the world. I have made advocacy of our military families a signature issue.

State Campaign Finance Laws: Show Me the Money
By Jennifer Ginn
Court challenges to national campaign finance laws, in the past, made few changes as to how and what politicians had to disclose. Supreme Court cases decided in the past seven years, however, are having a dramatic effect on campaign finance law. Many states are taking action on their own to ensure their voters know who is funding political races in their state.

Restoring the Right to Vote for Felons
By Liam Julian
The idea of disenfranchising felons has a long history in the United States, going all the way back to the colonies in the 1600s. Although a few states passed legislation in the past two years that make it harder for convicted felons to regain the right to vote, people in general and legislators specifically appear to be leaning toward making felony disenfranchisement laws more permissive.

Elections 101
By John G. Matsusaka
Ballot propositions are among the most visible features of American democracy. Since 2000, voters have decided 1,692 state-level ballot propositions covering a wide array of issues, including same-sex marriage, education, primary elections and marijuana legalization.

U.S. Elections: High Public Confidence, Low Voter Turnout
By David Carroll
Over the last 25 years, the Carter Center has observed nearly 100 elections in 38 countries around the world. These experiences have generated a wealth of information about electoral practices across the globe. In addition, they provide an interesting basis to compare how elections are conducted in the U.S.

Justice Should be Accessible by All
By Cheri Beasley
North Carolina is one of 22 states that elect trial judges by judicial district and appellate judges and justices in statewide elections. Judicial elections in the state were partisan until 2002; now, all judicial elections are nonpartisan by popular vote. North Carolina is at a crossroads. In nonpartisan judicial elections, advancement of a partisan or ideological agenda has no place in the fair application of the rule of law. Special interest money spent to determine the outcome of cases before the court is abominable and the people of North Carolina deserve better.

Global Measures of Electoral Credibility: Voter Turnout, Finance
By Ayesha Chugh and Hani Zainulbhai
Global measures of electoral credibility include voter participation and political finance. While these variables are useful, electoral credibility is ultimately a nuanced concept that requires consideration of the full context of an election.

10 Questions–Oregon Works to Make Every Voice Heard
By Mary Branham
Kate Brown believes “your vote is your voice,” and she’s taken steps as secretary of state to ensure every voice in Oregon is heard. The state has a relatively high voter turnout, but Brown thinks it should be higher.

By the Book–State Elections Performance
Nearly 60 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in the 2012 presidential elections, below the high mark in 2008 but still above most presidential elections. Five of the 10 states with the highest turnout have election day registration.