Thursday, July 21, 2016

Electionline Weekly July-21-2016

Legislative Updates

Federal Legislation: Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley have introduced a bill that would expand Oregon’s vote-by-mail system nationwide. According to The Oregonian, Rep. Early Blumenauer is handling the Legislation in the House. The bill, the Vote By Mail Act of 2016, would require every State to provide registered voters the chance to Vote by Mail and send ballots and pre-paid envelopes out at least two weeks before an election. It would also amend the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 to provide for Automatic Voter Registration through a State's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Massachusetts: Gov. Charlie Baker vetoed $1.2 million in State spending that would have gone to help Local Elections officials conduct the state’s very first Early Voting in advance of the November 8 Presidential election. “I am very disturbed. This is very irresponsible,” Secretary of State William F. Galvin, who oversees State Elections and is a strong supporter of the Early Voting system told The Boston Globe.

The Salem City Council is not moving forward with an effort to provide ballots in Spanish. The Council’s Committee on Ordinances, Licenses and Legal Affairs voted 3-2 to keep the issue in Committee for the foreseeable future.

Rhode Island: If you can’t beat them, join them! Under a proposed regulation change, voters would be permitted to take ballot selfies in Rhode Island polling places. “It’s the way of the world for this generation,” Board Member, Stephen P. Erickson said. “They grow up with excessive sharing. They’re gonna do it.” Voters would still be prohibited from photographing others inside the polling place.

Legal Updates

National: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has set Sept. 8 as the hearing date in the case against U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) Executive Director Brian Newby and his decision to allow Alabama, Georgia and Kansas to request proof-of-citizenship on the Federal Voter Registration forms.

Hawaii: The Hawaii Supreme Court has ruled that State Elections Officials erred four years ago when they used a new procedure to determine the number of ballots to distribute to polling places. According to News of Hawaii, the lawsuit will now be sent back to Maui Circuit Court for further proceedings.

Kansas: Once again Kansas has been sued over its Proof-of-Citizenship law, this time by the American Civil Liberties Union and this time over the Dual Voting System the State has implemented which will allow suspended voters to cast their ballot for President but not for other State/Local elections. The ACLU contends that blocking these voters from State and Local elections runs afoul of a previous ruling by a Shawnee County judge that Secretary of State Kris Kobach lacks the authority to create a dual voting system.

Texas: The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered that Texas change elements of its Voter ID Law. The Court said the law violates the Voting Rights Act and discriminates against minorities. According to the Dallas Morning News, the 9-6 decision does not nullify the entirety of the law, so voters will need to show ID in November, but a lower court will need to create some type of interim relief, such as affidavits.

Utah: Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox has filed suit in the 6th District Court asking the court to vacate the Wayne County Commission GOP Primary alleging that the winning candidate was illegally helped by his wife, who is the Deputy County Clerk. According to The Salt Lake Tribune, the lawsuit says the candidate’s wife, Deputy County Clerk Coral Brinkerhoff, used "her official position to improperly change voter affiliations" to allow some people to vote as Republicans, and used her position improperly "to determine who had, or had not, voted by mail" and called some to urge them to vote for her husband.

Wisconsin: U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman has ruled that voters in Wisconsin who do not have a photo ID may still vote as long as they sign an affidavit swearing to their identity. "Although most voters in Wisconsin either possess qualifying ID or can easily obtain one, a safety net is needed for those voters who cannot obtain qualifying ID with reasonable effort," Adelman wrote in his 44-page decision. The judge issued his preliminary order because he found that those arguing for a pathway for some voter without IDs were "very likely" to succeed.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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