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 votingrights.News21.com 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.

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 23: Current Trends in Voting Rights

The regular weekend lull in voting rights news hit in full force, with a pause in online discussion of some of our regular voting rights topics.

The News21 newsroom has hit a bit of a pause as well. More than half of the team has left the building, and the rest will finish stories and leave at the end of the week.

We’ll still be blogging all week, and the tweets won’t stop until well past the mid-August site launch. Until then, stay tuned to what’s going on in voting rights news.

What We’ve Been Reading

Do We Need a New Voting Rights Act?” (Abby Rapoport, 07/23, The American Prospect)

Bill Daley Asks: Is Obama Campaign Ready for Recounts?” (James Warren, 07/23, The Daily Beast)

Public Relations Firm Educating Pennsylvania Minorities On Voter ID Stacked With Republicans,” (Ryan J. Reilly, 07/20, Talking Points Memo)

The voter ID mess subverts an American birthright,” (Charlie Crist, 07/20, Washington Post)

GOP trumpets rampant Philly voter fraud in a report that doesn’t show it,” (Issiah Thompson, 07/20, Philadelphia City Paper)

Rate of Possession of Valid Photo Identification, And Public Knowledge of the Voter ID Law in Philadelphia,” ( Matt A. Barreto and  Gabriel R. Sanchez, 07/16, University of Washington)

Twitter Trends

Well-placed and widely read reports and articles — like those that covered the new lawsuit in Pennsylvania over that state’s strict photo voter ID law — can spur online conversation.

Twitter conversation across four key search terms on social media search engine Topsy.com was considerably quiet this morning. One trend is a concerted push from progressive opponents of voter ID laws in Pennsylvania and other states.

Viral mentions of an upcoming anti-voter ID rally on the steps of the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., have spread this morning, as have legal briefs and summaries of the ACLU lawsuit against voter ID requirements there.

Most of our linked articles this morning will direct you toward the Keystone State, and all this digital buzz is why.

For more news and links, remember to follow us @WhoCanVote.

Coffee Break Ballot, July 20: Current Trends in Voting Rights

Election-centered presumptions about voting rights news didn’t take into account the effect a well-placed, well-sourced report can have.

The Washington Post, NPR, the Huffington Post, Reuters, Yahoo!News and the New York Times (today in a lengthy front-page news profile) have referenced and sampled the Brennan Center for Justice study on the difficulties faced by voters who don’t have photo ID as they try to obtain proper identification before the November election.

We’ve enjoyed watching this report spread, and we are definitely impressed by the way well-placed stories can take an issue like voting rights from the realms of political wonks to a more general audience. We’re hope for a similar spread when our project appears next month.

What We’ve Been Reading

Legal Battles Erupt Over Tough Voter ID Laws,” (Ethan Bronner, 07/19, New York Times)

AARP Says Senior Voters Will Suffer From Voter-ID Law,” (Randy LoBasso, 07/20, PhillyNOW)

Colorado election watchers see officials chipping away at public oversight,” (John Tomasic, The Colorado Independent)

Iowa elections chief seeks to prove voter fraud,” (Ryan J. Foley, 07/14, Associated Press)

Section 5 challenges reach Court,” (Lyle Denniston, 07/20, SCOTUSBlog)

Voter suppression — Round 2 in the debate on ID laws,” (Leonard Pitts, Jr., 07/20, Miami Herald)

Twitter Trends

We’re expecting a considerable boost next week when columnists, writers and journalists react to the Supreme Court arrival of two petitions that challenge Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and additional push back from conservative supporters of photo voter ID legislation.

But it’s Friday, and half the News21 newsroom is on the way out of Phoenix. So we’ll join them over some ice cream, and we’ll be back next week.

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 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.

Texas v. Holder: Quotes From the D.C. District Courtroom

Even though the federal district court in Washington, D.C. wrapped up with closing arguments in the Texas voter ID case this afternoon, the case is far from over. The three-judge panel is expected to rule by August at the earliest.

In addition to our previous courtroom updates, our reporting team in Texas offers this collection of interesting comments and quotes from the last day of the trial.

“Crawford [v. Marion County (IN) Election Board] was not a case of race.” —Judge David Tatel

 

“People who want to vote already have an ID or can easily get it.” —Texas attorney John Hughes

 

“Isn’t it the state’s burden to show retrogressive effect? … Technically, the government didn’t need to do anything.”

—Judge David Tatel

 

“Texas bears the burden of proof.” —Judge Rosemary Collyer

 

“The record does tell us there is a subset of voters who lack ID.” —Judge David Tatel

 

“We have to think about economic burden and that minorities are disproportionately poor. … That’s what makes this case different from Crawford.” —Judge David Tatel

 

“Their cause is now our cause.” —Attorney J. Gerald Hebert on minorities

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.

Sides make closing arguments in Texas voter ID case

After a week of testimony in the Texas voter ID case, a court must now decide whether the state photo ID law would “deny or abridge” minorities’ right to vote.

The state began closing arguments Friday morning to argue that even without expert testimony, national social science research shows that photo voter ID laws have no disproportionate effect on voting, fulfilling the state’s burden of proof.

“The social science gets us over the hump,” lawyer John Hughes said in reference to why the law should be cleared.

The three-judge panel raised concerns about the economic burden placed on those who would need to obtain an ID to vote.

Judge David Tatel noted that minorities are more likely to have economic challenges. Judge Robert Wilkins asked why the state could require individuals to travel more than 100 miles to acquire photo ID when law prevents them from being required to travel so far for a subpoena.

The state has used the Supreme Court’s approval of the Indiana photo voter ID law as precedent, but Tatel dismissed this by saying it did not resolve this case.

The plaintiffs also took aim at the Justice Department’s estimate that 1.5 million voters in Texas do not have ID.

“The database match project is hopelessly flawed,” Hughes said.

But the Justice Department argued in its closing remarks that even questionable data or conflicting evidence is not enough to grant federal approval.

The defense argued that Texas failed to meet its burden of proof by providing no evidence as to how many people might have a federal photo ID acceptable under the new law.

A key for the defense was pinning the law as retrogressive by proving that photo voter ID takes away voting strength as the Hispanic population continues to grow.

The defendants also countered Texas’ claim that the law was about voter fraud and integrity at the polls.

“The only thing that was certainly proved was the purpose of SB14 was not to stop in person voter fraud,” lawyer Ezra Rosenberg said.

Rosenberg argued this case was not about voter fraud, but rather racially discriminatory voter suppression “cloaked” as voter fraud.

By Lindsey Ruta and Annelise Russell, News21

Debate over Texas voter ID law turns to African-American community

The Texas voter ID law’s effect on Latinos has dominated testimony in a Washington, D.C., federal court hearing this week, but Wednesday afternoon the topic switched to the African-American community.

The Rev. Peter Johnson, a civil rights advocate and member of the NAACP, testified for the Justice Department that the ID was a threat to democracy.

African Americans older than 75 value the ability to go to the polls on Election Day because they remember a time when they couldn’t. Under Texas law, those older than 65 would be exempt from the photo ID requirement, but they would have to vote by mail.

State Sen. Rodney Ellis, a Democrat, also testified to the potential impact of the law on his constituents saying that many young men have outstanding surcharges on tickets that discourages them from obtaining an ID.

In tabling nearly every amendment that addressed the effect of the bill on minorities, state senators, Ellis said, knew what they were doing. He said his colleagues who supported the law were on the wrong side of history.

“They are good people, but they did a very bad thing,” Ellis said.

Testimony continues through the afternoon as the Justice Department continues to present its case.

By Lindsey Ruta and Annelise Russell, News21