Virginia Governor Backtracks on Backwards “Essay Requirement” for Former Felons

Cross-posted at Project Vote’s blog, Voting Matters

As Congress deliberates over setting a federal standard for restoring the civil rights of released felons, Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell appeared to be creating more roadblocks to the democratic process for felons in his state. However, after much criticism from lawmakers and voting rights groups in the last few days, the governor has backed down; McDonnell now says  his new requirement for felons to write an essay outlining their contribution to society in order to restore their voting rights was merely a "draft policy proposal."

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Advocates and Legislators Debate the Promise (and Potential Problems) of Online Registration

Cross-posted to Project Vote's blog, Voting Matters

Online voter registration is a leading election reform issue often touted as an avenue for modernizing voter registration for the 21st century. A new report by the Pew Center on the States says online voter registration is a cost- and time-effective method that is widely used and favored by people in states with established programs. With more states moving towards online registration, legislators and advocacy groups are moving to address concerns and find innovative new ways to ensure Americans can take advantage of the technology.

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A Leap Forward for NVRA Compliance Monitoring in Florida

Cross-posted to Project Vote's blog, Voting Matters

Florida is joining a number of states that are utilizing technology to improve compliance with the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.

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Wisconsin May Be First State to Enact Automatic Voter Registration Law

Cross-posted to Project Vote's blog, Voting Matters

A bill to automatically register voters when applying for a driver’s license was introduced to the Wisconsin Assembly yesterday. If passed, advocates in Wisconsin say the state would be the first to implement this streamlined procedure to make voter registration accurate and accessible under law.

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Former Inmate Illustrates Transformative Power of the Ballot Box

Cross-posted to Project Vote's blog, Voting Matters

With millions of Americans living and working in our communities, but disenfranchised by past felony convictions, Congress has taken the first step to put democracy back on track.

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Looking Beyond the College Campus in Youth Voter Engagement Efforts

Cross-posted to Project Vote’s blog, Voting Matters

Engaging young citizens in the democratic process is an issue that lawmakers and voting rights advocates have long attempted to address. But with most youth voter engagement efforts primarily targeting college-attending youth (who make up less than half of the population of 18-24 year olds and are more likely to register and vote), the problem of underrepresented youth is likely to remain unsolved.

As voter education and access to voter registration seem to go hand-in-hand with greater voter participation rates, more lawmakers and advocates are siding with a simple solution for youth voter engagement: preregistration. However, as the state legislatures demonstrate this year, support for this reform could not happen fast enough.

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Kansas Takes Steps to Ensure Voters Are Not Improperly Purged by Interstate Data-Match

Cross-posted to Project Vote's blog, Voting Matters

A seemingly harmless trend in voter list maintenance is to compare voter lists between states and cancel apparent matches. However, this method not only violates federal law, but has the potential to put thousands of voters at risk of wrongful purging. As a result, one of the first states to launch this trend has taken steps to ensure that voters are not improperly removed from the rolls and perhaps will serve as an example to states that may be putting voters at risk through these interstate compacts.

While there is nothing wrong with states sharing information in an attempt to keep their voter lists up-to-date, some state election officials think that they are justified in immediately removing a voter from their rolls if the computerized interstate database comparison reveals an apparent match with the name and birth date of a voter who has more recently registered out of state. Removal based on such a match without adequate notice to the voter is not only unreliable, it's also illegal under the National Voter Registration Act.

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Voter ID Debate Weathers Storm: Bill Passes in S.C., another Brews in Missouri

Cross-posted to Project Vote's blog, Voting Matters

After the state Supreme Court shut down Indiana’s contentious photo voter ID law as unconstitutional last September for unfairly exempting absentee voters, this year’s crop of voter ID bills appeared to be tweaked just enough to avoid major public scrutiny. This month, however, policymakers have returned to debating over traditional photo ID bills that pertain to voters who cast a ballot in person, and unfortunately, they are picking up in several states.

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Living the Past in the Present: Voter Intimidation Tactics Still Thrive in America

Cross-posted to Project Vote's blog, Voting Matters

In observance of Black History month, it is fitting to revisit America’s less than stellar record in the ongoing effort to move toward true equality. The key to equality was recognized more than 100 years ago when newly freed African Americans were given the basic rights of citizenship and voting under the 14th and 15th Amendments, though it was not until the 1960s that equality for African Americans and other disadvantaged groups was finally acknowledged on both a legal and cultural scale with the passage of the cornerstone Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. Yet citizens of color continue to be underrepresented in U.S. electorate, and as recently as 2008 have been the target of thinly veiled voter intimidation and suppression efforts.

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New Brief Discusses Improvements for Counting Provisional Ballots

Cross-posted to Project Vote's blog, Voting Matters

Although the Help America Vote Act of 2002 provided "fail-safe" provisional voting to prevent the unnecessary disenfranchisement of eligible citizens who show up at the polls to find that they are not on the rolls, there are still thousands of voters whose ballots are not being counted.

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