Skip to content
Search

Latest Stories

Top Stories

Voting by mail gets boost in Illinois and Minnesota

Illinois voting

Illinois Gov. BJ Pritzker signed into law on Tuesday legislation that will make it easier for citizens to vote by mail. A settlement of a lawsuit in Minnesota on Tuesday will have a similar impact.

Paul Natkin/Getty Images

New laws in Illinois and the settling of a lawsuit in Minnesota will ease voters' ability to use mail-in ballots.

On Tuesday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed two bills that collectively require vote-by-mail applications be sent to all recent voters, expand early voting hours and allow for curbside voting, amend the process used to verify signatures on mailed-in ballots, and designate Election Day a state holiday.

"In the face of a pandemic, massive economic upheaval, and renewed calls for racial justice, it's more important than ever that Illinoisans can hold accountable a truly representative and transparent government," Pritzker said.

The changes to voting procedures only apply to the Nov. 3 general election.


As with most states, voters in Illinois are required to sign their mailed-in ballots and that signature is verified by comparing it to what election officials already have on file. Voting rights advocates say those checking the signatures often have little or no training.

The new laws raised the standard for rejecting a mailed-in ballot. There is also a provision calling for creation of a bipartisan panel of three election judges to verify signatures. Now, one judge does that.

In Minnesota, a partial settlement of a lawsuit that challenged several rules regarding absentee ballots was announced Tuesday.

Sign up for The Fulcrum newsletter

Under the agreement between Secretary of State Steve Simon and the ACLU, the requirement that absentee ballots include the signature of a witness is waived. Also, the deadline for absentee ballots to arrive at election offices will be extended to two days after election day. Normally, the deadline is 8 p.m. on the day itself.

Both of these changes are in response to the coronavirus pandemic and apply only to the August primary.

The agreement comes one day after a court ruled in favor of members of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party and threw out the method used to decide the order of candidates on the ballot.

A lottery will be used to determine the order on the ballot. Previously, the candidates from the major party with the least votes were placed atop the ballot, which meant that the GOP candidates were above Democrats.

Research cited during testimony in the case found that Republican candidates got a 2- to 3-percentage-point boost simply from being ahead of the Democrats on the ballot.

Read More

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Voters should be able to take the measure of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., since he is poised to win millions of votes in November.

Andrew Lichtenstein/Getty Images

Kennedy should have been in the debate – and states need ranked voting

Richie is co-founder and senior advisor of FairVote.

CNN’s presidential debate coincided with a fresh batch of swing-state snapshots that make one thing perfectly clear: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. may be a longshot to be our 47th president and faces his own controversies, yet the 10 percent he’s often achieving in Arizona, Michigan, Nevada and other battlegrounds could easily tilt the presidency.

Why did CNN keep him out with impossible-to-meet requirements? The performances, mistruths and misstatements by Joe Biden and Donald Trump would have shocked Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, who managed to debate seven times without any discussion of golf handicaps — a subject better fit for a “Grumpy Old Men” outtake than one of the year’s two scheduled debates.

Keep ReadingShow less
I Voted stickers

Veterans for All Voters advocates for election reforms that enable more people to participate in primaries.

BackyardProduction/Getty Images

Veterans are working to make democracy more representative

Proctor, a Navy veteran, is a volunteer with Veterans for All Voters.

Imagine this: A general election with no negative campaigning and four or five viable candidates (regardless of party affiliation) competing based on their own personal ideas and actions — not simply their level of obstruction or how well they demonize their opponents. In this reformed election process, the candidate with the best ideas and the broadest appeal will win. The result: The exhausted majority will finally be well-represented again.

Keep ReadingShow less
Person voting at a dropbox in Washington, D.C.

A bill moving through Congress would only allow U.S. citizens to vote in D.C. municipal eletions.

Chen Mengtong/China News Service via Getty Images

The battle over noncitizen voting in America's capital

Rogers is the “data wrangler” at BillTrack50. He previously worked on policy in several government departments.

Should you be allowed to vote if you aren’t an American citizen? Or according to the adage ‘No taxation without representation’, if you pay taxes should you get to choose the representatives who help spend those tax dollars? Those questions are at the heart of the debate over a bill to restrict voting to U.S. citizens.

Keep ReadingShow less
people walking through a polling place

Election workers monitor a little-used polling place in Sandy Springs, Ga., during the state's 2022 primary.

Nathan Posner/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

What November election? Half of the U.S. House is already decided.

Troiano is the executive director ofUnite America, a philanthropic venture fund that invests in nonpartisan election reform to foster a more representative and functional government. He’s also the author of “The Primary Solution.”

Last month, Americans were treated to an embarrassing spectacle: Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Jasmine Crockett (D-Texas) tradingpersonal insults related to “fake eyelashes” and a “bleach blonde bad built butch body” during a late-night committee hearing. Some likened it to Bravo’s “Real Housewives” reality TV series, and wondered how it was possible that elected officials could act that way and still be elected to Congress by the voters.

The truth is, the vast majority of us don’t actually elect our House members — not even close. Less than 10 percent of voters in Crockett’s district participated in her 2024 Democratic primary, which all but guaranteed her re-election in the safe blue district. Greene ran unopposed in her GOP primary — meaning she was re-elected without needing to win a single vote. The nearly 600,000 voters in her overwhelmingly red district were denied any meaningful choice. Both contests were decided well before most voters participate in the general election.

Keep ReadingShow less
USA map with flags
FotografiaBasica/Getty Images

Eight needed steps to save democracy and our future

Fellmeth is the Price Professor of Public Interest Law at the University of San Diego School of Law and the founder and executive director of the Children’s Advocacy Institute.

Democracies in decline rarely come to an abrupt end. They usually unravel — slowly and subtly — over a period of time; the rot slowly reveals itself until the endgame becomes obvious. Threats to democracy are now out in the open and very real, but there are some steps we can take to help preserve governance by informed people who are concerned about our children and the Earth we leave behind.

Keep ReadingShow less