Coffee Break Ballot, July 26: Current Trends In Voting Rights

We have to admit that it’s a little challenging to report on social trends in voting rights news and conversation when the main platform of that dialogue serves up a great big fail whale.

As our readers probably have noticed, microblogging site Twitter shut down temporarily this morning, rendering our regular trend-tracking efforts mostly moot.

But we have found some great reads on Florida voters affected by the controversial, ongoing voter roll purge, and we’ve been fortunate enough to catch the Pennsylvania ACLU’s series of timely factoid tweets on photo voter ID in that state.

What can we say? We’ve got one more day of updates, one more day of blogging. Stay tuned.

What We’ve Been Reading

Florida at the forefront as states plan fresh assault on voting rights,” (Ed Pilkington, 07/26, The Guardian)

Voter suppression: ‘I’m a better citizen than any of them. I’m not going to quit,'” (Ed Pilkington, 07/26, The Guardian)

In Voter ID Law Court Fight, Expert Says Pennsylvania Is Soft-Pedaling The Impact,” (Cherri Gregg, 07/26, CBSNews)

Pennsylvania Governor Can’t Recall Requirements of Voter ID Law He Signed,” (Ryan J. Reilly, 07/26, Talking Points Memo)

Twitter Trends

Aside from the obvious, Twitter outage-related decline in all of our Topsy.com search terms this morning, the most notable trend is a slight decline in mentions of ‘voter ID’ on Twitter.

Even though the Pennsylvania photo voter ID state lawsuit continues today and through the rest of the week, the bombshell pretrial admission by the state that it had no credible cases of in-person voter impersonation fraud sparked a momentary Twitter firestorm. It has since died down.

The conclusion of the trial and lingering discomfort on both sides of the voter ID argument over Pennsylvania’s voter fraud admission will probably keep voter ID on the rise later in the week, but we’re deeply fascinated by the changes in conversation as new buzz items distract and distort the fundamental facts at the core of this issue.

As always, remember to follow us @WhoCanVote.

 

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

With all the charts, reports and numbers from earlier this week, today is a bit of a lull.

It’s not that news isn’t happening — far from it — but most of our regular sources of voting rights updates are taking a break.

Granted, there was big news this week. The Minnesota Supreme Court Tuesday heard a lawsuit challenging the intent and language of a proposal to require photo voter ID for all elections. A Wisconsin judge ruled that the state’s photo ID law was unconstitutional.

Overall, though, things have speeding up as the countdown to the November election ticks. Here, too, we’re picking up speed as summer comes to a close. Edits and revisions are daily facts of life in the News21 newsroom. Stay tuned for an upcoming announcement on our launch date.

What We’ve Been Reading

Lots of litigating to go before voters cast their ballots,” (Tom Curry, 07/19, NBCPolitics.com)

Is Voter Fraud a Fraud?” (Eliza Shapiro, 07/19, The Daily Beast / Newsweek)

Voter ID Education,” (Bryan Schwartzman, 07/18, Jewish Exponent)

Pennsylvania’s strict voter ID law faces ACLU lawsuit,” (David G. Savage, 07/18, Los Angeles Times)

More than 20K Voter IDs Issued in Primary Election Run-Up,” (Andrea Zelinksi, 07/19, TNReport)

Don’t LIke Blacks? You’ll Love Voter ID,” (Jamelle Bouie, 07/19, The American Prospect)

Twitter Trends

Just as we’re not seeing a lot of movement in the news, we’re also not seeing a lot of Twitter action on key Topsy.com search terms.

A report by The Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan research institute based at the New York University School of Law, details difficulties some voters might face in obtaining a proper photo ID continues to spread, with casual users tweeting and retweeting the link, and in some cases, @ both major candidates for President.

The biggest Twitter mover today is “voter ID,” but even that is reduced in comparison with earlier gains this month. A big boost in “voter suppression” and/or “voter fraud” could come when several states start runoff elections.

When those changes happen, we’ll be the first to tell you about it.

Remember to follow us @WhoCanVote.

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

This is a week of numbers.

Granted, we regularly look for numbers in our daily Web searches – reports, data sheets and voter surveys that help News21 reporters. But this week has been significant already.

We talked earlier in the week about The New York Times’ Nate Silver. Yesterday evening, the Brennan Center for Justice – a nonpartisan research institute based at New York University School of Law – released a report detailing the potential difficulties that many voters face when attempting to obtain proper photo identification to vote.

The report is worth a read, but highlights from the report include some pretty staggering numbers.

Almost 500,000 eligible voters without ID live more than 10 miles from an identification-issuing office and lack access to a vehicle, while more than 10 million voters are more than 10 miles from their identification-issuing office.

 

Many of those offices have reduced or limited hours, especially in rural areas with high concentrations of the poor and minorities.

 

The states affected by these laws will deliver 127 electoral college votes in the presidential election this fall — almost half of the total needed to win.

We’ve had a lot to read this week in the News21 newsroom.

What We’ve Been Reading

The Challenge of Obtaining Voter Identification,” (Keesha Gashkins and Sundeep Iyer, 07/17, Brennan Center for Justice)

Millions of Felons Barred From Voting Booth,” (Rosa Ramirez, 0718, National Journal)

Election Officials Respond to Illegal Voter Study,” (Cori Coffin, 07/18, KREX News [CO] )

Woman cut twice from voter rolls is dead certain she’s alive,” (Scott Powers, 07/17, Orlando Sentinel)

Study: 500,000 face major challenges with voter-ID laws,” (Aamer Madhani, 07/18, USAToday)

Wash. to unveil voter registration on Facebook,” (Rachel La Corte, 07/17, Associated Press)

Analysis: Philly voters over 80 would be most inconvenienced by new ID law,” (Bob Warner, 07/18, Philadelphia Inquirer)

Dems call for Bolger to step down as speaker over candidate switch,” (Paul Egan, 07/18, Battle Creek Enquirer)

Twitter Trends

The most significant movement among our regular search words this morning isn’t terribly surprising. ‘Voter ID’ is gaining a noticeable uptick, most likely because of stories repackaging the Brennan Center report on voter ID. NPR, Politico, USA Today and other national news outlets detailed findings from the report.

Philadelphia Inquirer story assessing the effects of Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law on the elderly also is making the Twitter rounds.

These stories are keeping voter ID mentions moving, although the continued tweets and retweets of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s petition against ‘voter suppression’ in Pennsylvania are also showing some movement on social media search engine Topsy.com.

For news and updates, follow us @WhoCanVote.

Coffee Break Ballot, July 16: Current Trends in Voting Rights

We’re already big fans of the New York Times‘ Nate SIlver, whose Five Thirty Eight blog has gained a following for its statistical election predictions.

So when Silver tweeted a post, offering his numbers-heavy analysis measuring predictable effects of photo voter ID laws on voter turnout, we were intrigued.

His post is making the rounds around the Twitterverse, with some regular followers in the News21 newsroom tweeting, retweeting and commenting on the post.

It points out that much of the rhetoric on both sides is moot when statistics and raw data are taken into account. That’s one of several numbers-heavy pieces we’ve been looking at this morning.

What We’ve Been Reading

Measuring the Effects of Voter Identification Laws,” (Nate Silver, 07/15, The New York Times)

Will Voter ID Laws Cost Obama Reelection?” (Nate Cohn, 07/16, The New Republic)

Voter ID is a hot topic, but will Alabama’s ID law stop election fraud?” (Tim Lockette, 07/15, Anniston Star)

Rick Scott: Other states can purge voter rolls,” (Kevin Robillard, 07/16, Politico)

HUSKEY: Showing ID is common, effective,” (Stan Huksey, 07/15, The Times Herald)

Ballot fraud retrial gets into details,” (Kenneth C. Crowe II, 07/11, Rochester Times-Union)

Photo IDs may be inconvenient, but they help prevent voter fraud,” (Robert Bennett, 07/16, The Deseret News)

Florida Decides Poll: Gov. Rock Scott’s low approval ratings,” (Mason-Dixon Polling and Research, 07/15, Florida13 News)

Twitter Trends

After the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles released data suggesting more than 700,000 registered voters could lack required photo voter ID under the state’s new law, we’ve been waiting for the conservative pushback. That commentary came today.

One of the most buzzed about items today came from the Daily Caller, which has repackaged a story from the Rochester (N.Y.) Times-Union about a local election fraud trial in which a Democratic city council candidate testified that voter fraud was a “reality of both parties” in the state.

The fraud in question is ballot fraud – not voter impersonation –  which photo voter ID laws would not solve. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t provided ammunition for supporters of photo voter ID legislation.

It’s definitely buzz-worthy, and it meets the criteria for popular tweets — it features a member of the Democratic party admitting that fraud happens, regularly, giving supporters something talk about.

It’s also the kind of detail-orientated story that could prompt real conversation about election administration, but that’s not how Twitter is generally used.

Follow our reporters @DoubleOChen and @JoeHenke as they report from the National Association of Secretaries of State Convention this week in Puerto Rico, and as always, follow us @WhoCanVote for the latest updates on voting rights news and trends.

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 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 Topsy.com 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

9,828.

That’s the number of mentions of #VoterID in the last 24 hours on Twitter, according to social media search engine Topsy.com. 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 Topsy.com 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 Topsy.com 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, June 26: Current Trends in Voting Rights

All it takes is one buzzy story for mentions of one of our key search terms to increase ninefold.

That term is voter ID, and that story comes to us today from Pennsylvania. At a Pennsylvania Republican Committee meeting this weekend, House Majority Leader Mike Turzai said that the new voter ID law would help Gov. Mitt Romney win the state.

The comment was reported by a Pennsylvania political blog Monday afternoon, and exploded across the Internet as progressive Twitter users reacted. Top-flight news organizations as diverse as CNN, Politico and even The New York Times have covered the story, and a tweet from Sandra Fluke, Georgetown law student and progressive activist, has been retweeted more than 100 times as of this blog post.

The resulting social media firestorm has pushed mentions of voter ID on Twitter to nearly 9,300 in the last 24 hours, the most seen in our regular searches on Topsy.com.

More on the Twitter explosion later, but first, some links.

What We’ve Been Reading

Casting ballots on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border,” (Catherine E. Shoichet, 06/26, CNN)

Pennsylvania’s Voter ID Law Spurs Debate,” (Michael Cooper, 06/25, New York Times)

No voter ID measure expected this session,” (John Frank, 06/26, Raleigh News & Observer)

Pay Those Bills On Time Or Forefeit Right To Vote,” (Ed Kilgore, 06/26, Washington Monthly)

Gilchrist indicted for voter fraud,” (Kaylee Remington, 06/26, The Morning Journal)

Detroit activists protest Gov. Rick Snyder over ‘voter suppression’ bills, bridge project,” (Jonathan Oosting, 06/26, MLIVE)

Twitter Trends

We could tell you again about how many times “voter ID” has been mentioned in the last 24 hours, or we could just direct you to this helpful analytics chart from Topsy.com.

That steep climb in mentions, and the buzz-worthy item in Pennsylvania has a lot of features that make stories like it popular on social media sites.

It features a prominent but nationally unknown state politician making politically tricky comments at a party-sponsored event. The tone and implications of Turzai’s comments lend credence to those who oppose voter ID laws and believe Republicans are trying to suppress Democrat voters. And the story has been tossed around a variety of news sites, exposing it to a wide audience and giving it the appearance of a major news event.

The furor over Turzai’s comments may die soon. We’re already seeing conservative pushback against this progressive anger, alleging that voter ID does intentionally suppress illegal or fraudulent Democrat voters and is therefore required and welcomed.

But know this: even the most inane political comment is no longer safe from the 24-hour hyper news cycle of Twitter, Facebook and the rest of the Internet, as Turzai now clearly knows.

For more news and links, follow us @WhoCanVote.