Category Archives: voter registration

“One Year After Executive Order Restored Voting Rights To Iowans With Felony Convictions, Most Haven’t Registered To Vote”

Katarina Sostaric at Iowa Public Radio:

One year after Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed an executive order restoring voting rights to an estimated 35,000 to 45,000 Iowans with past felony convictions, about 5,000 of the newly eligible individuals have registered to vote. Voting rights advocates say the state should put more effort into reaching people to let them know they can vote.

A report from The Marshall Project in June put the number of registered voters at 5,000, and the Iowa Secretary of State’s office told IPR 4,127 people had registered as of January 29. Iowa SOS spokesperson Kevin Hall told IPR it would cost $160 to provide a more recent number.

According to Hall, 3,179 of these newly eligible voters voted in the 2020 election.

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“As Kansas district attorney refuses to enforce election law, voter groups won’t resume registration drives”

Topeka Capital-Journal:

Voter advocates won’t resume registration drives in Kansas, despite the Douglas County district attorney’s refusal to enforce a new election law.

Douglas County District Attorney Suzanne Valdez, a Democrat, announced last week that her office won’t prosecute people who violate HB 2183.

“This is not a partisan issue,” Valdez said in a news release. “This law criminalizes essential efforts by trusted nonpartisan groups like the League of Women Voters to engage Kansans on participation in accessible, accountable and fair elections. It is too vague and too broad and threatens to create felons out of dedicated defenders of democracy.”

Valdez’s decision comes ahead of Tuesday’s primary elections.

However, the League of Women Voters of Kansas won’t be restarting its voter registration drives.

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Panic setting in over new voting rules

Politico reports on the fear among Democrats and voting rights activists that getting out the vote (GOTV) will be much harder in light of the new more restrictive voting laws being adopted in states like Georgia. The article is useful because it helps explain the intensity of the opposition to these laws. And without getting into a discussion here about how unjustified (or not) these new laws are from a policy perspective, it is worth noting an analytical distinction that often gets elided in the coverage of these laws: cutbacks in voting opportunities that are retrogressive, and thus are an impediment relatively speaking to GOTV efforts, are not necessarily voter “suppression” in the strict sense of disenfranchisement (i.e., a barrier to casting a ballot and thus participating in the election). If voters have a genuine opportunity to participate but choose to abstain, they aren’t being denied the right to vote. This is true even if voter turnout efforts on the left fail to reach their target goals, or even past turnout levels. To be sure, these laws may be cynically motivated by a partisan realization that turnout rates are variable, depending on how convenient voting is; if it is less convenient, some marginal voters may not bother to cast a ballot, even though they actually have an opportunity to do so. It is certainly appropriate to condemn that kind of cynical partisanship, since it is a form of bad faith and contrary to the ideal of structuring the rules of electoral participation in the public interest (based on a nonpartisan assessment of the overall relevant policy considerations). Even so, discussion of this topic (at least in my view) ought to be careful to use terminology that recognizes the distinction between new laws that hinder participation compared to new laws that deny participation. Often, it seems that the phrase “voter suppression” or similar language is employed to make the former seem more like the latter, or at least to lump the two categories together.

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DNC to Spend $25 Million on Voter Outreach and Litigation

NYT:

Facing an onslaught of state-level ballot restrictions and gridlock in Congress over voting rights legislation, the White House detailed a multimillion-dollar plan on Thursday to register voters and fight voter suppression.

In a speech at Howard University, Vice President Kamala Harris said the Democratic National Committee would invest $25 million in voter outreach and litigation.

… The $25 million investment is in addition to $20 million that Jaime R. Harrison, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, pledged would be spent before the 2022 midterm elections.

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Ninth Circuit Panel Rejects Extension of Arizona Voter Registration Deadline But Will Allow Voters Who Registered Past The Deadline to Keep Their Registration; Judge Bybee Would Have Rejected Those Registrations

Opinion. [corrected link]

The majority panel is made up of two Democratic-appointed judges; Judge Bybee is a Bush appointee.

I was shocked when this remedy was granted on the eve of the registration deadline, and given the signals sent from the Supreme Court this is as I expected.

It is possible there could be further litigation to roll back the registrations of those who voted after the original deadline, but it is not clear that anyone with standing on the issue will want to appeal.

I liked this line about Purcell in the majority opinion:

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Federal District Court, While Excoriating Florida for Its Incompetence, Won’t Extend Registration Deadline After Last-Day System Crash

The court found that the burden on the state in keeping the system going outweighed the risk of disenfranchisement. The court’s order concludes:

The state could have extended the registration deadline until midnight on October 6th, which would have given these potential voters a fighting chance. Instead, the state chose to notify the public during a normal workday and gave them only seven hours to somehow become apprised of their rights and register, all while also participating in their normal workday, school, family, and caregiving responsibilities. One would expect the state to make it easier for its citizens to vote.
Unfortunately for these potential voters, this Court cannot remedy what the state broke under these circumstances. This Court must consider the consequencesof extending voter registration deadline. Having done so, the motion for preliminary injunction, ECF No. 3, is DENIED.
In so ruling, this Court notes that every man who has stepped foot on the Moon launched from the Kennedy Space Center, in Florida. Yet, Florida has failed to figure out how to run an election properly—a task simpler than rocket science.

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“Florida extends voter registration deadline after website failure”

Politico:

Florida extended the deadline for voter registration after the state’s online portal crashed under the weight of heavy traffic hours before the Oct. 5 deadline.

Registration will be open for an additional seven hours, from noon to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Secretary of State Laurel Lee said in a written statement.

The move should short-circuit a lawsuit that civil rights and voting groups were preparing to file early Tuesday.

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“Florida voter registration system crashes on last day for filing”

Politico:

Florida’s online voter portal crashed on the final day of registration, prompting Democrats to accuse Gov. Ron DeSantis and other Republican state officials of trying to suppress the vote less than a month before Election Day.

Details: Secretary of State Laurel Leesaid the site went down briefly Monday. The portal appeared to continue with problems and in the early evening was down again or moving slowly, possibly overwhelmed by people trying to access it.

Lee, in a text on Monday evening, said her office thought it had handled the crash “right away”, but was “working now to see if there’s an ongoing problem.”

Floridians who want to vote in the November election have until 12 a.m. Tuesday to register, and Republicans and Democrats had mounted campaigns to urge people to sign up. With President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden on the ballot, turnout is expected to be high in the battleground state.

Democrats were suspicious of the timing of the crash, noting the system has had problems in the past when demand is high.

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Arizona: “Groups ask court to extend voter registration deadline”

Arizona Capitol Times:

Saying the pandemic interfered with the process, two groups want more time to sign up voters for this election.

Legal papers filed in U.S. District Court in Phoenix claim the current deadline of October 5 to register does not work this year. That complies with the requirement in Arizona law to close the process 29 days before the general election.

So Mi Familia Vota and the Arizona Coalition for Change are asking U.S. District Court Judge Steven Logan to set the registration deadline no later than October 27. That is just a week ahead of the vote.

The move could draw opposition from Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, if for no other reason than the idea of making major changes in the system so close to the election.

Attorney Zoe Salzman said her clients recognize that. But she said there is ample evidence that the unique conditions this year have put a damper on getting people registered to vote.

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“Trump is winning the voter registration battle against Biden in key states”

David Wasserman:

In the last few weeks, Joe Biden has led President Donald Trump by a fairly consistent 8-point average in national polls and has maintained leads in more than enough battleground states to win the Electoral College, including Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — all states Trump won in 2016.

But there are signs Trump’s ground operation is paying off when it comes to registering new voters in key states, an advantage that could become important if the race tightens before Nov. 3.

The Trump campaign has boasted that it knocks on more than a million doors a week, a claim that’s impossible to independently verify. In sharp contrast, the Biden campaign had ditched a ground game for virtual outreach, citing Covid-19 concerns — even though academic research has routinely concluded door-to-door canvassing is the “most consistently effective and efficient method of voter mobilization.” Only just now has the Biden campaign decided to restart its in-person voter contacts in some battleground states.

As deadlines approach, new data from the past few months shows Republicans have swamped Democrats in adding new voters to the rolls, a dramatic GOP improvement over 2016, even if new registrations have lagged 2016 rates across the board. It’s a sign that in a pandemic, Democrats are struggling to seize traditional opportunities to pad their margins, such as the return of students to college campuses.

Of the six states Trump won by less than 5 points in 2016, four — Arizona, Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania — permit voters to register by party. In all four states, voter registration trends are more robust for the GOP than four years ago.

In Florida, Republicans added a net 195,652 registered voters between this March’s presidential primary and the end of August, while Democrats added 98,362 and other voters increased 69,848. During the same period in 2016, Republicans added a net 182,983 registrants, Democrats 163,571 and others 71,982. In 2016, Trump prevailed in Florida by just 112,911 votes.

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“‘Something’s in the water’: Florida Republicans see surge in voter registration”

Politico:

Republicans have closed the traditional voter registration gap with Democrats to an historically small margin in Florida, triggering a wave of Democratic apprehension in the nation’s biggest swing state.

Top Florida Democrats and longtime activists have increasingly groused in private that they feel pressure from Joe Biden’s campaign to refrain from door-to-door canvassing or holding voter registration drives due to the potential spread of the coronavirus and fears of muddying his messaging on the pandemic.

In the absence of such efforts, a concerted drive by President Donald Trump’s Florida campaign to register voters has helped cut the state’s long-standing Democratic advantage to fewer than 185,000 voters, a gap of just 1.3 percentage points, according to data from the Florida Division of Elections released this week.

“It’s late in the game now,” said state Sen. Jason Pizzo, a Miami Democrat. “There’s been no pushback from us, meaning that for every 100 doors that Republicans have proverbially knocked on, it’s not like they pissed people off to the point where they’ve run to the Democratic Party because they’re pissed at the GOP. It’s shown to be effective.”

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