Elections

On Jan. 18, the Virginia Senate introduced an amendment to Senate Bill 1490 to the Committee on Privileges and Elections calling for a pilot program that would allow the use of Common Access Card, or CAC, digital signatures on election materials. The proposed pilot program was adapted from a recent report from CSG’s Overseas Initiative, Recommendations from The CSG Overseas Voting Initiative Technology Working Group, released in early December 2016.

A majority of election voting systems deployed in states and local jurisdiction in states and local jurisdictions in the United States are at least 10 years old and coming to an end of their effectiveness, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. Many state governments purchased new machines under the Help America Vote Act, or HAVA, signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2002 after...

 

Free and fair elections serve as the cornerstone of a democratic system of governance. Providing an efficient and accurate voting system, and securing such a system against the threat of fraud and manipulation, is a challenge as old as our nation itself, one which states successfully have met. But these times, in which there are unsupported allegations of voter fraud and the potential of election systems being hacked by enemies foreign and domestic, bring both new needs and new opportunities for federal, state and local elections officials. As technologies advance to offer opportunities to strengthen state and local election officials’ capacities to carry out elections, opportunities also emerge to jeopardize our voting systems.
As an experienced convener of the nation’s most seasoned elections officials, The Council of State Governments stands ready to assist in addressing the complex issues facing the American elections system.
CSG Midwest
For 40 years, Mary Murphy has been introducing legislation and casting votes that shape public policy in her home state of Minnesota. But the longtime state representative always had her eye on being part of another vote, and this past year, she finally got the chance. In December, Rep. Murphy and nine other fellow Minnesotans met in St. Paul to make the state’s official votes in the U.S. Electoral College. A packed room of people — some of them high school teachers and students who had participated in a statewide mock election run by the secretary of state — watched the proceedings in the Senate Office Building.
“It was everything I expected, and more,” Murphy said a few days after casting her votes for Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine.
The event had special meaning for Murphy because of her many years as a high school history and civics teacher. But for most people, in most presidential elections, the Electoral College is little more than an afterthought. This time was different. First, for one of the few instances in the nation’s history, the winner of the nation’s popular vote (Clinton) lost the race for president. Second, between the Nov. 8 general election and the Dec. 19 Electoral College vote, some electors in states where Donald Trump won the popular vote were pressured to cast a vote for someone else.
CSG Midwest
In November 2016, a panel of federal district judges struck down Wisconsin’s 2011 state legislative district maps as an unconstitutional gerrymander. “It is clear that the drafters got what they intended to get,” Judge Kenneth Ripple wrote in the 2-1 decision. “There is no question that Act 43 was designed to make it more difficult for Democrats, compared with Republicans, to translate their votes into seats.”
CSG Midwest
Indiana and Minnesota set various state records for voter registration and turnout in the Nov. 8 general election, according to their secretaries of state.

In an election year, voter registration becomes an important agenda item for states throughout the country. This year, many states have employed new techniques in order to encourage voter registration and participation. For example, the State of Oregon has been on the forefront of one particular measure to increase registration. After passing a law in 2015, the state unveiled a program that automatically registers voters when they apply for, renew, or replace their state ID, or driver’s license at the Oregon Driver and Motor Vehicle...

CSG’s Military Ballot Tracking Pilot Program deployed a robust tracking system of both blank and voted ballots (around 3,500 ballots) throughout the mail flow, including blank ballots navigating through the U.S. Postal Service and the U.S. Military Postal Service during the 2016 November General Election. California, Colorado, Texas, and Florida are the four states participating in the pilot program that involves coordination with the U.S. Department of Defense’s Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP), the U.S. Postal Service, and...

CSG Midwest
State constitutions were changed and policies on issues ranging from medical marijuana to the death penalty were decided on by voters across the Midwest this November.
In all, 20 ballot proposals were voted on in seven states in the region. Here is a review of some of the proposals that won voter approval.
CSG Midwest
With the pending shift in partisan control of the Iowa and Minnesota senates to the Republican Party, nearly every legislature and governor’s office in the 11-state Midwest will be led by the GOP over the next two years.
Power will be divided among the parties in only two of the region’s states: Illinois, Republican governor and Democratic legislature; and Minnesota, Democratic governor and Republican legislature. (Nebraska’s Unicameral Legislature is nonpartisan.)

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