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Faster postal service linked to better voter turnout

A more efficient U.S. Postal Service can increase voter turnout in all states regardless of their mail voting laws, according to a Washington State University study.

Michael Ritter.

WSU researcher Michael Ritter analyzed election data from 2012 through 2020, when the pandemic encouraged many more people than usual to vote by mail. He found that in general more accessible mail voting laws, such as universal mail-in voting and no-excuse mail voting, increased the probability that individuals would vote. Restrictive laws, such as requiring a witness’s signature or identification for mail-in ballots, had a negative effect.

Faster postal service helped increase the likelihood of voting especially in those restrictive states—raising the probability individuals would vote by 3.42%.

“Across the board, this study shows that having better postal administration makes it more likely there will be more positive outcomes linked to all mail voting laws,” said Ritter, lead author of the study published in the Election Law Journal. “But in states that have the most restrictive mail voting laws, having better postal administration makes a huge difference—it may not seem huge, but for individuals who sometimes are on the fence about voting by mail or not voting at all, it can tip the balance.”

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Postal Times

Westneat: Democracy on win streak

The last of the Donald Trump-inspired ‘Big Lie’ cases falls

Remember after the last presidential election, when even here in blue Washington, scores of Republicans sued contending that the election had been stolen?

The lawsuits, filed by a group called Washington Election Integrity Coalition United along with some GOP congressional candidates, contended that “6,000 votes were flipped, over 400,000 votes were added and/or thousands of votes were removed in one or more statewide races.”

No evidence was provided for any of this, so judges across the state started tossing the cases as frivolous. Several times they fined the people involved for wasting everybody’s time.

Cornell Clayton.

Back in early 2022, Cornell Clayton, a Washington State University political science professor who has studied democracy for 35 years, told me that things looked bleak. “All the lights are blinking red” on the American experiment, he said. I asked him this past week to give democracy a follow-up checkup.

“I guess I’d say it’s no longer blinking red quite as urgently,” he said. “Maybe it’s blinking yellow. It’s definitely still saying, ‘Proceed with extreme caution.’ ”

Congress also reformed the Electoral Count Act, making it tougher for any candidate to mess around with congressional certification of the vote.

“These things are extremely important in preventing any further erosion of democratic norms,” Clayton said.

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The Columbian


New CAS associate dean to focus on promoting equity, outreach

Henry Evans.

Bringing deep and wide-ranging experience in the promotion of equity and inclusion in higher education, Henry Evans joined the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) on July 1 as its first associate dean for equity and outreach.

Since 2016, Evans served as associate director of equity and inclusion at Idaho State University (ISU), Pocatello, where he provided leadership and direction to the campus community in areas of equal opportunity, affirmative action, equity, and inclusion. His responsibilities spanned Title VI compliance, civil rights investigations, diversity training, and supervision of the ISU Diversity Resource Center, which provides student-focused diversity education and programming.

Evans was chosen for the job following a national search. In addition to his role as associate dean, he will also join the faculty of the School of Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs as an associate professor, career track.

“I am beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to join a fantastic team of colleagues in the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office and the whole of the college to further the great work they have already begun in creating spaces where all are seen and valued and are free to be their authentic selves,” Evans said.

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WSU Insider

Tri-Cities to name street after Hanford cleanup advocate, community philanthropist

The Tri-Cities remembered one of its strongest champions of economic development and most generous donors to community causes, Bob Ferguson, on Thursday, July 6. Ferguson was the first chairman of the Tri-City Development Council, then called “the Tri-Cities Nuclear Industrial Council,” and was a champion for nuclear power, Hanford nuclear reservation site cleanup and economic development in the Tri-Cities.

A year before his death he donated $500,000 to Washington State University Tri-Cities to endow a faculty position in energy and environment as the first step toward launching WSU Tri-Cities Institute for Northwest Energy Futures. It is envisioned by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee to become a center recognized globally for its innovation in developing clean energy sources and technology.

Ferguson said when he made the donation that he’d like to see a graduate degree offered for students studying the complex economic, political, technical and social issues of global climate change.

Previously the Ferguson family donated $100,000 to start the William R. Wiley Scholarship for WSU Tri-Cities students. The scholarship honored Ferguson’s friend Wiley, a former Pacific Northwest National Laboratory director, and is helping minority students studying science, technology, engineering, math or nursing in the Tri-Cities.

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 Tri-City Herald

U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholds bipartisan election redistricting commissions like Washington’s

A Supreme Court decision last week ensures Washington state’s bipartisan process for shaping its congressional districts will remain intact.

In the majority of U.S. states, state legislatures are responsible for redistricting and other election laws, but they do not hold the power without checks and balances . Concerns over political parties gerrymandering congressional districts when they have majority control have led some states to instate independent commissions to oversee elections redistricting.

In a 6-3 landmark decision, the court upheld that state legislatures are not the sole entities vested to make elections rules or draw congressional election maps.

The ruling concerned the “independent state legislature” theory, an interpretation of the Supreme Court’s Elections Clause that suggests the law forbids any nonlegislature government entities, including independent commissions, governors or courts, to alter a legislature’s actions on federal elections.

Cornell Clayton.

The court said state legislatures must operate under the same rules as all other government agencies, said Cornell Clayton, director of the Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service at Washington State University. This means any election law made by a state legislature is subject to judicial review by both state and federal courts.

“If they ruled opposite, it would reverse 200 years of our understanding,” Clayton said. “It would be shocking for the court to strip itself of the authority to review legislative decisions made in states.”

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