Iowa’s new voting restrictions deepen our democratic crisis

iVote president, Ellen Kurz, talks about Iowa's new elections bill that would gut its same-day voter-registration program. For example, the bill requires any Iowan who changes addresses between elections to provide documentation proving their residency that is less than 45 days old.

From Des Moines Register

By Ellen Kurz and Brad Anderson 

Every news cycle seems to bring more of the same — chaos, anger and deep division. Our television screens and our social media elevate the most extreme voices and nowhere do we hear a civil debate on important issues like education, jobs, climate change, taxes and the choices facing our state and our country today.

Elections are the great equalizer, where no one vote or voice is more important than the other and everyone’s vote is counted, whether you have 100,000 Twitter followers, or you don’t own a computer. It is a true Iowan value and tradition to engage in our democracy by the simple yet critical act of voting. At a time when the country is experiencing such turmoil we need the participation of more citizens, not less.

It is not an overstatement to say the future of our democracy depends on the state of the democratic process, or, simply put, ensuring everybody can vote and that their votes are counted.

That’s why the new elections bill signed into law by Gov. Terry Branstad is not just wrongheaded but dangerous. The bill was framed as a response to voter fraud, yet systemic voter fraud in Iowa has never been proven. So why did Republicans push and sign into law a new, expensive elections bill filled with red tape? For the first time in Iowa’s history, Republicans, led by Secretary of State Paul Pate and state legislators, passed new laws aimed at helping them win elections. Now we are learning these new laws are a confusing mess, and the potential consequences on our democracy are severe.

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Increasing voter turnout will strike at the heart of the NRA

Solving America's gun problem means solving a democracy problem. If enough people turnout at the ballot box, this nation can outvote NRA-bankrolled politicians. It’s as simple as that, says iVote President and Founder, Ellen Kurz.

From The Hill

By Ellen Kurz

The most powerful person in Florida politics is not the governor. It’s not a U.S. senator or even the speaker of the state House. It’s Marion Hammer, the lobbyist for the NRA. 

Through a flood of contributions, insider dealings and political pressure, the NRA seemingly controls public policy and most public officials when it comes to guns. Through these efforts the NRA can create policy, ensure its passage and use government resources to achieve their policy goals. And the NRA aim is simple: guns-on-demand. 

The NRA has targeted Florida as the incubator for guns-on demand agenda of the gun manufacturers. Not only has the captured state legislature passed law after law that made guns as easy to get as a tube of toothpaste, any proposals that would mean fewer guns bought, sold or carried never even come up for a vote.

In great contrast to this, the majority of Americans support gun control. A recent NPR poll found that 72 percent of Americans favor an assault weapons ban and a whopping 94 percent want universal background checks. A Quinnipiac University National poll shows this view is supported by 97 percent. of gun owners.

Our democracy is so broken that American students marched last weekend to save lives.

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These Unknown Officials Could Hold The Balance of Power in 2020

Democrats are playing catch up by focusing on electing candidates, like Katie Hobbs, to Secretary of State offices; whereas the Republican Secretaries of State Committee has been around for more than a decade. These little known offices could be the key to the 2020 elections, says Ellen Kurz.

From Ozy

By Daniel Malloy

As the minority leader in the Arizona Senate, Katie Hobbs could not stop a law that made collecting mail-in ballots for others a felony. So instead she wants to limit its impact as the next secretary of state.

The “ballot-harvesting” law — which Hobbs says will have a disproportionate impact on tribal lands where post offices are sparse — is among an array of instances where Arizona Republicans pressed forward with policies that could hamper Democrats at the ballot box. It’s done under the guise of guarding against voter fraud, though in the case of “ballot harvesting,” tales of political operatives steaming open ballots in microwaves and chucking certain votes in the trash were provided without a whit of supporting evidence. Hobbs also talks about making sure there is the proper number of polling places in Latino communities and keeping a closer eye on local election officials for missteps such as putting the wrong election date on a website.

This Sun Belt state’s red track record isn’t the only one Democrats are looking to change by getting a blue thumb on the scale. Secretaries of state across the country have wide latitude to run elections. Their campaigns typically are overlooked affairs, but this year the national Democratic group iVote plans to pour $5 million into key races, former Attorney General Eric Holder’s National Democratic Redistricting Committee is targeting Ohio’s secretary of state contest, and the Democratic National Committee is keeping a close watch on these races.

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Democratic group will spend $5 million to elect secretaries of state, the latest front in ‘voting wars’

For the 2018 elections, iVote commits to spend $5 million across swing states to help elect Democratic secretaries of state. Ellen Kurz, President and Founder, talks about why the 2018 elections are crucial.

From The Washington Post

By David Weigel

The left-leaning ballot access group iVote will spend at least $5 million across swing states to elect Democratic secretaries of state — the latest front in the “voting wars” that Democrats worried they have been losing.

“Republicans have understood the importance of the office,” said iVote president and founder Ellen Kurz. “There isn’t a single Democratic swing state secretary of state. And dozens of states have taken away opportunities to vote, purged voter rolls and disenfranchised certain voters every year.”

This year, iVote will focus on electing Democrats as the chief election officials in seven states: Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico and Ohio. Only one of those states, New Mexico, has a Democratic secretary of state.

Two of the states, Arizona and Michigan, have not elected Democrats to the office since the 1990s; Colorado has not elected a Democratic secretary of state since John F. Kennedy was in the White House.

“This isn’t a coincidence,” said Kurz. “The Republican party targeted these offices two decades ago along with state legislatures, for redistricting purposes. They understood the power of the office and they knew their path to winning was shrinking. In these contested states — except Iowa, where it’s students they are after — there are great numbers of people of color. These are the people that Republican campaigns target to stop certain people from voting."

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Secretaries of State: Our democracy's new first responders

Historically, Republicans have used the office of the Secretary of State to suppress the will of the voters. President and Founder, Ellen Kurz outlines the importance of electing Democrats into this office to ensure that every eligible voter has secure voting rights.

From The Hill

By Ellen Kurz

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.

In recent weeks, our nation and our democracy were attacked by our own government. Donald Trump’s “voter integrity” commission demanded each state hand over the names, addresses, and social security numbers of millions of Americans citizens. Led by state secretaries of State, more than 40 states said “no” in whole or part to Trump’s effort.

Just two weeks ago we learned of another unprecedented attack on our nation and our great democracy. Department of Homeland Security officials testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee that Russian agents attempted to hack the election systems of 21 states in advance of the 2016 elections. An earlier report by Bloomberg found that the election systems of up to 39 states were hacked by Russia.

Secretaries of State are on the frontlines of our national security: election systems in over 30 states are run by state secretaries of State.  In a world of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, secretaries of State are our democracy’s new first responders. Voters don’t tend to be invested in this political office, but the person filling the role will be guarding against attempts by a hostile foreign government to compromise our democracy.

The seemingly dull administrative position is actually a powerful political office that some use to suppress the will of voters and others use to ensure that every eligible voter has their voice heard.

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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:

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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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.


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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