Elections in the News

Looking Forward to 2012

Before Election Day had even begun, predictions and suggestions for future elections were already prevalent:

When Michael McDonald (George Mason University) was asked how voting procedures would change for 2012, he answered that the long lines may cause more states to adopt early voting, including Maryland. He also mentioned a bill sponsored by Rep Davis (CA) which, if passed, would federally mandate early voting. Based on the trajectory of federal election policies such as the Voting Rights Act and HAVA, he predicted that eventually “we’ll have uniform voting and registration methods in the United States.”

Rick Hasen (Loyala) predicted that, although “it is doubtful if we will see fundamental and wide-reaching changes to the way we run presidential elections, such as universal voter registration and nonpartisan election administration,” there will be some improvements for 2012. He suggests that Congress will clarify the “matching” confusion created by HAVA, which has resulted in wide spread litigation. He also says that “election administration competence” will receive more attention, which will place Congressional focus on “better planning and coordination among the patchwork of local and state agencies charged with administering our federal elections.” In the end, although he predicts election administration will improve, it will still be “no nirvana.”

An article citing several election experts, including Michael Alvarez and Charles Stewart III, suggests that future elections will have more early voting, with a voting period as opposed to one election day. They also suggest more mail-in voting and, at least in the short term, more optical scan voting, while acknowledging that internet and cell phone voting are on their way. Lastly, they believe policies surrounding provisional voting will be clarified and that voter registration will become easier, through online registration and/or automatic registration via the Census Bureau.

Research from Colorado College, suggests that counties with large victories will likely stay with their chosen voting technology, whereas those with smaller margins will be much more likely adopt a new technology. They also find that Democratic counties are more likely to change voting methods than Republican counties, even when both have large margins of victory.

Speaking of new technology, Cattaraugus County, NY has decided it is finally time to retire their decades old lever machines. “The half-ton, gray and light green voting machines and their plaid curtains will disappear after today’s general election and will be replaced by smaller, electronic ballot-counting devices.”