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 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 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,

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 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

For news and updates, 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 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.

Behind the Scenes: This week in the News21 newsroom

News21 sent reporting teams to Tennessee and Florida this week, but back in the newsroom, reporters and editors hunkered down to begin working on stories and videos that detail the initial findings of our investigation on voting rights.

Here’s a look at what the News21 team was up to:

Behind the Scenes: This week in the News21 newsroom

News21 fellow Sarah Jane Capper of Syracuse University continues her research. Photo by Lizzie Chen/News21.

Behind the Scenes: This week in the News21 newsroom

News21 fellow Ana Lastra spends the afternoon in an editing booth sorting through video clips. Photo by Lizzie Chen/News21

Behind the Scenes: This week in the News21 newsroom

News21 fellow Joe Henke spends an afternoon reading through voting rights material. Photo by Lizzie Chen/News21.

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

Journalists are apt to think every day is a big news day; today really qualifies.

A federal appeals court judge in  Florida — the same judge who blocked the state requirement that voter registrations be submitted within 48 hours – has ruled that the U.S. Department of Justice cannot stop the voter purge. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle said the 90-day provision, which DOJ attorneys cited as too close to an election to purge rolls, did not apply to removing non-citizens from the rolls. Hinkle did say there were “some problems” with the program.

In New Hampshire, the state Senate voted to override Gov. John Lynch’s veto of a voter registration bill and passed a modified version of a photo-identification bill. And The Nation published a new rundown of the political questions at the heart of the current voting rights fight.

These stories aren’t causing as much of an uproar as the Pennsylvania House Republican leader’s comments Monday on voter identification or the furious reaction to U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s assertion of Republican voter suppression, but they are definitely trending.

What We’ve Been Reading

Make Voting Mandatory,” (Peter R. Orszag, 06/19, BloombergView)

Last-minute voter ID changes facing Senate, House action today,” (Ted Siefer, 06/26, New Hampshire Union Leader)

Federal judge rejects DOJ request to stop voter purge,” (Kathleen Haughney, 06/27, Orlando Sentinel)

GOP: Obama planning to ‘Steal’ the Election,” (Ari Berman, 06/27, The Nation)

Angry Twitter Birds: Unhappy NYC Voter Demonstrates Power, Reach of Social Media,” (Doug Chapin, 06/27, The Election Academy)

Twitter Trends

The big-ticket stories this morning haven’t really buzzed as much as other controversial voting rights stories this summer. They are mostly policy-oriented, and social media users — and the public  — aren’t interested in stories on the slow process of judicial review and legal adjustment.

But the last article in our list brings up a curious and potentially lasting phenomenon. It’s an exploration of how voter anger and engagement is more possible through directed media campaigns.

Here at News21, we’ve followed directed campaigns by many secretaries of state and “get out the vote” accounts on Twitter and have enjoyed watching the way these accounts try to encourage voter participation and education. Secretaries aren’t followed nearly as often as national organizations like Rock The Vote or the League of Women Voters. As a whole, these accounts demonstrate the fledgling possibilities inherent in social media voter conversations.

It’s the kind of thing that drives this daily post (and our Twitter account), and it’s worth a read for any voting policy wonk, public opinion specialist or voter in general.

Remember to follow us @WhoCanVote.

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

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

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.

Coffee Break Ballot, June 22: Current Trends in Voting Rights

We suggested earlier this month that the Florida voter list chaos had the potential to move voting rights issues to the forefront of major news media.

That moment might have arrived, judging by the reaction to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s statement yesterday that House Republicans are investigating Attorney General Eric Holder to distract from his legal pursuit of state laws that  suppress voting.

If Politico says the time has come, we are inclined to agree. It’s also highly possible that the anger — on both sides of the proverbial aisle — could fade just as quickly. Attention spans on complicated issues like these tend to be short, especially during the constantly changing landscape of an election year.

For now, our four key search terms are raging on the Twitters, and points and counterpoints are bouncing around the web. We’re excited about the implications.

Stay with us — these issues are important, and we’ve got big things on the way soon.

What We’ve Been Reading

Voter ID Bill Still On Table, Thanks to Procedural Rule,” (Aaron Keck and Anne Brenner, 06/21, WCHL)

Another Look at Voter Photo ID Myths and F.A.Q.’s,” (Alex Rector, 06/22, Civitas Institute)

PA to launch $5 million voter ID campaign with robocalls,” (James McGinnis, 06/22,

Election Fraud: California Union Official Voted in WI Recall,” (Brian Sikma, 06/22, BigGovernment)

Rep. Gowdy on Pelosi claim: ‘Stupid’,” (Kevin Robillard, 06/22, Politico)

Republicans’ Voter Suppression Project Grinds On,” (Jonathan Alter, 06/21, BloombergView)

Twitter Trends

Twitter mentions of voter suppression have skyrocketed in the last 24 hours, and you can tell from this helpful chart from social media search engine

After the contentious recall election in Wisconsin earlier this month, we remarked how  charged terms like “voter suppression” and “voter fraud” are usually only active during elections, when people discussed the process.

But Pelosi’s unexpected comments on voting — and the media explosion covering them — have boosted mentions of voter suppression more than we’ve seen in a while. Sure, Pelosi isn’t especially popular among conservative circles of the electorate, but the manner in which her unexpected comments on the U.S. Department of Justice’s voting rights preservation efforts have been torn apart is surprising.

We imagine the season leading up to the early voting and general election this fall will see similar spikes in our key search terms.

For more, be sure to follow us @WhoCanVote.