Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) have revived legislation that would give the right to vote back to some nonviolent criminal offenders. The Civil Rights Voting Restoration Act would restore voting rights in federal elections to people convicted of nonviolent crimes who are no longer in prison. Under the law, offenders on probation will receive the right to vote after one year. The law also sets up procedures under which states and the federal prison system are required to notify offenders that they will be allowed to vote. States can lose federal grants for their prison systems if they do not comply with the law.
Yet another Republican-controlled state is looking to impose a voter ID law just in time for the 2016 elections. GOP state lawmakers in Nevada are readying ID bills for early next year, Secretary of State-Elect Barbara Cegavske told msnbc in an interview. Cegavske said she knew of two separate bills that might end up being merged together. “They’re writing them now,” said Cegavske, a Republican and a supporter of voter ID. “It just depends on how soon they get them in.” Last week, Republicans took full control of state government for the first time since 1929, meaning a voter ID bill would likely have a strong chance of passing. Governor Brian Sandoval has said in the past he supports voter ID. The GOP takeover also has raised fears of a broader rightward shift for the state, on everything from immigration to Stand Your Ground laws.
Senate Republicans unanimously rejected a constitutional amendment sought by Democrats that would allow Congress to regulate campaign finance reform. The measure failed to clear a 60-vote threshold on Thursday afternoon, 54-42. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) quickly moved to hammer Republicans and tie them to Charles and David Koch, billionaire brothers who back national conservative political operations. “Senate Democrats want a government that works for all Americans — not just the richest few. Today, Senate Republicans clearly showed that they would rather sideline hardworking families in order to protect the Koch brothers and other radical interests that are working to fix our elections and buy our democracy,” Reid said after the vote. The constitutional amendment would allow Congress and state lawmakers to override recent Supreme Court decisions that have struck down campaign finance laws previously passed by Capitol Hill — language that Republicans argued amounts to an attack on the Bill of Rights.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) filed cloture on a constitutional amendment meant to reverse two recent Supreme Court decisions on campaign spending. Republicans are likely to vote against the amendment on a procedural vote that is expected to occur Thursday. Earlier this week, Republicans supported advancing the measure because they said it deserved debate — that move also tied up the Senate from considering anything else for nearly three days. Democrats have had less time to hold other political votes during the two-week session before adjourning for the midterm elections. Reid has said he also wants to hold votes on Democrats’ political priorities, such as equal pay for women and refinancing student loan rates.
Critics of a proposal pushed by conservative activist Sharron Angle to require photo identification to vote in Nevada argued Wednesday that the measure fails to inform voters of possible costs and doesn’t specify the types of identification that would be necessary. Marc Elias, a Washington, D.C., attorney, told Carson City District Judge James Russell that the description of the proposed constitutional amendment on the initiative “is extremely misleading” and falls short of legal mandates. The measure supported by Angle’s political action committee, Our Vote Nevada, would require voters to have photo identification to cast a ballot. It also would require the Legislature to direct government agencies to issue free cards to anyone who does not have valid, government-issued photo identification. After losing Nevada’s 2010 U.S. Senate race to Harry Reid, Angle said she was working on a documentary film to expose nationwide voter fraud. State election officials have said there is no evidence to support the allegations.
Four years ago, Sharron Angle gave to Democrats the greatest gift they could have asked for in the campaign, assuring through her nomination that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would be re-elected. Now, Angle is about to prove that she is the gift that keeps on giving. Or so some opponents of voter ID would hope as Nevada, inevitably, becomes a focal point of the national, partisan battle over voter suppression laws. In the space of 24 hours, Angle announced her voter ID initiative and ex-Obama campaign grassroots guru Jeremy Bird declared that Nevada is one of four states his new group fighting such tactics will focus on. This is about 2014, but more about 2016. This is a partisan conflagration, as Republicans grow increasingly fearful of increasing minority participation while Democrats want to expand access, preferably to their voters. And this is an issue that no one in elective office or on the ballot should be able to avoid, especially if Angle qualifies her petition and Republican Secretary of State hopeful Barbara Cegavske, the state senator, continues to emphasize “the integrity of elections in Nevada.”
Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) lamented the recent spate of laws aimed at restricting voting since the Supreme Court’s decision in late June to ax a centerpiece of the Voting Rights Act. But, notably, the Democratic leader tempered expectations when it comes to enacting a legislative fix to the portion of the 1965 law that the high court invalidated. “The Senate will debate the Voting Rights Act. We will examine these dangerous voter suppression efforts, and propose steps the Senate can take to ensure the right of every American to cast a ballot,” Reid said in a statement Wednesday.