Coffee Break Ballot, July 27: Current Trends in Voting Rights

After nine weeks of tracking, posting and tweeting, our voting rights trend watch has come to an end.

That doesn’t mean we won’t keep tabs on the voting rights buzz cycle in the run up to the Nov. 6 election. But our regular postings on the daily ups and downs of our reading habits end today, just as the News21 newsroom empties and the summer comes to a close.

The biggest and most exciting parts of our reporting are still to come. Stay posted to for our upcoming launch in a few weeks.

What We’ve Learned

Here are some trends and topics from our more than 40 posts.

  • Trends on Twitter are Ephemeral

We’ve tracked the rise, fall and further fall of a few voting rights-related search terms, but we couldn’t help but notice the cyclical nature of any report, voter suppression/voter fraud alarm or well-argued column. The quick-reaction qualities that make Twitter excellent for instant news alerts also make it a terrible memory keeper.

  • Even the Most Explosive Numbers Fade

Remember when Pennsylvania admitted that up to 750,000 registered voters didn’t have a photo ID required under the state’s new law? Or perhaps when the Sentencing Project reported that one in 10 Florida adults would be prevented from voting because of felony convictions? Reactions to reports and statistics that are difficult to comprehend can’t last, because memories fade quickly – the numbers won’t mean much until the election.

  • Voting Rights, Voter ID and Voter Fraud Only Trend During Elections

We admit we’ve been lucky. The Wisconsin recall election in mid-June was a fluke in an election-year summer. That and a few hotly contested primaries enabled us to see how an election can drive interest in election policy minutiae that dominate a news day. Keep posted for a few more closely watched primary elections in August as lead-ins for how Twitter users might behave come November.

  • Election Policy Is Hard to Explain on Social Media

Explaining the intricacies of poll challenges, ballot access and election technologies is not suited to crowd-sourcing techniques. Factoids are tweeted, retweeted and replied, but the ultimate election law understanding comes in the links and stories within the tweets.

  • Voter Fraud Is Always Popular on Twitter

Got an example of voter fraud? How about absentee ballot fraud? Voting registration fraud? Did you dog or cat receive a registration form in the mail? If so, that story likely will be tweeted, retweeted and angrily posted all around social media. It’s a phenomenon that is rather evergreen; registration fraud always can occur, regardless of elections.

Remember to keep an eye on our homepage for our site launch, and keep following @WhoCanVote for more links, commentary and voting rights news.