Important note: This assignment requires you to do considerably more work in tracking down appropriate sources than previous assignments did. You would be very wise to consult a librarian. I'm also glad to help out.
Minnesota has served as my primary source of examples, although we have also been reading about other states. In this assignment, you will compare one aspect of Minnesota's election system with that of another state or nation. You will choose any one topic from the following list:
Minnesota's recount law, which most famously came into play in the 2008 race for US Senator, calls for visual examination of all ballots in order to determine voter intent in accordance with specific standards. Compare this with the recount method used in the state of Alabama. Where in Minnesota law is voter intent defined? What are some examples of the specific standards provided by that Minnesota law for determining intent? Where in Alabama law is the procedure for recounts defined? Does that law also call for examination of all ballots to determine intent in accordance with standards, or does it call for some other process for recounting the ballots?
Minnesotans who meet eligibility criteria have the right to vote. They also have the right to not vote, a right that 22% of them exercised in the 2008 election. Compare this with Australia's use of compulsory voting. How long-established is compulsory voting in Australia? What is the punishment for not voting? Are there any circumstances under which not voting is permitted? How can one vote, yet not cast a ballot that counts? What proportion of Australians cast such ballots? What proportion don't vote at all?
Minnesota's registration law allows voters to voluntarily register in advance of an election by submitting a form by mail or in person. Those who do not register in advance may also register on Election Day. Compare this with the registration method used for federal elections in Canada. Do voters in Canada ordinarily submit registration forms, or is the list of eligible voters maintained in some other way? Do Canadians who are eligible to vote have the option whether to be listed? If so, how do they exercise that option? If an eligible Canadian voter does not appear on the list in advance of Election Day, may that voter still vote? If so, how?
Minnesota's polling places are organized by precinct; each voter who votes in person does so at the polling place for the precinct in which the voter resides. This helps ensure each voter votes only once and in the appropriate races. Compare this with the use of "vote centers" in some Indiana counties. (Although I am asking you to focus on Indiana, vote centers are also used elsewhere; they originated in Colorado.) What is a vote center? Which Indiana counties use vote centers? How recent is this practice in Indiana? Does switching to vote centers have an impact on election costs? How about on turnout?
Minnesota prohibits felons from voting until they have served their complete sentence, including any portion that is served on parole or probation rather than in prison. On the other hand, Minnesotans convicted of misdemeanors may still vote, even while serving time in jail. Compare this with the eligibility standards provided by Michigan law. May a Michigan felon vote while in prison? How about a felon on parole or probation? How about someone serving time in jail for a misdemeanor?
Minnesota maintains a list of registered voters. Compare this with North Dakota, the one state that does not use such a list. How is the eligibility of a North Dakota voter determined at the polling place if not by looking them up on a list? Is any information about eligibility retained from one election to the next?
Minnesota polling places do not have any list of felons to check when processing Election Day registrations. Compare this with the situation in Wisconsin, another state that allows Election Day registration and prohibits felons from voting while on probation or parole. How is the "ineligible voters list" used at a Wisconsin polling place? When was this provision added to Wisconsin law? Does use of this list require use of photo ID?
You will be graded for your adherence to the following standards:
I am not specifying how long your essay should be. It should be long enough to achieve the stated goals, and it should not include needless words. For most of these topics, I suspect you will write a handful of paragraphs extending over a page or two.