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Tag: California (page 1 of 2)

Driving Up The Numbers: Will California’s Motor Voter Law Dramatically Alter The Golden State’s Electorate?

By: Tyler Sherman

With low voter turnout in the recent 2014 elections, pressure mounted on California legislators to act to increase voter participation. In response, California’s state legislature passed, and Governor Jerry Brown approved, the New Motor Voter Act. In essence, the law will automatically register eligible citizens to vote when they use Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) services, such as obtaining a driver’s license. Slated to go into effect in July of 2017, the law has the potential to dramatically alter the Golden State’s future.

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California’s Competing Death Penalty Propositions: What Happens if Voters Approve Both?

By: Chelsea Brewer

On November 8th, California voters will be faced with competing propositions affecting the fate of the death penalty in the State. Both propositions operate on “the premise that the system is broken” and claim that justice will be best served if passed. However, the voters’ options regarding the death penalty’s future are in direct conflict with each other.

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California Secretary of State Certifies VoteCal Ahead of 2016 General Election

By: Chelsea Brewer

On September 26, 2016, the California Secretary of State, Alex Padilla, announced that he certified VoteCal as the State’s centralized system of record for voter registration. The online database seeks to ease the voter registration process by providing citizens a single online database where they can register to vote, check their registration status, find their assigned polling places, and more. Just in time for the November 2016 General Election, voters will even be able to confirm that their absentee mail-in ballot or provisional ballot was counted by their respective county elections officials. This is especially significant given states’ interest in preserving voter confidence in electoral administration in the face of skepticism about whether all votes are actually counted. VoteCal will also facilitate upcoming innovations in California election law after the November General Election, which include Election Day voter registration and the New Motor Voter Act.

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Connecticut Becomes Fifth State to Make Automatic Voter Registration Change

By: Cristina DeBiase

In recent years, states have passed laws making it harder to vote through restrictive provisions, such as requiring photo ID, limiting early voting, eliminating same-day registration, or all of the above. Since the 2010 midterm elections alone, nearly half of the states have placed additional restrictions upon voting. Looking forward to November 8, 14 states have new laws that will curtail voting rights for the first time in a presidential election.

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California’s New Motor Voter Law Benefits the Young, Not Undocumented Immigrants

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed legislation that will allow for automated voter registration at the DMV for citizens obtaining or renewing a driver’s license or state ID. The law is being referred to as the New Motor Voter Act. California lawmakers are attempting to combat historically low voter turnout rates in the state by removing barriers to registration. The law will go into effect on the first of 2016, but it may not be immediately implementable. The goal is to have the system functional by the June 2016 primaries.

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Ballot Initiatives for Marijuana Legalization Track Public Opinion

By Hannah Whiteker

Fans of direct democracy should be excited about the increased use of state ballot initiatives to legalize marijuana use. Direct democracy  allows citizens to enact and change laws, instead of electing representatives to make important decisions for them. One of the ways that the United States utilizes direct democracy is through state ballot initiatives. If a group of voters wants to get an initiative on the ballot to pass a law in their state (there is no initiative process for federal elections), the group must first get enough voters to sign a petition supporting the initiative. The number of signatures required varies by state. If the group satisfies the signature requirement, the initiative is put on the ballot for the next statewide election to be voted on by the people.

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Deciphering Felony Disenfranchisement in Post-Realignment California

In August of 2015, California restored the voting rights to approximately 60,000 former felony offenders who had been improperly disenfranchised as a result of a glitch in the political process. In the whirlwind of California’s recent prison reform acts, these citizens had been inappropriately classified as ineligible to vote in violation of California’s Constitution and election laws. Although the case had already been decided in the voters’ favor by a trial court, it was not until California’s current Secretary of State, Alex Padilla, decided this summer to drop the appeal that these former felony offenders could feel safe registering to vote. But how did such a large number of potential voters end improperly disenfranchised in the first place?

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Right to a Write-In Vote in South Carolina?

By: Lauren Coleman

Greenville, South Carolina, will become the largest municipality in South Carolina to cancel an election this upcoming November.  Mayor Knox White and three members of the City Council are running unopposed and will take office without going through a formal election process.

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All Bark, No Bite: How California’s Top-Two Primary System Reinforces the Status Quo

by Nathan Yu

During the November 6 general election, the state of California saw the effects of one fascinating component of its electoral system:  its top-two open primary.

Over two years ago, California voters proposed and passed Proposition 14, a ballot initiative that drastically reformed the state’s primary system. Prior to Prop 14, California conducted closed primary elections, which meant a voter could only vote for candidates in his own political party. The candidate with the most votes from each “qualified” political party—the Democratic Party, Republican Party, American Independent Party, Americans Elect Party, Green Party, Libertarian Party, and Peace & Freedom Party—advanced to the general election where he would face the candidates who advanced from the other parties. In a sense, the old system guaranteed that a third party or independent candidate could secure a spot on the November general election ballot. Continue reading

Who Draws the Lines? California Experiment Intact, For Now

by Nathan Yu and Chelsea Bobo

When American legislators sit down to redraw district lines it is difficult to disentangle this redistricting process from the evils of gerrymandering and other forms of partisan abuse. Perhaps the party members we elect should not be closely involved in determining what our electoral districts look like. This is the conclusion a slim majority of California voters reached four years ago with the approval of Proposition 11. Also known as the Voters FIRST Act, Proposition 11 set up the California Citizens Redistricting Commission (CCRC), an independent redistricting commission. Continue reading

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