Who’s rigging our elections? Ask Republicans and they’ll insist that Democrats promote voter fraud through early balloting, same-day registration and lax oversight that encourages illegal immigrants to vote. Nonsense, Democrats will say. It’s the GOP that’s trying to disenfranchise young, poor and minority voters by requiring picture IDs at polling places and bringing court cases intended to eliminate federal oversight of voting practices in many Southern states. As Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School, reminds us in “The Fight to Vote,” such disputes are not new: Voter eligibility and qualifications have been at the heart of the struggle for American democracy from its outset. After the Revolutionary War, Pennsylvanians debated for 14 years over who should be able to vote, with opponents of universal suffrage like Benjamin Rush deriding it as “a mobocracy.” The book is an engaging, concise history of American voting practices, and despite a heavily partisan treatment of today’s “voting wars,” it offers many useful reforms that advocates on both sides of the aisle should consider.Full Article: The Right to ‘Mobocracy’ - WSJ.
right to vote
Has there ever been an election like this one? The 2016 race is ferocious, rude, ugly, with parties and coalitions fracturing before our eyes. It’s also the first contest in years where public anger is trained on how government works and not just what it does. The state of democracy is on the ballot. Bernie Sanders denounces the “billionaire class” and demands campaign finance reform. Donald Trump snarls, “Washington is broken” and brags that as a self-funder, he cannot be bought. Hillary Clinton, more muted, rolls out detailed plans for campaign finance changes and automatic voter registration. To add to the intensity, the looming Supreme Court nomination fight will tap public anger over Citizens United, the Court’s most reviled recent decision. All just two years after an election in which voter turnout plunged to its lowest level in seven decades.Full Article: The Right to Vote? Don’t Count on It - The Daily Beast.
“What’s the point?” How many times have you asked yourself a question like this? Perhaps at school, when no matter how hard you study, you can’t seem to pass that exam. Maybe at the office, when you spend hours working on a presentation only to have your boss pass you over again. Not seeing any results from our efforts can be frustrating, irritating and can test the patience of the most resolute among us. Not seeing any results can drive us to seek out new paths. A lack of results demands change. So again, I ask: “What’s the point?” This time, however, my question is directed to Congress. What’s the point of a non-voting member on the floor?Full Article: Guam needs vote, true representation in Congress.
A sudden gust of icy wind howls across the bay and into the darkened streets of Boston. The year is 1773, just a week before Christmas Eve. Snow begins to fall from the sky as a small group of colonial men emerge from the shadows. Moving quickly, they board a British vessel carrying a shipment of tea. The story is a familiar one; no American history book would be complete without the account of the Boston Tea Party. This single event is seen by many as the beginning of America’s fight for independence. This act of rebellion sent our battle cry across the Atlantic and into the ears of the king: “No taxation without representation!” Hundreds of years later, every American reaps the benefits of our founder’s actions. Because of the bravery of these men, every single American citizen is allowed life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Every American is given a say in who represents them. But that’s not completely true, is it?Full Article: Guam deserves voting right.
National: Enshrining the right to vote and 2015’s other constitutional amendment ideas | The Guardian
More than 11,000 amendments have been proposed in Congress to the constitution, and only 27 have become law. But that hasn’t stopped members of Congress from trying to add to that total and make their mark on the founding document of the United States. This year, congressmen and senators have proposed nearly 70 different amendments to the constitution. Amending the constitution is an intentionally difficult process. In order to be enacted, an amendment needs to be approved by two-thirds majorities in both the House and the Senate, and then has to be approved by the legislatures in at least three-fourths of states (or 38 out of 50). The last amendment was passed more than two decades ago. … Unbeknown to many Americans, there is no explicit right to vote in the US constitution. While US citizens have the right to bear arms, the right not to have troops quartered in their homes and to trial by jury in a federal civil law “where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars”, there is no affirmative right to cast a ballot.Full Article: Enshrining the right to vote and 2015's other constitutional amendment ideas | Law | The Guardian.
The top federal prosecutor in North Alabama says she is reviewing a lawsuit filed Wednesday by groups challenging Alabama’s law requiring people to present photo identification before they can vote. “We received a copy of the lawsuit … We are certainly reading the lawsuit with great interest,” said U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance. But Vance said it was “too speculative” at this point on whether the U.S. Department of Justice would get involved in the issue. But, she added, “we are acutely concerned with protecting the right to vote.”Full Article: U.S. Attorney reviewing voting rights lawsuit filed against Alabama | AL.com.
The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday, December 1, temporarily ordered the Commission on Elections (Comelec) not to deactivate the registration of 2.5 million voters who failed to have their biometrics taken for the 2016 elections. SC spokesman Theodore Te said the SC’s temporary restraining order (TRO) covers the Comelec’s “No Bio, No Boto” (No Biometrics, No Vote) policy. Te said the TRO is “effective immediately and until further orders.” In a text message to Rappler on Tuesday, Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez said around 2.5 million voters completely failed to have their biometrics taken.Full Article: SC stops Comelec from dropping 2.5M voters without biometrics.
Weeks before he leaves office, the governor of Kentucky on Tuesday issued an executive order that immediately granted the right to vote to about 140,000 nonviolent felons who have completed their sentences. The order by Gov. Steven L. Beshear, a Democrat, was cheered by advocates for criminal justice reform and civil rights, who said it would place Kentucky’s policy more in line with others across the nation and was consistent with a trend toward easing voting restrictions on former inmates. Kentucky had been one of just three states imposing a lifetime voting ban on felons unless they received a special exemption from the governor. Florida and Iowa still carry the lifetime ban.Full Article: Kentucky Governor Restores Voting Rights to Thousands of Felons - The New York Times.
An amendment that would have given long term British expats the ability to vote in the UK’s referendum on the country’s future in the European Union has been defeated. Currently expats who have lived abroad for more than 15 years cannot vote in British elections, but there has been a major campaign for them to vote in the referendum based on the argument that it affects expats as well as those living in the country. A number of members of the House of Lords, the upper house in the British parliament, presented an amendment to allow them to vote but it has been defeated by 214 to 116 votes and there is currently no other move to change the voting system. The upcoming Votes for Life bill will overturn the law that bans those who have lived abroad for longer than 15 years from voting, but it will not be passed before the referendum, which must take part by 2017.Full Article: British expats denied right to vote in EU referendum.
Kansas: Lawyers in voter registration lawsuit against Kobach ask for class-action status | The Wichita Eagle
A court challenge by two Douglas County residents against Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach could become a class-action suit that represents many of the 36,000 people slated to have their incomplete voter registrations canceled. Lawyers for Cody Keener and Alder Cromwell filed an amendment Tuesday to make the change. Kobach has asked the federal court to dismiss the case because Keener and Cromwell are now registered to vote. His office registered them by obtaining proof-of-citizenship documents on their behalf, which is allowed by the registration statute. Will Lawrence, attorney for Cromwell and Keener, said their case remains valid despite Kobach’s subsequent action to register them. “But we also realize this case involves tens of thousands of Kansans who have ended up on the suspended voter list and are ultimately to be denied the right to vote,” Lawrence said. Craig McCullah, Kobach’s spokesman, said Thursday the office was reviewing the class-action request and had no comment yet.Full Article: Lawyers in voter registration lawsuit against Kobach ask for class-action status | The Wichita Eagle.
In January of this year, Puerto Rico’s Governor, Alejandro Garcia Padilla, made an announcement that would be political suicide for any politician in the mainland United States. Garcia Padilla, standing beside President Danilo Medina of the Dominican Republic, announced a proposal to broaden the voting franchise to include every resident of Puerto Rico, regardless of legal status. It is an established fact that illegal immigrants cannot vote in U.S. elections. This is also the current law in Puerto Rico. However, Garcia Padilla expressed his opinion that since every person who chooses Puerto Rico as his or her home is affected by the decisions that the government makes, all residents should have the right to participate in deciding who governs. So far, neither the Governor nor the members of his political party, the Popular Democratic Party (PPD), has drafted a bill on this issue. However, the Governor’s proposal sparked discussions about the constitutionality of giving illegal immigrants the right to vote, particularly given Puerto Rico’s relationship with U.S.Full Article: Puerto Rico Might Expand the Franchise to Include Illegal Immigrants |.
On December 6, citizens of Armenia will vote in a referendum to change the country’s constitution. It needs 638,583 “yes” votes to pass. Hetq has taken a look at past national elections and has revealed that while the number of residents in Armenia has been decreasing, the number of eligible voters has increased. Armenia’s first constitution after regaining independence was adopted on July 5, 1995. At the time, according to official figures, the country’s population was 3,753,500 and the number of eligible voters was 2,189,804. According to September 2015 official figures, 3,007,300 people live in Armenia and as of November 6, 2,554,332 have the right to vote.Full Article: Election Math in Armenia: Population Decreases, Voters Increase - Hetq - News, Articles, Investigations.
Polling places mysteriously ran out of ballots when Mexican Americans showed up to vote. Ads on Spanish language radio threatened fines and imprisonment to those who voted without first properly registering to vote. Illiterate voters were not given assistance at the polls. These were just a few examples of tactics used to keep Mexican Americans from voting in elections after the Voting Rights Act was passed given by scholars and activists at a two-day conference in Texas on the struggle for Latino voting rights. The Voting Rights Act protections are weakened today after a 2013 ruling by the Supreme Court that gutted the act, experts said, and new tactics are taking their place to suppress Latino votes as the population grows and becomes more politically potent.Full Article: Scholars: Latinos Face Tactics To Dilute, Discourage Their Vote - NBC News.
Veterans Day is a painful reminder of inequality for veterans in America’s territories who are disenfranchised because of where they live. In 2013, Luis Segovia was deployed to Afghanistan, a world away from his family in Guam. For him it was a bit of deja-vu; four years earlier he was serving his first tour in Afghanistan. A lot had changed in his life since. He had moved from Chicago to Guam, married the woman of his dreams, and started a family. One thing he hadn’t expected was that a change in zipcode would mean he longer would be able to vote for president. Being denied basic democratic participation is something he could never have imagined in 2005, when he was deployed for 18 months in Iraq. Serving at Forward Operation Base Marez near Mosul, one of his primary missions was providing security for the 2005 Iraqi election. He felt a sense of accomplishment, he could feel history being made.Full Article: Veterans Day, Still No Right to Vote | Neil Weare.
Six years ago, Kris Kobach and I were on strikingly different warpaths. Kobach had just launched his campaign for Kansas secretary of state. I was earning my combat stripes and Afghan Campaign Medal in the desert valleys of Kandahar. There, I was fighting the Taliban, an enemy that – ironically – as a young man, Kris Kobach had advocated arming. An ambitious college kid, Kobach told his student newspaper, “The Afghan rebels’ cause gets the least amount of attention and support in this country.” Many of those rebels soon became the Taliban – and are still at war with America today after training and harboring the terrorists who attacked us on Sept. 11, 2001, killing more than 3,000 and sparking the longest war in American history. But in 2009, my first mission in Afghanistan was straightforward, if not a simple task. We were there to foster the safe and free elections of the Afghan people, to give them a shot at enjoying the democracy that we treasure. Meanwhile, the mission Kobach took on back here in Kansas was neither straightforward nor simple: He was out to convince Kansans that voter fraud was common, rampant and widespread, despite the lack of any evidence suggesting it.Full Article: On the warpath, against voting rights | Columnists | hutchnews.com.
Voting Blogs: The Territorial American Exceptionalism to the Fundamental Right to Vote | State of Elections
Voting is one of the most fundamental rights of U.S. citizens. Congress explicitly states as much in the National Voter Registration Act. Chief Justice Warren invoked the principle when delivering the Reynolds v. Sims opinion in 1964, stating, “undoubtedly, the right to suffrage is a fundamental matter in a free and democratic society.” If you’re a U.S. citizen born and living in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Northern Marina Islands, or Guam, your right to vote in federal and presidential elections is a lot less fundamental than that of citizens living on the mainland. If you’re willing to move to one of the 50 states, you can join the franchise. Even if you move to D.C., you will still have a larger say on who the next president will be than you would if you live in the territories thanks to the 23rd Amendment.
If you are a convicted felon in Florida, you have a long wait and an uphill climb to persuade Florida’s highest elected officials to restore your right to vote — even if you have paid your debt to society in full. On Monday, Public Defender Larry Eger and Michael Barfield, vice president of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, urged about 40 people at a League of Women Voters of Manatee County forum to support a proposed constitutional amendment that will automatically restore a felon’s voting rights once “all terms of sentence including parole or probation” are completed.
In recent years, as the U.S. Supreme Court has limited its protections of the right to vote, some state courts have stepped in to fill the void. State judges have looked to their state constitutions—which are more explicit in conferring the right to vote—to provide relief from onerous election laws. And, in doing so, they have shown how these documents can be powerful tools to improve America’s democracy. Forty-nine of the 50 state constitutions explicitly grant the right to vote to their citizens (Arizona is the only outlier), and just over half of them also provide further protection to the democratic process by requiring elections to be “free and equal” or “free and open.” Some state courts, such as in Missouri, Pennsylvania, Arkansas—and most recently Delaware—have analyzed their state constitutions in an increasingly expansive way, going beyond federal law to protect voting rights.Full Article: State Supreme Courts Can Go Beyond Federal Voter Protections - The Atlantic.
In three days, Myanmar will hold its first democratic national election in 25 years — a historic moment for a country that has transformed itself from a military dictatorship, isolated from the West, to a quasi-civilian government embraced by the Obama administration for its progress toward democracy. Along the way, the government wrote a new constitution, freed more than 1,000 political prisoners and released opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, from years of house arrest. In a much smaller by-election in 2012, she won a seat in parliament. But this is not a truly free and fair vote. Of the 664 seats in parliament, a quarter are reserved for military officials. The constitution also states that no president may have a spouse or children who are foreign citizens, a provision widely considered to be aimed at preventing Suu Kyi from becoming president. She is the widow of a British national and has two sons with foreign passports. If her party were to win a majority, she could not be chosen as president. (The president is selected by the parliament.)
So much for my proud voting history, Sherri VanMeter told herself. The Galloway resident was stuck in the hospital on Election Day. “I make every general, every primary,” she said. “I got upset about it.” VanMeter, 49, shared her disappointment with her nurse, Jackie Palmer, who happened to know there was a way to bring that cherished part of the democratic process to VanMeter’s fourth-floor room at OhioHealth Doctors Hospital. “I think we can help,” Palmer told her. Voters who are unexpectedly hospitalized — or at the bedside of their minor child — still have the right to vote as long as a request is submitted to the county elections board by 3 p.m. on Election Day. “It’s part of standard election procedure,” said Ben Piscitelli, spokesman for the Franklin County Board of Elections.