CSG Midwest

From the high-profile race for president to the often-overlooked campaigns that will determine partisan control of state legislatures, voters have plenty of reasons to participate in this year’s general elections. But tens of millions of U.S. citizens almost certainly will not.

During the last presidential election cycle, 42 percent of the nation’s voting-eligible population did not cast a ballot. Two years ago, overall turnout rates fell to their lowest levels in nearly 75 years, and less than one-quarter of eligible young people (ages 18-34) voted in that off-year election. The historic lows of 2014 will not be repeated this year (a race for president always brings out more voters), but if recent history is any indication, the turnout rates in this country will still trail those of most of the world’s other developed democracies.

On Monday, Sept. 19, Thomas Hicks, chairman of the Election Assistance Commission, or EAC, announced the winners of the “Election Workers Best Practices Competition.” This national competition was created in order to identify and acknowledge quality poll worker management practices from states throughout the country. “The EAC received more submissions than had been expected,” said Hicks. Each submission was reviewed in depth by a seven-...

Policy makers in Kansas have long been pushing for a proof-of-citizenship requirement for voter registration. In January 2016, newly appointed EAC executive director Brian Newby unilaterally altered the federal voter registration form to require proof of citizenship, which affects Kansas, Georgia and Alabama. In the most recent development of this situation, a top District of Columbia appeals court overturned his decision removing the proof-of-citizenship requirement from federal voter registration forms.

With cybersecurity on the minds of many Americans, questions are being raised about what should be done to further protect the integrity of U.S. elections. Control of voting is in the hands of state and local governments, leading some to wonder what role the federal government should play in helping to strengthen these voting systems from a possible cyber-attack, while not overstepping state jurisdiction.

On September 21 the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP), a Department of Defense organization tasked with ensuring that service members and overseas citizens are given the tools and resources necessary to vote, released the findings of the first-ever representative survey of overseas voters who requested an absentee ballot. FVAP will use their analysis of this information to better reach and provide information to overseas voters.

CSG Midwest

Come November, voters in the Midwest won’t just be deciding on who their state legislators, governors and other elected officials will be. They also will directly decide the future of a wide range of public policies — for example, whether to impose the death penalty in Nebraska and how to set legislative salaries in Minnesota. 

As of early September, 20 proposals in seven Midwestern states had been certified for the November elections, according to Ballotpedia.org. They include a mix of legislatively referred constitutional amendments and citizen-initiated proposals, as well as attempts to overturn recent state legislative actions.

September 24, 2016 is the federally mandated deadline for all states to send out validly requested absentee ballots to Service members, their eligible family members and overseas U.S. citizens for the November 2016 General Election.

Voters in Colorado will face a choice on the ballot this November regarding medical aid in dying for the terminally ill. The “Colorado End of Life Options Act,” or Initiative 145, is a proposal that would allow physicians to prescribe life-ending medications to adult Colorado residents who have a terminal illness with a prognosis of six months to live or less.

A record number of ballot initiatives regarding marijuana have been proposed this year. According to Ballotpedia, nine states have initiatives concerning marijuana on the ballot this fall. Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada are considering initatives to legalize recreational marijuana, while Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota are voting on legalizing medical marijuana.

Ninety-six years ago this month, the 19th amendment was ratified, guaranteeing the right to vote to women. Women have continued to have a significant impact on political direction in the United States since that momentous day in August, as data has shown that the number of female voters has exceeded the number of male voters in presidential elections since 1964, and that women have had a higher voter turnout rate than men in every election since 1980.