Midterms free of feared chaos as voting experts look to 2024

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'By and large, sabotage didn’t happen. I don’t think that means we’re in the clear.'

Before Election Day, anxiety mounted over potential chaos at the polls.

Election officials warned about poll watchers who had been steeped in conspiracy theories falsely claiming that then-President Donald Trump did not actually lose the 2020 election. Democrats and voting rights groups worried about the effects of new election laws, in some Republican-controlled states, that President Joe Biden decried as “Jim Crow 2.0.” Law enforcement agencies were monitoring possible threats at the polls.

Yet Election Day, and the weeks of early voting before it, went fairly smoothly. There were some reports of unruly poll watchers disrupting voting, but they were scattered. Groups of armed vigilantes began watching over a handful of ballot drop boxes in Arizona until a judge ordered them to stay far away to ensure they would not intimidate voters. And while it might take months to figure out their full impact, GOP-backed voting laws enacted after the 2020 election did not appear to cause major disruptions the way they did during the March primary in Texas.

“The entire ecosystem in a lot of ways has become more resilient in the aftermath of 2020,” said Amber McReynolds, a former Denver elections director who advises a number of voting rights organizations. “There’s been a lot of effort on ensuring things went well.”

Even though some voting experts’ worst fears didn’t materialize, some voters still experienced the types of routine foul-ups that happen on a small scale in every election. Many of those fell disproportionately on Black and Hispanic voters.

“Things went better than expected,” said Amir Badat of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. “But we have to say that with a caveat: Our expectations are low.”

Badat said his organization recorded long lines at various polling places from South Carolina to Texas.

There were particular problems in Harris County, Texas, which includes Houston. Shortages of paper ballots and at least one polling location opening late led to long lines and triggered an investigation of the predominantly Democratic county by the state’s Republican authorities.

The investigation is partly a reflection of how certain voting snafus on Election Day are increasingly falling on Republican voters, who have been discouraged from using mailed ballots or using early in-person voting by Trump and his allies. But it’s a very different problem from what Texas had during its March primary.

Then, a controversial new voting law that increased the requirements on mail ballots led to about 13% of all such ballots being rejected, much higher compared with other elections. It was an ominous sign for a wave of new laws, passed after Trump’s loss to Biden and false claims about mail voting, but there have been no problems of that scale reported for the general election.

Texas changed the design of its mail ballots, which solved many of the problems voters had putting identifying information in the proper place. Other states that added regulations on voting didn’t appear to have widespread problems, though voting rights groups and analysts say it will take weeks of combing through data to find out the laws’ impacts.

The Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law is compiling data to determine whether new voting laws in states such as Georgia contributed to a drop in turnout among Black and Hispanic voters.

Preliminary figures show turnout was lower this year than in the last midterm election four years ago in Florida, Georgia, Iowa and Texas — four states that passed significant voting restrictions since the 2020 election — although there could be a number of reasons why.

“It’s difficult to judge, empirically, the kind of effect these laws have on turnout because so many factors go into turnout,” said Rick Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California, Los Angeles law school. “You also have plenty of exaggeration on the Democratic side that any kind of change in voting laws are going to cause some major effect on the election, which has been proven not to be the case.”

In Georgia, for example, Republicans made it more complicated to apply for mailed ballots after the 2020 election — among other things, requiring voters to include their driver’s license number or some other form of identification rather than a signature. That may be one reason why early in-person voting soared in popularity in the state this year, and turnout there dipped only slightly from 2018.

Jason Snead, executive director of the conservative Honest Elections Project, which advocates for tighter voting laws, said the fairly robust turnout in the midterm elections shows that fears of the new voting regulations were overblown.

“We are on the back end of an election that was supposed to be the end of democracy, and it very much was not,” Snead said.

Poll watchers were a significant concern of voting rights groups and election officials heading into Election Day. The representatives of the two major political parties are a key part of any secure election process, credentialed observers who can object to perceived violations of rules.

But this year, groups aligned with conspiracy theorists who challenged Biden’s 2020 victory recruited poll watchers heavily, and some states reported that aggressive volunteers caused disruptions during the primary. But there were fewer issues in November.

In North Carolina, where several counties had reported problems with poll watchers in the May primary, the state elections board reported 21 incidents of misbehavior at the polls in the general election, most during the early, in-person voting period and by members of campaigns rather than poll watchers. The observers were responsible for eight of the incidents.

Voting experts were pleasantly surprised there weren’t more problems with poll watchers, marking the second general election in a row when a feared threat of aggressive Republican observers did not materialize.

“This seems to be an increase over 2020. Is it a small increase? Yes,” said Michael McDonald, a political scientist at the University of Florida. “It’s still a dry run for 2024, and we can’t quite let down our guard.”

One of the main organizers of the poll watcher effort was Cleta Mitchell, a veteran Republican election lawyer who joined Trump on a Jan. 2, 2020, call to Georgia’s top election official when the president asked that the state “find” enough votes to declare him the winner. Mitchell then launched an organization to train volunteers who wanted to keep an eye on election officials, which was seen as the driver of the poll watcher surge.

Mitchell said the relatively quiet election is vindication that groups like hers were simply concerned with election integrity rather than causing disruptions.

“Every training conducted by those of us doing such training included instruction about behavior, and that they must be ‘Peaceful, Lawful, Honest,’” Mitchell wrote in the conservative online publication The Federalist. “Yet, without evidence, the closer we got to Election Day, the more hysterical the headlines became, warning of violence at the polls resulting from too many observers watching the process. It didn’t happen.”

Voting rights groups say they’re relieved their fears didn’t materialize, but they say threats to democracy remain on the horizon for 2024 — especially with Trump announcing that he’s running again. Wendy Weiser, a voting and elections expert at the Brennan Center, agreed that things overall went smoother than expected.

“By and large, sabotage didn’t happen,” Weiser said. “I don’t think that means we’re in the clear.”

___

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Associated Press


36 comments

  • Tom

    November 25, 2022 at 10:30 am

    Fake narratives and false flag propaganda operations, DOJ is now a election arm operation per Dems.

    All these leftist media narrative operations were to create unrest so as to encourage Dem support.

    Go figure, Florida, Georgia and Texas ran the best election operations, no issues. Lies on election from Biden, Harris are appalling.

    The slander by Dems is overwhelming. Have a Banana with your Republic.

    • Joe Corsin

      November 25, 2022 at 6:01 pm

      Yeah as long as a Republican wins then there are magically no issues with the election. You people aren’t American. That’s why we now call the GOP the RUSSIANS!!!

      • Paul Passarelli

        November 26, 2022 at 8:58 am

        Nothing magical about it at all. When the election is based on the facts and the people’s votes are tallied honestly, there’s really no surprise that the Republicans win;

        Except in heavily Democratic districts, aka Urban Shitholes, where there the people have *demonstrated* their sheepleness and have been so thoroughly indoctrinated to believe that big government is a good thing.

        • eva

          November 26, 2022 at 6:43 pm

          I regularly generated more than $26,380 in additional domestic revenue thanks to quick replay and enduring online engagement. My highest (hbf-02) domestic sales resulted in actual earnings of $18,636. Without a doubt, everyone can now.

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        • Elliott Offen

          November 28, 2022 at 2:50 pm

          Reported to FBI for election misinformation!!!! Tell them about the bombs Paul!!!

          • Paul Passarelli

            November 28, 2022 at 4:00 pm

            I do hope the FBI calls before they show up. That way I can have enough coffee ready for the team.

            BTW: Do you know it’s felony to file a false Law Enforcement complaint?

  • Tom

    November 25, 2022 at 10:30 am

    Fake narratives and false flag propaganda operations, DOJ is now a election arm operation per Dems.

    All these leftist media narrative operations were to create unrest so as to encourage Dem support.

    Go figure, Florida, Georgia and Texas ran the best election operations, no issues. Lies on election from Biden, Harris are appalling.

    The slander by Dems is overwhelming. Have a Banana with your Republic.

    • Elliott Offen

      November 28, 2022 at 2:51 pm

      Tell them about the bombs and automatic weapons Tom!

  • Tom

    November 25, 2022 at 10:36 am

    Btw, Arizona, California and Pennsylvania are a joke in counting illegal and legal ballots. Harvesting, absentees, mail in weeks before and after election is atrocious!

    Only AP would gloss over the most corrupt state processes. We need to require better.

    • Joe Corsin

      November 25, 2022 at 6:02 pm

      False information conspiracy theory! Tropical 2 swirling tornadocane has done a number on your mind.

  • Tom

    November 25, 2022 at 10:36 am

    Btw, Arizona, California and Pennsylvania are a joke in counting illegal and legal ballots. Harvesting, absentees, mail in weeks before and after election is atrocious!

    Only AP would gloss over the most corrupt state processes. We need to require better.

    • Joe Corsin

      November 25, 2022 at 6:03 pm

      By God you people are dogs.

  • Paul Passarelli

    November 25, 2022 at 12:24 pm

    You people really don’t get it!

    Even if 99.9% of the people vote lawfully & legitimately, that 0.1% that stuff the ballot boxes are capable of swinging the election results.

    Why? Because they don’t cast a single bad ballot, they inject or delete hundreds if not thousands of illegitimate votes into the total counts. Which is more than enough to taint results over a wide area and effectively disenfranchise half of the population by virtue of our ‘first past the post’ aka ‘all or nothing’ system of tallying votes.

    No one gets to say it was “mostly OK” and expect us to accept that the election was legitimate.

    • Elliott Offen

      November 25, 2022 at 6:00 pm

      Ballot box stuffing = more people voted! Not good for the GOP! You people are pathetic.

      • Tom

        November 25, 2022 at 7:14 pm

        Your people’s cried in highest authority, jim croak 2. Shove it up the pie hole, the pervert bots from China, Corsin and Elliot.

        Yes, 4 million more Repub. voted u Dem Dum morons.

        60%, kicked your assess to China!
        Go suck on mommy.

      • Tom

        November 25, 2022 at 7:14 pm

        Your people’s cried in highest authority, jim croak 2. Shove it up the pie hole, the pervert bots from China, Corsin and Elliot.

        Yes, 4 million more Repub. voted u Dem Dum morons.

        60%, kicked your assess to China!
        Go suck on mommy.

        • marylou

          November 26, 2022 at 12:56 pm

          Enjoy it now Tom! Gen Z and Millennials will makeup 40% of the electorate in 2024. Although many are registering NPA, they are voting for Dems. Speaking as an NPA, myself, I would like to see a 3rd party. I don’t believe either of the current parties is fixable.

          • Paul Passarelli

            November 26, 2022 at 1:16 pm

            Wait. What? Are you actually suggesting that you would have an affinity for a 3rd party? I’m intrigued? Which 3rd party do you feel is worthy of your support?

            I’m serious. I’d like to understand which platform you or someone like you feels has differentiated itself from the two party status quo.

            Of course if you say the Greens, then I’d be forced to point out that they are just an arm of the Socialists.

          • Tom

            November 26, 2022 at 9:07 pm

            You are done, finished, Annihilated.
            You met your match in Gov Ron.
            Enjoy it now, we will enjoy it for a decades.

            Wait til Ron sits at resolute desk, in the W H, Oval. You neophytes ain’t seen nothing yet.

          • Tom

            November 26, 2022 at 9:07 pm

            You are done, finished, Annihilated.
            You met your match in Gov Ron.
            Enjoy it now, we will enjoy it for a decades.

            Wait til Ron sits at resolute desk, in the W H, Oval. You neophytes ain’t seen nothing yet.

      • Paul Passarelli

        November 26, 2022 at 8:49 am

        I see the George Soros Fake Alias Trolls are back out in full bloom again.

        • Tom

          November 26, 2022 at 9:13 pm

          100% Paul.
          They are on the nipple.

        • Tom

          November 26, 2022 at 9:13 pm

          100% Paul.
          They are on the nipple.

        • cassandra of the swamp

          November 27, 2022 at 9:11 am

          I got three passports, a couple of visas
          You don’t even know my real name…

          You like the Talking Heads, right Paul? Is this where it’s going?

          • Paul Passarelli

            November 27, 2022 at 2:12 pm

            Ahhh, music from the closing years of Generation X.

      • Paul Passarelli

        November 26, 2022 at 8:52 am

        Not sure what troubles me more. I think some of you actually believe that ballot box stuffing is OK.

        • marylou

          November 27, 2022 at 2:52 pm

          My question was referring to the song’s war topic and title. Is that what the gun fetish is about??

  • Paul Passarelli

    November 27, 2022 at 4:40 pm

    Wow! And I bet you think “Paradise by the dashboard light” is a happy song too. Don’t feel too bad, the dumb asses at GM licensed the song to sell Cadillacs.

    The song is about an operative that’s gone to ground behind enemy lines.

    I know what you were trying to convey. It’s just that you picked an analogy that was so far off the mark, I decided to have a little fun at your expense.

    From 1967 — https://youtu.be/0nFvhhCulaw

    • Joe Corsin

      November 28, 2022 at 7:44 am

      No wonder you didn’t get elected. You’re a far right nut!

    • marylou

      November 28, 2022 at 4:17 pm

      Equally dumb, Lincoln used “Space Oddity” to sell their (tin?) cars! Not dumb, just an unexpected choice, Dunlop and Goodyear ran two separate ads featuring Velvet Underground’s “Venus in Furs”. Video on the Dunlop ad was entertaining in a weird kind of way.

      Thank you for the Phil Ochs video, Paul. I watched it , then a few of the updates by other people. Half a century… First couple you laugh, pretty soon you cry

  • Paul Passarelli

    November 28, 2022 at 4:37 pm

    Huh. Don’t remember the Dunlop or Goodyear ads, but I do remember when Lou Reed was the musical host on SNL.

    Strange coincidence, I wasn’t watching the show regularly at that time. I was out with friends and we stopped by someone’s house for reasons I cannot recall. The TV was on, saw his appearance, saw the video for “Walk on the Wild Side” for the first time. Don’t remember much else except it was unusually cold for that time of year that night.

      • marylou

        November 29, 2022 at 11:53 am

        Well, speaking of coincidences! This reply was certainly held up for a while.

      • Paul Passarelli

        November 29, 2022 at 12:00 pm

        Well, that was interesting! LOL

  • marylou

    November 29, 2022 at 11:45 am

    I tried (unsuccessfully so far) to post a link to the Dunlop ad.

    I don’t remember hearing “Walk on the Wild Side” for the first time. I’m thinking that possibly a friend’s older sibling played it a lot, so I may have heard it long before I actually listened to it. Just a guess. Had to have been sometime between Double Dutch and Spin the Bottle…

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    December 1, 2022 at 2:13 am

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Comments are closed.


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