The NCSL Blog


By Dylan Lynch

The April edition of The Canvass marks the 10-year anniversary for NCSL’s election administration newsletter. 

Canvass 10th birthday logoWhen it launched, George W. Bush was in the White House, the Great Recession was just getting started and the iPhone was only a year old. Over a decade, a lot can change, and that’s certainly been true in election administration.

Yet some things have stayed the same. Of the 85 issues to date, the lead articles of 38 percent have discussed five main election administration topics. Although each topic has many facets, they each also have their own major story.

  • Voter Registration: During the 10 years of The Canvass, online voter registration (OVR) exploded. In 2008, only two states had OVR. In 2018, there are now 37 states and the District of Columbia.
  • Voting Technology/Equipment: The debate over what role technology should have in elections continues. Direct-recording electronic voting machines (DREs) are still in use, but have faced ever-increasing scrutiny over the past 10 years. On the other hand, states that veered away from paper ballots and paper trails are considering doing a 180-degree turnaround on the issue.
  • Voter ID: A hotly debated topic in many states, voter identification requirements have shifted in the last years. In 2008, 24 states had some kind of ID requirement; now 34 do. Now, it is the legislative questions that are shifting, more than the requirements themselves. Which IDs are acceptable? Are verification methods like signatures sufficient? How can states provide IDs to voters? What happens if someone doesn’t have the right ID on Election Day?
  • Voting Groups: Covering a large array of groups, like young voters, military and overseas voters, and individuals with disabilities to name a few, the legislative trend has been aimed at increasing accessibility to our democracy for these groups.
  • Convenience for Voters: This broad category addresses early voting, absentee voting, vote-by-mail and internet voting. Although the idea of internet voting has garnered steam, changes to early and absentee voting have been the trend that has continued over the past years.

You can learn a little more about each of these topics by reading the complete April edition of The Canvass. And if you’d like to learn a lot more, go to our elections resource page, or just let me know.

Dylan Lynch is a policy associate in NCSL's Elections and Redistricting program.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.