Friday, October 21, 2016

CO Proposition 108 Would Open State, Local Primaries to Unaffiliated Voters

Colorado voters are being asked to allow unaffiliated voters to participate in Non-Presidential Primary Elections.

The statutory Proposition 108 question reads, “Shall there be a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes concerning the process of selecting candidates representing political parties on a general election ballot, and, in connection therewith, allowing an unaffiliated elector to vote in the primary election of a political party without declaring an affiliation with that party and permitting a political party in specific circumstances to select all of its candidates by assembly or convention instead of by primary election?”

The ballot question is separate of another ballot issue, Proposition 107, which would allow unaffiliated voters to participate in Presidential Primary Elections.

Proposition 108 comes as unaffiliated voters grow tired of the two-party system. Unaffiliated voters make up one-third of voters in Colorado. The current system allows only voters affiliated with a Political Party to vote in that Party’s Primary Election.

While unaffiliated voters are allowed to affiliate with a Party up to and including the same day of the June Primary Election, many don’t want to pledge to a Party to participate in the Election, which includes State, County and Federal offices, other than President.

Proposition 108 would no longer require voters to affiliate with a Party to vote in a Non-Presidential Primary Election. Unaffiliated voters would receive a combined ballot that shows all candidates for elected office for each Political Party.

The combined ballot would be separated by Party, so that unaffiliated voters only vote in contests for one Political Party. Voting for multiple Parties would spoil the ballot. In some cases, clerks might choose to send unaffiliated voters two separate ballots, which would be divided by Party. Unaffiliated voters would return only one of the ballots.

Minor parties, such as the Green Party and Libertarian Party, would be included on the combined ballot.

There is an option in the ballot question that would allow Major Parties to opt out of holding a Primary Election that is open to unaffiliated voters. It would take a three-fourths majority vote of the State Party’s Central Committee. If the Party opts out, then it would nominate candidates in a Partisan Assembly or Convention.

Minor parties would be allowed to exclude unaffiliated voters. Only voters affiliated with the Minor Party would receive that Party’s Primary Election ballot, if the Party chooses to opt out, unlike the Major parties, which would switch to a nominating system.

A “yes” vote for Proposition 108 would allow unaffiliated voters to participate in the June Primary Election.

A “no” vote would maintain the current system, which excludes unaffiliated voters.

Supporters say Proposition 108 would give unaffiliated voters, whose tax dollars help pay for the $5 million Primary Election every two years, a chance to participate.

Proponents argue that unaffiliated participation would lead to candidates who better represent all Coloradans. It also would increase participation, supporters say.

Opponents, however, say the combined ballot would lead to confusion, in which voters would vote for multiple Parties, thereby spoiling their ballots. This would change Election results and lead to lawsuits.

There’s also the burden the initiative would place on County Clerks, who would have to print and process combined ballots, or send two separate ballots to voters.

Critics say the measure is unnecessary, pointing out that voters can register with a party up to and including election day to participate.

Parties also worry about non-members having a say over candidates who represent the Party.

Opening the vote to all voters is a first step. The problem with 107 is, it still restrict the voters to choice only one Party's candidates. The ideal fix would be to allow all voters to pick their choice of candidates, regardless of Party.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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Sustainable Food System Could Be a Trillion-Dollar Global Windfall

Credit: Larry French/AP Images for DuPont

Our planet has a very long way to go toward building a food system that is truly and genuinely sustainable, but that work, if done correctly, could come with a massive reward.

That’s the conclusion of a new report released this month by the Business and Sustainable Development Commission (BSDC), an international nonprofit hoping to make a strong bottom-line case for industries to take a more earth-friendly approach to their businesses. In its flagship report, the Commission appears to have done just that.

The report claims that taking a sustainable approach to the world’s food and agriculture challenges, like hunger, food waste and environmental degradation, could lead to new business opportunities totaling an annual $2.3 trillion, and 80 million new jobs, by 2030, based on an analysis of of industry reports and academic literature.

That economic impact would be a seven-fold return on an annual investment of $320 billion, according to the report.

What exactly is meant by a sustainable approach that could achieve this, though? The approach considered by the report is one outlined by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), or Global Goals, which were released last year with the aim of reducing poverty, hunger, and inequality around the world by 2030.

The SDG agenda calls for significant shifts in how our food is produced, processed and sold, including growing and consuming more produce and meats that have a reduced environmental impact, embracing sustainable farming practices like low- and no-till agriculture and reducing food waste at both the production and retail level.

Such shifts, the report’s author Fraser Thompson said, aren’t just “pie-in-the-sky” daydreaming or, as some critics of the SDGs have put it, byproducts of a “worthless” “high school wish list.” “It is important to stress that our business opportunities are based on currently available technologies where there is an existing model in operation in some part of the world,” Thompson said. “We deliberately took this approach to ensure that the insights from the report were feasible for business.”

According to the report, these global shifts would have the bulk of their impact in developing countries, over 90% of the forecast job creation would take place on the continents of Africa and Asia due to the large share of arable land and high future consumption growth, Thompson said.

But there are significant opportunities for the U.S. to seize as well.

The three top areas for possible economic growth tied to a more sustainable food system in the U.S. are largely focused on the consumption side of the food value chain, reducing consumer food waste, reformulating food products to be healthier, and helping consumers switch their diets away from resource-intensive products like beef and toward other proteins like poultry, pork, fish and vegetarian diets.

There are already promising examples of the sort of sustainable practices the Commission would like to see other industry leaders emulate in play throughout the world.

One of them Thompson named is Winnow, a London-based startup that is battling food waste through a “smart meter” that connects commercial kitchen operations to the cloud and allows chefs to record and analyze all the food that doesn’t get put to use. Chefs then use that information to tweak their production practices and reduce their kitchens’ food waste by 50% or more. The company’s work was recognized with a Guardian Sustainable Business award earlier this year.

The key, Thompson argues, to harnessing the impressive windfall they’ve forecast will simply be scaling up ideas like Winnow’s kitchen meter. That will require buy-in from a broad swath of businesses and consumers alike.

BSDC Chair Lord Mark Malloch-Brown said he is hopeful the research presented in the report should help industry players connect the dots. “It will require hard work by individual entrepreneurs and companies to translate this into specific businesses that earn financial returns in line with the economic opportunity we have identified,” Brown, former UN Deputy Secretary-General, wrote. “That’s hard long-term work but what we have sought to show is that the prize is worth the effort.”

Still, businesses have been slow to take action toward achieving the SDGs and consumers also appear skeptical, according to recent surveys.

According to Thompson, though, we don’t have much longer to wait before taking action toward meeting the world’s increasing food demands, which the UN has warned will grow by 60% in 2050. “The challenges facing the food system in a ‘business-as-usual’ scenario should not be underestimated,” Thompson added. “Addressing the current undernourished population and the rapid demand for food and feed – and competing demand for fuel – will require a radical rethink of past practices.”

CLICK HERE to red the report.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Could Donald Trump Legally Challenge Presidential Election?

Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump suggested Wednesday night that he might not accept the results of the November 8th Presidential election, and that he would "look at it at the time."

Some of Trump's defenders compared his remarks to the aftermath of the 2000 Presidential Election, when challenges by Democratic nominee Al Gore to the results in Florida culminated in the Supreme Court's controversial decision in Bush v. Gore.

Critics blasted Trump for subverting perhaps the most basic principle of our Democratic system, that Election results, reflecting the will of the people, are sacred.

Can a Presidential candidate legally "contest" election results?

Yes, but not at the National level. U.S. Elections, even for President, are administered on a State-by-State basis. Every State has its own laws governing Elections, including laws that allow, and, in some circumstances, require, that the vote be recounted if the preliminary results show a very close outcome in that State, regardless of what happens elsewhere. State laws also identify other exceptionally narrow circumstances in which challenges can be brought. And in any event, every State also has procedures for counting Absentee and Provisional ballots, many of which are counted after Election Day.

What this means in practice is that the results that are reported on Election night are, both practically and legally, preliminary, and may very well be subject to change in the days and weeks to come depending upon the different ways each State finalizes its results and resolves close calls.

We all remember Florida in 2000 because the margin between Gore and George W. Bush was razor-thin and because whoever won Florida would cross the 270-vote threshold in the Electoral College, and thereby win the Election. Fewer folks remember New Mexico that year, in which the vote was even closer than it was in Florida, and in which it took 23 days to certify the final results, because the outcome wouldn't have tipped the scales Nationally either way, Gore won the State's five Electoral votes.

This is why, when Presidential Elections are not as close, for example, in 2008 and 2012, there's far less talk of challenges or recounts. Some states may still be decided by razor-thin margins, but not enough to make a difference in which candidate received 270 or more Electoral votes.

Thus, the larger the apparent margin in the Electoral College on Election night, the harder it would be for the losing candidate to legally challenge the Election, since he or she would have to succeed in overturning the results in enough states to change the outcome in the Electoral College.

Every State's Election laws are different. At the risk of oversimplifying, there are usually two different sets of issues: Whether State Law requires the State to conduct a recount and whether State law allows one of the candidates to request a recount or some other kind of relief (e.g., whether Absentee ballots without postmarks should or should not be counted).

Either way, most States' laws impose a statewide deadline for certification of the final State-wide results, and a Federal statute, the Electoral Count Act of 1887, imposes a pair of deadlines that tend to drive the timing: a "safe harbor" deadline that guarantees that a State's chosen slate of electors will be recognized by Congress only if the State's results are certified within 35 days of the Election and a requirement that the electors, the State's Representatives to the Electoral College, be appointed 41 days after the Election.

In a nutshell, then, States usually have five weeks to resolve any challenges to the preliminary results. They can take longer, but they then run the risk that Congress would not recognize the State's reported results, and would instead decide for itself who won the state.

Unless the challenging Party can show some kind of Federal Constitutional violation, which is exceptionally rare, almost every challenge to preliminary Election results is resolved under the relevant State's law. And in every State, the authoritative meaning of State law is up to the State Supreme Court, which will usually have the last word in any dispute over the mechanics, or result, of any post-Election challenges.

Of course, the final arbiter of Presidential Elections under the Constitution is the U.S. Congress, which, by law, meets to count the Electoral votes in a joint session on January 6th.

One of the purposes of the Electoral Count Act of 1887 is to make this joint session a formality, but if there are lingering disputes arising out of States that did not meet the safe harbor deadline, it is up to Congress to settle them. And if, upon counting the Electoral votes, Congress determines that no candidate has received a majority, which has happened three times: in 1801, 1825, and 1877, the Constitution provides that the matter will be resolved by the House of Representatives, with each State casting one vote for President and the Senate choices the Vice President.

Most of the legal questions that could arise in States with contested results are State law issues that are beyond the Supreme Court's jurisdiction.

What made Florida different in 2000 was the Supreme Court's determination that the unique manner in which the Florida State Courts had ordered a manual recount violated the U.S. Constitution, the Equal Protection Clause. Because the Supreme Court thereby prevented the recount from going forward, and because the "safe harbor" deadline was the same day as the Justices' ruling, the decision had the practical effect of ending Gore's ongoing challenge to the results.

But because of both the uniqueness of the Constitutional violation in 2000 and the controversy surrounding the Supreme Court's role in the Election, it seems highly unlikely, all the more so with the Court operating with only eight Justices, that what happened in that year could repeat next month.

A Presidential candidate can challenge the preliminary results announced on Election night, they are under no obligation to "accept" those results if the margin in a large enough number of States is close enough that recounts might somehow change the National outcome. Indeed, as noted above, some State's laws might automatically require a recount if the results are sufficiently close.

But if he or she means that they might not accept the Final results as certified by each of the States, as voted upon by the Electoral College, and as confirmed by Congress, that would be unprecedented in American history.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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PA Aging Voting Machines Could Be Problem If Disputed Election

On Election day, Voters in Pennsylvania will use Electronic Vote machines that were once seen as the solution to messy paper ballots. But in the event of a disputed Election, this battleground State, one of the few that relies almost entirely on computerized voting, with no paper backup, could end up creating a far bigger mess.

Stored in a locked warehouse near downtown Harrisburg, the 1980s-era Voting Machines used by Dauphin County look like discarded washing machines lined up in rows. When unfolded and powered up, the gray metal boxes become the familiar Voting booth, complete with a curtain for privacy.

Much may rest on the reliability and security of these aging machines after an unprecedentedly combative Presidential Campaign that is ending with Donald Trump warning repeatedly of a “rigged election” and his refusal at Wednesday’s debate to commit to accepting the results on Nov. 8th.

The GOP nominee has specifically targeted Pennsylvania as a State where the Election may be “stolen,” despite no evidence to back up such a claim and several polls showing Democratic rival Hillary Clinton well ahead of him here.

“The only way we can lose,” he told a recent rally in Altoona, “is if cheating goes on.”

Trump’s talk has put extra pressure on Election officials to make sure the voting is free and fair, and the tally is accurate and reliable. And there is little reason to doubt it will be.

But computer experts says the old Electronic Voting machines have a hidden flaw that worries them in the event of a very close Election. The machines do not produce a paper ballot or receipt, leaving nothing to be recounted if the Election outcome were in doubt, such as in 2000, when the Nation awaited anxiously for Florida to reexamine those hanging chads.

“The nightmare scenario would be if Pennsylvania decides the election and it is very close. You would have no paper records to do a recount,” said Lawrence Norden, Deputy Director of the Brennan Center for Justice’s Democracy Program, Co-Author last year of a report on the risk posed by Old Voting machines.

About three-fourths of the Nation’s voters will be marking paper ballots, most of which will be counted electronically by an optical scanner, said Pamela Smith, President of Verified Voting, a Nonpartisan group that has advocated for paper ballots that can be counted electronically and recounted by hand as a way to assure trust in a close Election.

California and most of the battleground states: Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia among them, have switched to Voting systems with a paper trail.

By contrast, Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, New Jersey, and South Carolina entrust their votes entirely to electronic touch screens. Pennsylvania is among those states that rely almost entirely on computerized voting, according to Verified Voting.

“Pennsylvania is using technology from the ’80s made by the companies that don’t exist anymore. In computer years, that’s a very long time ago,” Smith said.

Pennsylvania election officials say they are well aware of the challenges. Gerald Feaser Jr., Elections Director for Dauphin County, agrees the older voting machines “are not sophisticated,” but he said that may be virtue. “They can’t be hacked,” he said, because they were never connected to the Internet. “Could the Russians hack our website on election night? Yes,” he said. But nearly 500 voting machines across the County would be untouched and their vote tallies unaffected, he said.

County Election Directors like Feaser nevertheless have a heavy duty to make sure each of their voting machines is tested, working properly and correctly programmed for its Precinct. Dauphin County has 162 polling precincts around Harrisburg and in the surrounding rural areas. Pennsylvania does not allow early voting, so the election begins at 7 a.m. on Nov. 8th.

Marian Schneider, a voting Rights lawyer who was appointed last year as Pennsylvania’s Deputy Secretary for Elections, said she was well aware of the problem with electronic machines. Still, the “risk of tampering is very low,” she said.

But Andrew Appel, a Princeton Professor of Computer Science, said that given a screwdriver and seven minutes with an electronic machine, he could “install a vote-stealing program” that would be hard to detect and shift a percentage of the votes. In states like Pennsylvania, these voting machines “are delivered to polling places several days before the election — to elementary schools, churches and firehouses,” he said. That creates the risk of tampering. “This is not just one glitch in one manufacturer’s machine. It’s the very nature of computers,” he told a House Subcommittee last month.

Feaser said State and Local officials take precautions to ensure machines are kept secure and can’t be tampered with.

But Appel nevertheless recommends that the Nation “eliminate the use of paperless touchscreen voting machines” after this year’s Election.

Other computer experts acknowledge the problem but do not see it as significant or ominous.

“It’s true they have a potential vulnerability. You can put a bug in the software and switch some votes. But you would be talking about one machine and a few hundred votes,” said Michael Shamos, Professor at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh. “It’s not a systemic problem. These machines are not connected, and they are tested regularly. I have voted for years on these machines and do not have a security concern.”

In Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh and more than 1,300 Voting precincts, Election officials do random tests of voting machines on election day to check for tampering or irregularities.

“We randomly select 20 machines and pull them out of service,” said Mark Wolosik, the County Election Director. “We have an independent lab test them. We have been doing this since 2008 and haven’t found any problems,” he said.

Election officials and most Party leaders, Republicans and Democrats, reject Trump’s talk of the Election being “stolen” or “rigged.”

In Pennsylvania, polling places have a Judge and two Inspectors, representing the two Major parties, to watch over the voting. And each side can have three designated “poll watchers” monitor them. They may challenge a Voter who does not live in the area or is not who he says he is.

“There are a lot of eyes watching at the polls. They’re Republicans and Democrats,” said Ralph Teti, a Philadelphia lawyer and a Democrat who for many years represented the City’s Election Board. “They know the people in the neighborhood. The idea that you can bus people in from outside the area is just absurd.”

Michael Korns, the Republican Chairman in Westmoreland County in Western Pennsylvania, said he sees “no reason to be concerned” about the fairness of the vote counting. “I don’t believe there is any danger in the Election being ‘rigged’. That’s just what people say when you lose,” he said.

For their part, the Election officials say they would welcome newer Voting machines, but the cost is the problem. “The counties can’t afford it. And these machines have worked well for us,” Feaser said.

In Pittsburgh, Wolosik said Election officials are treating this Election just like every other. “We hope everything goes well on election day,” he said. “And the election is not close.”

So, like other states, how do you challenge a close race, when there is nothing to count, except Absentee ballots?

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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Indiana Official Clarifies Voter Registration Fraud Probe

After initially warning of potential widespread voting fraud, Indiana's Secretary of State has acknowledged that many of the thousands of altered registration records she flagged might just be residents rushing to correct their names or birth dates ahead of the Election.

Republican Secretary of State Connie Lawson told The Associated Press she wanted Indiana State Police to investigate to ensure there was no widespread fraud after her office found a heavier than usual number of changes to Voter Registration records this Election cycle.

"It's very possible that because of heightened activity this year that many of those changes are changes that the individual made," Lawson said Wednesday. "... That should give Indiana voters the comfort that we are vigilant and we are protecting their rights and the elections here are not rigged."

Indiana is the home State of Gov. Mike Pence, the Republican Vice Presidential nominee, and also has contentious races for Governor and U.S. Senate on the ballot.

State police reassured residents in a statement Wednesday that the database Indiana uses to track Voter Registration "has not been compromised" but said the records Lawson turned over could serve as evidence of forgery in a separate Voter Fraud investigation it is pursuing. That investigation spans 56 Counties and focuses on Patriot Majority USA, a Washington, D.C. based Voter Mobilization group with ties to the Democratic Party that says it's being targeted for political reasons.

Scrutiny of State Voting systems across the U.S. has been heightened ahead of the Nov. 8th Election. Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump has repeatedly said the Election could be "rigged." Pence hasn't gone that far but has urged supporters to carefully watch polling stations to guard against irregularities.

"Voter fraud cannot be tolerated by anyone in this nation," Pence said during a Campaign stop this week in Ohio. "So I encourage you, demand that our public officials are upholding the integrity of the vote."

The Secretary of State's office has refused to reveal how many individual Voter Registrations it has flagged to State police, saying only that the number is in the thousands. Lawson says her office conducted a review of the State Voter database after receiving phone calls from an unspecified number of concerned citizens who were unable to access their Online Voter information or found inaccuracies in it.

"We stated that there were thousands of changes and we are not going to make any assumptions that they are all legitimate or all fraudulent," Lawson said.

But other State Elections officials said Voter Registration changes are not only routine but common.

County Clerks around the State, who are responsible for entering Voter data in the State's system, could make a data entry error while processing a crush of registrations. Or someone may be registered as Robert but search for their registration online using the nickname Bob, said Angie Nussmeyer, a Co-Director of the Election division of Lawson's office.

A public records request filed by the AP shows Nussmeyer's Republican counterpart in the Elections division, Brad King, was looped in on emails from Lawson's office and State police about the initial investigation in September, as was Pence aide Shelley Triol. Nussmeyer, however, says she was not.

Democrats say this is evidence that the probe is partisan in nature.

Julia Vaughn, Policy Director for the Nonpartisan Government watchdog group Common Cause Indiana, said that before Lawson makes allegations of possible fraud her office "should make sure the voter file records haven't been altered through software snafus or human errors made by people in county or state agencies." "There is almost no history of this kind of fraud here so her response helps to fuel irrational claims by Donald Trump and others that the election will be stolen through voter fraud," Vaughn said.

A spokeswoman for the FBI's office in Indianapolis, Wendy Osborne, said that the agency was aware of the questions raised regarding Voter Registrations in the State. But speaking Wednesday afternoon, she added that State authorities had not asked for assistance in investigating the matter.

Public documents explain that the FBI can participate in investigations into Voter Registration fraud, or whenever ballots that list candidates for President or for Congress are an issue. Before Elections, FBI offices nationwide also designate agents to serve as liaisons with Local Law enforcement and State Election officials should Federal help be needed.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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Electionline Weekly Oct-20-2016

Legislative Updates

New Hampshire: Rep. Wayne Burton wants to create a State law that would place restrictions on guns at school polling places, even though New Hampshire is an Open-Carry State. State Rep. Wayne Burton wants to create the State law. The Attorney General's Office said that the State has no authority to enforce the Federal Gun Free School Zones Act.

Legal Updates

Florida: U.S. District Judge Mark Walker ordered Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner to allow a cure in the cases in which a voter’s signature on a mail-in ballot envelope does match the signature on file.

Georgia: A Chatham County Judge ordered that the County extend its Voter Registration deadline until October 18 following the devastating effects of Hurricane Matthew.

The ACLU has sued the State to reopen voter registration in Bryan, Camden, Glynn, Liberty and McIntosh Counties for six days claiming that disruptions from Hurricane Matthew prevented residents in those Counties from meeting the deadline. On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge William Moore denied the request.

Kansas: Secretary of State Kris Kobach has asked a Federal Court to set aside the default judgement against him for failing to file a timely response to a lawsuit. Kobach argued that he believed the Court had suspended certain deadlines in the case.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeal released an 85-page opinion from an earlier ruling that prohibited the State from asking for proof-of-citizenship when registering voters.

Maryland: U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar has dismissed a lawsuit seeking to throw out Baltimore’s Primary. Bredar said plaintiffs waited too long to file the suit. Plaintiffs had wanted the Primary redone because of alleged irregularities and a vote-buying scheme.

North Carolina: U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder denied a request to expand early in-person voting in five Counties after some voters filed suit claiming that the Counties’ Early Voting schedules did not comply with a summer Court ruling. Schroeder agreed with State Attorneys that changing Early Voting, it begins Oct. 20th, would create logistical difficulties. He also wrote he could find no evidence Government officials violated his injunction blocking a 2013 State law that previously scaled back Early voting. On Wednesday, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the request.

Wake Superior Court Judge Don Stephens extended Voter Registration in 36 Counties affected by recent flooding from Hurricane Matthew to October 19th.

Ohio: Judge George C. Smith of the U.S. District Court in Columbus restored the Voting rights to several thousand Ohio voters who had been purged from the Voter rolls. Smith ordered Secretary of State Husted’s office to add 15% more Provisional ballots to each polling place, while noting that figure was not a projection of how many additional voters would show up Nov. 8th. “There is no dispute that the remedy ordered by this court will not involve the reinstatement of all voters who have been removed from the voter registration rolls,” Smith wrote in a 22-page decision

Utah: U.S. District Judge Jill Parrish has denied a motion that would have required San Juan County to take additional steps to ensure that Navajo voters have equal access to polling sites. The Navajo Human Rights Commission had argued that the County’s move to Vote-by-Mail violated the Voting Rights Act because Navajo is a spoken language. Parrish acknowledged that “the Navajo people, as a whole, are subject to some of the most severe and debilitating impoverishment in the nation,” but that the plaintiffs had failed to demonstrate how Vote-by-Mail would have a greater impact on Navajo voters than white voters.

Virginia: The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed suit against the State of Virginia seeking to have the Voter Registration deadline extended because the State’s Online Voter Registration was slow and crashed on Monday, the deadline to register to vote. The group argues that the deadline should be extended because some may have not had the opportunity to register. And on Wednesday, Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), asked a Federal Judge to extend the registration. The hearing is set for a late October 20th morning.

On October 20, U.S. District Court Judge Claude Hilton extended the Virginia deadline for registering to vote two more days. The State did not oppose the lawsuit, which had been filed on October 18. The reason is that the On-Line Voter Registration page of the State Board of Elections hasn’t been working this week. It apparently crashed because too many people were trying to use it.

Both sides urged the judge to extend the deadline through Monday, October 24, but he only extended it until the end of the day Friday, October 21. There are fears that the site may crash again. The case is New Virginia Majority Education Fund v Virginia Department of Elections, e.d., 1:16cv-1319.

Wisconsin: U.S. Western District Judge James Peterson has ordered the State to make changes to and expand its public education efforts surrounding its Voter ID law. "It's not really going to address all the problems we have implementing Wisconsin's voter ID law," Peterson said of his order. "What we're doing here is patching it up, getting us in good enough shape to get through the November election."

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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FL DSHMV Violating Federal Voting Rights Law

Citing clear evidence that Florida residents have been denied the opportunity to Register to Vote or update their registrations, Attorneys from Voting Rights Groups Project Vote and Demos sent a pre-litigation notice letter today, on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Florida (LWVF), alerting the State that it is violating Section 5 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA).

Today’s notice letter calls on Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, and Terry Rhodes, Executive Director of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV), to take immediate steps to ensure that the Florida DHSMV complies with the Voter Registration requirements of the NVRA.

Commonly known as the “Motor Voter” law, the NVRA requires most States, including Florida, to provide citizens with a variety of opportunities to register and update their voter registration during interactions with certain Government agencies. Section 5 of the NVRA requires that Florida’s DHSMV provide Voter Registration services whenever an individual applies for, renews, or changes their address on a driver’s license or State-issued Identification card, regardless of how that transaction takes place.

“The NVRA includes very specific criteria to ensure that eligible citizens can register and vote, and these requirements are not optional; they apply whether individuals conduct their business with DHSMV in person, online, or by mail,” said Archita Taylor, Election Counsel for Project Vote. “By ignoring these requirements, DHSMV is denying Floridians their federally-guaranteed rights, and potentially robbing individuals of their votes.”

Today’s letter cites substantial evidence that DHSMV is neglecting its NVRA obligations and violating Federal law in two important ways:

First, the letter alleges that DHSMV’s “GoRenew” internet portal, which allows individuals to renew their license or State I.D. online, violates the NVRA because it does not offer customers an opportunity to register as required by the NVRA.

Second, the letter states that DHSMV is failing to meet its Voter Registration obligations with respect to Change-of-Address transactions completed in-person, by mail, and online.

The NVRA requires an “opt-out” system, in which an individual who changes their address through DHSMV will automatically have their Voter Registration information updated unless they specifically decline the update. None of the DHSMV address change methods comply with this requirement. Indeed, the DHSMV online portal acknowledges that changes of address will not also update an individual’s Voter Registration, in utter disregard of the NVRA requirement. According to the letter, this obligation ensures voters do not lose their ability to vote when they move.

“Low-income voters tend to move at higher rates than the general population and, thus, need to update their voter registration information with much greater frequency,” said Naila Awan, Counsel for Demos. “A comprehensive plan that corrects the state’s change of address procedures will be critical at ensuring that these voters—an already marginalized population—are able to fully participate in the political process.”

According to the letter, the groups are willing to meet with Florida officials to assist in developing a comprehensive plan to address the problems. In the absence of such a plan the groups plan to initiate litigation.

“Given Florida’s history of voter suppression laws, much of which were struck down by a federal judge in 2012 after litigation initiated by the League of Women Voters of Florida, we will remain vigilant and will demand that the State of Florida follow the NVRA,” said Pamela Goodman, President of the LWVF.

“The NVRA requires the obtaining of a driver’s license to begin the process to automatically register someone to vote, and that renewal of a driver’s license or change of address be sent automatically to the supervisor of elections so that voter registration information is accurate. Instead of complying with the NVRA, the State’s documents literally state that the renewal of a license and change of address will not automatically update the voter’s registration information. This is a violation of the law. The League and its counsel stand ready to provide guidance to the State of Florida to rectify these defects and urges that all corrective action be taken immediately.”

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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