Blog

  • Tribute to Senator Warner

    Military and overseas civilian voters have lost a great champion and hero. 

    Former Senator John Warner (R, VA) died on May 25 in northern Virginia at the age of 94. President Biden lauded his "principled stances" on important issues facing our nation during his five terms in the US Senate from 1979 until 2009. Former Senator Warner also served as Secretary of the Navy between 1972 and 1974.

    In 1988, Senator Warner led the effort to approve the Uniformed and Overseas Civilian Absentee Voter Act P.L.99-4120 (UOCAVA), which was signed into law by President Reagan on August 28 of that year.

  • electionline: Overseas and Military Voting Laws Demonstrate that National Norms are Possible

    The OpEd, Overseas and Military Voting Laws Demonstrate that National Norms are Possible, by U.S. Vote Foundation's President and CEO as featured in Democracy Fund's electionline news on May 6, 2021, aims to emphasize that Congress has successfully passed federal voting legislation in the past, and could do it again.

    The opinion piece suggests that we should, "Look to our history of the Soldier Voting Act, the Federal Voting Assistance Act, the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act and the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act for a model of how federal legislation can respond and evolve to meet the needs of our citizens." And it emphasizes that, "Whether we overhaul our elections system all at once, or make key changes piecemeal, our federal government should expand in-person and absentee options for all citizens, whether they’re pursuing the American dream at home or fighting for our chance to live it while abroad."

    We invite you to read the complete article in electionline!

  • US Vote OpEd Published in The Fulcrum

    From our perspective at U.S. Vote Foundation (US Vote), the build up to the election and the incredible participation levels across all states. Now, the aftermath of this successful 2020 election is a barage of laws across many states. Not all of them are bad, there are some that expand on the success of the recent general election. But some of these voting laws are designed to crush the level of engagement we just witnessed. 

    That's what we write about in the April 8, 2021 opinion piece that appeared in The Fulcrum, entitled "In Georgia, the most insidious suppression may be weakening the will to vote."

  • Going from bad to worse: from Internet voting to blockchain voting

    Published 16 February 2021 in the Journal of Cybersecurity, Volume 7, Issue 1, 2021, tyaa025, https://doi.org/10.1093/cybsec/tyaa025, by Sunoo Park, Michael Specter, Neha Narula, Ronald L Rivest, MIT

    Abstract

    Voters are understandably concerned about election security. News reports of possible election interference by foreign powers, of unauthorized voting, of voter disenfranchisement, and of technological failures call into question the integrity of elections worldwide. This article examines the suggestions that “voting over the Internet” or “voting on the blockchain” would increase election security, and finds such claims to be wanting and misleading.

    While current election systems are far from perfect, Internet- and blockchain-based voting would greatly increase the risk of undetectable, nation-scale election failures. Online voting may seem appealing: voting from a computer or smartphone may seem convenient and accessible. However, studies have been inconclusive, showing that online voting may have little to no effect on turnout in practice, and it may even increase disenfranchisement. More importantly, given the current state of computer security, any turnout increase derived from Internet- or blockchain-based voting would come at the cost of losing meaningful assurance that votes have been counted as they were cast, and not undetectably altered or discarded.

  • Getting Young People to the Polls: U.S. Vote Foundation’s New Georgia Runoff Election Student Toolkit

    Every vote counts in any election, and that maxim is on full display in the upcoming January 5, 2021 Georgia runoff election. With two Senate seats up for grabs, and the margins in the General Election so small that the runoffs could go for either candidate, making sure every citizen is a voter – the mission statement of the U.S. Vote Foundation – has taken on a new urgency.

    As we wrote recently, getting young people to the polls or voting at home will be a decisive factor in determining the winners. Those young people not only include the one million youth voters who voted in the last election, it also includes the ones who didn’t show up but are still eligible to cast a ballot for the runoff election.

    Many of those young voters – registered or not –  are students, which prompted us to create a comprehensive Student Toolkit for the Georgia runoff election. Some of those who didn’t vote in November hadn’t turned 18 by November 3. But this time around, if their 18th birthday falls on or before January 5, they can register now and cast a ballot like everyone else. Whether you’re in high school or college, employed or looking for work, as long as you meet the age requirements, you can, and should, cast your ballot.

    You don’t even have to be a student to use our Student Toolkit. We also encourage teachers, administrators, and school boards to make this toolkit as widely available as possible. Every eligible young person should be a voter too.

  • Georgia’s Runoff Election: A Sordid History Underlies the Peach State’s Election Process

     

    Election 2020 has been full of surprises, and chief among them is the fact that control of the Senate was not decided following the November election. Instead, the majority party for the new congressional term will be settled through a runoff Senate election in Georgia on January 5, 2021.

    Both races to represent Georgia in the United State Senate failed to give any candidate a clear majority of the votes, and under state law, the lack of majority means the two candidates with the largest plurality of votes have to face each other again in a runoff election. While it’s already unusual that both senators from a particular state are up for election in the same year, a double runoff is an even more rare occurrence.

    However, runoff elections in Georgia – and Louisiana, the only other state that requires them – are hardly a quirk limited to the 2020 election. The history of the January 5 runoff election in Georgia starts back in the 19th century, when the perceived threat of newly emancipated (male) slaves actually exercising their right to vote ushered in an increasingly systematic and violent campaign of voter suppression, of which the runoff election is one manifestation.

  • Who Gets to Pick Georgia’s Next Senators? It Might Be Up to Young People (But Only If They Show Up)

    As the country gears up for a double runoff Senate election in Georgia, here’s a quick look at what could be one of the major deciding factors in the January 5 runoff. That factor is the youth vote, that cohort of 18-29 year-olds that arguably tipped the scales in Georgia during the 2020 Presidential Election and could possibly do the same in January for Georgia’s two Senators in January.

    Understanding the youth factor in any election is complicated, and the youth vote in the United States has always been an elusive prize for politicians. Eligible young voters make up approximately 20 percent of the electorate – definitely a tide-turning quantity – but the inconsistent frequency in which they vote has made them a complex group to understand. As campaign after campaign has learned the hard way, turning out young people for rallies and voter registration drives doesn’t necessarily translate into votes at the polls.

  • Early results from US Vote’s 2020 Voter Experience Survey: Voters’ Perceptions of Election Integrity and Confidence are Higher, and Less Partisan, Than Many Think

    One of the unfortunate narratives coming out of this complex election year has been a raft of accusations about the integrity of the election process. The concerns have spanned a gamut of issues: from fears of foreign interference and the casting of fraudulent ballots to concerns about the accuracy of the final ballot count. Underlying these general concerns have been intimations of a partisan divide between Republicans and Democrats that pits one set of partisans who embrace the narrative that the election was deeply flawed and therefore invalid against another side that maintains that everything went well. 

    Not so fast. It turns out, like many aspects of this election, simple black and white comparisons across party lines don’t necessarily tell the whole story.

  • Soothing Thoughts for Nervous Voters

    The election season is coming to a close. Can we honestly say: it’s about time? With less than a week left until Election Day, it’s probably safe to say some voter fatigue is setting in. With the pandemic as backdrop, aided and abetted by the relentless doomsday scenario-spinning that many news outlets and social media accounts are exacerbating, 2020 has been a wild ride to say the least. And to say the ride will be over on Nov. 3 would be just another piece of fake news: even if we have a solid winner shortly after Election Day, the chaotic nature of this election won’t go away for a while.

    So, as the antidote to doomscrolling and handwringing, we’d like to offer a little hope and a little optimism about what lies ahead.

  • It’s Not Just About the White House: Down-ballot Voting is Important Too

    While record numbers of voters are planning to cast a ballot this November – or are doing so right now, depending on the availability of early voting and mail-in balloting in your state – a troubling question is starting to emerge: will these voters, many of them first time voters, vote for more than who they want to see sitting in the White House come January 20?

    The issue of a lack of “down-ballot voting,” as it is called, is hardly new. In a typical presidential election year, when barely 50 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot, a third or more of those voting don’t bother to fill out the entire ballot. While this will be by almost any measure a very atypical election, the question remains whether that same 30 percent of ballots will be about only one race and none other.

    The good news is that voters don’t have to vote for everything on the ballot in order for the votes they do cast to be valid. Which is how it should be. But the bad news is that not voting down-ballot for state and local representatives and not voting on local issues – school bonds and referenda and funding for police and social services – means wasting an opportunity to have the broadest impact possible.

    And that impact actually extends all the way back up the ballot as well. Not voting locally doesn’t just leave important issues up to a small minority of eligible voters, it can have a huge impact on future national elections in ways that may not seem obvious at first. Which is why we’re here to encourage you to fill out a much of that ballot as possible.

    Here’s our top three reasons to fill out that ballot from top to bottom: