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Tag: voter registration (page 1 of 3)

Florida Online Voter Registration: Cybersecurity vs. Burdening Eligible Voters

By: Alannah Shubrick

In 2015, the Florida Legislature passed a bill permitting Floridians to register online to vote. Two years later, registertovoteflorida.gov  finally went live in October. Now, Florida is one among 35 states that allow voters the option to register to vote online. The new online voter-registration system is part of broad efforts across the state to modernize the Florida voter registration system and enable all eligible Floridians to join the electorate.

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West Virginia’s Relentless March to Expand Voter Registration

By: Jordan Smith 

West Virginia is undergoing what appears to be a voter registration revolution as the state legislature continues to make strides to simplify access to the ballot box.  The following post aims to discuss these advancements in an effort to summarize the current state of voter registration in the Mountain State. 

In 2013, former-Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, signed into law SB 477, which amended the state constitution to allow for online voter registration (OVR).  The state was not quick to implement the OVR system, as the Secretary of State’s Office did not unveil an official program until the latter half of 2015.  In essence, the now-implemented OVR application requires a registrant to supply the same information required on the paper registration cards: full name, birthdate, location, citizenship status, last four digits of the registrant’s social security number, and the registrant’s driver’s license/state-issued ID number.  If a registrant does not have a state-issued ID or driver’s license, they must instead complete and submit a standard paper form.  As a result,  while OVR streamlines the process for certain registrants, it does so only for those who would likely have already taken advantage of the “motor voter” provisions of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 or the state’s newer electronic voter registration system at the Department of Motor Vehicles.     
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She Doesn’t Even Go Here: Proof-of-Residency Requirements in Kansas Elections

By: Emma Dolgos

In May 2017, President Trump appointed Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State, to a new Commission on Election Integrity to assist in the study of voter fraud, improper voter registration, voter suppression, and other voting irregularities. Just one month later, Kobach announced his campaign for governor of Kansas. Kobach’s public statements—both as Vice-Chair of the Commission and a gubernatorial candidate—have led to increased attention on Kansas’ state election laws, particularly the laws related to fraudulent voting.

While a number of civil rights groups have been targeting proof of citizenship laws in Kansas as they affect immigrants to the United States, few groups have given equal attention to proof of residence laws that affect current American citizens. The Kansas constitution requires a voter to reside in the state of Kansas. Further, Kansas Statutes Annotated § 25-407 states that residency encompasses a person’s place of habitation in which he or she has the “intention of returning.” The law, in its current form, hinges on the intent of each individual voter, which is arguably challenging for the state to disprove.

Proponents of this proof of residency law, including Kobach, argue that the law protects state elections from the undue influence of out-of-state voters. Kobach, in his criticism of New Hampshire elections, argues that voters have not met the legal requirements to obtain a state driver’s license and are therefore nonresidents of the state. These nonresidents do not have as much as an interest in or attachment to the state. The argument follows that nonresident votes constitute voting fraud because they are cast by ineligible voters and because they cancel out residents’ votes. This mirrors Kobach’s argument about Kansas’ proof of citizenship laws; he contends that “[e]very time an alien votes, it cancels out the vote of a U.S. citizen.” If too many nonresidents vote, they will have a disproportionate influence on state electoral outcomes.

However, opponents of Kansas’ residency requirement argue that the law is not tailored enough to solve the nonresident, fraudulent voting problem. While the law requires an intent to return to Kansas, it does not provide for a verification method. The County Election Officer determines whether an address is in located in the voting district, but the officer does not verify if the address corresponds to the specific voter. Election officers do not even have to ask for paperwork—deeds, leases, bills, and so on—connecting voters to a residence. Moreover, Kansas’ voter identification laws permit a voter to present a driver’s license from Kansas or from another state within the United states. Thus, election officials could not rely on a voter’s identification to indicate his or her intent to remain in Kansas for residency purposes. This dilemma seemingly makes the intent of a resident unprovable. People can openly abuse the law by claiming intent to return to an address “they no longer own and no longer have any legal right to occupy.”

These deficiencies in administration of the law begs the question, what is necessary to demonstrate an intent to return to Kansas? Perhaps Kansas should follow the lead of New Hampshire, the very state Kobach criticized for its ineffective residency laws. To give teeth to the law, the Kansas legislature could consider adding a provision requiring voters to provide documentation tying the voter to the address. For college students, documentation might include proof of enrollment or a “room-and-board” receipt rather than a utility bill or deed. Further, a backup mechanism would need to be set up for those voters who could not produce documentation at the time of registration.

There are legitimate concerns with ineligible voters canceling the power of valid voters in both state and federal elections. While attention predominantly goes to noncitizen voting laws, it is important to remember that valid voters can be harmed by residents from other states voting in Kansas or by residents from one county voting in another. A resident from Kansas likely would not want a New York resident choosing their representatives. That New York resident doesn’t even “go” to Kansas in the sense that she arguably does not share the same interests and concerns as a Kansan.

Since Kobach has drawn national attention to nonresident fraud problems in New Hampshire, it seems imperative that he—and the Kansas legislature—seriously discuss the future of their own proof of residence provision.

 

Alaska Joins Growing Number of States with Automatic Voter Registration   

By: Grace Greenberg-Spindler 

Alaska’s automatic voter registration law went into effect March 1, 2017, making Alaska one of ten states, the fourth state to do so in this year, to enact such legislation. The new bill was introduced through Ballot Measure 1 (15PFVR), which passed in the November 8, 2016 referendum with more than 63% of support from Alaskan voters. The bill also received bipartisan support from Republican leaders Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Sen. Dan Sullivan and Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux as well as Democratic Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins and former Sen. Mark Begich.      

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Tennessee Looks to Encourage Voter Turnout With Some Help from the Digital Age

By: Caroline Drinnon

As of September 2017, Tennessee joined the ranks of another 35 states, plus the District of Colombia, in enacting an online voter registration system. Following a 2016 law that mandated an online voter registration system be in place by July (later extended to September) of 2017, the Tennessee Secretary of State’s office officially opened the website on September 1. Proponents of the system believe that it will streamline the registration system, reduce clerical errors, and lower taxpayer costs of the process. The registration process can be found here and requires a Tennessee driver’s license or Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security ID to be completed.

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Registering to Vote, As Easy As Driving a Car?

By: Brooke Hannah

What if registering to vote was as easy as riding a bike? Well, maybe not a bike, but what about as easy and effortless as driving a car after years of experience? While it may not be quite that simple yet, West Virginia has made it close to being that simple as they have just passed a bill allowing for the information of those who get a driver’s license or identification card to be submitted into the voter registration process.  Promoting and simplifying the voter registration process is an important goal for West Virginia. The state has demonstrated its dedication to improving the voter registration process by implementing automatic voter registration, launching online voter registration, and becoming a voting member of the Electronic Registration Information Center (“ERIC”).

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Breaking Down the Barriers to Automatic Voter Registration in Washington D.C.

 

By: Mary Boothe

In May 2015, The Automatic Voter Registration Amendment Act was introduced to the D.C. Council by council members Charles Allen, Brianne Nadeau, Jack Evans, Mary Cheh, Elissa Silverman, and Anita Bonds, and former at-large council member Vincent Orange, and co-sponsored by at-large council member David Grosso.  The bill has since unanimously passed the D.C. Council. However, to become a law it still needs to be signed by the mayor, Muriel Bowser, and sent for a 30-day review on Capitol Hill. Allowing automatic voter registration will still be a landmark move that will ease the burden of registration for the thousands of eligible D.C. voters.

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WA: No Home, No Voice?

By: Anna Ellermeier

Homeless Seattleites face barriers to voting while the City Council decides the fate of tent cities and encampments

11.14 - Ellermeier - Post 2 - Graphic

Homeless individuals, in Seattle and across the county, face unique barriers to registering to vote and exercising their right to vote once registered. While a residential address is not required by the Washington State Constitution or by state statute, homeless Seattleites still face significant  challenges in this area.

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North Carolina’s 2013 Voting Laws Were Struck Down By the 4th Circuit, But The State May Not Be Out of the Legal Fights Yet

By: Blake Willis

When the Fourth Circuit struck down North Carolina HB 589, the notorious law which toughened voter-ID requirements, limited early voting, and limited same-day registration, many who champion voter rights believed that North Carolina’s long-standing history as a state with suppressive voter laws may begin to change. However, that optimism may be short lived as North Carolina is now facing challenges on two other election law provisions.

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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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