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, June 20: Current Trends in Voting Rights

Hey, happy summer solstice, folks!

Today is a much slower day in voting rights news. As the standoff between the U.S. House Oversight Committee, the Department of Justice and the White House sucks all of the energy out of the traditional digital-political commentary, it seems that all the usual fever surrounding some of our regular search terms has faded.

Even yesterday’s incredibly popular story about the voter registration forms mailed to a dead dog in Virginia has slowed, which probably says just as much about the limited attention span of the 24-news cycle as it does about the story’s merit — or lack thereof.

We’ve still got some good reads for you here, and the surprising return of an April poll about voter ID and disenfranchisement.

What We’ve Been Reading

Florida Voters Back Voter Purge, Stand Your Ground, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Gov. Scott’s Job Approval Still Very Low,” (Quinnipiac University, 06/20)

Voter ID groups release first fundraising numbers,” (Catharine Richert, 06/20, MPRNews)

The Public Eye: Capital-area voter fraud suspects have criminal histories,” Brad Branan, 05/13, Sacramento Bee)

The Voice of New Rochelle: A League of Their Own,” (Bob Marrone, 06/20, NewRochellePatch)

Young People, Minorities, Unmarried Women and Dead Dogs,” (Ed Kilgore, 06/19, Washington Monthly)

Twitter Trends

The most curious trend today regarding voting rights and voter ID on social media search engine is the inexplicable tweeting and retweeting of a Rasmussen Report poll from April 2012 that shows 73 percent of likely U.S. voters think that voter ID requirements do not discriminate and that 64 percent think voter fraud is a somewhat serious problem.

An interesting poll, to be sure, but it’s from more than two months ago, and it’s being retweeted by a lot of Spanish-language accounts. We’re not certain where this trend is coming from, but it could have something  to do with the announcement Tuesday of a federal voter ID law introduced by Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill.

The “Mitt Romney voting rights” tweet continues to surface here and there, and we’re still waiting on a Twitter response from the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

To see if Romney ever does respond to the demands of the anonymous Twitter hordes  — and for the latest in voting rights news — be sure to follow us @WhoCanVote.

Coffee Break Ballot, June 19: Current Trends in Voting Rights

We’ve noticed in the News21 newsroom how certain stories in our search fields stay hot. Part of this is probably the naturally viral nature of Internet news, but we’ve enjoyed seeing which stories pop up and keep buzzing.

Today, that story is a minor item from the Roanoke, Va., NBC affilate, WSLS. It’s a story about voter registration and dead dogs. Or, more specifically, one particular dead dog whose owner received forms inviting the pet to register to vote.

The story went viral for a variety of reasons, and it was picked up by such diverse sources as conservative blog RedAlert Politics and political news site, Politico. It also is a story about supposed voter fraud — even though this actually is an example of registration fraud, and not voter fraud — which gets a wide segment of the conservative Twittersphere riled.

It is also a story about a cute dog with a cute name, and nothing goes viral like stories about small animals, especially when those animals are given anthropomorphic qualities and get all mixed up in human activities like voting.

A coalition of civil rights organizations also filed a lawsuit against Florida this afternoon, alleging that the state’s removing voters from rolls violates section 2 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, but wouldn’t you rather read about the cute dog who would have been eligible to vote in Virginia if he was a human and hadn’t died two years ago?

What We’ve Been Reading

Citizenship mandate challenged,” (Lyle Denniston, 06/19, SCOTUSBlog)

Voter Purges,” (Myrna Pérez, 09/30/08, Brennan Center for Justice)

Civil Rights Groups Sue Florida Over Voter Purging Lists,” (Brentin Mock, 06/19, The Nation / Colorlines)

E-Voting: Trust but Verify,” (Steve Schneider and Alan Woodward, 06/19, Scientific American)

St. Paul jumps in to VoterID fray,” (Patrick Thornton, 06/19, MinnLawyerBlog)

JW Sues Obama Justice Department for Records Regarding South Carolina’s Voter ID Law,” (Tom Fitton, 06/19, / BigGovernment)

Punch-Card Voting in Idaho,” (Pew Center on the States, 06/19)

Joe Walsh, GOP Congressman, Introduces New Federal Voter ID Bill,” (Nick Wing, 06/19, The Huffington Post)

Twitter Trends

As mentioned above, that story about the voting-age eligible dog in Virginia bounced around Twitter this morning, particularly after Politico picked it up. At that point, several journalists released a collective Twitter yell complaining about the item’s lack of news value.

(While we wrote this post, North Carolina’s conservative Civitas Institute wrote a blog post warning about the dangers of pet voting. The story has legs, apparently.)

There are still some latecomers to the Mitt Romney/#VotingRights party, as users continue to ask the GOP presidential candidate what he thinks about the Florida voter roll removal.

The #voterID hashtag also has spiked on social media search engine, as users mention a recently introduced federal voter ID bill by U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., and the aforementioned voting-eligble dog.

We’ll be sure to tell you if Mitt Romney replies to all these tweets, and if the dog is ever enfranchised. Follow us at @WhoCanVote.

Coffee Break Ballot, June 18: Current Trends in Voting Rights

The most notable change in voting rights trends after this weekend is perhaps the very term itself. Friday saw the complete dominance of the term #VotingRights by progressive Twitter users asking where Gov. Mitt Romney stood on Florida’s controversial voter purge, but the hashtag mostly has been passed on to other stories.

But that doesn’t mean that we haven’t been looking for new stories. Happy Monday reading.

What We’ve Been Reading

Voter Suppression Returns,” (Alexander Keyssar, Harvard Magazine July/August)

Lawsuit planned over Pennsylvania’s voter ID law,” (Len Barcousky, 06/16, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Voter ID bill resisted by town, city clerks,” (Kevin Landrigan, 06/17, Nashua Telegraph)

Allen West to feds: Let states purge voters,” (MJ Lee, 06/18, Politico)

Ensuring access to the ballot for American Indians and Alaska Natives,” (Tova Andrea Wang, 06/18, Demos)

Twitter Trends

Besides the aforementioned shift in the #VotingRights hashtag, the most notable trend in our top four search terms (#VoterID, #VoterSuppression, #VoterFraud and #VotingRights) is the back and forth between conservative allegations of fraud and progressive allegations of suppression.

We’ll keep tabs to see whether #VotingRights ever rests at “normal” in the Twittersphere, but for more of the latest trends, be sure to follow us @WhoCanVote.


Coffee Break Ballot, June 15: Current Trends in Voting Rights

As if voting rights and voter ID weren’t already contentious and highly partisan issues, the latest readings from Twitterverse tea leaves suggest the issue has the potential to vault into the chaos of election-year politics.

President Obama’s surprise announcement Friday of a revised administration policy on youth deportation and immigrant rights caused U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., to openly wonder — on FOX News and in a statement on his Facebook page — if the policy was a back-door approach to granting voting rights to illegal immigrants in swing states like his.

The #VotingRights hashtag was taken over yesterday by progressive Twitter users questioning GOP candidate Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts with copies of the following tweet:

@MittRomney, where do you stand on the FL voter purge? #p2 #votingrights

The increasing presence of voting rights activists on both sides of the political divide at campaign events and in policy discussions suggests we might see these issues become key electoral questions. Indeed, in potential presidential swing states with contentious tickets for November — states such as North Carolina and Missouri — questions of voter ID laws and the expansion of the franchise have become wedge issues for gubernatorial and secretary of state candidates.

Will this change the digital conversation around voting rights? We’ll be the first to tell you when and if those changes happen.

What We’ve Been Reading

Florida’s voting standoff deja vu?” (Halimah Abdullah, 06/13, CNN)

Gov. Scott says he ‘feels your pain,’ will continue purge anyway,” (The Ed Show, 06/14,

Rep. Allen West Alleges New Obama Policy On DREAMers Is Voter Fraud Conspiracy For 2012 Election,” (Adam Peck, 06/15, ThinkProgressJustice)

On the Administration’s announcement today to grant certain citizenship rights to young illegal immigrants,” (Rep. Allen West, 06/15, Facebook)

Indianapolis Meeting Compares Voting Machine Standards,” (Network Indiana, 06/15, Indiana Public Media)

NOTES FROM NARBERTH: Don’t believe the rhetoric: Voter ID law is fair to all,” (Rosemary McDonough, 06/14, Mainline Times)

The Missing Right To Vote,” (Heather Gerken, 06/13, Slate)

Twitter Trends

As we mentioned earlier, the #VotingRights hashtag has been largely dominated by progressive opponents of Florida’s controversial voter removal. Liberal political action committee posted a digital call to action yesterday, asking readers to tweet and post Facebook comments inquiring where Romney stands on the voting rights controversy in Florida.

Social media search engine suggests the hashtag dominance hasn’t been enough to produce a major spike in the term when compared to recent high points — the June 5 Wisconsin recall election and the eruption of election lawsuits in Florida June 12 — but it has increased mentions and taken over our Tweet Deck column.

There may not be another contentious election or primary before November for us to test the admittedly elementary theory that ballot access only receives widespread attention when everyone is actively voting (or not voting), but we’ll keep our eyes open for better ways to chart the mention trends of #VotingRights, #VoterID, #VoterFraud and #VoterSuppression.

Be sure to follow us @WhoCanVote, and stay tuned for more from our team next week!

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

So little time, so much Florida.

We promise that we’re looking out for other states and other stories with  trends and news in voting rights and election administration. For example, did you know that Louisiana just voluntarily moved the New Orleans City elections in 2014 so as not to conflict with the Big Easy’s famous Carnival Parade season?

But Florida keeps dominating the digital conversation. Gov. Rick Scott made an appearance on NPR’s “Tell Me More” this morning, and the Florida struggle prompted a lively US News & World Report Debate Club session on voter fraud.

Will Florida stay in the forefront of national voting news? Maybe — but meanwhile, we’ve been looking into some other issues in the newsroom. Check out our list of stories this morning for more.

What We’ve Been Reading

Is Voter Fraud a Real Problem?” (Debate Club, 06/13, US News & World Report)

Florida’s noncitizen voter purge grew from 5-minute conversation,” (Marc Caputo, 06/13, Miami Herald)

Purge Overkill — John Oliver & Florida’s Voter Registration Law,” (John Oliver, 06/12, The Daily Show”

Jon Stewart’s ‘Daily Show’ Blasts Voter ID Laws, Ridicules Florida Governor,” (Casey Cheap, 06/13, Red Alert Politics)

How Should Voter Purges Work?” (Abby Rapoport, 06/13, The American Prospect)

The Real Victims of Voter ID Laws,” (Short Documentary, 06/13, Center for American Progress)

Twitter Trends

Thanks to a recent bipartisan call to sum up President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney’s respective campaigns in pithy, plentiful tweets, many political Twitter users have been sending bouncy voter ID-related tweets about both political parties.

The buzz has created a minor spike in our regular voting rights search terms in the last few days, according to social media search engine

For more on the latest voting rights news and trends, be sure to follow @WhoCanVote.