State of Elections

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Tag: Pre-Registration

North Carolina’s Battle for Voter Identification

By: Collin Crookenden

With the recent invalidation of the coverage formula set forth in Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, several previously covered districts implemented stricter voting requirements. In 2013, immediately following the invalidation, North Carolina enacted Session Law 2013-381 which contained multiple provisions that were contested as soon as Governor McCrory (R) signed it into effect: photo identification requirements, shortened early voting periods, and elimination of pre-registration for individuals under the age of 18. The new requirements were set to go into effect January 2016 and were in fact utilized in the primaries earlier this year, after the legislature altered the law in 2015. Of primary concern to the litigants and to the legislation’s opposition was the requirement of all voters to show photo identification. Most states have some form of identification requirements, but North Carolina’s 2013 version maintained some of the most stringent provisions. Governor McCrory argued that these, specifically the photo identification statute, were “common sense” pieces of legislation. However, while the district court agreed with his assessment, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the legislation was in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination of voting requirements based upon race.

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Sitting Down with Washington’s Director of Elections

I recently had a chance to have an email conversation with Nick Handy, Director of Elections under the Secretary of State for Washington.  With a dedication to public service and a knack for handling tough situations with sensitivity, Mr. Handy has served Washington well and entered a well-deserved retirement at the end of 2010.

Could you tell us a little bit about your background?  What prepared you to be Director of Elections?

I am perhaps an unconventional appointment to an Elections Director position in that I had no experience in elections management prior to the appointment.

I was a long time personal and political friend of the Secretary of State.  I had 30 years experience in senior management in state and local government working in areas of high controversy and political scrutiny.  These included open government after Watergate, natural resource management during the spotted owl and endangered species debates, and oil spill preventing after Exxon Valdez. Continue reading

One Stop Shopping: Rhode Island Initiative Registers Voters at Work

The Newport Mansions, Family Guy, Brown University and the Farrelly brothers are a few of the Ocean State’s more notable features.  To this list, we may soon add “Innovative Voter Registration.”  Rhode Island Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis launched “Voters in the Workplace” in the summer of 2008.  This initiative encourages and enables companies to host voter registration drives during normal business hours between August and October every year.  These months include the registration deadlines for both the state primary and general elections.  The Secretary of State’s office markets the program through social media and direct mail while working with Rhode Island’s chamber of commerce network and trade organizations for human resources managers.

So how does it work? A company contacts the Secretary of State’s office and expresses interest in hosting a voter registration drive for its employees.  In the weeks leading up to the drive the company generally sends out e-mails notifying its workers, posts links to registration forms on their intranet, and displays voter registration posters.  The Secretary of State’s Office supplies the company with all of these materials electronically, even the e-mail template.  Some companies do more: Cox Communications in West Warwick ran promotions on its closed-circuit television network.  On the day of the drive, staff members from the Secretary of State’s office travel to the company and conduct the voter registration.  A drive is usually held in the cafeteria or another gathering space in the workplace during regularly scheduled breaks, lunch, or directly after work.  Staff time spent on a typical registration, including travel, is about two hours.  Chris Barnett of the Rhode Island Secretary of State’s press office indicated there is no discrete budget for the program and “the investment is simply routine overhead.”  Dozens of companies have partnered with the Secretary of State’s office since the program began two years ago. Continue reading

Weekly Wrap Up

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

A number of states are passing new legislation in an attempt to curb the influence of special interests on judicial elections.

Wisconsin state Representative Jeff Stone is pushing for voter ID legislation in that state.  The legislature had previously approved a bill that required photo ID at the polls, but the bill was vetoed by the Governor.

The Maryland legislature is currently debating a bill that would allow 16 year olds to register to vote.

In California, two candidates for state attorney general are preparing for a court battle over what titles they can attach to their names on the ballot.  Titles and nicknames seem to be a particularly contentious issue lately.  Check out this article from last week about Conrad “Colonel”  Reynolds and “Porky” Kimbrell, and their efforts to put their nicknames on the ballot.  Spoiler alert: Colonel = flagrant violation of election law, Porky = perfectly legal.

Here’s an interesting post about the 2010 census and redistricting from the Balkinization blog.

Weekly Wrap Up

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

– Winter break at William and Mary is over, and State of Elections is excited to return to a  full time posting schedule. New articles will be posted every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, beginning on January 11th.

– Senator Chris Dodd has announced he will not seek reelection in 2010.  During his time in the Senate,  Dodd proposed some sweeping changes to voter registration laws.  Take a look at S. 17, Dodd’s proposed “Voting Opportunity and Technology Enhancement Rights Act of 2005”.  If it had been passed, S. 17 would have required states to allow voters to register on election day, and also would have enabled voters to register electronically via the Internet.

– The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the disenfranchisement of felons violates the federal Voting Rights Act.  According to the court, the criminal justice system is so “infected” with racism that limiting the right of felons to vote is contrary to the Act’s prohibition against the denial of voting rights on account of race.  The court’s opinion can be read in full here.

– The Rhode Island Senate and House has enacted legislation allowing 16 and 17 year olds to “pre-register” to vote.  Those that pre-register will be automatically added to the voter rolls will they turn 18.  The bill had been previously vetoed by Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri, but the veto was overridden by the legislature.   For more information on pre-registration, see FairVote.org’s fact sheet.

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