Maricopa County officials say that about 20,000 registered voters would be removed from the permanent early voting list under proposed legislation aimed at reducing the number of provisional ballots. No particular demographic group would be hit harder than another, according to an analysis by the Maricopa County Elections Department. Sen. Michele Reagan, R-Scottsdale, developed SB 1261 with input from county election officials. As approved by the Senate, it would remove people from permanent early voting lists if they fail to vote in four consecutive federal elections and fail to respond to notice from the county elections office. “No other other state that I found who has a permanent early voting list has no ability to clean up their list,” Reagan said.
Gov. Rick Scott has finished the fix of the flawed election law that relegated Florida to a late-night joke in 2012 by signing an elections clean-up bill passed on the final day of the legislative session. The measure, signed by Scott late Monday before he left for a trade mission to Chile, reverses several provisions implemented in 2011 by GOP lawmakers in anticipation of the 2012 presidential election. Those changes, criticized by Democrats as an attempt to suppress votes for President Barack Obama, limited the early voting that the president’s campaign capitalized on in 2008. The 2011 law also prevented early voting on the Sunday before Election Day and prohibited voters, particularly students, from changing their voting address at the polls. Scott, who had previously signed the 2011 bill into law and refused to use his executive powers to extend early voting in 2012 despite numerous requests, acknowledged the system needed a fix.
Gov. Rick Scott has finished the fix of the flawed election law that relegated Florida to a late-night joke in 2012 by signing an elections clean-up bill passed on the final day of the legislative session. The measure, signed by Scott late Monday before he left for a trade mission to Chile, reverses several provisions implemented in 2011 by GOP lawmakers in anticipation of the 2012 presidential election. Those changes, criticized by Democrats as an attempt to suppress votes for President Barack Obama, limited the early voting that the president’s campaign capitalized on in 2008. The 2011 law also prevented early voting on the Sunday before Election Day and prohibited voters, particularly students, from changing their voting address at the polls.
The Maine Senate on Tuesday gave its approval to a measure that would trigger a statewide referendum on whether to allow towns and cities to offer their residents the chance to cast ballots officially in advance of Election Day. The Senate voted 24-11 in favor of sending a ballot question to voters asking whether they favor amending the constitution to allow towns and cities to offer early voting. The vote came a day after the House voted 90-50 in support of the bill, LD 156. The measure will ultimately require two-thirds support in both chambers if the question is to reach Maine voters.
El Paso County will feel the pinch before the year is out from an elections bill that will kick in July 1. As a result of House Bill 1303, the upcoming November consolidated election in El Paso County will cost more, it will be tougher to find election judges and the likelihood of fraud will be higher, said Wayne Williams, El Paso County clerk and recorder. In the General Election in 2014, the impact will be more severe, Williams told the El Paso County commissioners on Tuesday. While the election in 2013 will cost an additional $134,212, in 2014 the county is looking at a whopping increase of almost $700,000. Most of the costs for this year’s election will be borne by school districts with upcoming board elections because counties bear the initial cost, then bill the jurisdictions. In the General Election, however, the county’s costs will soar.
An effort to allow residents who vote early to place their ballots directly into a ballot box or voting machine rather than seal them in signed envelopes and submit them to a municipal clerk survived an initial vote Monday in the Maine House. The House voted 90-50 in favor of a measure that would ask voters whether they want to amend the state constitution to allow towns and cities to set up early voting. Maine residents who wish to vote early now do so by completing absentee ballots, which are sealed in envelopes that the voter signs and held at a municipal clerk’s office until Election Day, when poll workers place them in ballot boxes or voting machines. While Monday’s majority vote allows the bill to stay alive, the measure will need at least two-thirds support in future House and Senate votes in order to send a ballot question to voters.
The 2013 session has come and gone, and Missouri still has no law allowing advance voting. According to one 2012 tally, 32 of the 50 states have a system that allows voters to cast ballots prior to Election Day. Kansas is one of those 32 states. But not Missouri, although both Democratic and Republican secretaries of state, who serve as the state’s chief elections officer, have pushed for it in the last decade.
Editorials: Colorado Passed Broad Election Reform, Other States Should Follow | Myrna Pérez/Huffington Post
State legislatures across the country are hard at work expanding the right to vote. Already, more than 200 bills to improve voting access have been introduced in 45 states in 2013. Friday in Denver, Gov. John Hickenlooper made Colorado the latest to expand rights, joining Maryland, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Virginia, and West Virginia. More legislation is awaiting signature in Florida. To be sure, some states continue to push needless restrictions on the ability of citizens to participate in elections, and voters and their advocates must remain vigilant against any such efforts. Still, the trend is unmistakable: After years of backsliding, states are embracing free, fair, and accessible elections. In many cases, the bills have enjoyed broad bipartisan support, another encouraging trend. Legislators are expanding access to the ballot in a variety of ways, from reducing the burden of voter identification requirements, to modernizing voter registration, to expanding early voting.
Since the beginning of 2013, at least 30 states have proposed laws that would curtail voting rights or make voting more difficult. Just one troubling example: In North Carolina, the General Assembly is attempting to cut early voting hours, same-day voter registration, and introduce laws that would shrink the electorate. This is a state that the famous journalist John Gunther once referred to as “the most progressive southern state.” This is a trend that Connecticut cannot afford to follow. Connecticut has always been a leader when it comes to improving and expanding access to democracy. The state’s recently enacted online voter registration and same-day voter registration rules make it easier for more citizens to cast their votes. In addition, the government-backed Citizens Election Program reduces the impact of money on politics and helps ensure elections reflect the will of the voters. All these moves should be applauded.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia made a point of emphasizing during the Bush v. Gore arguments in December 2000 that there is no federal constitutional guarantee of a right to vote for president. He was right about that. Indeed, as the reform group FairVote reminds us: “Because there is no right to vote in the U.S. Constitution, individual states set their own electoral policies and procedures. This leads to confusing and sometimes contradictory policies regarding ballot design, polling hours, voting equipment, voter registration requirements, and ex-felon voting rights. As a result, our electoral system is divided into 50 states, more than 3,000 counties and approximately 13,000 voting districts, all separate and unequal.” Mark Pocan wants to do something about that. With Minnesota Congressmen Keith Ellison — who like Pocan is a former state legislator with a long history of engagement with voting rights issues — the Wisconsin Democrat on Monday unveiled an amendment to explicitly guarantee the right to vote in the Constitution.