The 2020 presidential election was historic for many reasons, among them, the special safety measures that state election administrators had to suddenly implement in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In its effort to ensure voter safety in the 2020 election process, the Nevada legislature passed a law that would require all counties to mail absentee ballots to registered voters during emergency situations. The law aimed to make it easier for Nevadans to vote without having to physically go to the polls. The law also provided some procedural flexibilities in that it permitted the collection of mail-in ballots by third party collectors.
Ranked Choice Voting: DC Considers Changing its Ballots
By: Luke Foley
Ranked choice voting could be coming to DC as soon as 2024. On July 14, 2021, At-Large DC Councilmember Christina Henderson introduced the Vote Ownership, Integrity, Choice, and Equity (VOICE) Amendment Act, which proposes to implement ranked choice voting (RCV) in all district elections, including those for Mayor, City Council, U.S. President, and Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives. Henderson laid out her case for RCV in a July press release:
“The benefits of RCV are just as diverse as the candidates who are empowered to run under this system. Candidates are incentivized to campaign positively to appeal to the supporters of other candidates as a backup preference… races are more dynamic and collegial with genuine policy debates supplanting negative campaign tactics.”
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Louisiana Election Delays
By: Nicholas Brookings
When one thinks of changes to elections, the most common things that come to mind are voting by mail, changes to identification requirements and election locations, and so on. What one does not think about as often are changes to the actual day the election takes place, and yet that change, albeit temporary, has taken place in Louisiana for the 2021 election. This is due to Hurricane Ida, and the massive damage it caused. Indeed, the secretary of state, Kyle Ardoin, stated that 42% of Louisiana voters were impacted by the storm. Power is still out in some effected areas, and some voting locations are still damaged. As a result, the state decided to postpone the elections, moving everything back around a month, with the October 9th elections occurring on November 13th. The run-offs, which were scheduled for November 13th, are now to be held on December 11th. The governor did this through LA R.S. 18:401.1, the election emergency statute for Louisiana.
Requiring designated polling places on university campuses through New York’s S.B. S4658
By: Sylvanna Gross
Historically, young adults have a low voter turnout. They are less likely to have a driver’s license, less likely to be contacted by politicians, and less likely to have vehicles. Yet, the number of college students casting ballots doubled between 2014 and 2018. That translates to a 40.3% national student voting rate, up from 19.3% in 2014. The turnout rate is even more incredible considering the numbers compare midterm election results, and the 2018 voting rate is close to that of the last two presidential election rates of 47.6% in 2012 and 50.9% in 2016.
In response to the voting turnout, where college students seemed to skew more liberal, Republican politicians started “throwing up roadblocks” to prevent students from entering voting booths. To counteract the political tactics meant to restrict student votes, Democrats began “orchestrating an expansion of voting rights.”
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No Voter Left Behind? The Quiet Disenfranchisement of Native Americans
By Scott Meyer
The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs website contains a list of frequently asked questions. Among them, “[d]o American Indians and Alaska Natives have the right to vote?” The simple answer, yes, belies the complex relationship between the indigenous peoples of North America, and the United States.
In 1924, the U.S. passed the Snyder Act, which entitled Native Americans born in the U.S. to full citizenship. Ostensibly the 15th amendment, which was passed more than fifty years earlier and granted U.S. citizens the right to vote, combined with the Snyder Act should have allowed Native Americans to vote. In practice, since the Constitution delegated to the states the administration of elections, several decades passed after the Snyder Act before Native Americans actually received national suffrage. The final two holdouts were Utah and North Dakota, which granted “on-reservation Native Americans the right to vote in 1957 and 1958, respectively”. However, even after gaining the right to vote, Native Americans faced many of the same challenges employed against African-Americans to stymie their votes. The passage of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), often associated with protecting African-American voters, also benefitted many American Indians who lived in covered states or counties, such as Alaska and Arizona. For decadesNative Americans filed lawsuits relying on the 14th and 15th amendment and various sections of the VRA to “gainequal access to election procedures and to have an equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choice.”
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