The Voting News

Maine: State House leaders allow opposing bills to address ranked-choice voting | Portland Press Herald

State House leaders Thursday approved introducing competing bills that address ranked-choice voting – one would repeal the first-in-the-nation voting law and the other would put a ballot question to voters on whether to change the state’s constitution to make it legal statewide. Members of the Legislative Council, which includes majority and minority leaders in both chambers as well as the Senate president and the speaker of the House, approved the bills in 9-0 votes. They now will move to public hearings and work sessions before the full Legislature votes on them. Read More

Minnesota: Simon urges funding for voting equipment | Advocate Tribune

Last week Secretary of State Steve Simon undertook a tour of all 87 counties. He wanted to learn about the local government’s experiences during the 2016 election. His goal was to get the State to give some kind of grant or match to help with the cost of replacing aging voting machines. In 2002, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act, which was a one time federal fund to help purchase equipment. Minnesota purchased most of its equipment between 2004-2007. According to the vendors, the machines are good for 10 years, and can be pushed to 15 years max. In 2017, the max is getting dangerously close. It costs roughly $10,000 per polling location to upgrade. Simon’s case for State funding is that upgrading the machines is a mandatory cost that can’t be deferred. The previous generation of machines was purchased with help from federal funding for all 50 states. 43 states are in need of upgrades. Read More

Montana: Law doesn’t allow cast absentee ballots to be changed | Great Falls Tribune

In Montana, once a ballot is put into a ballot box or dropped in the mail, it’s too late for voter to change their minds. During the first couple of hours the poll was open Thursday morning at Montana ExpoPark in Cascade County, no one had requested to get their ballot back, Cascade County Clark and Recorder Rina Moore said. If people still have an absentee ballot that they received in the mail that they would like to change, they can bring it to a poll and a new ballot will be reissued, Moore said.  In Cascade County, 75 percent of registered voters, about 31,000 people, requested ballots for the May 25 special election of Montana’s only seat in the U.S. House of Representatives be mailed to them. Of those mailed ballots, 70 percent have already been returned. Read More

Nevada: Senate hears bill on voting rights for felons in Nevada | Las Vegas Sun

A bill at the Legislature would make it possible for some of the tens of thousands of disenfranchised Nevada residents to make it back into the voting booth. Assembly Bill 181 would generally restore the right to vote and serve on a civil court jury to people convicted of nonviolent felonies. The proposed law applies to those who are released from prison as well as those discharged from probation or parole. Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas, told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that his bill is intended to use taxpayer dollars effectively while encouraging offenders to reintegrate into society. Read More

New Jersey: Lawmakers to test Christie again on changing elections | NJ.com

The state Senate approved a bill Thursday that seeks to end special elections in New Jersey to fill congressional vacancies and instead let voters choose replacements in the general election. The bill (S1737) would also require the governor to choose someone of the same political party when filling any vacancies in the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives. The proposal is all but sure to face rejection from Gov. Chris Christie, who vetoed a similar measure in 2013. Read More

New York: Developer Pleaded Guilty in Voter-Fraud Conspiracy | Wall Street Journal

An upstate New York developer pleaded guilty Thursday for his role in a voter-fraud scheme designed to elect public officials who would support his real-estate project. Kenneth Nakdimen is scheduled to be sentenced in September in the U.S. District Court in White Plains, N.Y. for one count of conspiracy to corrupt the electoral process. Prosecutors said Mr. Nakdimen and his associates falsely registered voters to overcome local opposition to their 396-unit townhouse project in the tiny Catskills village of Bloomingburg. The developers anticipated making hundreds of millions of dollars from the development, according to prosecutors. Read More

Oregon: Congressional Democrats Push For National Vote-By-Mail | OPB

Oregon’s six Democrats in Congress want to spread the state’s vote-by-mail law across the country. Both of Oregon’s senators and four U.S. representatives announced the introduction of a bill Thursday that would require “every state to provide registered voters the opportunity to vote by mail,” according to a statement. The bill summary promises that Congress would cover the postal costs for implementation. The Democrats argue vote-by-mail would help increase voter participation — in contrast to efforts at the state and federal level that they characterize as suppressing the vote.   Read More

Texas: Fearing 2018 losses, Texas Republicans in Congress want special session on redistricting | The Texas Tribune

There are few things that strike more fear into the heart of a member of Congress than the word “redistricting.” That proved particularly true this week among Texas Republicans in Washington, thanks to a recent court ruling that came about just as talk was increasing in Austin that Gov. Greg Abbott may call a special sessionSome Texas Republicans in Congress hope that any upcoming special session will include redrawing the state’s 36 congressional districts as part of its agenda. The message coming out of Austin thus far: not going to happen.  Read More

Wisconsin: Supreme Court forced to confront the ‘unsavory’ politics of district lines | USA Today

A Supreme Court that prides itself on trying to remain above politics will be forced to rule soon on what one justice calls the “always unsavory” process of drawing election districts for partisan gain. A case headed its way from Wisconsin, along with others from Maryland and North Carolina, will present the court with a fundamental question about political power: How far can lawmakers go in choosing their voters, rather than the other way around? Should the court set a standard — something it has declined to do for decades — it could jeopardize about one-third of the maps drawn for Congress and state legislatures. That could lead to new district lines before or after the 2020 Census, which in turn could affect election results and legislative agendas. “If the court makes a broad, sweeping decision … this could have a massive impact on how maps are drawn,” says Jason Torchinsky, a lawyer for the Republican National Committee. “It will make more districts more competitive.” Read More

Wyoming: Attorney General will not consider Wyoming GOP complaint against liberal groups | Casper Star Tribune

The Wyoming Attorney General’s office has declined to consider the state Republican Party’s complaints against a progressive organization that sent voters mail praising Democratic legislative candidates and criticizing their GOP opponents, according to recent letters sent to people involved in the grievances. The Attorney General’s office will not investigate the complaints because they came from the Wyoming Republican Party, Senior Assistant Attorney General Michael Robinson wrote. State law specifies complaints must come from qualified electors. And a political party is not a qualified elector under state law, he wrote. Read More