Record turnout could rival hackers as top threat to elections
While most anxiety about administering the 2020 election is focused on potential hackers, officials at a conference Tuesday brought up another growing concern: huge turnout, with perhaps a record-breaking number of voters overwhelming the nation's polling sites.
Tammy Patrick, who studied the long lines for voting in 2012 on a commission named by President Barack Obama, pointed to a CNN poll last fall in which nearly half of voters said they were "extremely excited" about voting this November. That total was the highest by far for a presidential election since the network began asking the question in 2003.
If millions more than are expected cast ballots ahead of time and millions more pour into the nation's school cafeterias and firehouses on Nov. 3 — and the voting equipment and poll workers are insufficient to handle the crowds — the reliability of the presidential and other elections could be cast in doubt by waves of angry people who give up, potentially delayed tabulations and suspicions about reporting accuracy.
Wisconsin's top court has cleared the way for about 209,000 people to be taken off the state's voter rolls, even while an appeal continues of a lawsuit about the future of the registration lists in one of the most prominent 2020 battlegrounds.
The state Supreme Court issued the order Monday night, just hours after a trial judge held three state election commissioners in contempt and ordered the panel to proceed immediately with the removal of the names.
The fight is at the most advanced stage of the several in bellwether states over the accuracy of their poll books. And how it's ultimately resolved could be enormously consequential for the presidential election. That's because the number of registrations in dispute is nine times larger than the margin of victory in 2016, when Donald Trump took the state's 10 electoral votes as the first GOP nominee to carry Wisconsin since Ronald Reagan in 1984.
The Seattle City Council unanimously approved legislation Monday that would ban most spending on local politics by foreign-influenced corporations.
The measure would prevent corporations owned in whole or in significant part by foreign entities from spending money in local elections. Seattle is the second city to enact such a measure. The other is St. Petersburg, Fla.
Seattle's legislation was advanced in response to corporations led by Amazon — which is headquartered in the city and is the region's biggest tech employer — spending millions to influence the city's election last year. Although it's based in the United States, Amazon could still be barred from future political spending in Seattle if its foreign investors own a considerable portion of the company.
Republican lawmakers in Nebraska want to require all voters to show valid identification before accessing the ballot box.
The legislation, introduced last week, would amend the state's Constitution to require poll workers to review photo IDs to verify each person's identity before allowing them to vote. If passed by the Republican-controlled, unicameral Legislature, the provision would then be posed to voters on the ballot this November.
The lawmakers behind the bill say it will protect Nebraska against potential voter fraud, preserve each citizen's right to vote, modernize the state's election infrastructure and ensure the integrity of elections. Seven other states have strict photo ID laws like the one being considered in Nebraska.
"Just like on game shows, candidates are not supposed to question or interrupt each other, and specific moments are intended to humanize and personalize the candidates," argues Michael Socolow, associate professor at the University of Maine.
The Chandler International Film Festival is screening a documentary about everyday people working to fight a 10-year-old gerrymandering initiative. Join the screening on Jan. 20 in Arizona.