Editorials: Hillary Clinton is politicizing voting rights: The Democratic frontrunner is destroying the chance for election reform by blaming all Republicans. | Richard Hasen/Slate

Hillary Clinton spoke at Texas Southern University last week, where she put forward some good and provocative ideas for improving our elections. She wants Congress to fix the part of the Voting Rights Act that the Supreme Court gutted in 2013. She wants to expand early voting periods nationally to at least 20 days. And most provocatively, she advocates automatic universal voter registration across the country, including a program to automatically register high school students to vote before their 18th birthdays. But the partisan way she’s framed the issue—by blaming Republicans for all the voting problems—makes it less likely these changes will actually be implemented should she be elected president. Instead, she’s offering red meat to her supporters while alienating the allies she would need to get any reforms enacted.

National: Hillary Clinton Pushes for Voter Registration Overhaul | Bloomberg

Hillary Clinton called Thursday for sweeping changes to elections and voting laws, arguing that measures including universal voter registration and national early voting are necessary to counteract a tide of laws aimed at making it more difficult for some people to vote. Speaking at Houston’s Texas State University, at a ceremony honoring the late civil rights leader and Democratic Representative Barbara Jordan, Clinton set her sights squarely on some of her potential Republican opponents, who she said are “systematically and deliberately trying to stop millions of American citizens from voting.” In one of her most powerful and passionate appearances of her campaign thus far, the former secretary of state singled out four current and former governors, whose actions “have undercut [the] fundamental American principle” of the right to vote in their “crusade against voting rights.” Instead of continuing along the same path, she said, “they should stop fear-mongering about a phantom epidemic of election fraud” and work to make it easier for Americans who want to vote to go to the polls.

Oregon: Democrats open new front in voting wars in Oregon | The Washington Post

In the wake of big Republican victories in 2010, new conservative majorities in state legislatures across the country passed laws that rolled back a decade-long trend of expanding access to the ballot box. Democrats fought back, in the few states they still controlled, by expanding early voting, mail-in voting and new registration rules. Now, Oregon Democrats are trying something even more aggressive: A proposal likely to pass the legislature this year would further ease the hassle of voter registration by automatically adding eligible citizens to the voting rolls. Secretary of State Kate Brown (D) introduced the measure Monday in testimony before the state House Rules Committee in Salem. Brown said the bill would add an estimated 300,000 voters to the registration rolls by scraping data from the Department of Driver and Motor Vehicle Services. Brown said DMV data from as far back as 2013 would reveal hundreds of thousands of citizens eligible to cast a ballot. The measure introduced this year isn’t as aggressive as a version that passed the House but failed in the Senate by a single vote two years ago.

National: These States Are Actually Considering Ways To Make Voting More Convenient | Huffington Post

November’s midterm election meant grappling with new voter identification requirements, cutbacks to early voting and the elimination of same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting in several states, but advocates are cautiously optimistic that 2015 could be an improvement for voting rights. Last cycle’s voter turnout, about 36 percent, was estimated to be the lowest since 1940, but changes that could make voting more convenient — like online registration — might help mitigate some of the barriers from laws that restrict access. Twenty states of varying political inclinations offered online registration as of December, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. “This is a time where we should be reaching across the aisle looking for commonsense solutions,” said Myrna Pérez, the deputy director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program, which tracks voting legislation. “A lot of those involving technology and leveraging technology are very appealing — and it’s exciting because [electronic and online registration] both have the habit of making it simpler and easier to run elections correctly. They make the rolls cleaner and are cheaper, and we saw some bipartisan support for this last year.”

Oregon: More Democrats could boost Oregon voter registration bill | The Columbian

Secretary of State Kate Brown hopes a more Democratic Legislature will improve the odds for her effort to automatically add licensed drivers to the voter rolls. Brown’s initiative is one of several stymied liberal priorities that are likely to find a friendlier reception in the new Legislature, which begins a five-month session Feb. 2. The bill passed the House in 2013 but fell one vote short in the Senate. Brown said she and her staff haven’t spoken with all the newly elected lawmakers yet, but she’s optimistic about her chances. Brown’s bill, HB 2177, would require the state to use driving records to identify people who are eligible to vote and automatically register them. They would receive a postcard allowing them to opt out or select a political party if they choose to do so. “We want to make participating in our democracy as simple and as easy as possible,” Brown said Thursday.

Oregon: Kate Brown will again push for universal voter registration; “New Motor Voter” would add 300,000 Oregon eligible voters on day one | The Bulletin

Topping a list of 13 bills that Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown will push in 2015 is one that would add 300,000 voters to the state’s registry and eventually create one of the most complete voter rolls in the country. Oregon nearly created a law known as universal voter registration two years ago that would have added a half-million voters to its rolls. Under the law, eligible voters wouldn’t have to do anything to register to vote. The state would do it for them using records the Department of Motor Vehicles has on file. Brown is proposing the law again this year. Opponents are wary of costs and say voters should take initiative to register if they want to be involved in the voting process. Supporters say the process would continue a century-long progressive approach to elections in Oregon and create one of the most seamless processes for voting in the country. Brown says the onus should be on the state, not the voter, if Oregon wants to conduct open and accessible elections. The law would register residents as unaffiliated voters when records show they’re eligible. Those who don’t want to be registered could then opt out.

Editorials: Government has to make voting easier | The Washington Post

Once the recount was over on Monday, control of Virginia’s Senate was determined by a margin of less than a dozen votes in a special election in which a mere 20 percent of registered voters participated. This wasn’t the first time a high-stakes race depended on an unhealthily small sliver of the electorate. Maybe only so many people will ever bother with a state senate special election. But registration and turnout would be a lot higher across the board if voting in the United States weren’t a Kafkaesque exercise. Government has got to make voting easier. The first thing politicians can do is stop trying to make it harder. GOP lawmakers should end efforts to limit access to the ballot box with restrictive and unnecessary voter identification laws, for example. Then they should fix the things the government was already doing wrong. That’s where a report President Obama commissioned after the 2012 presidential election comes in. The commission included Mr. Obama’s top campaign lawyer — and that of Mitt Romney, his 2012 rival. The result could easily have been a collection of useless platitudes. Instead, the bipartisan panel offered a set of serious changes that could, if state and local election officials took them up, make a big difference.

Chile: Buyer’s remorse in Chilean elections? | Washington Post

Chile goes to the polls on Nov. 17.  The biggest question regarding the presidential contest is not who will win, but when.  Michele Bachelet, who served a prior term as president from 2006-2010, has a wide lead in the polls. Chile’s electoral rules require a candidate to win more than 50 percent of the vote to secure the presidency in the first round.  Bachelet’s supporters would greet a first-round win as a strong mandate for decisive moves to make the tax code more progressive and overhaul the education system. If Bachelet falls short of a majority in the first round, she will face off against the second-place candidate in a December runoff.  She is expected to prevail against any potential rival, but her adversaries would have the opportunity to coalesce in opposition, cracking her aura of invincibility and slowing the momentum behind progressive redistribution.

Editorials: Voter ID laws restrict democracy | Arizona Daily Wildcat

Voter beware: Even if you are legally registered to vote at an Arizona residence, you may not be allowed to vote for state and local offices in 2014. Last week, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne released an opinion directing the state’s top elections official, Secretary of State Ken Bennett, to implement a split election system in which voters will be restricted to a much shorter ballot if they only completed a federal voter registration form, which does not require proof of citizenship. Arizona state law requires proof of citizenship from all voters in state and local elections, even for voters previously registered in another state or Arizona county, in the form of an Arizona driver’s license issued after 1996, a birth certificate, a passport, naturalization documents or a Tribal Certificate of Indian Blood. At the federal level, however, the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 created a universal voter registration form requiring that a person sign under penalty of perjury that he or she is a U.S. citizen, and mandates that those with a driver’s license or social security number provide that information; those without are given a separate ID number by the state.

Oregon: Senate rejects universal voter registration proposal | Oregon Live

Legislation aimed at adding hundreds of thousands of registered voters in Oregon failed by a single vote in the state Senate on Sunday. Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, joined with all 14 Republicans to defeat a bill that would automatically register eligible voters when they received new or updated driver licenses in Oregon. Secretary of State Kate Brown had promoted House Bill 3521 as an ambitious way to remove barriers to voting and greatly increase voting participation in the state.  But critics, particularly from the Republican Party, said they feared the bill would lead to greater voter fraud in Oregon and that anyone who cared enough to vote should take personal responsibility for registering.

Oregon: Republican lawmakers express concerns about Kate Brown’s universal voter registration legislation | OregonLive.com

Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown on Wednesday presented her proposal for universal voter registration to the House Rules Committee — and she quickly received some blowback from Republican legislators. Rep. Vicki Berger, R-Salem, was the most critical, saying she was philosophically opposed to automatically registering someone to vote without first asking them. “You’re basically pre-empting the ask,” said Berger, adding that this “troubles me on a lot of levels.” Brown, a Democrat, is proposing a sweeping amendment to House Bill 2198 aimed at ensuring that virtually everyone eligible to vote actually gets registered.  Her proposal calls for driver license information — and eventually information from other government agencies — to be provided to the secretary of state’s office for the purposes of voter registration.

National: Teachers Union Pushes Voting Rights, Disclosure Ahead Of State of the Union address | TPM

The largest teachers unions in the country is pushing President Obama to prioritize a number of electoral reforms, from new protections for voters to disclosure requirements, in his State of the Union address next week, suggesting a determination not to be outgunned once again during the upcoming midterm elections. “Reactionary state laws, unequal and unethical administration of voting procedures, and the unfettered access of corporations to influence electoral outcomes has severely damaged our democracy,” wrote NEA president Dennis Van Roekel in a letter Friday to Obama.

Editorials: A vote for universal registration | The Washington Post

I recently visited Russia, where a mild-mannered historian from the city of Astrakhan, Oleg Shein, is on a hunger strike protesting a stolen mayoral election he believes he won. But as Russia starves for free and fair elections, Republicans across the United States are starving our democracy — and too few have noticed. And their furious assault on voting rights is no less destructive to democracy than the vote-rigging we deplore in Russia. Over the past year, Republican legislators in 34 states have proposed legislation that would drastically restrict voting for an estimated 5 million eligible voters. Seven states have passed laws requiring voters to show photo ID — which more than one in 10 Americans lacks — and dozens of others have eliminated early voting, disenfranchised ex-felons or limited the ability of civic organizations to register voters. The consequences are clear in Texas, for example, where you can now register to vote with a handgun license but not a college ID.

Editorials: Let’s Get Voter Registration Right – and Make it Universal | ACS

This November’s presidential election will present a stark choice between President Barack Obama and a Republican challenger, and voter turnout analysts predict a decline in voter turnout from our 62 percent turnout of eligible voters in 2008. Voter motivation is one reason why American turnout lags behind that of many nations. Most Americans experience limited choice and a relatively low chance of electing strongly favored candidates. For example, in 2010 only one in four eligible voters elected a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives (what we call “the Representation Index”). In contrast, in Denmark’s last elections, nearly five in six eligible voters elected representatives to its national legislature from an array of choices, voter turnout was more than 85 percent, and its system of proportional representation led to more than 95 percent of voters electing their preferred choice.

Chile: Constitutional Court approves Chile’s universal voter registration law | Santiago Times

Chile’s Constitutional Court (TC) approved a new law that would make voter registration automatic and the act of voting itself voluntary on Thursday. The new law will add between 4.5 and 5 million new members to Chile’s voting population, in time for the October municipal elections. “This is a historic event,” Secretary General Cristián Larroulet told local press. “It is an important step in strengthening our democratic system and facilitating citizen participation in political decisions in our country.” Under Chile’s current system, registering to vote is a voluntary act, and once registered, voting is mandatory. Fines up to US$210 are imposed on those who are registered but don’t vote.

Chile: President signs automatic voter registration into law | Santiago Times

With President Sebastián Piñera’s signature at a ceremony in the Presidential Palace on Monday, Chile joined a community of nations in which all eligible voters are automatically registered to vote.Piñera was joined by young beneficiaries of Chile’s latest voting reform on Monday. Photo by Alex Ibañez/Gobierno de Chile. This reform is the heart of this administration,” Secretary General Cristián Larroulet said while introducing President Piñera. “This is a step in the right direction for Chile, but not yet the answer to all our problems.” The new voting law will make registration automatic and voting itself voluntary. It is projected that over 4.5 million new voters will be added to the nation’s electoral registry, with most of the additions under the age of 30.