Skip to content
Search

Latest Stories

Top Stories

Bipartisan group offers tips for reducing vote-counting time​

Voting
Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

The coronavirus pandemic, the surge of mailed ballots and predictions of a record turnout each contributes challenges for election officials, voters and the media. An election like no other demands new guidance.

The Bipartisan Policy Center's Task Force on Elections has stepped in with a series of recommendations for how to deal with counting the votes cast this fall.


Perhaps the greatest vote-counting challenge is that it is likely a large number of ballots will not be counted by the time Election Day turns into Nov. 4. Absentee ballots, which comprised about one-fourth of all votes in 2016, are likely to double or triple and in some states, overwhelming the equipment and staff trying to count them.

So, several of the BPC recommendations relate to efforts to move the counting process along as quickly as possible.

These include:

  • Removing excessive absentee ballot verification requirements, including notaries or witnesses.
  • Allowing voters time to fix problems with their mailed-in ballots, such as signatures not matching.
  • Asking for additional ways to reach voters, such as telephone numbers and email, so they have a chance to respond to problems with their votes.

Communicating updates to the public is going to be especially critical because there might be a tendency for people to lose confidence in the election results the longer the final numbers are delayed.

The BPC report also calls for election officials to get permission to begin processing absentee ballots prior to Election Day as a way to mitigate the time required to get through them all.

Sign up for The Fulcrum newsletter

For those voters who go to polling places, the report calls for careful adherence to CDC guidelines on conducting safe, in-person voting.

To prevent problems with mail-in ballots that could slow the counting process, the report recommends election officials consult with the Postal Service to make sure the ballot designs conform to USPS standards.

"Election officials and policymakers continue to adapt the election process to keep voters safe during the pandemic, but one area that has not gotten enough attention is how votes will be counted," said Rachel Orey, a research analyst at BPC's Elections Project. "This new report contains pragmatic recommendations to improve the counting process and responds to major legitimacy concerns, including absentee ballot security and delayed election results."

Read More

Donald Trump and J.D. Vance

Vice presidential candidate J.D. Vance, standing next to former President Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention, said President Biden's campaign rhetoric "led directly to President Trump's attempted assassination."

Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Assassination attempt will fuel political extremism

Khalid is a physician, geostrategic analyst and freelance writer.

President Joe Biden’s initial response to the attack on Donald Trump, calling it “sick” and reaching out to his stricken adversary to express support, was commendable. Statements from other prominent Democrats, including former President Barack Obama and Vice President Kamala Harris, as well as notable Republicans like former President George W. Bush and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, echoed this sentiment of unity and concern.

In contrast, the response from some on the right — engaging in finger-pointing and blaming Democrats for their heated rhetoric — proved less productive. Vice presidential candidate J.D. Vance, for instance, asserted that Biden's campaign rhetoric "led directly to President Trump's attempted assassination," seemingly in reaction to recent comments from Biden suggesting, "It’s time to put Trump in a bullseye." This divisive rhetoric only exacerbates the political tension that already grips the nation. Instead of fostering unity, such accusations deepen the partisan divide.

Keep ReadingShow less
Hands coming together in a circle of people
SDI Productions/Getty Images

Building a future together based on a common cause

Johnson is a United Methodist pastor, the author of "Holding Up Your Corner: Talking About Race in Your Community" and program director for the Bridge Alliance, which houses The Fulcrum.

As the 2024 presidential campaigns speed toward November, we face a transformative moment for our nation. The challenges of recent years have starkly revealed the deep divisions that threaten our societal fabric. Yet, amidst the discord, we are presented with a pivotal choice: Will we yield to the allure of division, or will we summon the courage to transcend our differences and shape a future founded on common cause and mutual respect?

Keep ReadingShow less
People protesting laws against homelessness

People protest outside the Supreme Court as the justices prepared to hear Grants Pass v. Johnson on April 22.

Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images

High court upholds law criminalizing homelessness, making things worse

Herring is an assistant professor of sociology at UCLA, co-author of an amicus brief in Johnson v. Grants Pass and a member of the Scholars Strategy Network.

In late June, the Supreme Court decided in the case of Johnson v. Grants Pass that the government can criminalize homelessness. In the court’s 6-3 decision, split along ideological lines, the conservative justices ruled that bans on sleeping in public when there are no shelter beds available do not violate the Constitution’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

This ruling will only make homelessness worse. It may also propel U.S. localities into a “race to the bottom” in passing increasingly punitive policies aimed at locking up or banishing the unhoused.

Keep ReadingShow less
silhouettes of people arguing in front of an America flag
Pict Rider/Getty Images

'One side will win': The danger of zero-sum framings

Elwood is the author of “Defusing American Anger” and hosts thepodcast “People Who Read People.”

Recently, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito was surreptitiously recorded at a private event saying, about our political divides, that “one side or the other is going to win.” Many people saw this as evidence of his political bias. In The Washington Post, Perry Bacon Jr. wrote that he disagreed with Alito’s politics but that the justice was “right about the divisions in our nation today.” The subtitle of Bacon’s piece was: “America is in the middle of a nonmilitary civil war, and one side will win.”

It’s natural for people in conflict to see it in “us versus them” terms — as two opposing armies facing off against each other on the battlefield. That’s what conflict does to us: It makes us see things through war-colored glasses.

Keep ReadingShow less