For many legislators, September kicks off the season of planning. Because most legislatures are not in session, the fall is a nice opportunity to meet with constituents and form a legislative agenda for the upcoming year.
Which issues will you tackle? What bills will you introduce? Where will you get your information? During this phase, please feel free to ask us for data, trends, experts to interview, or access to bills from other states--basically anything that may beof use to you as you craft legislation for 2012.
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Colorado Case Study (Allan Wallis)
Professor Wallis co-authored (along with Peggy Cuciti) Changing the Way Colorado Votes: a Study of Selected Reforms, commissioned by the state’s Best Practices and Vision Commission.
Wallis told the NCSL audience that between 2004 and 2008, election costs rose by 42 percent and have continued to go up. The cost of running elections is driven by two categories: 1) equipment and its maintenance, and 2) labor. He also noted that Colorado’s county clerks are increasingly “having trouble finding people who can run a modern election.”
The study looked at the potential for all-mail voting in terms of both political acceptance and financial viability. The study predicted Colorado would save money by switching to all-mail voting. However, a bill to permit Colorado counties to use all-mail voting was withdrawn by its sponsor before the committee could vote on it. Wallis offered these closing words: “Political reality can wipe out rationality very, very quickly.”
Doug Chapin’s new blog. Chapin, who left the Pew Center on the States to become the director of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs’ Program for Excellence in Election Administration, is writing almost daily about our favorite topic (elections). His posts are pithy, instructive, and sometimes funny. And, he always includes excellent images. This deserves notice because we at The Canvass know that it can be hard to find images to illustrate election news.
-- Home rule in action: Marana, Ariz., is doing away with precincts for local elections and using mail-only ballots instead.
-- Fake IDs are getting better all the time; ask anyone in the 18-20 year old demographic. The Washington Post reports that high-quality IDs are primarily desired by underage drinkers. Could fake IDs be used for voter fraud as well?
--In August, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission held a roundtable called “Design Counts in Elections.” NCSL’s Wendy Underhill joined local elections officials and experts on usability, “plain language” initiatives and accessibility to talk about guiding principles and real-life examples of good ballot and polling place design. The webcast is available to one and all.
--NCSL just released a LegisBrief on pre-Election Day voting. This is an easy-to-read, super-short analysis of early in-person voting and no-excuse absentee voting. LegisBriefs are free for NCSL members and cost five dollars for all others.
--Point/Counterpoint: The Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky weighs in on voter ID with Voter Photo Identification: Protecting the Security of Elections. And, Dan Tokaji, professor at the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, offers an opinion on this year’s legislative action on election policy in The Right To Vote: Bending Toward Justice or Backsliding? Listen to a debate between von Spakovsky and Tokaji recorded at the 2011 National Election Law Seminar.
--Federal Update: As we go to press, the U.S. Senate is holding a hearing on "New State Voting Laws: Barriers to the Ballot?" Get the details from the Senate Judiciary Committee.