New Census data proves it: If you make it easier for people to vote, they’ll vote | Monday Morning Coffee

May 13, 2019 7:13 am

(Pew Charitable Trusts image. )

Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
So here’s some news that may cheer even the most jaded among you: Voter turnout in the 2018 midterm election jump by 12 percentage points, with 53 percent of the voting-age population showing up to cast their ballots, an analysis of new U.S. Census Bureau data shows.

Even better, turnout was higher in states with more liberal ballot access laws, the analysis by Stateline, an initiative of the Pew Charitable Trusts shows:

“The increases ranged from 21 points in Utah, where about 58 percent of voting-age citizens voted, down to Colorado, where there was little change. Turnout already was high in Colorado at 59%, partly because the state was a pioneer in expanding ballot access.“Georgia (13 points) and California (15 points) saw big improvements with similar programs, such as automatic voter registration,” Stateline reported.

In Pennsylvania, midterm turnout was an entirely respectable 54.6 percent of voting-age citizens, an increase of 14.6 since 2014, the Stateline analysis concluded. Pennsylvania has 8.6 million registered voters.

Meanwhile, “states with more restrictive voting policies didn’t always see the same results. While turnout increased in New York and Texas, both of which still require early registration, they remained in the bottom 10 among states, with turnout below 50 percent of citizens despite some hot races,” Stateline reported.

Still, “experts disagree on how much turnout depends on state voter access policies. Arizona, New Jersey and Missouri saw big boosts without changing voting rules, as tight House and Senate races brought more people to the polls,” Stateline reported.

“’It’s just as easy to argue that states that had high turnout rates were more likely to value political participation, and thus enacted more liberalized registration laws,’” Charles Stewart III, a political science professor who studies turnout issues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. told Stateline.

But voting rights advocates see opportunities for more voting in states as politically different as Texas and New York, Stateline noted.

That included Georgia, which is one of 18 states that partly adopted automatic voter registration. New registrations there nearly doubled after that law took effect, Stateline reported, citing an April report by the Brennan Center for Justice.

In Pennsylvania, reformers are hoping that a looming debate over redistricting changes will open a broader conversation about the way Harrisburg does business.

Our Stuff:
We’re spending this week at The Capital-Star exploring the idea of due process and how it intersects with state government — from legislation to investigations of lawmakers. If you have any input, or ideas, we’re all ears. Email us at [email protected].

Elizabeth Hardison gets the ball rolling on the news side with a look at this year’s debate over Marsy’s Law, a constitutional amendment securing the rights of crime victims. Critics are calling the bill ‘well-intentioned, but impossible’ to implement fairly.

On our Commentary Page, Andy Hoover of the ACLU of Pennsylvania looks at where the Commonwealth falls short on protecting due process rights for all of us.

Also on our Commentary Page, an analyst for the Economic Policy Institute takes a look at our exploding trade war with China – and its impact on Pennsylvania.

From the weekend, you may have missed this deep dive from Stephen Caruso on how state House Democrats are hoping to marshal their political muscle on this week’s expected floor fight over that Down syndrome abortion-ban bill.

And our ‘Latinx Voices‘ series continues on our Commentary Page with a look at how Pennsylvania’s Hispanics are emerging as the state’s new political leaders.

Pa.’s unemployment rate is at an historic low – will that help Donald Trump win the state again in 2020? The Inquirer’s Jonathan Tamari takes up the question.
Is Pennsylvania facing a doctors’ shortage? PennLive has the results of a new study showing which states could be hardest hit.
The Post-Gazette profiles political newbie Turahn Jenkins, who’s giving Allegheny County DA Steve Zappala his first primary challenge in 20 years.
Three senior officials have left the state Dept. of Human Services in recent weeks, The Post-Gazette also reports.
The Morning Call’s Emily Opilo has the tale of the Watergate burglar who lived quietly in Berks County for years.

Here’s your #Harrisburg Instagram of the Day:

Police in Norristown are investigating an incident in which a borough local officer put a teen in a chokehold, WHYY-FM reports.
The Associated Press profiles some of the high-profile races in the May 21 primary election (via WITF-FM).
Today marks the 34th anniversary of the MOVE bombing. BillyPenn explains why the city bombed itself.
The Incline is looking for your nominees for Pittsburgh’s top animal advocates.
PoliticsPA has last week’s winners and losers in Pennsylvania politics.
Politico looks at the scramble for donors among the 2020 Democratic prezzy hopefuls.
Will Republicans on the Hill block the White House’s third attempt to defund the arts? Roll Call has the answer.

What Goes On.
The House gavels in at 1 p.m. this Monday. The Senate is out of voting session until June 3.
10 a.m. Capitol Steps: Bike-to-Work Week kickoff event
11 a.m., Widener University Law School: Auditor General Eugene DePasquale talks about Pa.’s efforts to fight climate change.
11:45 a.m., East Rotunda: Dementia Awareness rally
12 p.m., Main Rotunda: Superintendents rally for school funding

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
11:30 a.m.: 
Reception for the NePa GOP delegation
11:30 a.m.: Luncheon for Rep. Mark Longietti
11:30 a.m.: Luncheon for Rep. Seth Grove
5:30 p.m.: Reception for Rep. Jeanne McNeil
5:30 p.m.: Reception for the Allegheny County Democratic delegation
5:30 p.m.: Reception for Superior Court candidate Christylee Peck
Ride the circuit, and give at the max, and you’re out a mere $10,250 today.

Gov. Tom Wolf 
has no public schedule today.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept. 
Belated best wishes go out this morning to Danielle Floyd Prokopchak in the Senate Dems’ communications office, who celebrated on Sunday. Greetings go out this morning to veteran Democratic operative Kevin Washo, who celebrates today. Congratulations all around.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s one from The Bravery for your Monday morning. It’s ‘An Honest Mistake

Monday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
 went up 2-0 in its Eastern Conference final with Carolinawinning 6-2 on Sunday. That just stunk.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.