Saying he is confident that more than 3 million ballots will be cast in the November general election and that political parties will be “very active” in encouraging early voting, Secretary of State William Galvin told a state budget writing committee that Gov. Charlie Baker’s budget proposal falls short of adequate election funding. “The governor’s appropriation proposal is better than, obviously, it was this time last year,” Galvin told the Joint Committee on Ways and Means on Tuesday morning. “Nevertheless, there are still things that need to be addressed that I can’t speak to at this time with total confidence, but I don’t think the funding is adequate at the present time.
Election-law reform has been a slow process in Mississippi, but with the help of a bi-partisan committee’s report, that could change soon. Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann formed a committee of legislators, circuit clerks, election commissioners and other citizens to review the state’s election code. The 2016 Election Law Reform Committee met from June through September 2015 and published a report of their recommendations on Jan. 19. The committee suggests several changes to Mississippi’s election code, including online voter registration, campaign-finance reporting and election official conduct. Hosemann views the changes as “phase two” of election-law reform that he says started with the voter-ID laws that went into effect in 2014. Hosemann told the Stennis Press Forum on Feb. 1 that the committee looked at several other state election laws to help inform their recommendations.
Secretary of State Linda McCulloch on Monday announced the establishment of five satellite election offices with the potential of more on Indian reservations in Montana for the 2016 elections. This follows a directive issued by McCulloch in October, ordering counties to provide satellite offices to ensure compliance with the Federal Voting Rights Act. Satellite offices offer services that are otherwise only available to voters at the county headquarters, namely late registration and in-person absentee voting, which are available in the 29 days preceding the election, officials said.
Delbert Hosemann is back at it, trying to convince the Mississippi Legislature that there is still much work to be done to bring Mississippi’s voting procedures into the 21st century while also taking steps to reduce the potential for fraud or dirty tricks. The secretary of state, now beginning his third term, did an admirable job implementing voter ID, an oversold and overemotional issue that distracted this state from addressing where its biggest problem with voter fraud lies — absentee ballots. Hosemann’s newest proposals don’t tackle absentee-ballot fraud head-on either, although his pitch for allowing voters to cast their ballots in person at the courthouse for up to 21 days before Election Day should reduce the number of absentee ballots cast overall. Still, if you are a candidate inclined to cheat, you’re going to use mail-in absentee ballots anyway, since the fraud becomes much harder to catch that way. Even with that said, though, allowing no-excuse early voting is a good idea that should, if nothing else, increase voter turnout. It certainly eliminates one of the main excuses of people who don’t get to the polls. … A glaring omission in what is otherwise a good package of proposals is Hosemann’s silence on a disturbing trend in this state to eliminate the paper trail on voting. More than three-fourths of the 77 counties in Mississippi with touch-screen voting machines have disconnected their external printers, by which voters could previously verify on paper that their vote has been accurately recorded.
Battles are being waged across the country over new voter ID laws and other election changes that have never before been tested in a presidential election. National and local civil rights groups also have launched grass-roots efforts to fight state laws that they say could suppress voting by minorities and the elderly. President Obama joined the cause in pledging during his Jan. 12 State of the Union Address to travel the country lobbying for steps to make voting easier. “You’re going to see some ramping up of activism,’’ said the Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP. “The president is right, but everybody should be joining in that (effort).’’ Barber’s group will lead a voting rights rally Feb. 13 in Raleigh. … Myrna Pérez, director of the Brennan Center’s Voting Rights and Election Project, said voters in some of those states, “are going to be voting in a presidential election with fewer federal protections than they’ve had in the last 50 years.”
National: Voting Rights Act: After Supreme Court Ruling, 2016 Election Could Endanger Black, Latino Rights | International Business Times
Decades after many Americans fought, bled and died for the right to vote, millions of voters could be once again be turned away from the polls this year because of a regime of voting laws that disproportionately burden minorities, the elderly, immigrants and the poor. With both presidential and congressional elections in November, advocates warn that the stakes are high. “Basically, all hell is breaking loose,” said Katherine Culliton-González, director of the voter protection program at the Washington, D.C.-based Advancement Project, who spent five years working on voter issues at the U.S. Department of Justice. “Unless you are in the elite — and that doesn’t even mean in the middle class — voter restrictions are going to impact you, one way or another.” This year’s presidential election will be the first one held after the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the historic Voting Rights Act in 2013, which required federal pre-clearance of voting law changes for states with a history of voter discrimination. Without those protections in place, pending legal battles over the fairness and constitutionality of recently enacted voting laws will get unprecedented scrutiny this year, advocates on both sides have said. If the courts uphold, for example, a voter ID requirement in North Carolina or allow Texas to redraw districts and reduce political power in heavily immigrant communities, they’d potentially be denying millions the right to vote and be equally represented by their state lawmakers. “Voting laws seem to be changing every day, and that in and of itself is disenfranchising to so many Americans,” González said.
Early voting in the DuPage County primary election will be delayed nearly two weeks due to pending petition objections in a judicial race in the county, in one at the state level, and to presidential candidates. Early voting was to begin Thursday at the offices of the DuPage County Election Commission, with early-voting satellite offices planned to open Feb. 29. Due to the challenges, voters will not be able to cast early ballots at the commission’s office in Wheaton until Feb. 17. By that date, the commission anticipates the ballot challenges will have been determined, said Robert Saar, executive director of the county election commission. The postponed early voting period also will mean a delay in ballots being mailed out, he said. However, at this point it does not appear there will be any delay in the start of early voting at the satellite sites, he said.
Registered voters in New York wouldn’t have to wait until Election Day to cast their ballot in person if Gov. Andrew Cuomo has his way. A measure in Cuomo’s $145 billion budget proposal would make New York the 38th state in the country to allow early voting, in which a limited number of polling places are opened ahead of elections, freeing up voters from having to cast their ballot on a specific day. Supporters of early voting say states should be doing anything they can to make voting more convenient, particularly in New York, where just 29 percent of voters cast their ballot in 2014, a gubernatorial election year.
Early voting for the March 15 primary election is likely to be delayed due to problems getting ballots ready at the state level. Voting set to start Feb. 4 might be pushed as state officials process pending objections against presidential candidates, according to a joint release from the McLean County Clerk’s office and Bloomington Election Commission. “It is possible ballots may be available on or before Feb. 17. If so, we will notify the public immediately by alerting all media sources, as well as posting on our websites,” according to the release.
North Carolina: Same-day registration, out-of-precinct voting back – for now | Winston-Salem Journal
North Carolina voters again have two options for casting ballots in the March primary that were repealed for 2014 elections — at least for now. The General Assembly had stopped allowing people to register to vote and cast ballots on the same day during the early-voting period. And they also decided that the votes of people who went to the wrong precinct on election day would no longer be counted. But those changes were put on hold until a trial court judge rules on challenges that have been filed against them. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling confirmed that delay last April, but it’s gotten more attention recently as the primary nears. Same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting were used by more than 100,000 people the last time they were permitted in statewide elections, in November 2012.