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Elections

26

Our American States

podcastPlurality voting is the most common system in the U.S. A voter picks one candidate in each race and the candidate that receives the most votes wins.

Then Maine enacted a new system called ranked choice voting for the November 2016 election. Now Alaska has joined Maine, and will use ranked choice voting for the first time this year as well as a new open primary system in which the top four candidates advance to the general election.

Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins (D) of Alaska is the first guest on the podcast and he discusses how Alaska came to adopt the system, and the challenges and costs it posed to the state’s election administrators. This discussion took place the day before Alaska’s open primary on June 12.

The second guest is Ben Williams, a principal in NCSL’s elections and redistricting program and author, along with an advisory panel, of a new report on ranked choice voting that will be published in July. He discusses the national landscape for the new approach to voting and some of the information they discovered in surveying election administrators around the country.

Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, AlaskaBen Williams, NCSL

 

 

 

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03

Our American States

podcast

The 2020 redistricting cycle presented a significant challenge to the states. Data from the census was delayed by the pandemic and states had less time than usual to draw their maps for legislative and congressional districts. As well, the court challenges that inevitably follow the maps also were delayed and some are still in process even as primaries start.

To get a left-right perspective on the process and how it’s likely to affect the 2022 elections, we spoke with Kelly Ward Burton, executive director of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, and Adam Kincaid, executive director of the National Republican Redistricting Trust.

Burton and Kincaid shared the views of their parties on how the process has gone so far, the role of the courts this cycle and how they expect the 2022 midterm elections to play out.

Kelly Ward Burton, NDRCAdam Kincaid, NRRT

 

 

 

 

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07

The U.S. census is an enormous once-a-decade undertaking aimed at counting everyone in the country. Despite its scope and importance, the census rarely makes headlines. This past year, however, upset virtually everything in society and the census was no exception. The data state legislatures rely on for redistricting congressional and state legislative seats will not be available until Sept. 30, six months later than usual.

James Whitehorne, chief of the Redistricting and Voting Rights Data Office at U.S. Census Bureau, is the first guest on the podcast. Whitehorne discusses how the pandemic affected the bureau’s ability to collect data, other challenges the bureau faced, the success of using online forms and offers some historical perspective on the 2020 count.

The second guest is Wendy Underhill, who oversees the Elections and Redistricting Program at NCSL.  Underhill discusses steps states are taking to deal with the delayed data delivery and how it might affect election filing dates, and also reminds listeners that he census forms the basis of how the federal government distributes about $1.5 trillion annually to states.

James Whitehorne, U.S. Census BureauWendy Underhill, NCSL

 

 

 

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17

Possibly the most underreported story during the November 2020 election was the effect it would have on redistricting, the once-a-decade effort to draw congressional and state legislative districts.

On the podcast, Ben Williams, an NCSL policy expert on redistricting, explains how the election sets up  legislatures to start the redistricting process, and discusses when the U.S. Census Bureau will supply states with the data they need to do both reapportionment and redistricting.  He also fills us in on upcoming three-day redistricting seminar offered by NCSL that will take legislators and legislative staff through the various challenges involved in the process.

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15

The presidential election, understandably, has drawn much of the attention of the media and the public following Election Day. But there also were more than 6,000 state legislators on the ballot and more than 120 statewide ballot measures. Some would argue those elections will have more effect on the life of the average American than those at the top of the ticket.

One of those people is Tim Storey, executive director of NCSL and a close observer of state legislative contests for decades. Even after the election, policymakers in Washington, D.C., are likely to remain gridlocked and the real action will be in state legislatures, Storey says. He breaks down the results of the election and how it will affect redistricting, action on the pandemic and the economy, and more.

Our second guest in Amanda Zoch, an NCSL expert on statewide ballot measures, who takes us through what passed, what it says about the policy concerns of Americans and a few of the more unusual measures that voters said yes to on Election Day.

Tim Storey, NCSLAmanda Zoch, NCSL

 

 

 

 

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19

While there is intense focus on the presidential contest and the fate of the U.S. Senate as Election Day approaches, critical contests are also underway for the control of state legislative chambers.

We’re pleased to have Tim Storey, the executive director of NCSL, as one of the guests on this podcast.  Storey has been observing these elections for decades and  shares his thoughts on the prospects for a blue wave, how many legislative chambers are likely to change control and if we’re likely to see a change in overall state control.

Also joining us is Mandy Zoch, an NCSL expert on statewide ballot measures. Zoch explains why there are fewer citizen initiatives on ballots around the nation this year and some of the more interesting measures voters will decide.

Tim Storey, NCSLAmanda Zoch, NCSL

 

 

 

 

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10

Once every 10 years, America’s political landscape changes. While most people are aware the U.S. census takes place in years that end in zero, a smaller percentage know the data collected helps determine how the nation’s political power is divided. In most states, legislatures are charged with redrawing congressional and state legislative maps following the release of the census data. This means political control of the legislature and the governor’s office will be critical when maps are redrawn in 2021. We invited two guests to explain this process and what legislatures are doing in preparation for the historic event.

  • Wendy Underhill is the director of the Elections and Redistricting Program at the National Conference of State Legislatures. NCSL is producing a series of meetings on redistricting, with the next one taking place Oct. 24-27 in Columbus, Ohio. Future redistricting meetings will be held in Las Vegas, Portland, Ore. and Washington, D.C.
  • For the staff perspective, we talk with Michelle L. Davis, a senior policy analyst on redistricting and election law at the Maryland Department of Legislative Services. She is the editor of the website Redistrictingonline and its Facebook page.

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census, redistricting, elections
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22

Columnist George Will says it’s “the bible of American politics.” Started in 1972, the “Almanac of American Politics,” has been a valuable resource tool for people needing to have comprehensive knowledge of Congress, congressional districts and state governors. Published every two years, the 2020 version has just been released.

Our guest is Louis Jacobson, who is a senior correspondent for PolitFact and has written for publications such as Governing magazine, Roll Call, CongressNow and the National Journal. He is a senior author for the “2020 Almanac of American Politics.” He wrote the state overview chapters of the publication.

Jacobson offers listeners of “Our American States” a discount code to order the publication.

Visit the site to purchase the book and use the code LOUISANDFRIENDS

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27

Voters across the nation were busy in 2018, electing their government officials at the federal, state and local levels. In addition, they considered 155 ballot issues throughout the year. Seventy-one of those were referred to voters by state legislatures. In this episode of “Our American States,” we delve into some of the key decisions they made and how their actions may affect the 2019 sessions of state legislatures.

Our guest is Wendy Underhill, a program director for elections and redistricting at the National Conference of State Legislatures. She will guide us through decisions voters made on a wide variety of topics. She’ll explain “ballot harvesting” and “lock boxes,” and give us insight on health, transportation, criminal justice, voting rights, energy, ethics for public officials and revenue issues that were on the ballot.

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29

Following the 2018 midterm elections, more women will serve in state legislatures than ever before. Starting with the 2019 sessions, it appears that about 28 percent of the nation’s 7,383 state legislators will be women—a significant jump from a touch under 25 percent after the 2017 elections. In this episode, we dive into the historic numbers and discuss why they increased this year.

Our guest, Katie Ziegler, is the program manager for NCSL’s Women’s Legislative Network, the professional development organization that includes every female state legislator in the 50 states, U.S. territories and the District of Columbia. The Women's Legislative Network’s mission: to promote the participation, empowerment and leadership of women legislators.

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