This Week in 200 Words
In national news, formerly incarcerated individuals in Florida are still not being allowed to vote. A woman who was jailed for 5 years for unknowingly voting illegally is now a voting rights advocate. Stacey Abrams is increasing her efforts to address voter suppression. A judge in Iowa upheld the state’s voter ID law. Lastly, voter registration in the State of Georgia has grown by the thousands.
In state updates, Ohio purges over 180,000 voter registrations. The U.S. House of Representatives Administration Committee held a hearing on voting rights and the obstacles that Native American voters face in Arizona. The Secretary of State of California worked with Santa Clara county officials to address voter suppression. North Carolina’s redrawn voting districts are being criticized again. The Secretary of State of Oregon is taking steps to ensure election security. Lastly, Indiana has allocated $10 million towards buying new voting machines.
Despite the passage of Amendment 4 last year, which was intended to make it easier for felons to regain their voting rights, Florida officials are using the same instructions on the voter registration form that the state used before the amendment — and instructing felons that they “cannot register until your right to vote is restored.”
That language is not true for many felons. Since 65 percent of voters approved Amendment 4, Florida law allows felons who have completed their sentences to have their rights restored automatically.
Crystal Mason never intended to become an activist. But after being sentenced to five years in prison for unknowingly casting an illegal ballot in the 2016 election, Mason committed herself to advocate for voting rights: On the day she was released from prison, Mason writes in a new op-ed for the Washington Post, she held a “welcome home” party with a voter registration table.
The op-ed, published Monday, grants Mason the space to tell her story–including the circumstances of her 2016 arrest and conviction—and how it fits into a larger climate where voter suppression remains a major concern for many nonwhites looking to cast a ballot in the 2020 election.
Atlanta Daily World: Stacy Abrams ramps up fight to end voter suppression
Many African Americans and Democrats rallied around Stacey Abrams as she took on Brian Kemp in the 2018 run for governorship in the state of Georgia. After a 10-day standoff, Abrams lost to Kemp, and chose to use her voice and reach to support causes that have greatly affected our communities for decades; voter suppression and the improper counting of Americans in the census. Her advocacy and leadership led her to serve as the speaker for the Democratic counter State of the Union address in 2019.
WOSU Public Media: Voting Rights Groups Racing To Register Ohioans Before Deadline
Secretary of State Frank LaRose says 182,858 voter registrations were removed from the rolls in Ohio’s latest voter purge.
Many of the voters that were removed from the polls starting September 6 have died or moved out of state. But others are considered “inactive” because they haven’t voted recently. LaRose says about 14,000 of those voters re-activated their status prior to the removal process.
North Carolina A&T State University has long been a focus in the state’s seemingly perpetual dispute over gerrymandering. Now, students are fighting for an opportunity to vote easily in a potentially crucial presidential primary.
The campus of the country’s largest historically black college has been cleaved in half by Republican mapmakers, split for 2016 and 2018 between two lopsidedly Republican congressional districts so as to minimize the impact of votes from the overwhelmingly Democratic student body of 12,000.
An Iowa judge has upheld voter ID as allowable under the Iowa Constitution but struck down as unconstitutional portions of a 2017 voting reform law challenged by a Hispanic civil rights group and an Iowa State University student.
The law signed by former Gov. Terry Branstad requires voters to show certain forms of identification when voting at the polls, provide an identification number on absentee ballot applications and allows county auditors to reject ballots if they believe signatures don’t appear to match a voter signature on record.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Why should election officials make it easier for students to vote?
Bud Kennedy’s Sunday column finally brings to light my belief that college students shouldn’t be allowed to cast their votes in our elections on campus. (1B, “You may not be able to cast your vote on campus anymore”)
The reason for this new state law was the pop-up voting booths that were being created for PTA meetings, football games and so on. That shows the unethical practices of school districts. It’s a conflict of interest for votes on bond issues to be cast that way.
WSB-TV 2 Atlanta: Voter registration surges in Georgia ahead of 2020 elections
New voters have registered in droves in Georgia since last year’s midterms, expanding the electorate ahead of the 2020 presidential election year when the state is expected to be a key political battleground.
More than 352,000 people signed up to vote in the past 11 months, the vast majority of them automatically registering when they obtain a driver’s license, according to data from the secretary of state’s office. The influx has boosted Georgia’s voter rolls to a record high of nearly 7.4 million.
Most of the voter registrations purged from Ohio’s rolls were canceled under the more controversial “supplemental process” that eliminates registrations for those who have not cast a ballot for six years, a Dispatch analysis of data from 88 county boards of elections shows.
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s office said those registrations could be duplicates, belong to deceased voters or those who have moved but didn’t notify the U.S. Postal Service. But voting rights advocates say it shows flaws in the system, which can sweep up eligible voters among those who should be canceled.
Arizona- Arizona Mirror: Congressional hearing on voting rights in AZ focuses on obstacles faced by voters of color
Obstacles to voting in Indian Country were the dominant point of discussion Tuesday at a subcommittee hearing, which ended with a heated exchange between a Republican state lawmaker and several Democratic members of Congress.
The House Administration Subcommittee on Elections heard testimony from tribal leaders, researchers, activists and a state representative about the obstacles to voting faced by American Indians, rural voters, nonwhite voters and felons. The hearing was held at Phoenix College.
California- San Jose Spotlight: Alex Padilla joins Santa Clara County leaders to tackle voter suppression
Voting has never been a universal right throughout America’s history, some officials say, and the present is no exception.
Political and community leaders discussed Thursday what can be done to encourage participation despite current forms of voter suppression in Santa Clara County.
Secretary of State Alex Padilla joined Supervisors Cindy Chavez and Dave Cortese, County Executive Jeff Smith and other local lawmakers to hear recommendations on what could be done to address this disparity, especially for youth, racial minorities and those who have been incarcerated.
North Carolina- The News & Observer: Democrats challenge North Carolina’s congressional maps in new gerrymandering lawsuit
After getting many of the districts used to elect state legislators overturned as unconstitutional earlier this month, Democrats now have their sights on a new target: North Carolina’s 13 congressional districts.
A new lawsuit, filed Friday in Wake County, claims the districts used to elect North Carolina’s members of the U.S. House of Representatives are unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders. It makes many of the same arguments as the recent lawsuit against the state legislative districts.
Oregon-News Channel 21: Oregon secretary of state focusing on election security
October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Marking the occasion, the Secretary of State’s Office has added a new Elections Security page to its website, at oregonvotes.gov/security, where Oregonians can learn more about the office’s security activities.
The Secretary of State’s office has also published a podcast in which Deputy Secretary of State Rich Vial discusses elections security with Elections Director Steve Trout. That podcast can be accessed on YouTube or on apps such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify, as part of the Oregon Matters of State series.
Indiana-Government Technology: Indiana Putting $10 Million Toward Election Security
By the next election, one in 10 direct recording electronic (DREs) voting machines in Indiana will have a small black box attached to them that will let voters see a printout of their ballot, providing a paper trail that can be used in post-election audits.
Secretary of State Connie Lawson held one-on-one interviews with reporters to discuss the new voting equipment as well as the other steps her office is taking to assure Hoosiers that every ballot cast in an election will be accurately counted.