Though Massachusetts has historically been ahead of the curve on many issues, our election laws are far behind most other states, in fact, Rock the Vote ranked us 42nd in the nation in 2012. Fortunately, the Massachusetts House and Senate have now both passed legislation to update our voting laws. This is a major victory but it’s not law yet. The two pieces of legislation now head to conference where both houses will hash out what the final piece of legislation will look like before it heads to the Governor’s desk.
Last week, the Wisconsin State Senate approved a bill that would bar early voting on weekends and cap total early voting per week at 45 hours. If this bill is passed and signed, early voting in clerks’ offices will only take place on weekdays between 8 a.m.
Over the past few months, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie has initiated a variety of electoral reforms in Minnesota. He has been in the news recently because of his work to implement online voter registration, bypassing the political gridlock of the state legislature. The system was used by nearly 1,500 people in its first month.
As the dust continues to settle surrounding the Virginia Attorney General race, two things have become clear. First, we may not have an official winner for some time pending an expected recount. Second, and most importantly, provisional ballots count and are far more important than some would lead you to believe.
The U.S. Department of Justice has been forced to explore different strategies to protect voters from discriminatory and burdensome election laws in the void left by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder. Without a formula to determine which jurisdictions must preclear their election laws under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, Section 2 is the next best option to protect voters.
Last week, Campus Vote Project teamed with the U.S. Department of Education to put student voting in the spotlight. The Department organized a conference call designed to inform college administrators, faculty, staff, and students around the country about the importance of institutionalizing efforts on college campuses to get more students registered and voting. Under Secretary Martha Kanter led a discussion that highlighted specific strategies for getting more students to participate in our democracy.