After working out some backroom squabbling, the state Senate on Monday gave final approval to a sweeping overhaul of the state’s election laws intended to expand access to the ballot and boost voter participation. The “Democracy Act,” passed 24-16, includes more early voting options, online voter registration and automatic registration at the Motor Vehicle Commission, and it would require pre-election materials to be printed in more languages. The bill (A4613) would also clear up the state’s contradictory U.S. Senate succession laws and curtail the governor’s power in appointing temporary senators by requiring them to be from the same party as the person who vacated the seat.
A federal trial in Winston-Salem next month on several provisions of North Carolina’s 2013 elections law won’t consider challenges to the state’s upcoming voter identification requirement in light of recent changes to the mandate, a judge has ruled. U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Schroeder decided that claims against the photo ID provision set to begin in 2016 will be kept out of the July 13 trial and considered later. Schroeder’s order came barely a week after the legislature finalized a bill creating a method by which people who can’t obtain a photo ID before next year can cast a lawful ballot. Other claims that still will be tried on time include accusations that minority citizens will be disproportionately harmed by such changes as reducing early voting days by one week, ending same-day registration during early voting and rejecting Election Day ballots cast in a voter’s incorrect precinct. Republicans in charge of the legislature, who championed the law, reject those claims.
A federal trial next month on several provisions of North Carolina’s 2013 elections law won’t consider challenges to the state’s upcoming voter identification requirement in light of recent changes to the mandate, a judge has ruled. U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Schroeder decided that claims against the photo ID provision set to begin in 2016 will be kept out of the July 13 trial in Winston-Salem and considered later. Schroeder’s order came barely a week after the legislature finalized a bill creating a method by which people who can’t obtain a photo ID before next year can cast a lawful ballot.
Legislation that would provide a sweeping overhaul of New Jersey’s outdated voting rights laws was approved by the Senate on Monday. The bill, designated S-50 in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, includes plans to allow early voting, online and automatic voter registration, increased accessibility and protections, and an end to wasteful special elections. The legislation is sponsored by Senator Nia Gill (D-Essex/Passaic), Senator Ronald Rice (D-Essex), Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen). Already approved by the Assembly, the measure now goes to the governor following the Senate vote of 24 to 16.
Assembly Democrats voted up a controversial bill to overhaul the state’s voting laws today, essentially running over objections from members of the legislature’s black caucus that they hadn’t been properly consulted on the legislation or that it elbowed aside the efforts of one of their own. With a nearly party-line vote of 46-31-2, lawmakers in the Assembly approved the bill at their afternoon session, dubbed the “Democracy Act” because of its aim to expand voter access and modernize the process amid a shifting population that experts say is expected to change dramatically in the next several years. Among the bill’s measures are provision to strength voter fraud laws in the state, expand vote-by-mail procedures, and expand early voting.
Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto and Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald’s sweeping overhaul of New Jersey’s outdated voting rights laws – including plans to allow early voting, online and automatic voter registration, increased accessibility and protections and an end to wasteful special elections – was approved 46-31-2 Thursday by the Assembly. “New Jersey’s election laws date back to the early 1900s, which has led to confusion, litigation, wasteful special elections and a process that quite simply has not kept up with modern technology,” said Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen). “Superstorm Sandy demonstrated how ill-prepared our election system is for emergencies and how ill-equipped we are for any modern voting. We must do better if we’re going to truly protect voting rights for New Jerseyans from every community across our state.”
Changes made to North Carolina’s voter ID law last week have roiled a state court case in which plaintiffs were asking a judge to delay or throw out entirely the requirement that voters show current photo identification when they go to the polls starting in 2016. Lawyers representing both a group of voters and civil rights organizations as well as lawyers defending the state and the General Assembly told Superior Court Judge Michael Morgan on Monday that they needed time to digest what a bill lawmakers sent to the governor last week will mean. The lawsuit is one of two court cases challenging North Carolina’s sweeping 2013 elections law. The other is in federal court and covers a broader array of issues than the state case, which is focused on the voter ID requirement.
With much fanfare, Democratic state lawmakers last week pledged to fast-track legislation that would drastically overhaul New Jersey’s voting laws.It would give New Jersey some of the most inclusive voting laws in the nation, they said at a press conference last week announcing the proposal. And it would echo calls from Hillary Clinton to remove barriers to voting. But Democratic infighting over legislative staff appointments and the procedure of how to pass the legislation has threatened to derail it. State Sen. Nia Gill (D-Essex) is insisting that her own legislation to expand early voting — which has been incorporated into the larger overhaul bill — be passed separately in the Assembly. It passed the state Senate late last year.
New Jersey residents could be automatically enrolled to vote when they apply for a driver’s license or register online under an election law overhaul being considered by an Assembly panel. The Appropriations Committee advanced the legislation on Monday. Democratic legislators unveiled the measure last week, saying it would revise an outdated system. The proposal comes weeks after Gov. Chris Christie criticized Hillary Rodham Clinton for suggesting Republicans want to restrict voter access.
New Jersey Democrats are pushing a set of measures to increase voter registration and expand access to the polls, citing new lows in turnout in recent elections. The proposed overhaul, announced Monday by Democratic leaders in the Senate and Assembly, would allow for early in-person voting for two weeks, through the Sunday before the Tuesday election – similar to a measure Gov. Christie previously vetoed. To increase the ranks of registered voters, lawmakers propose measures that include same-day and online registration, and automatic registration for people receiving driver’s licenses or state identification cards from the Motor Vehicle Commission unless they opt out. “I’m curious to see who’s going to oppose this,” Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D., Gloucester) said at a Statehouse news conference, where he was joined by Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D., Hudson) and others. “It’s about giving everybody a shot.”