Political figures strongly opposed on other issues found common ground Tuesday at the Georgetown University Law Center as Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Attorney General Eric Holder both voiced support for restoring voting rights to some ex-convicts. Paul is working on a bill, referred to as the Civil Rights Voting Restoration Act, that would apply to federal elections, he said during a speech at the law center. “We think that if you had a nonviolent felony — we’re for getting you voting rights,” said the senator, who hails from one of handful of a states where felons can permanently lose access to the voting booth. Paul’s remarks come as Democratic Attorney Gen. Eric Holder urged states to scrap laws restricting voting rights for ex-cons who have served their sentences, completed probation, and paid all their fines.
The right to vote is the foundation of any democracy, yet nearly six million Americans are denied that right, in many cases for life, because they have been convicted of a crime. Some states disenfranchise more than 7 percent of their adult citizens. In an unflinching speech before a civil rights conference Tuesday morning, Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. described this shameful aspect of our justice system for what it is: a “profoundly outdated” practice that is unjust and counterproductive. State laws that disenfranchise people who have served their time “defy the principles — of accountability and rehabilitation — that guide our criminal justice policies,” Mr. Holder said in urging state lawmakers to repeal them. “By perpetuating the stigma and isolation imposed on formerly incarcerated individuals, these laws increase the likelihood they will commit future crimes.”
Some conservative commentators – including co-blogger Eugene Kontorovich and John McGinnis, and former Justice Department voting rights specialist J. Christian Adams, have recently criticized early voting, on the grounds that it exacerbates the problem of political ignorance. I agree that widespread political ignorance is a serious problem. But I doubt that early voting makes it any worse than it would be otherwise. As leading voting rights scholar Rick Hasen points out, social science research shows that early voters are, on average, better-informed than those who vote on election day. They also tend to have stronger partisan loyalties, and are therefore unlikely to change their minds based on last-minute election ads or news developments.
Controversy is swirling around a number of websites that have been set up by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) in recent months. The websites have URLs and headlines that imply support for named Democratic candidates for Congress. The websites also have prominent “donate” buttons. But in less prominent text, the websites indicate opposition to the named candidates and any contributions made via the websites actually go to the NRCC. The Los Angeles Times has counted 18 such websites so far, with URLs such as AnnKirkpatrick.com, SinemaForCongress.com and RonBarber2014.com. Ann Kirkpatrick, Kyrsten Sinema and Ron Barber are all Democratic Members of Congress running for reelection this year. The headlines at the top of these pages read “KIRKPATRICK FOR CONGRESS,” “Kyrsten Sinema for CONGRESS” and “Ron Barber CONGRESS,” respectively. Time has described these websites as “clearly designed to trick the viewer—at least at first—into thinking they’re on a legitimate campaign website.” But these websites aren’t merely part of the underhanded games that typically accompany political campaigns. They also violate federal law.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder made headlines Tuesday by calling on states to repeal laws that keep felons from voting after they’ve finished their sentences. One Arizona Democrat already introduced a related proposal several weeks ago, but it hasn’t seen any action at the Legislature. Although Arizona doesn’t prevent felons from registering to vote after they’ve finished their prison sentences or terms of probation, the right to vote isn’t automatically restored in some cases. When people been convicted of two or more felonies and served their sentence, they have to apply to a judge and have a judge approve the restoration of their right to vote.
A resolution that would allow consideration of legislation to let the governor forgo calling a special election for lieutenant governor was approved by the Senate and a House committee on Tuesday, the second day of the Legislature’s fiscal session. Senate Resolution 6 by Senate Majority Leader Eddie Joe Williams, R-Cabot, was approved 32-0. The House version, House Bill 1009 by House Majority Leader Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, received a “do pass” recommendation from the House Rules Committee in a voice vote in which no “no” votes were heard. The resolution advances to the full House, where a two-thirds majority vote will be required to consider the non-budget proposal in a fiscal session.
Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler has worked hard to add a new dimension to his job, while streamlining and updating the whole voting process. “Louisiana ranks third in the country of eligible voters registered to vote,” Schedler told a gathering of businesspersons and elected officials Friday. “In our state, 84 percent of eligible voters are registered to vote.” While a good percentage of persons are registered to vote, the problem, Schedler said, is “nobody shows up to vote.” One reason? “We have way too many elections in Louisiana,” he said. From January 2005 to December 31, 2010, Louisiana held 70 elections, according to the Legislative auditor. It was the highest number of any state.
Nevada: Segerblom: Nevada will OK bill to restore felons’ voting rights in 2015 | Las Vegas Review-Journal
State Sen. Tick Segerblom said Tuesday he was confident that the Legislature next year will pass a bill to restore voting rights to prisoners convicted of violent felonies once they finish their sentences or are discharged from parole. “It is very important in the rehabilitation process,” said the Las Vegas Democrat, who won approval of bill in 2011 to restore voting rights to felonies. His bill, passed on a party-line vote, only to be vetoed by Gov. Brian Sandoval. The governor in his veto message said the right to vote “is a privilege that should not be lightly restored to the few individuals who commit the most egregious crimes in our society.” Segerblom made his comments in response to an announcement by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder urging Nevada and 10 other states to repeal laws banning the restoration of voting rights in part because they disproportionately hurt minorities.
Supporters say reform of Ohio’s election laws is overdue. But opponents say a series of voting bills being voted on at the statehouse are designed solely to help Republican incumbents. “It really bothers me that we are making it more difficult to vote and more difficult to have your vote counted,” said Peg Rosenthal from the League of Women Voters. “A lot of people work six days a week, or hold down several jobs. They’re objecting to Sunday voting when that’s the only day some people have available.” The Ohio House is expected to vote next week on a bill that will end “Golden Week” – the period when a person can register and vote on the same day. It will also cut early voting from 35 to 29 days. “If they wanted to restrict the number of days, why aren’t they at the same time talking about expanding the number of hours just before election day,” said Rosenthal. “You could even go back and revisit the question of how many early voting locations you have for in-person voting.”
A Hamilton County poll worker voted twice in the 2013 mayoral election, prompting the county elections board Tuesday to refer her to the prosecutor’s office. Casting two votes is a felony under Ohio law. Ellen Duncan, 54, who had been a poll worker for about 15 years, voted absentee and then in person while working at the Urban League on Reading Road, according to Board of Elections paperwork. Both of her votes were counted. Duncan, a Republican, is the second Hamilton County poll worker in the last two years who was caught casting more than one vote.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Tuesday reinstated a lawsuit that challenges the state’s voter ID law, ruling that the Tulsa County resident who filed it has legal standing to challenge the law’s constitutionality. The state’s highest court handed down the ruling in a lawsuit filed by Delilah Christine Gentges, who sued the Oklahoma State Election Board after voters approved the law in a statewide election in 2010. The Supreme Court ruled that the law requiring voters to prove their identity before voting was validly enacted. But it reversed a ruling by Oklahoma County District Judge Lisa Davis that Gentges lacked legal standing to challenge the law’s constitutionality on the ground that it violates the free exercise of provisions of the Oklahoma Constitution that guarantee the right to vote.
The Harper government is signalling a willingness to hold extensive hearings and entertain amendments to its controversial proposals for overhauling Canada’s election laws. However, it is so far drawing the line at conducting cross-country hearings, although it has agreed to at least reconsider the idea. Tom Lukiwski, parliamentary secretary to the government House leader, took the conciliatory approach Tuesday as the procedure and House affairs committee met to determine the process for studying Bill C-23. “This is a big bill … Our suggestion will be to give it probably as much time as needed,” Lukiwski said on his way into the meeting, which was held primarily behind closed doors. He also said Conservative MPs are “going to be open” to some “reasonable” amendments to the bill.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is looking to introduce internet voting in the 2016 national and local polls. Commissioner Lucenito Tagle, chairman of the poll body’s Committee on Overseas Absentee Voting (COAV), said they are looking to utilize the internet technology in the next polls based on Republic Act (RA) 10590 or the amended Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2013. “This is the best way we can increase voter participation sa overseas absentee voting… that is why we want to pilot test this internet voting after we were authorized by this new law,” he said. If approved, those who will be able to use the new mode in voting are seafarers and those working in areas distant from Philippine embassies and consulates. “As of now, there is about a 50-50 percent chance of us being able to conduct the internet voting pilot testing,” he said.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s government won a key victory Wednesday in the uphill struggle to form a new administration when the Constitutional Court rejected a bid by the opposition to annul the Feb. 2 election. The ruling clears the way to hold new polls in districts that were unable to vote because of disruption by opposition boycotts and protests. The independent Election Commission has set makeup voting to be held on April 20 and April 27 in those districts. However, the commission has yet to seek a way to hold voting for 28 electoral districts that haven’t even been able to even register candidates because of opposition protests—the scenario that has left the country short of the 95% threshold of the total 500 seats required to seat a new Parliament. The opposition Democrat Party’s application to the court had maintained, among other things, that the election poll wasn’t constitutional because voting wasn’t conducted nationwide on the same day. The chief of the Democrat Party’s legal team, Wiratana Kalayasri, said that he “respects the court’s opinion” but said that he would petition the court again “should the government make any more mistakes.”