Voting experts expect 2024 without chaos

Before election day, there was growing concern about possible chaos at the polling stations.

Representatives of the election commission warned about this poll watchers who was steeped in conspiracy theories falsely claiming that then-President Donald Trump did not actually lose the 2020 election. Democrats and voter rights groups are concerned about the implications of the new election law, in some Republican-controlled states, it was condemned by President Joe Biden “Jim Crow 2.0”. Law enforcement agencies monitored possible threats at polling stations.

Still, Election Day and early voting weeks went pretty smoothly. There were reports of unruly observers disrupting the vote, but these were scattered. Groups of armed soldiers began monitoring a handful of ballot boxes in Arizona, while – the judge ordered them stay away to ensure they don’t intimidate voters. And while it may take months to see their full impact, Voting laws supported by the Republican Party Passed after the 2020 election, it does not appear to have caused as much disruption as it did during the March Texas primary.

“The whole ecosystem is more resilient in many ways after 2020,” said Amber McReynolds, a former Denver elections director who advises a number of voting rights organizations. “A lot of effort was put into making things go well.”

Although some voting experts worst fears failed to materialize, some voters still faced the types of routine violations that occur on a small scale in every election. Many of them went disproportionately to black and Hispanic voters.

“Things have gone better than expected,” said Amir Badat of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. “But we have to say this with a caveat: Our expectations are low.”

Badat said his organization has seen long lines at polling places from South Carolina to Texas.

There were particular problems in Harris County, Texas, which includes Houston. A shortage of paper ballots and at least one polling station opening late led to long lines and started an investigation predominantly Democratic district by Republican state authorities.

The investigation suggests, in part, that Republican voters are increasingly turning on Republican voters. the use of postal ballots is not recommended or the use of early in-person voting by Trump and his allies. But that’s a very different issue than Texas during the March primaries.

Then a controversial new voting law that increased mail-in voting requirements resulted in approx 13% of all such ballots are rejected, much higher compared to other choices. This was an ominous sign for the wave of new laws that followed Trump’s loss to Biden and false statements about postal voting, but there were no problems of this magnitude in the general election.

Texas changed the design of its mail-in ballots, which solved many of the problems voters had with having their identification information in the proper place. Other states that have implemented voting rules do not appear to have had widespread problems, although voting rights groups and analysts say it will take weeks of data analysis to determine the effects of the laws.

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law is collecting data to determine whether new voting laws in states like Georgia have contributed to lower turnout among black and Hispanic voters.

Show previous numbers This year the turnout was smaller than in the last midterm elections four years ago in Florida, Georgia, Iowa and Texas—the four states that passed significant voting restrictions after the 2020 election—though there could be a number of reasons for that.

“It’s hard to empirically judge what effect these laws have on turnout because there are so many factors that affect turnout,” said Rick Hassen, an election law expert at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law. “You also have a lot of exaggeration from Democrats that any changes to voting laws will have a major impact on the election, which has been proven not to be the case.”

In Georgia, for example, Republicans have made it more difficult to apply for mail-in ballots after the 2020 election — among other things, by requiring voters to show a driver’s license number or other form of identification instead of a signature. This could be one of the reasons early in-person voting increased dramatically in popularity in the state this year, with turnout only down slightly from 2018.

Jason Snead, executive director of the conservative Honest Elections Project, which advocates for tougher voting laws, said the fairly high turnout in the midterm elections showed that fears about the new voting rules were overblown.

“We’re on the back burner of an election that should have been the end of democracy, but largely wasn’t,” Snead said.

Poll watchers raised significant concerns for voting rights groups and election officials ahead of Election Day. Representatives of the two main political parties are a key part of any secure election process, with powers of observers who can challenge perceived violations of the rules.

But this year, groups linked to conspiracy theorists challenging a Biden victory in 2020 have been actively recruiting poll watchers, with some states reporting aggressive volunteers causing disruptions during the primaries. But in November there were fewer issues.

In North Carolina, where several counties reported trouble with observers during the May primary, the state’s election commission said 21 facts of violations at polling stations in general elections, mostly during early personal voting and by campaign members rather than observers. Observers were responsible for eight incidents.

Polling experts were pleasantly surprised that there were no further problems with observers, marking the second general election in a row where the threat of aggressive Republican observers failed to materialize.

“This appears to be an increase from 2020. Is it a small increase? Yes,” said Michael McDonald, a political scientist at the University of Florida. “In 2024, it’s still inconclusive, and we can’t let our guard down.”

One of the main organizers of the survey was Cleta Mitchell, a veteran GOP election lawyer who joined Trump on January 2, 2020, called Georgia’s top election official when the president asked the state to “find” enough votes to declare him the winner. Mitchell then founded an organization to train volunteers who wanted to monitor election officials, which has been credited with a surge in election observers.

Mitchell said the relatively quiet election was proof that groups like hers were simply concerned about the integrity of the election, not about causing disruption.

“Every training session that those of us who have done this training have included instructions on how to behave and how they should be ‘peaceful, lawful, honest,'” Mitchell wrote in the conservative online publication The Federalist. “Yet, without evidence, the closer we got to election day, the more hysterical the headlines became, warning of violence at polling stations as a result of too many observers monitoring the process. It didn’t happen.”

Voter groups say they are relieved their fears have not been realised, but they say threats to democracy remain on the horizon in 2024 – especially with Trump announced that he will run again. Wendy Weiser, a voting and election expert at the Brennan Center, agreed that overall things went more smoothly than expected.

“By and large, there was no sabotage,” Weiser said. “I don’t think that means we’re in the clear.”

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