The voting rights manifesto: a state-by-state plan to defend democracy

iVote defends democracy by helping elect pro-voter secretaries of state and helping states pass automatic voter registration. Vox has highlighted iVote's work in Nevada to pass automatic voter registration.

From Vox

by Daniel Nichanian

President-elect Donald Trump is using his bully pulpit to falsely allege that millions of ballots were cast illegally and to suggest that early voting should be cut down. Under his leadership, politicians with records of aggressively curtailing voting rights will be shaping federal policies. At the state level, Republicans have long been leading a sustained assault on voting rights.

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The Next Fight to Expand Voting Has Already Begun

iVote is excited to be on the forefront of the voting rights movement. As a "do-tank," we go on the offense for voting rights by helping elect pro-voter Secretaries of State and pass automatic voter registration. Chip in to continue our fight: ivoteforamerica.org/donate.

From The Atlantic 

By Russel Berman

"One of the many supposed truisms about politics is that you’re never supposed to look past the next election.

Yet as this historic presidential race draws to a close, voting rights advocates are already ramping up efforts to expand the rolls in future elections through automatic voter registration.

In the District of Columbia, the city council this week unanimously approved legislation allowing eligible citizens to register when they sign up for a driver’s license. In Nevada, organizers for a group led by Obama campaign veterans are gathering signatures to put a similar law on the ballot in 2018; they must submit the petition by Election Day this year. Voters in Alaska will decide a ballot measure next week that would automatically register nonvoters when they sign up to receive dividend payments from the state’s oil revenue fund. And in Illinois, Democrats in the state legislature are hoping to hold a vote in the weeks after November 8 to override Republican Governor Bruce Rauner’s veto of legislation enshrining automatic voter registration.

 

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California is making it easier than ever to vote

iVote has been proud to work for a pro-voter Secretary of State like Alex Padilla. With iVote's help, automatic voter registration will soon be a reality in California. With too many states restricting the right to vote, we will continue to go on the offensive to implement automatic voter registration and support pro-voter secretaries of state.

From The Sacramento Bee

By Jim Miller

"Texas lawmakers in 2011 approved a law that counted handgun licenses, but not student ID cards, as acceptable forms of identification to vote.

The Wisconsin Legislature, after Republicans took control in 2010, approved a similarly strict ID requirement. North Carolina lawmakers went further, passing ID rules as well as reducing early voting hours and eliminating same-day registration.

While many other states have tightened voter access, for more than a decade the Democratic controlled California Legislature has moved in the opposite direction:

▪ Online voter registration. Residents have been able to register online for the past four years. Nearly 200,000 people signed up online on the last day to register to vote in the June 7 primary.

▪ Vote-by-mail ballots. Unlike some states, California doesn’t require a medical reason or other excuse to be a permanent vote-by-mail voter. In June, almost 59 percent of the vote came in through the mailbox.

▪ Three-day leeway. Mail ballots postmarked on Election Day will still be counted as long as they arrive at election offices within three days.

Other major voter-access laws should be in place in time for the 2018 election. California will allow 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote. Those applying for a driver’s license or filing a change of address with the Department of Motor Vehicles will automatically be registered, unless they opt out. Perhaps most significantly, the state will allow voter registration on Election Day.

“The truth of the matter is it’s easier to vote in California today than at any time in the last 150 years,” said Mike Madrid, a Republican political consultant.

The debate over voting rules has a significant partisan dimension.

Democrats have supported efforts to make it easier for people to register and vote, while Republicans have generally supported proposals for voter ID and other measures as a way to prevent fraud. In California, just one Republican lawmaker voted for automatic registration. None supported pre-registration or same-day registration bills.

Madrid said both parties have political motives: Democrats want to add non-white and young voters to the rolls, which they think will help their candidates, while Republicans think those changes would hurt their chances.

“If increasing voter turnout helped Republicans, do you really think Democratic politicians would be pushing this legislation? The same goes for Republicans,” said Madrid, who says home-ownership rates, income levels and other socioeconomic factors play a much bigger role in influencing an area’s voting participation.

California is among one-third of states with no voter ID requirement on the books. State election officials advise first-time voters to bring identification to the polls in case their records are incomplete.

“When two-thirds of states do one thing and one-third of states do another, those are two significant camps,” said Wendy Underhill, who tracks states’ voting rules for the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Two federal courts recently ruled that Wisconsin’s ID requirement risked disenfranchising voters who had a hard time getting the required forms of ID. Other courts have ruled against the laws in Texas and North Carolina. In the latter case, the court wrote that North Carolina’s rules targeted “African-Americans with almost surgical precision.”

Supporters’ justification for the laws hinges on the “vanishingly rare phenomenon” of voter fraud, said Adam Gitlin, counsel of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School.

“There’s been this politicization of voting in some respects, which is unfortunate because we all want secure elections,” Gitlin said.

Gov. Jerry Brown recently approved more proposals meant to improve the California voting experience.

A closely watched measure is SB 450, which will allow some counties, including Sacramento, to consolidate polling places into vote centers in 2018, with all counties covered by the law two years later. Supporters say the change, which followed lengthy hearings and visits to states with the centers, will make it easier for people to vote early in person while relieving counties of staffing neighborhood polling places that get little foot traffic.

“It would be a seismic shift in how people vote,” Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley said. “The main goal is to improve the process for voters, to make it easier for them.”

Yet some voting experts have questioned whether the law could discourage some people from voting. The California Civic Engagement Project at UC Davis recently conducted focus groups of Latino and African American voters and found that most preferred polling places over vote centers.

“There’s a general acceptance that we’re more progressive” than other states, Mindy Romero, the center’s director, said of California’s voting rules. “However, just because something is labeled as election reform doesn’t mean it really is.”

Vote centers would join other parts of California’s county-centric elections system. The state years ago stopped reimbursing counties for some election programs, meaning the state cannot legally impose a statewide template. That leads to voter confusion, some experts say.

“We give voters all these rights, but whether they’re able to exercise all these rights depends on the uniformity of the counties,” said Kim Alexander, president of the California Voter Foundation. “Generally it’s the bigger and wealthier counties that often do a better job.”

More changes are in store following last month’s certification of VoteCal, the state’s new statewide voter registration database. In the works for a more than a decade, VoteCal has linked to all 58 counties, and statewide certification by the Secretary of State’s Office was the last remaining step.

That clears the way for pre-registration of 16- and 17-year-olds as well as a statewide registration and polling place lookup tool. People will be able to register to vote on Election Day starting in January. And the certification was a key step for automatic DMV registration of voters, which should be in place by July 2017, officials said.

Turnout of registered voters, however, remains a concern, particularly among younger voters. While it can vary depending on the election, California turnout generally has been on a downward trend in recent decades. Even with Bernie Sanders on the ballot, just 34 percent of registered voters between 18 and 25 years old cast votes in June, compared with a turnout rate of 66 percent for voters 65 and older.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla has traveled California in recent weeks to drum up interest in the Nov. 8 election. He’s working with colleges to put registration links on their websites and raise awareness about the upcoming election.

If the interest is there, people will find a way to vote, said several students at Woodland Community College, where Padilla spoke last month.

Christian Lahm, 19, of Woodland cast a mail ballot in the June election.

“They mail it to your house,” Lahm said. “I don’t know how they can make it any easier.”"

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A Simple, Potent Overhaul for 'Motor Voter'?

iVote works to make registering to vote and voting easier and more accessible. That's why our team fights for automatic voter registration. It helps remove one of the largest barriers to voting - registration. To help iVote continue this fight, donate here: ivoteforamerica.org/donate

From the PEW Charitable Trusts

by Rebecca Beitsch

"At least 35 million Americans who are eligible to vote are shut out of the democratic process because they aren’t registered. Can tweaking a 21-year-old law add millions of them to the voter rolls?

That’s the idea behind “automatic registration,” which five states have adopted and two dozen others have considered in the last two years.

Jonathan Brater of the Brennan Center for Justice, a public policy institute at the New York University School of Law, said voter ID laws may get more attention, but getting more Americans registered to vote could have the biggest impact on elections.

“Registration is one of the biggest barriers to voting,” Brater said. “Every election, thousands of people go to the polls and can’t vote because of complications with registration.”

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Bucking a Trend, Blue States Pass Laws to Make Voting Easier

Voters shouldn't have to rely solely on the courts to protect voting rights. Recent events that have happened in North Carolina and Ohio demonstrate the need for legislatures or voters to adopt automatic voter registration and pro-voter secretaries of state. Join iVote in flipping the script from a defensive to offensive approach to voting rights. 

From Bloomberg Businessweek

by Josh Eidelson

"Since 2010, 25 states passed laws making it harder to vote. Somerequired voters to present photo ID at the polls; others restricted early voting or the re-enfranchisement of ex-felons. In 17 of the states, Republicans control the legislature and the governorship. Liberals have scrambled to get the laws repealed or overturned in court. But with exceptions such as the July decision by a federal appeals court to block several new voting restrictions in North Carolina, most of the new laws remain on the books and will be in effect in November.

Now some of the bluest states are passing laws to make voting easier. Since the start of 2015, five states have approved automatic voter registration measures, in which government agencies such as the Department of Motor Vehicles add qualified citizens to the voter rolls unless they opt out. 'The question should be, Why would we ever have a barrier?' says Democrat Jennifer Williamson, state house majority leader in Oregon, where the nation’s first AVR measure was signed into law in March 2015. 'We should be constructing a system where the default is voting.'

 

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Governor Hobbles Voting Reform in Illinois

iVote will continue to fight for bipartisan support in favor of automatic voter registration in Illinois. To help continue our fight to strengthen voting rights, you can donate here.

From The New York Times

by The Editorial Board

"Invoking Republicans’ phantom fear of voter fraud, Gov. Bruce Rauner has vetoed a bipartisan measure to make Illinois a pioneer in one of the truly innovative reforms of modern politics — the automatic registration of citizens as they conduct routine business at motor vehicle departments and other state agencies.

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BREAKING: Illinois Governor Vetoes Law That Would Have Registered 2 Million Voters

Governor Rauner vetoed SB 250, which would have enacted automatic voter registration in the state of Illinois.  SB250 earned bipartisan support when passed this summer with the majority of the Democratic caucus and 15 Republican votes in the House and 5 in the Senate. iVote will continue to go on the offensive for voting rights in Illinois. We will work with our partners to ensure that automatic voter registration is a reality in Illinois. If you want to continue the fight, join iVote here

From ThinkProgress

by Alice Ollstein

"Late Friday afternoon, Illinois’ Republican Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed a bill that would have made the state the sixth in the nation to automatically register millions of voters.

Rauner had expressed some support for the policy back in May, telling reporters: “I am a big fan of simplifying the voter registration process and trying to get everyone who should be able to vote, to get them registered and vote.”

By early August, he had a different view. While expressing support for the general idea of automatic voter registration, he wrote in his veto notice on Friday: “The consequences could be injurious to our election system.” Urging the legislature to make reforms to the bill before sending it back to him, he cited the threat of non-citizens registering to vote and casting ballots.

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iVote Hosts DNC Cocktail Event

iVote hosted an extremely successful event in Philadelphia during the Democratic National Convention to make sure voting rights advocacy was represented in Philly. We saw a huge turnout -- and the passion for voting rights on display in that room was truly moving. We were blessed to have many Secretary of States and delegates in attendance. You can see pictures capturing the success of the event here.

 

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Initiative filed for automatic voter registration through DMV

iVote's fight for automatic voter registration in Nevada made the KRNV news channel. You can click the hyperlink below to see the clip highlighting the effort. To help make voting more modern and secure in Nevada, donate here.

From KRNV

by Scott Magruder and Juan Carlos Flores

"Registering to vote could become a lot easier here in Nevada.

An initiative filed with the Secretary of State’s Office would automatically register you when you apply for, or renew, a Nevada driver’s license or ID card at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

According to the Secretary of State’s website, the Washington, D.C.-based group iVote filed an initiative that would allow people to register to vote automatically.

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Initiative would automatically register some Nevada DMV customers to vote

iVote is excited to announce Nevadans for Modern and Secure Elections, a ballot initiative to get automatic voter registration passed and implemented in Nevada!

From the Las Vegas Review-Journal

by Shandra Chereb

"An initiative to automatically register people to vote when they apply for or renew a Nevada license or identification card was filed this week with the secretary of state’s office.

The measure, backed by a group called Nevadans for Modern and Secure Elections, would require the Department of Motor Vehicles to transmit information to the secretary of state’s office to register people to vote or update their information. People could opt out of the program.

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