Did you know EdGlenToday.com is free for you thanks to our awesome advertisers? We noticed you're using an ad block software. Help us spread the word and give our sponsors some exposure by disabling your ad blocking service for Riverbender.com.
Midterms free of feared chaos as voting experts look to 2024
AP Nov 25, 2022 12 days ago
FILE - A voter drops off her ballot at a drop box, Nov. 7, 2022, in Mesa, Ariz. Fears of aggressive poll watchers sowing chaos at polling stations or conservative groups trying to intimidate votes didn't materialize on Election Day as many election officials and voting rights experts had feared. Voting proceeded smoothly across most of the U.S., with a few exceptions of scattered disruptions. (AP Photo/Matt York, File)
FILE - A woman attends an event for Democratic candidate for Florida governor Charlie Crist at an early voting location Nov. 6, 2022, in Miami. Fears of aggressive poll watchers sowing chaos at polling stations or conservative groups trying to intimidate votes didn't materialize on Election Day as many election officials and voting rights experts had feared. Voting proceeded smoothly across most of the U.S., with a few exceptions of scattered disruptions. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)
“The entire ecosystem in a lot of ways has become more resilient in the aftermath of 2020,” said Amber McReynolds, a former Denver elections director who advises a number of voting rights organizations. “There's been a lot of effort on ensuring things went well.”
Texas changed the design of its mail ballots, which solved many of the problems voters had putting identifying information in the proper place. Other states that added regulations on voting didn't appear to have widespread problems, though voting rights groups and analysts say it will take weeks of combing through data to find out the laws' impacts.
The Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law is compiling data to determine whether new voting laws in states such as Georgia contributed to a drop in turnout among Black and Hispanic voters.
“It's difficult to judge, empirically, the kind of effect these laws have on turnout because so many factors go into turnout,” said Rick Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California, Los Angeles law school. “You also have plenty of exaggeration on the Democratic side that any kind of change in voting laws are going to cause some major effect on the election, which has been proven not to be the case.”
Jason Snead, executive director of the conservative Honest Elections Project, which advocates for tighter voting laws, said the fairly robust turnout in the midterm elections shows that fears of the new voting regulations were overblown.
“We are on the back end of an election that was supposed to be the end of democracy, and it very much was not,” Snead said.
Poll watchers were a significant concern of voting rights groups and election officials heading into Election Day. The representatives of the two major political parties are a key part of any secure election process, credentialed observers who can object to perceived violations of rules.
But this year, groups aligned with conspiracy theorists who challenged Biden's 2020 victory recruited poll watchers heavily, and some states reported that aggressive volunteers caused disruptions during the primary. But there were fewer issues in November.
In North Carolina, where several counties had reported problems with poll watchers in the May primary, the state elections board reported https://apnews.com/article/north-carolina-2ef291dcb391ec46b86216c1c57f0afe">21 incidents of misbehavior at the polls in the general election, most during the early, in-person voting period and by members of campaigns rather than poll watchers. The observers were responsible for eight of the incidents.
Voting experts were pleasantly surprised there weren't more problems with poll watchers, marking the second general election in a row when a feared threat of aggressive Republican observers did not materialize.
“This seems to be an increase over 2020. Is it a small increase? Yes,” said Michael McDonald, a political scientist at the University of Florida. “It's still a dry run for 2024, and we can't quite let down our guard.”
Mitchell said the relatively quiet election is vindication that groups like hers were simply concerned with election integrity rather than causing disruptions.
“Every training conducted by those of us doing such training included instruction about behavior, and that they must 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 the polls resulting from too many observers watching the process. It didn't happen.”