State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Tag: Military Voters

Should military members who did not vote in 2010 receive a ballot?

by Wesley Moore

It may sound like a simple issue, but Colorado is currently in an uproar over this issue. The City of Denver had been planning to send mail ballots to all registered voters, including inactive military voters. In response, Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler made the controversial move of filing suit against the city, arguing that Colorado law only allows localities to mail ballots to those on the active voting list. The full complaint can be found here. Because the election is mere weeks away, John Tomasic of The Colorado Independent notes that this new directive seems likely to effectively disenfranchise the effected soldiers.

Colorado law requires ballots to be sent out to all active registered voters, but it does not explicitly prohibit county clerks from being more proactive. According to The Daily Sentinel, Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner argued that counties should be able to do more if they wish. “I had made a decision early on not to include the inactive voters because it wasn’t required,” Reiner said. “But I have to agree with the Denver County clerk and recorder that the statute requirements are only a minimum, and in many areas clerks often go over and above depending on the needs of their counties.” Continue reading

“MOVE” Act Created Urgency for NH Election Officials

As New Hampshire voters were casting ballots in their state’s September 14 primary, local and state election officers were anxiously preparing to tabulate and certify the results with greater urgency than usual. The pressure to confirm town and city results with all possible speed was a reaction to certain provisions of the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act (MOVE Act) signed into law by President Obama in 2009. In particular, the Act requires states to be able to provide U.S. soldiers and citizens abroad with their respective absentee ballots “not later than 45 days” before an election. With this year’s general election set for November 2, New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner was left with a mere four day interval to affirm the primary results and furnish general election ballots in accord with the 45-day requirement. Continue reading

Weekly Wrap Up

Every week, State of Elections brings you the latest news in state election law.

– A recently filed lawsuit in North Carolina seeks to challenge Section 5 of the Voter Rights Act. Section 5 requires that certain states and municipalities “preclear” changes to their voting laws with the Attorney General.  Essentially, the Attorney General has a veto over any changes to voting laws in certain states, but not in others.  This North Carolina lawsuit (LaRoque v. Holder) claims that Section 5 exceeds Congress’s authority under the Fifth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution.

The iPad has already made its mark on the election law community.  Project Vote, a voter registration and engagement organization, is teaming with Echo Interaction Group to develop a new voter registration application for the iPad. The application would allow users to instantly and accurately record, collect, and upload voter data to a secure server.  Only four states currently allow online voter registration, but the organization is optimistic that more states will follow suit.

– California State Senator Leland Yee has introduced a bill that would permit same day registration in that state.

– The Ohio House of Representatives has unanimously passed a bill that will allow overseas military forces to request absentee ballots electronically, instead of requiring the request be sent through regular mail.

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