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The 13 states where election security matters most

Along with the candidates and the issues, the 2020 presidential election is also going to be about the voting process itself.

Russian efforts to hack into the voting systems of 2016 have boosted election security to a critical concern this time, prompting states to spend tens of millions buying new equipment, hiring cybersecurity wizards and installing software that warns of intrusions — among numerous other steps. More purchases of hardware, software and expertise are coming in the months ahead.

Whether enough money gets spent, and wisely, won't be known for sure until Nov. 3, 2020 — when the system will be subject to the one test that really matters. And whether the country decides the presidential election result is trustworthy will likely come down to how reliably things work in the relatively small number of states both nominees are contesting.

[Swing states build 2020 hacking protections: Will they hold?]

With 11 months to go, The Fulcrum reviewed information from state elections officials, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Election Assistance Commission and news reports to get a sense of the election security landscape. Here's the state of play in the 13 states likeliest to be presidential battlegrounds.

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Balance of Power

Allow us to punish faithless electors, nearly half the states ask Supreme Court

There are now 23 states asking the Supreme Court to answer a basic question about the process of electing the president: Can they bind a member of the Electoral College to vote for the state's popular vote winner?

A group of 22 states on Wednesday asked the court to take up a case involving a so-called faithless elector in Colorado, who was dismissed and replaced in 2016 after refusing to vote for Hilary Clinton even though she won the state's popular vote. The elector challenged his dismissal in a lawsuit, which a lower court allowed to move forward.

The brief from Colorado's allies argues the court should reverse that decision, effectively giving a green light for states to enforce laws that require an elector to cast their votes for the candidate who carries their state. Thirty-two states have such laws.

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Defending Democracy & Free Enterprise: The Role of Colorado Business

Organizer: Business for America

Most businesses work hard to earn trust. They know trust improves employee engagement, innovation, customer and stakeholder relationships, and supports the political and economic stability on which business depends. Yet, trust in U.S. institutions – including trust in business – is dangerously low. According to several recent studies, low confidence in our political and economic systems, and the outsize influence of moneyed interests in shaping public policy, are major factors in this decline.

In this high-stakes environment, businesses are under increasing pressure to demonstrate "corporate civic responsibility." Employees want to know where their company stands on key issues, and they expect a culture that supports civic engagement. Please join us for an informal gathering to learn more about these trends and what "corporate civic responsibility" might mean for your firm in Colorado. Secretary of State Jena Griswold and Congressman Ken Buck have been invited as our featured guests.

Location: WorkAbility - Uptown at the Sudler, 1576 Sherman Street, Denver, CO

Istvan Kadar Photography/Getty Images

Ranked-choice voting will now be used in the 2021 elections for mayor and city council in New York.

Ranked-choice voting backers eye momentum from NYC victory

Ranked-choice voting just made it big in the biggest town for making it — New York City. And supporters of this way of conducting elections hope to use the victory there to spread it, well, everywhere.

With more than 90 percent of the precincts reporting Wednesday morning, almost three-quarters of voters (73.5 percent) endorsed bringing ranked-choice voting to the nation's biggest city. The new system, which allows people to rank as many as five candidates in order of preference, will be used in primary and special elections beginning with the races in 2021 for mayor, city council and several other municipal offices.

Known as RCV and also the instant-runoff system, ranking candidates has become one of the big election-improvement darlings of the democracy reform movement.

Less sweeping measures for improving governance were on ballots in Maine, Kansas and Denver, and all of them succeeded.

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