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.
News that Florida Governor Rick Scott intends to resume his failed voter purge has recently made headlines. The potential negative impact of this purge is serious, and FELN joins many others who are concerned about the Governor’s latest efforts.
Adding insult to injury, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory says he will sign the damaging elections bill that was rushed through the legislature, despite admitting he’s not familiar with the bill. The legislature ended the 2013 session last week, but not before pushing the bill through at the last minute.
In light of the Supreme Court’s Shelby County decision, most election law experts across the country immediately focused on Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act as the best defense against law makers and radical voting law changes like those passed recently in North Carolina. As the dust has settled, the focus has shifted to another lesser discussed portion of the Voting Rights Act, Section 3.
On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing, “From Selma to Shelby County: Working Together to Restore the Protections of the Voting Rights Act” on the recent Supreme Court decision striking down Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act. When SCOTUS threw out the current formula for preclearance, they left the door open for congress to create a new one. The question remains though whether congress can come together to decide if a new formula is needed and what that new formula should be.