Coffee Break Ballot, July 13: Current Trends in Voting Rights

Today is a day of big reports and big numbers.

A widely anticipated report — at least in voting rights reporting and civil liberties circles — from the nonprofit Sentencing Project indicated that up to one in every 10 adults in Florida is barred from voting because of a felony conviction. Almost 25 percent of the state’s black population faces similar challenges at the ballot box.

That number makes Florida the national leader in the restriction of felon voting rights. We’ve done our own reporting on felon voting rights restoration, but the raw numbers of the Sentencing Project’s report created some buzz around the Internet.

Today is also the final day of the Texas photo voter ID case in Washington, D.C. Federal Appeals Court, which means court watchers have some time to kill until another ruling creates a new wave of inflammatory rhetoric on both sides.

We’ll be sure to let you know when that pops up.

What We’ve Been Reading

Florida leads nation in excluding ex-felons from the polls,” (William E. Gibson, 07/12, South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

Swing state thievery,” (Randy Lobasso, 07/12, Salon)

Voting rights, voting wrongs,” (The Editors, 07/14, The Economist)

Young U.S. Voters’ Turnout Intentions Lagging,” (Jeffrey M. Jones, 07/13, Gallup)

‘Got Voter ID?’ State Efforts at Public Educational Campaigns Vary Widely,” (Ryan J. Reilly, 07/13, Talking Points Memo)

NAACP president, Holder insult the intelligence of minorities on Voter ID laws,” (Demetrius Minor, 07/13, Red Alert Politics)

Hawaii’s Vanishing Voter — Special Report on Voter Participation,(Ian Lind, 07/09 – 07/12, Honolulu Civil Beat)

Twitter Trends

We’re not seeing a terrible amount of movement on our four search terms today, despite what we might call an abundance of tweetable and readable stories. We would have imagined that the Florida felon story would create a storm of outrage among users both in favor of and against felon re-enfranchisement.

Maybe it’s because today is Friday, or because everyone is waiting to hear the verdict in the Texas voter ID case. But things change quickly on Twitter. The arrival of the weekend is just a trough in the never-ending stream of knee-jerk reactions.

Our Texas reporters in Washington, D.C. are on their way home to the News21 newsroom this weekend, but be sure to follow us all @WhoCanVote.

Coffee Break Ballot, July 12: Current Trends in Voting Rights

All signs suggest a momentary trough in the #VoterID frenzy of the last few days.

The U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., is concluding a hearing on the Texas photo voter ID law. The decision by the three-judge panel is sure to send anger and/or gloating on both sides of the partisan divide through the roof. For today the digital conversation is focused elsewhere.

Vice President Joe Biden’s decidedly politicized speech at the annual NAACP conference in Houston this morning brought up the Obama Administration’s stance on ballot access and voting rights.

The weekend likely will be busy for commentators and opinion pages weighing in on the voting rights debate; Monday will be a big news day.

What We’ve Been Reading

New court filings: SC would proceed with voter ID for election,” (Renee Dudley, 07/12, S.C. Post and Courier)

Overheated Rhetoric from VP Biden and Others on Voter ID,” (Michael Collins, 07/12, Republican National Lawyers Association)

The GOP’s make-believe voter fraud epidemic,” (Dana Liebelson, 07/12, The Week)

Mitt’s real insult to the NAACP,” (Joan Walsh, 07/12, Salon)

Texas’ Road to Victory in Its Decades-Long Fight Against Voting Rights,” (Brentin Mock, 07/12, The Nation)

Biden Defends Health Care Reform and Decries Voter ID Laws,” (Rebecca Berg, 07/12, New York Times)

Twitter Trends

An explosive story from Charleston, S.C., today suggested the state will rush implementation of its photo voter ID law if approved by a three-judge federal court in September.

The story shows South Carolina’s continued insistence on the acceptability of its law, which was denied twice by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Right Division under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

Most Twitter commentary today in our key search areas is focused on the apparent hypocrisy of Vice President Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder speaking out against photo voter ID at an event where to comply with the Secret Service, photo ID was required for entry.

Texas is still making minor waves, as is Pennsylvania. Yet, the only time the twitchy, knee-jerk denizens of Twitter discuss voting rights and voter ID in sustained fashion is during an election, wherever that election may be. August congressional primaries could see a revival in some swing states.

We’ll keep you posted on that front, but be sure to follow @LinsdeyRuta and @AnneliseRussell for the latest updates from the Texas voter ID trial. And as always, follow us @WhoCanVote.

Coffee Break Ballot, July 11: Current Trends in Voting Rights

Our breathless post yesterday on the rise of #VoterID on Twitter apparently was too early.

Combined with mentions today, in 24 hours on social media search engine there were 20,937 mentions.

How does that translate into real political effects? Twitter users are talking about the State of Texas v. Attorney General Eric Holder, and are starting to make questions of poll access and voting rights key to the 2012 election.

Intrepid reporters are entering some of the final editing and data entry stages for various News21 projects. Stay tuned to this blog for more updates, and be prepared for our August rollout.

First, what other people have been writing about our research area.

What We’ve Been Reading

Florida, Iowa target voting rights for ex-felons,” (Shawn Ghuman, 07/11, USA Today)

In Pennsylvania, the Rosa Parks of voter ID face down GOP voter suppression,” (Nicolaus Mills, 07/11, The Christian Science Monitor)

Eric Holder says recent studies show 25 percent of African Americans, 8 percent of whites lack government-issued photo IDs,” (Austin-American-Statesman, 07/10, PolitiFact Texas)

Will Pennsylvania’s Voter ID Law Cost Obama the Election?” (Eric Andrew-Gee, 07/10, The New Republic)

Most Voters Favor Photo ID at Polls, Don’t See It As Discrimination,” (Rasmussen Poll, 07/11, Rasmussen Reports)

With No Disavowal of Voter ID, Romney Received Coldly at NAACP,” (Ari Berman, 07/11, The Nation)

Twitter Trends

Mentions of #VoterID are spiking. It’s a term at the heart of the annual NAACP convention in Houston and the U.S. District Court hearing underway in Washington, D.C.

But we’re also seeing a slight rise in mentions of #VoterSuppression, which could stem from the apparent fallout from likely Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s diluted appearance before the NAACP. He avoided controversial Republican-sponsored voter ID laws which opponents, including Holder, say unfairly target minority voters. That dodge might have hurt his reception, observers noted this afternoon.

We’re most interested in seeing what likely will come about next week, when the NAACP conference and the Texas voter ID hearing fade from and the latest presidential campaign buzz gains steam.

We’ll tell what all that looks like then, but until Monday, be sure to follow @LindseyRuta and @AnneliseRussell from the D.C. courtroom and the entire newsroom @WhoCanVote.

Coffee Break Ballot, July 10: Current Trends in Voting Rights

This is definitely the week of #VoterID.

The high profile federal court hearing on the Texas voter ID law this week in Washington, D.C., Federal Appeals Court has spurred incessant Twitter conversation.

It also helps that the annual NAACP conference is in full swing this week in Houston, where political and civil rights leaders – including Attorney General Eric Holder, Vice President Joe Biden and likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney – are gathering to address a slew of political points, including voting rights and poll access.

More on numbers and mentions after the reading list, but we’re starting to wonder whether we’ve reached a real election-year tipping point. Momentum is on the side of the mention and voting rights news is only going to pick up as November approaches.

What We’ve Been Reading

 “List of 180,000 suspect Florida voters to be made public,” (Steve Bousquet, 07/10, Miami  Herald)

Scott Brown Will Not Have His Valor Stolen, Damnit,” (Charles Pierce, 07/10, Esquire)

Attorney General Eric Holder Speaks at the NAACP Annual Convention,” (Eric Holder, 07/10, DOJ)

Florida’s System Failure,” (David Weigel, 07/09, Slate)

The GOP’s crime against voters,” (Eugene Robinson, 07/09, Washington Post)

Misleading stats driving Pennsylvania voter ID criticism,” (David Almasi, 07/10, Daily Caller)

Rep. John Lewis, Civil Rights Icon, on the Struggle to Win — and Now Protect — Voting Rights in U.S.,” (Amy Goodman, 07/10, DemocracyNOW!)

Twitter Trends


That’s the number of mentions of #VoterID in the last 24 hours on Twitter, according to social media search engine Those are numbers not seen since June 25, when Pennsylvania state Rep. Mike Turzai’s unguarded comments on the state’s new voter ID law set the Twittersphere scurrying for comment.

In contrast to millions of Twitter users, that isn’t much. In the broad scope of voting rights trends, this is the kind of movement that indicates considerable conversation and controversy. At the annual NAACP conference, Holder compared voter ID requirements to poll taxes. That likely will ignite Twitter mentions.

For more coverage of the Texas voter ID law, remember to follow News21 reporters @AnneliseRussell and @LindseyRuta. And, as always, follow us @WhoCanVote.


Coffee Break Ballot, July 9: Current Trends in Voting Rights

Sometimes in the News21 newsroom, we pledge to not talk about News21 on the weekend.

But when we get hit with a series of big news items on Saturday and Sunday — a Nation blog post on gender and alleged voter suppression, a comprehensive study from the Associated Press on voter ID in Georgia, Indiana and Tennessee, the rapidly approaching Texas voter ID law hearing in Washington, D.C.  — we sometimes have to renege and spend Sundays reading, talking and drafting instead of brunching.

Today, a slew of new stories and data landed on the docket. We also have two reporters in Washington, D.C., for the voter ID federal court hearing.

First – the stories.

What We’ve Been Reading

Q&A: Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott on the Voter ID Law,” (Priya Anand, 07/08, Houston Chronicle)

Meet the hanging chad of 2012,” (Nathaniel Persily, 07/08, New York Daily News)

Gov. Corbett contracts with Romney fundraiser for PA Voter ID ad campaign,” (Daniel Denvir, 07/08, The Naked City)

Voter ID Laws Could Block Thousands From Voting,” (Mike Baker, 07/08, Associated Press)

Limbaugh Wants to Extend Vote Suppression to Women,” (Ben Adler, 07/08, The Nation)

State’s voter ID law could shut out over half-million citizens,” (Editorial Board, 07/09, Philadelphia Daily News)

NAACP pledges to overcome voter ID law,” (Joe Holley, 07/09, Houston Chronicle)

Twitter Trends

This week is going to be all about Texas.

If last week was Pennsylvania’s time in the Twitter voter ID spotlight, this week just boosts mentions of the term. Social media search engine indicates a real surge in mentions of #VoterID since a report last week that showed at least 700,000 registered Pennsylvania voters lacked valid photo ID.

Texas’ trial, which starts today and continues through Friday, meets several criteria for a Twitter surge: news from a large state, controversial U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, and a legal hearing that could change the national conversation on voting rights.

Reporters @AnneliseRussell and @LindseyRuta will update the trial all week. Be sure to follow them for more live updates, and remember to follow us @WhoCanVote.

Coffee Break Ballot, July 6: Current Trends in Voting Rights

It’s slightly amusing to look at the gap in news consciousness that a one-day, midweek holiday like July 4 can create.

What does that mean for voting rights? Well, from our perch over the Twittersphere, it seems the already limited attention spans of many users divided over questions of voting rights, voter ID, voter fraud and voter suppression have been reduced even more than usual.

It’s unfortunate, because there were some interesting stories this week — an expansive Mother Jones package on the history of voting rights legislation since the 1990s, a set of data from the Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth suggesting that up to 10 percent of registered voters lack the required photo ID and fraud allegations in Mexico.

No one issue rocketed this week, but next week could be another doozy. A hearing examining the constitutionality of the Texas voter ID opens Monday in Washington, D.C., and the Pennsylvania numbers will probably be passed around and parsed.

We’ll have more on all that next week.

What We’ve Been Reading

Election integrity,” (Editorial Board, 07/05, Battle Creek Enquirer)

Pennsylvania Voter ID Law May Bar 9% From Presidential Election,” (Romy Varghese, 07/05, Bloomberg)

Reps. Moore, Ellison: Voter Suppression Issue is Behind Focus on Eric Holder,” (Khalil Abdullah, 07/04,  New American Media)

Vetoing Voter ID is the (Historically) Republican Thing to Do,” (John Nichols, 07/06, The Nation)

Stringent voter ID law in Pa. could prevent 750,000 from voting,” (Lucy Madison, 07/05, CBSNews)

Twitter Trends

Maybe it’s just Friday, but we’ve enjoyed seeing the (fictional) President Josiah Bartlet of “West Wing” fame offer his own opinion on the voter ID debate.

One of ‘his’ tweets from this morning already has received 84 retweets as of this post, and users on both sides of the voter ID debate have replied to him asking for clarification or pointing out the fallacy of his tweet.

Remember, Josiah Bartlet is a fictional character, and the Twitter account set up in his name perhaps has little or nothing to do with actual debate, politics or Aaron Sorkin.

But users are engaging him, retweeting and replying and even mocking his views. It’s a great example of how Twitter can be both a useful search tool and also a silly adventure into a blackhole of digital dithering.

Additionally, our routine use of social media search engine shows a dramatic uptick in mentions of #VoterID, which we can assume is directly related to the Pennsylvania voter ID numbers released this week.

We’ll keep tabs on those mentions, which will likely receive a bigger boost from the opening salvo in the Texas court case next week.

Our reporters, @AnneliseRussell and @LindseyRuta, will cover that hearing next week, so be sure to follow them for live updates. And as always, follow us @WhoCanVote for the latest links, tweets and trends from the News21 team.


Coffee Break Ballot, July 4: Current Trends in Voting Rights

Welcome back to the work week!

We, like many of you, enjoyed the tease of a midweek faux-weekend. We also enjoyed the onslaught of Independence Day-themed voting rights columns, blogs and articles (some of which we’ll sample here today).

Nothing like a national holiday to encourage talk of freedom, unity and fundamental rights.

What We’ve Been Reading

Celebrate Our Independence By Committing to the Right to Vote,” (Eva. M. Clayton, 07/04, Huffington Post)

Graduating from the Electoral College,” (Jaime Fuller, 07/05, the American Prospect)

Roberts Faces Shot at Republican Redemption in Race Cases,” (Greg Stohr, 07/04, Bloomberg)

9.2 Percent of Pennsylvania Voters Lack Valid ID,” (David Weigel, 07/05, Slate)

8 things the U.S. election system could learn from Mexico’s,” (Robert. A. Pastor, 07/02, CNN)

Twitter Trends

If we’ve tracked anything of note this past week on social media search engine, it’s been the considerable bounce that progressive voting rights Twitter users have provided to a few news items.

Tuesday’s Mother Jones package on voter suppression and election administration continues to buzz, as does a telling report from Slate on what the more than nine percent of registered Pennsylvania voters lacking photo ID could mean for the November election.

Despite a series of broadcast news network pieces on possible election fraud in the federal election Sunday in Mexico, we haven’t seen as many mentions of that country’s voter ID system as we originally expected. As seems to be the case for many international stories, the American Twitter audience has moved on to other flash points, accepting that the election is largely finished there and no longer worth 140-character debate points.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on the diverse threads of progressive commentary in the coming days and weeks, with a special focus on the conservative reaction that has yet to arrive.

For more of the latest voting rights trends and links, be sure to follow us @WhoCanVote.

Coffee Break Ballot, July 3: Current Trends in Voting Rights

We should probably stop calling specific days “big news days” for voting rights legislation. With legal challenges to Texas and South Carolina voter ID laws and Alabama’s Voting Rights Act challenge moving forward, it’s possible that many days in the weeks and months to come could be big days for voting rights.


  • Michigan Republican Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed a trio of controversial bills – voter registration, photo ID and citizenship verification.
  • South Carolina set a deadline for implementing a photo voter ID law if it is approved by a federal appeals court.
  • An aide to Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad confirmed that the governor will not change regulations for restoring felons’ voting rights.
  • And Florida elections officials acknowledged that they likely will not restart the state’s voter roll cleanup despite a court ruling on its legality.

It’s safe to say a few things happened today.

What We’ve Been Reading

Snyder vetoes voting reform bills,” (Rick Pluta, 07/03, Michigan Radio)

Florida Voter Purge Is Unlikely to Resume,” (Ari Berman, 07/03, The Nation)

Commentary: One citizen, one vote: Clearing the air on voter ID reforms,” (Ruth Johnson and Pete Lund, 07/03, Detroit News)

The Dog that Voted and Other Election Fraud Yarns,” (Kevin Drum, 07/03, Mother Jones)

Aide: Iowa Governor Will Keep Felon Voting Policy,” (Associated Press, 07/03)

Voter ID in Michigan,” (Pew Center on the States, 07/03, Pew Charitable Trusts)

New schedule tightens window to implement voter ID,” (Meg Kinnard, 07/03, Associated Press)

Twitter Trends

The most notable Twitter trend today is the buzz among progressive opponents of voter ID laws. If the struggle for election reform is a battle, today was a big win for progressives, as multiple states and multiple cases were resolved in their favor.

Mother Jones article detailing voter fraud allegations — Mickey Mouse voting, a dog registering to vote — and calling Republican election reform policy intentional voter suppression has bounced back and forth on Twitter, with social media search engine showing growth in usage of the term “voter suppression.”

The Mother Jones story likely will get conservative pushback by the end of today, with talking points and retweetable factoids flying in the face of gloating partisans on one side of the issue or the other.

We’ll be the first to tell when the mood shifts. Be sure to follow us @WhoCanVote.

Coffee Break Ballot, July 2: Current Trends in Voting Rights

Nothing like the nation’s birthday week to get voters interested in political affairs.

There’s a closely watched presidential election this week for the U.S. southern neighbor Mexico, and it is important for several reasons. The liberal Institutional Party of the Revolution is widely expected to return to power after 12 years of conservative rule; the election includes Mexico’s first major female candidate for president, and Mexico is one of America’s most important trade partners.

But this morning on Twitter and Facebook, American voters are making connections between Mexican election laws that require voters to use a federally provided photo ID and U.S. Department of Justice legal challenges to state laws requiring such IDs at the polls.

Mexican elections have a much more complicated history of voter suppression and election fraud, reports suggest, but it is interesting to see these kinds of cross-continent connections. The 2006 Mexican presidential election was decided by fewer than 300,000 votes, leading to widespread allegations of election mischief.

Even more, a purported video example of election fraud has exploded on Facebook, giving election wonks and fraud opponents everywhere something to chew.

What We’ve Been Reading

20 Years of Registering Voters in High School!” (League of Women Voters, 07/02)

Mess in Texas,” (Bill Buck, 07/02, CBS Atlanta)

Lehman declared winner in Senate recall,” (Todd Richmond, 07/02, Associated Press)

Charges of voter suppression in Rangel primary election,” (Eric Shawn, 07/02, FOXNews)

PICKET: Mexico’s poll workers ask voters for ID at polls,” (Kerry Pickett, 07/01, Washington Times)

LETTER: US DOJ to Bancroft PLLC,” (Thomas E. Perez, 06/29, via Election Law Blog)

Planned Detroit-to-Lansing protest march opposing emergency manager, voting laws,” (Kathleen Gray, 07/02, Detroit Free Press)

Twitter Trends

As we mentioned, some of the biggest social media buzz today comes in the form of American users drawing attention to alleged instances of voter suppression in the Mexican general election.

According to social media search engine, the Mexican election is making big waves, especially in relation to News21 daily general search terms “voter ID” and “voter suppression.”

Social media encourages a chorus of anger, meaning that upcoming state primaries in some key presidential states — North Carolina and Michigan prime among them — might spark some new calls for stronger ballot protection initiatives and insidious suggestions of voter suppression.

For more contributions to social media, be sure to follow us @WhoCanVote. And remember to follow @MichaelCiaglo and @AndreaRumbaugh, who are reporting from Florida this week.

Coffee Break Ballot, June 29: Current Trends in Voting Rights

This was a busy week in voting rights news.

Florida’s controversial voter roll cleanup was allowed to continue; the New Hampshire Legislature overrode Gov. John Lynch’s veto of a photo voter ID bill, and a new Tennessee law will give one-time, non-violent felons a new pathway to vote.

Meanwhile, we’re getting into full-drafting, editing and revision mode at News21. More from the newsroom later, but first, some Friday reads.

What We’ve Been Reading

House GOP backs down, allows election money in the budget,” (John Frank, 06/28, Raleigh News & Observer)

Would-Be Voters of Color Face Obstacles Not Well Reported,” (Nadra Kareem Nittle, 06/28, Maynard Institute)

Rangel’s Rivals Make Allegations of Voter Fraud and Uncounted Ballots,” (Hunger Walker, 06/28, New York Observer)

Dear Governor Snyder,” (Clayola Brown, Niel Richie, E. Faye Williams, 06/28, ProjectVote)

Twitter Trends

The most significant piece of Twitter-related news we’ve noticed lately is both political parties capitalizing on buzz words and twisting opposition fervor into a clarion call.

Case in point: Monday/Tuesday’s excitement over Pennsylvania state Rep. Mike Turzai’s comments on voter ID laws. The evolution of that story from progressive anger into conservative pride is remarkable and perhaps indicative of general Twitter usage patterns.

Old links and retired outrage can take days or even weeks to fizzle, meaning the story probably will cycle through the Twittersphere until the election, or until something else buzz worthy pops up.

We’ll keep you posted on that front, and, as always, be sure to follow us @WhoCanVote.