SiX Releases a New Report
SiX released a report examining the legislative activity in statehouses across the country. SiX took a look at some of the best and worst state policies from the year’s legislative session and the report underscores the consequences of big money in politics. The report covers a broad range of policies including voting and election policy and found that in 2016, bills that would expand access to the ballot box outnumbered restrictive bills. AVR bills were introduced in more than 20 states this year and became law in Vermont and West Virginia. In laying the landscape for the future and continuing current fights, it is important to read more about the best and worst voting & election policies in the past year.
Take Action! Help Gather Signatures in Colorado with Greenpeace
Support Greenpeace in getting the "Yes for Health and Safety" ballot initiatives across the finish line by August 8th. The initiatives will help Colorado communities defend themselves from fracking by giving local governments a stronger role in decision making and setting up "fracking buffer zones" near schools, hospitals, etc. Greenpeace is working on collecting 120,000 signatures by August 8th so that the initiatives can be on the ballot come November. Contact Rachel Butler to get your Colorado members involved!
Learn More about the Success of Oregon Automatic Voter Registration!
In 2015, Oregon became the first state to create and implement a fully automatic voter registration system. The Oregon Motor Voter Coalition invites you to join them for a phone call and online presentation regarding automatic voter registration's affect on the May Primary turnout as well as engaging AVR voters to research how it works on the ground. Join the call led by the Oregon Motor Voter Coalition Steering Committee on Friday, August 5th from 10-11:30 PST/1:00-2:30 EST. RSVP by Monday, August 1st with Caroline Cowley.
Fight for Voting Access Continues in Virginia
On Friday, the Supreme Court of Virginia ruled against an executive order which restored voting rights to ex-offenders. The ruling invalidated the registration of Virginians like Louise Benjamin of Richmond who recently registered to vote under the executive order. "I’ve never been able to vote," she said, "This would be my first time and it means a lot to me. I am trying to make a difference in my community and I’m not able to do that now." Despite this setback, New Virginia Majority is continuing the fight to expand democracy for the over 200,000 Virginians who were denied the right to vote. The organization is working with the Governor to quickly sign individual clemency grants for the 200,000 ex-offenders, starting with the 13,000 who had already registered to vote before the ruling. Read New Virginia Majority's statement on the ruling here and go to their website to find out how you can help register the new voters in time for the November election.
Victories in the Movement!
Texas Discriminatory Voter ID Law must be Remedied by Nov. Elections
A Federal Appeals court upheld a prior ruling that Texas's Voter ID law violates the Voting Rights Act which prohibits racial discrimination in elections. The courts found that the law would disenfranchise over 600,000 Texans, with a disproportionate amount being black or Hispanic. The law has not been completely thrown out but the appeals court passed the ruling down to the trial court which must now come up with a remedy in time for the November election.
Wisconsin Judge Rules Against Discriminatory Voter ID Law
Last Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman ruled against Wisconsin's Voter by permitting voters who cannot obtain suitable IDs to sign an affidavit verifying their identity in order to vote. Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel filed an appeal on Friday to stay the ruling. If the stay is not granted then, voters will not be denied their right to vote come November.
Federal Judge Declares Michigan Straight-ticket Voting Law Discriminatory
On Thursday, a federal judge ruled that a Michigan law banning straight-ticket voting negatively affected African-Americans disproportionately. The judge granted a request for a preliminary injunction to block enforcement of the law before the general election citing the unfair burden. The ban on straight-ticket voting would have resulted in longer wait times and high congestion with a disproportionate number of African-Americans being affected.