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Analysis

Election Day 2018: A Brennan Center Live Blog

Live updates throughout the day and evening as we track how democracy fares, with a focus on turnout, voting problems, election security, and pro-voter ballot measures. (All times EST)

  • Brennan Center for Justice
November 6, 2018

 


 

9:17 pm

A huge win for demo­cracy in Flor­ida

Flor­ida will restore voting rights to as many as 1.4 million resid­ents who have a past felony convic­tion, after passing a ballot meas­ure that the Bren­nan Center is proud to have helped draft. That includes 10 percent of the state’s voting age popu­la­tion and more than 20 percent of African Amer­ican adults. 

 

 

 


 

8:36 pm

Good news for fair maps in Pennsylvania…

 

 


 

6:43 pm

Regis­tra­tion prob­lems high­light need for AVR

We’re hear­ing from voters who are exper­i­en­cing prob­lems related to regis­tra­tion. Wendy Weiser, director of the Demo­cracy Program at the Bren­nan Center, explains how auto­matic voter regis­tra­tion can help.

 

 


 

 

5:35 pm

Long lines could dispro­por­tion­ately affect minor­ity voters…

Voters across the coun­try, and espe­cially in Geor­gia, are report­ing exper­i­ences with long lines at the polls today. Accord­ing to a Bren­nan Center study, precincts with minor­ity popu­la­tions face some of the longest voting lines in the coun­try. “It could be a barrier to cast­ing a ballot that counts,” said Myrna Pérez, deputy director of the Bren­nan Center’s Demo­cracy Program.

 

 


 

4:49 pm

Geor­gia looks like the big story…

Every elec­tion, one state seems to stand out as the poster child for voting prob­lems. It’s too early to tell for sure, but it looks like this year it might be Geor­gia, which also hosts a high-profile governor’s race. In vari­ous loca­tions across the state, there are reports of voters wait­ing in line for hours – espe­cially in heav­ily African Amer­ican districts.
In Fulton County, voters waited for hours to cast their ballots after the county mistakenly installed only three voting machines.
Common Cause says some voters are wait­ing up to three hours in the Atlanta area. 
There are also the prob­lems we repor­ted earlier in Gwin­nett County, where faulty machines contrib­uted to lines of over 3 hours.
 
And of course, this comes after weeks of pre-elec­tion contro­versy about the state’s strict regis­tra­tion and voting rules, which threaten to hit minor­it­ies espe­cially hard.
 

 


 

3:39 pm

New York needs to fix its voting system…

More from Bren­nan Center pres­id­ent Michael Wald­man:

Hey, New York. Yes, you. I know, we’re the Empire State, if you can make it here, etc. But our voting system is among the worst in the coun­try. The tour­ists from other states that we all make fun of? They have better elec­tions than we do.

In other states, they disen­fran­chise people on purpose. Here, it’s a product of incom­pet­ence and anti­quated laws. The incom­pet­ence of the Board of Elec­tions is the stuff of legend – like the pizza rat in the subway. 

One out of three voters nation­wide vote early. Not here. We have no same day regis­tra­tion, either. No easily avail­able vote by mail for those who want it. No auto­matic voter regis­tra­tion. When North Caro­lin­a’s omni­bus voter suppres­sion law was chal­lenged in court a few years ago, the state’s attor­neys defen­ded it by noting that it was still better than in New York.

Today at my crunchy polling place in deep blue Park Slope, Brook­lyn (home of Chuck Schu­mer, Bill DeBla­sio, and the Park Slope Food Co-op), a pres­id­en­tial sized throng of would-be voters filled the school cafet­eria. Lines snaked around the room. Machines jammed. When I changed my mind and asked for a new ballot, the very nice person staff­ing the table kept my old ballot out in plain sight for all to see for a little while, before stuff­ing it under a box. I know that things were much worse in other places in the state. All this in a year with few compet­it­ive elec­tions.

The like­li­est result of the elec­tion will be a reelec­ted Gov. Andrew Cuomo, together with a Demo­cratic Senate and Assembly for the first time in decades. The new major­ity will have no excuse. Fixing New York’s dysfunc­tional demo­cracy should be a very early prior­ity. Auto­matic voter regis­tra­tion, early voting, and small donor campaign finan­cing matter the most.

 


 

3:22 pm

Turnout: Huge early voting numbers…

More than 38 million early or absentee votes have been coun­ted this year. That’s compared to 21 million in 2014. And it includes more than 3 million people under the age of 30, accord­ing to Tom Bonier, a Demo­cratic polit­ical consult­ant and data cruncher. And 1.7 million early voters were voting in their first ever elec­tion.

 

 


 

3:08 pm

Long lines aren’t a sign of a healthy demo­cracy…

Bren­nan Center pres­id­ent Michael Wald­man weighs in for the live blog:

Today like every other elec­tion day, cable news shows foot­age of people wait­ing in long lines. It’s heart­warm­ing, like in a Frank Capra movie from the 1930s. Look how strong turnout is! Look how much they care! All true. 

At the same time, it’s appalling. For starters, those long lines don’t appear every­where. They tend to be in more densely popu­lated, urban districts peopled by minor­ity voters or students. (In other words, ahem, Demo­crats.) 

A key reason is out of date or broken voting machines. There are often prob­lems with voter lists, too. And invest­ment simply lags in some places. There are some bland reas­ons for this: turnout can vary more in those precincts from year to year.  

But over­all, it’s wildly unfair to people who have to get to work, take care of chil­dren, or any of the other every­day things there are to do … other than nobly stand­ing on line to vote. This can be fixed. Wider avail­ab­il­ity of early voting helps a lot (and already, one third of citizens vote before Elec­tion Day). And the Bren­nan Center has proposed national legis­la­tion to set a stand­ard for voting lines, to make sure every precinct has enough. Nobody should have to wait more than half an hour to vote, period. 

No matter how inspir­ing it may be.

 

 


 

2:15 pm

The emer­ging story: voting machine fail­ures

As the day goes on, we’re getting a clearer picture of the issues we’re seeing. And at least so far, voting machines prob­lems, which can then often lead to long lines, are at the top of the list. 

Voters in vari­ous precincts across the St. Louis area, for instance, are report­ing very long lines and malfunc­tion­ing equip­ment. And in Gwin­nett County, Geor­gia, reports have surfaced of machine fail­ures due to a lack of power cords.

For years, the Bren­nan Center has been sound­ing the alarm on our outdated machines, many of which haven’t been replaced in over a decade, and which are vulner­able not just to break­downs but to cyber­at­tacks, too. Let’s hope today’s events, while not stop­ping anyone from voting, help under­line the urgency.

 


 

12:28 pm

Reports of “vote flip­ping” in South Caro­lina county…

Voters in Rich­land County, South Caro­lina are report­ing issues with “vote flip­ping,” or machines that record a vote for one candid­ate as a vote for another. Elec­tion offi­cials believe the prob­lems were caused by a calib­ra­tion issue with voting machines.
 
Offi­cials appear to have fixed the prob­lem. But the issue popped up in several places during early voting too. It’s yet another reminder that our aging voting machines urgently need to be replaced. And if voters see their machines flip votes at their polling loca­tion, they should tell poll work­ers, who in turn should take the comprom­ised system out of commis­sion.

 


 

12:01 pm

Facing machine prob­lems, Geor­gia county uses paper ballots…

One of our key recom­mend­a­tions for elec­tion admin­is­trat­ors is to have paper ballots on hand in case machines fail. Gwin­nett County, Geor­gia just showed why it’s so import­ant. 

Machines being used to check voters into their precincts went down this morn­ing, the Atlanta Journal-Consti­tu­tion reports, caus­ing long lines. But poll work­ers used paper rolls and voters used paper ballots, which will later be scanned by machines. At least some of the machine prob­lems have now been resolved. 

 

 


 

11:16 am

Scattered reports of voting issues…

We’re seeing scattered reports this morn­ing of voters exper­i­en­cing polling place prob­lems.
 
Voting machines were miss­ing at one polling loca­tion in Detroit.
 
Multiple loca­tions across Hous­ton are exper­i­en­cing long lines due to tech­nical diffi­culties with voting machines.
 
And at least one polling loca­tion in Mari­copa County, Arizona, has repor­ted “build­ing access issues.”
 
It’s worth being aware of these issues so we can make our elec­tion system better. Here are our recom­mend­a­tions on how to improve voting machines and elec­tion admin­is­tra­tion. But it’s noth­ing that should stop people from voting! 
 

 

11:04 am

On the ballot in Flor­ida: voting rights

This year, Flor­idi­ans will vote on the Voting Restor­a­tion Amend­ment, or Amend­ment 4. The meas­ure would restore voting rights to Flor­idi­ans with a past felony convic­tion, who are currently barred for life from voting, and who are dispro­por­tion­ately non-white. That would repres­ent a huge step forward for demo­cracy in the nation’s fourth largest state. 

 

 


 

10:50 am

How to fix our demo­cracy…

The Wash­ing­ton Post’s Cath­er­ine Rampell offers some ideas, with input from Wendy Weiser, the director of the Bren­nan Center’s Demo­cracy program. 

 

 


 

10:10 am

Control of the House is up for grabs. That’s because the maps are rigged…

As the Bren­nan Center’s Tim Lau explains, if it weren’t for extreme gerry­man­der­ing tilt­ing the play­ing field, Demo­crats would be a lock to win. And even if they win anyway, gerry­man­der­ing will still have skewed the results, prevent­ing the will of voters from fully being heard. It’s yet another reason why we need fair maps

 

 


 

9:30 am

What to do if you encounter prob­lems at the polls…

Myrna Pérez, a deputy director of the Bren­nan Center’s Demo­cracy program and the leader of our voting rights team, has put together an expert guide. The key piece of advice: Don’t be deterred! If you’re eligible, you have a right to cast a ballot and have it coun­ted. 

 

 


 

9:18 am

About those DOJ monit­ors…

There was some concern about possible voter intim­id­a­tion over the news that the Justice Depart­ment will send monit­ors to polling places. Given the Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s troub­ling record on voting rights, that concern was under­stand­able. But Justin Levitt, a former Bren­nan Center expert who helped lead the Obama Justice Depart­ment’s monit­or­ing program, offers some useful perspect­ive:

 

 


 

9:01 am

More evid­ence that people really like early voting…

This is pretty amaz­ing: Three states that host key Senate races — Texas, Nevada, and Arizona — saw more early voting this year than they saw total voting (early voting plus Elec­tion Day) in 2014, accord­ing to the respec­ted numbers cruncher Michael McDon­ald…

 

We’ve called for states to expand early voting, which makes voting more conveni­ent, espe­cially for people who don’t have a flex­ible sched­ule. 

 


 

 

6:00 am

Welcome to the Bren­nan Center’s live blog of the 2018 elec­tion 

After all the fundrais­ing, the organ­iz­ing, the campaign­ing, the debat­ing, the prognost­ic­at­ing and the tweet­ing, Elec­tion Day 2018 is finally here. Polls are now open in some East­ern states. Bren­nan Center experts will be help­ing to staff Elec­tion Protec­tion call centers where voters can report prob­lems (Call 866 OUR-VOTE!). And they’ll be monit­or­ing how voting is going across the coun­try.

Some of the key things we’ll be watch­ing for: Are long lines, regis­tra­tion prob­lems, intim­id­a­tion, or voting machine snafus creat­ing hurdles for some would-be voters? What recourse is being offered? What about cyber-attacks? How is turnout look­ing? In the last midterms, it dropped to a record low, but there are already strong signs that this year could well be a differ­ent story. What’s the latest on pro-demo­cracy ballot initi­at­ives like Flor­id­a’s voting rights restor­a­tion meas­ure and Michigan’s redis­trict­ing reform? Will we get a Congress that supports strength­en­ing our demo­cracy, or one that’s ok with the troub­ling status quo?

In other words, there’s a lot on the line for demo­cracy today. So stay tuned to find out how it’s going. But most of all: Vote.