Hawaii may be paradise for vacation spots, but the Aloha State comes in last place in a ranking of all 50 states based on the strength of their election laws.
Going into the midterm elections Nov. 8, the nominal battleground state of Nevada comes in second to last in laws promoting clean and honest elections, while California—the largest state in the nation—is third from the bottom, according to The Heritage Foundation Election Integrity Scorecard. (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s multimedia news organization.)
Heritage’s scorecard ranks the states and the District of Columbia based on factors such as voter ID implementation; accuracy of vote registration lists; absentee ballot management; restrictions on ballot trafficking, also known as ballot harvesting; access for election observers; vote-counting practices; and restrictions on private funding for election administration.
Rounding out the 10 worst states are Oregon at 48, Vermont, Washington and New Jersey in a tie, and Massachusetts, New York, and Nebraska at 42.
The District of Columbia came in at No. 25.
Nebraska scored 0 out of 20 in the category of voter ID, but scored well in other categories, Nebraska Secretary of State Robert Evnen, a Republican, said.
“If Nebraska had voter ID, we’d be in the top 15,” Evnen told The Daily Signal. “There is a voter ID initiative petition that would put it on the ballot in November. If it goes on the ballot, we believe that it would be overwhelmingly adopted.”
Nebraska has an overall score of 47 out of 100. It scored well, 19 out of 30 points, on accuracy of voter registration lists, and 14 out of 21 on absentee ballot management. But the state also scored 0 out of 4 points on ballot-trafficking restrictions and 0 out of 4 on citizenship verification.
Nebraskans will cast ballots for governor, among other offices, in November.
“I have several other legislative initiatives, for example, restricting drop boxes and making ballot harvesting a felony, some of which passed, and others didn’t,” Evnen said. “If my initiatives had all passed, Nebraska would be about number 10 in the rankings.”
The Daily Signal sought comment from the offices of chief state election officials or state election boards for each state in the bottom 10 of Heritage’s Election Integrity Scorecard. Only Evnen responded by publication time.
The top four states in the Election Integrity Scorecard—Tennessee, followed by Georgia, Alabama, and Missouri—all have overall scores of 80 or higher. The remaining states in the top 10—South Carolina, then Arkansas, Florida, Texas, and, in a tie, Louisiana and Wisconsin—scored 75 or higher.
Coming in dead last, Hawaii’s overall score was 26 out of 100 points. The state, which has a gubernatorial election this year, scored 0 in most categories. Its highest score was 13 out of 30 for the accuracy of voting lists.
Nevada, where voters in November will decide races for governor and U.S. Senate among other offices, has an overall score of 28 out of 100. Its highest score was 16 out of 30 points on accuracy of voter registration lists. The state scored 2 out of 20 on voter ID.
California, where statewide races on the ballot also include governor and U.S. Senate, has an overall score of 30 out of 100. The state scored 0 in most categories but got 19 points for accuracy of voter registration lists.
Oregon, also with races for governor and U.S. Senate, rolled up an overall score of 38 out of 100. Notably for a state with all-mail voting, it scored 7 out of 21 points for absentee ballot management and 0 for restrictions on ballot trafficking. Oregon scored relatively well for accuracy of voter registration lists, access for election observers, and restrictions on same-day voter registration.
Vermont scored 39 overall, with the highest score, 22, for accuracy of voter registration lists. Vermont voters also will cast ballots in races for governor and U.S. Senate.
Washington, another all-mail voting state, scores just 4 points out of 21 for absentee ballot management and zero for ballot-trafficking restrictions—areas that most affect mail-in voting. Washington, where voters will decide a U.S. Senate race, had an overall score of 42.
New Jersey, where voters will decide U.S. House and local races, had an overall score of 42. Its highest scores were 16 points for accuracy of voter registration lists and 10 out of 21 for absentee ballot management.
Massachusetts, with a race for governor among other offices, scored 45 overall. The state scored well, with the maximum 4 points, on ballot trafficking restrictions. Its highest score was 17 for accuracy of voter registration lists.
New York scored 46 overall on the Election Integrity Scorecard in a year with a gubernatorial and a U.S. Senate race on the ballot. The state’s best scores were 20 out of 30 points for accuracy of voter registration lists and 11 out of 21 for absentee ballot management.
“Some states have improved, but some of the worst states have gotten worse,” Hans von Spakovsky, senior legal fellow for The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal. “Too many states aren’t willing to have basic voter ID laws in place, and some are making matters worse with automatic voter registration and same-day voter registration.”
Residents of these states should speak up, said von Spakovsky, who manages Heritage’s Election Law Reform Initiative.
“I would tell folks in these states [to] show up at meetings of the county election boards, volunteer to be a poll worker,” he said. “Getting involved at the grassroots level can prompt improvement.”
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