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Christy McCormick, chairwoman of the Election Assistance Commission, testififying on Capitol Hill in May.

Top U.S. election official opposes  automatic voter registration

The chairwoman of the Election Assistance Commission told the nation's state legislators last week that she's opposed to automatic voter registration.

Adding qualified citizens to the rolls whenever they do business with a state agency, unless they choose to opt out, has quickly become a widely accepted component of most democracy reform agendas. Eighteen states will have so-called AVR in place in time for the 2020 election after a surge of acceptance in state legislatures this decade. And the practice would be nationally mandated under HR 1, the comprehensive campaign finance, election and ethics legislation the House passed in March.

But Christy McCormick argues that registering to vote is a form of speech protected by the First Amendment and that "not registering to vote is a choice – we should respect our citizens' choices."

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Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger

Georgia's new GOP voting chief says numbers prove 2018 election was legit

Georgia's top elections official is asserting vindication from Washington for the state's conduct of last year's highly contentious election.

Brad Raffensperger said ample evidence from an exhaustive assessment of midterm contests nationwide by the Election Assistance Commission proves the 2018 contest was conducted on the up-and-up. Raffensberger was elected secretary of state in November to succeed fellow Republican Brian Kemp, who supervised the election that narrowly made him governor.

Democrats characterize Georgia's contest as soiled by a multifaceted effort at voter suppression by the GOP that they maintain was decisive in preventing Stacey Abrams from becoming the first black woman ever elected to a governorship.

"Liberal activists have been desperately trying to advance a false narrative of pervasive voter suppression which, as the EAVS report confirms, has no basis in reality," Raffensperger said. "While these activists peddle falsehoods — apparently as a springboard for higher office or to dupe donors into supporting their nonprofit — my office will continue to aggressively pursue initiatives like automated voter registration, which make Georgia a top state in the nation for voter registration and voter turnout."

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Rep. Zoe Lofgren has raised questions about some spending practices of the Elections Assistance Commission. She chairs the House Administration Committee, which oversees the commission.

Travel and personnel spending questioned at election agency pleading poverty

When all four members of the Election Assistance Commission appeared before congressional committees this spring, the main theme was a cross-partisan plea of poverty: The agency, all of them agreed, does not have nearly enough money to do its central job of helping the states secure their voting systems in time for the 2020 election.

Now the chairwoman of the House Administration Committee, one of the panels that heard this lament, is pushing back on the claims.

In a letter to the commissioners last week, California Democrat Zoe Lofgren questioned why an EAC allegedly so strapped for cash has recently changed its internal rules so that two commissioners and three other senior employees who live far from Washington are being reimbursed for their trips to the agency's headquarters.

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A voter fills out her ballot at a Salida, Calif., polling place on Election Day 2018. The 52 percent turnout for the midterm elections far exceeded the 33 percent turnout in 2014.

Top 5 numbers from the bible of the 2018 election

The Election Administration and Voting Survey, published after every federal election since 2004, is the numerical bible of all things electoral.

Clocking in at 251 pages, the newly released report on the 2018 midterm elections doesn't lack for interesting statistical tidbits.

Here then are five of the most interesting nuggets from the report, issued by the Election Assistance Commission.

  • 120 million Americans – 52 percent of voting-age citizens – cast a ballot. That's a huge jump from the 2014 midterms, when turnout was 33 percent.
  • The states with the highest turnout were Minnesota (64.2 percent) and Colorado (63.8) percent. The lowest turnout was in Arkansas (35.8 percent) and Hawaii (38.9 percent).
  • Alaska, Kentucky and the District of Columbia all report having more people on their voter rolls than in the Census estimates of their voting age population – an undeniable sign their records are not up to date.
  • While more than half of Americans who voted did so on Election Day, one-quarter voted by mail and another one-fifth voted in-person at early voting sites.
  • More than 200,000 polling sites were in use on Election Day, staffed by more than 600,000 poll workers. Still, a survey of election officials included in the report found 70 percent stating that it was "very difficult" or "somewhat difficult" to find enough poll workers.
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