Thursday, December 15, 2016

Electionline Weekly Dec-15-2016

Legislative Updates

Federal Legislation: Virginia Sen. Mark Warner (D) has introduced the FAST Voting Act. The Fair, Accurate, Secure and Timely Voting Act of 2016 would create a competitive grant program, similar to the Race to the Top, encouraging States to aggressively pursue Election reform. “The FAST Voting Act addresses these challenges by encouraging and helping states to make voting faster and more accessible through commonsense reforms like reducing long waiting times, expanding early voting opportunities, and eliminating other obstacles that prevent people from exercising their franchise,” Warner said in a statement.

Arkansas: Rep. Mark Lowery (R-Maumelle) filed a bill this week that would require voters to show a document or ID card to verify their registration, requirements similar to those that were struck down by the State’s Supreme Court in 2014. "I think it's important to protect the integrity of the ballot," he told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. "There are a lot of instances in our day-to-day life where photo ID is required, and it just seems to me to not be so big a stretch to say that something as important as a vote be verified by photo ID." Lowery told the paper he believes the bill would hold up to a legal argument if it is passed by a two-thirds super-majority.

Michigan: Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof said this week that the Senate will not vote on stricter Voter ID regulations during the remaining days of the lame duck session.

Nebraska: A group of activists have drafted a bill that would change the process for how ex-felons voting rights are restored. The activists are currently seeking a Senator to introduce the Legislation. Currently Nebraska ex-felons must wait two years to have their voting rights restored after the completion of their sentences. Under the proposal, the two-year wait time would be eliminated.

At a meeting conducted by a Special Legislative Committee on Election technology, Sen. John Murante said that the State is eyeing a move to All-Mail Elections while Sen. Adam Morfled said he would support a hybrid Vote-by-Mail/Vote center plan like in Colorado.

North Carolina: Rep. Larry Hall (D-Durham) met a 5 p.m. Tuesday deadline to file Elections-related Legislation for the upcoming Special Session. House Bill 5 would restore the hours and days to the Early Voting period that were removed in 2013 and House Bill 6 would create a Nonpartisan Redistricting Committee.

Utah: Rep. Craig Hall (R-West Valley City) has said that he will sponsor Legislation that will get rid of the State’s new Universal Vote-by-Mail system. “Some people love vote-by-mail, and that’s great, but some people have absolutely no interest in voting by, and we ought to cater to the voter’s preference,” Hall told the Salt Lake Tribune.

Legal Updates

Iowa: A Des Moines woman accused of voting twice for Donald Trump has entered a plea of not guilty. She told Iowa Public Radio she voted twice because she was concerned her first vote for Trump would be changed to one for Hillary Clinton, and that “the polls are rigged.”

Texas: Attorney General Ken Paxton has formally asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the State’s Voter ID law, which was ruled Unconstitutional earlier this year by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The U.S. Dept. of Justice has said that the law was passed to disenfranchise African-American and Hispanic voters, but it’s unclear what the DOJ may do/say under a new Administration.

State District Judge Don Witting ruled that Hidalgo County must redo a June Council Election after he found “clear and convincing evidence” that one candidate received votes in violation of the Texas Election Code.

Utah: Saratoga Springs Prosecutors filed a motion to dismiss a criminal case against a voter who wore a Make America Great Again hat to a polling place during Early voting. Tai Ho’o was cited for disorderly conduct after he refused to remove the hat and an argument ensued. The Utah County Clerk and the Lt. Governor’s Office investigated the accusations and determined that because “Make America Great Again” did not specifically name Donald Trump, it didn’t fall under their definition of electioneering.

Virginia: The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has turned back a challenge to Virginia’s Voter ID law. In 2015, the State’s Democratic Party and two voters filed suit alleging that the Republican-controlled General Assembly had enacted the law to disenfranchise voters. In May, after a two-week trial in March, U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson upheld the Photo ID requirement, and the plaintiffs appealed. This week, a Three-Judge panel of the Richmond-based Appeals Court upheld Hudson’s decision. “In sum, not only does the substance of (the law) not impose an undue burden on minority voting, there was no evidence to suggest racially discriminatory intent in the law’s enactment,” Judge Paul V. Niemeyer of the Appeals Court wrote.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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