New Voting Law Proposals and Voting Rights Efforts (1 Viewer)

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MT15

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This is, IMO, going to be a big topic in the coming year. Republicans have stated their aim to make voting more restrictive in just about every state where they have the means to do so. Democrats would like to pass the Voting Rights Bill named after John Lewis. I’m going to go look up the map of all the states which have pending legislation to restrict voting. Now that we have the election in the rear view, I thought we could try to make this a general discussion thread, where people who have concerns about voting abuses can post as well and we can discuss it from both sides. Please keep memes out of this thread and put them in the boards where we go to talk about the other side, lol.
 

Optimus Prime

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Wonder how often this will be used during the midterms

But I'm sure it's having it's desired effects of getting them to quit and replaced with much more 'reasonable' officials
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(Bloomberg) -- Over the last two years, local elections officials across the U.S. have faced a deadly pandemic, shortages of funding and workers, false claims of election fraud and even death threats

Now they could face prison, too.

Under a spate of laws proposed or passed in at least 10 states, elections administrators could see criminal charges and penalties that include thousands of dollars in fines or even prison time for technical infractions of election statutes.

In Arizona, a new law makes it a felony, punishable by up to 2 1/2 years in prison, followed by loss of voting rights or gun ownership, for an elections official to send a mail-in ballot to any voter who has not requested one. It’s now a felony in Kentucky, with a possible five-year prison term, for an official to accept a donation or “anything of value” to assist with an election. In Florida, elections officials could face up to $25,000 in fines if they leave a ballot drop box unsupervised.

Broad new laws in Iowa and Texas make it a felony, with prison terms of up to five years in Iowa and up to two years in Texas, for elections officials who fail to follow a number of election procedures, while similar bills are pending in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma and South Carolina.

The laws are part of a broader effort to crack down on alleged voter fraud by Republican lawmakers who often echo former President Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him. No one has yet been prosecuted under these new laws, but election activity will ramp up closer to November.

In fact, actual voter fraud is rare. An Associated Press review of six political-battleground states found just 475 disputed ballots out of 25.5 million cast for president, far too few to have had any impact on the outcome.

The aftermath of the 2020 election, coupled with the new laws, are making the job of elections administrator less and less attractive. A study last summer by the reporting consortium Votebeat and Spotlight PA found that 21 elections directors or deputies in Pennsylvania’s 67 counties had already quit or were planning to.

Nationwide, a March survey of local elections officials by the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice found that one in five local administrators say they are likely to leave their jobs before the 2024 election.

Ion Sancho, the elections supervisor for 28 years in Leon County, Florida, which includes Tallahassee, said the threat of a fine that amounts to half a year’s pay under the state’s new law has led local elections officials to reduce the number of drop-box locations and assign senior staff rather than volunteers to monitor them.

“It puts the fear of God into elections administrators, and that’s what it’s designed to do,” he said..........

 

Optimus Prime

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More on security risks and threats against election officials
======================================

When Josh Zygielbaum left the Marine Corps more than ten years ago, he thought he would never have to wear body armor again. But now Zygielbaum is back to wearing a bulletproof vest as a Colorado county clerk -- one of the many extreme measures he says he's been forced to take as the state has emerged as a battleground in the shadowy world of election conspiracies.

Considered by many experts to be a leader in election security due to its up-to-date voting machines, its policy of recording every vote on a paper ballot, and its rigorous post-election audits, Colorado has been described by some election experts as the "gold standard for elections." Yet despite its strong reputation, the state has recently been targeted by election denial groups as a center for baseless accusations that election workers helped steal the 2020 election from Donald Trump.

As a result, election officials and poll workers in several Colorado counties have donned bulletproof vests and undergone active shooter training for their own safety.

Zygielbaum and other officials ABC News spoke with pointed to Tina Peters, an embattled county clerk in Mesa County, accusing her of being one of the leading figures fueling the false and baseless conspiracy theories that have put Colorado in the spotlight.

Peters, who announced in February that she is running for Colorado secretary of state, has been under investigation by the FBI since November for her alleged involvement in a security breach of the Mesa County election system, according to a statement by the Colorado attorney general. In March, she was indicted by a grand jury on 11 counts of election tampering and misconduct, after authorities say the election software she used for her county wound up in the hands of a consultant, and screenshots of the software appeared on right-wing websites.

"Using a grand jury to formalize politically-motivated accusations against candidates is tactic long employed by the Democrat Party," Peters said in a statement posted on her campaign website. "Using legal muscle to indict political opponents during an election isn't new strategy, but it's easier to execute when you have a district attorney who despises President Trump and any constitutional conservative like myself who continues to demand all election evidence be made available to the public."...........

Concerns about their staffers' safety have spurred county officials to adopt a variety of safety protocols. Zygielbaum told ABC News that employees in his Adams County office have been asked not take the same route home on a daily basis.

He said his county has also partnered with the Department of Homeland Security to review their facilities, and is redesigning their elections office "so that voters and individuals who are not employees" cannot go inside the building. In addition, the county is working closely with law enforcement at the state, local and federal level, and has a direct line to the FBI and Terrorism Task Force.

Secretary Griswold confirmed to ABC News that her office arranged for counties to receive a physical threat assessment from DHS, as well as nearly $130,000 in grant funding to make security upgrades.

In the city of Denver, clerk Paul López says he had to move his office away from a first-floor window because it was a security risk.

"I think that folks who think they can intimidate election workers and try to stop us from being able to do our job are absolutely incorrect," López told ABC News. "We will defend our democracy, and we will do it in a way that inspires people to come to the polls and not scare them away. "

In Chaffee County, county clerk Lori Mitchell has faced personal threats since 2020, with one incident over the summer traumatizing her to the point where she almost decided against running for reelection.

"I saw somebody lay their right hand over their left arm and pull what looked like a gun to me," Mitchell told ABC News. "And so I ducked in my car."

"It ended up being a squirt gun," Mitchell said. "But it was still one of the most frightening days of my life."..............



 

Optimus Prime

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Interesting article and idea
=====================
In the wake of the Watergate scandal, policymakers in 1974 created what became the Presidential Election Campaign Fund (PECF), letting taxpayers check a box on their tax returns to allocate $1 of their taxes ($2 for married couples) to publicly fund campaigns. (Today, that amount has risen to $3 for individuals and $6 for joint filers.)


Unfortunately, no major presidential nominee since Republican John McCain in 2008 has accepted general election public financing because it comes with limits on spending.

As a result, more than $412 million now sits unspent in the PECF, which will undoubtedly grow as candidates continue to shun spending limits.

Meanwhile, the administration of presidential elections — the casting and counting of votes — is seriously underfunded, leaving us with antiquated technology and equipment, understaffed election offices and overworked officials.

Rather than watch the PECF continue to accumulate unspent funds, let’s convert it into a dedicated funding source to revitalize election administration and help meet the estimated $400 million needed annually to secure our democracy.


Covid-19 created new state and local administrative challenges, with officials needing resources to handle the influx of mail-in ballots while funding personal protective equipment for poll workers, thousands of gallons of hand sanitizer and other unexpected expenses.

Recognizing the new financial burden on states, federal policymakers provided them with $400 million through the Cares Act of March 2020, but that boiled down to only about $3 per voter and was hardly enough to cover the requisite high-speed scanners, ballot drop boxes, poll worker hazard pay and protective equipment to ensure a smooth election…….

The PECF is the only federal tax checkoff that gives Americans direct control over how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars.

Dedicating the PECF to election administration would enable voters to invest in our country’s democratic infrastructure, and that would have a measurable impact on election security and accessibility.


To be sure, just 3.3 percent of taxpayers checked the box on their tax returns last year, down from 28 percent in the 1970s and generating just $23 million. But that was for the public financing of campaigns, not election security.

In a March poll, 77 percent of respondents agreed that “We need to do more to make our elections safe, secure, and accessible,” and the same percent supported federal investments in elections…….

 
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MT15

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Here’s a plan to make the elections more secure:

 

Optimus Prime

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Good article

What will the GOP do if they still lose after changing all these laws?
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GRIFFIN, Ga. — When the Spalding County Board of Elections eliminated early voting on Sundays, Democrats blamed a new state law and accused the Republican-controlled board of intentionally thwarting “Souls to the Polls,” a get-out-the-vote program among Black churches to urge their congregations to cast ballots after religious services.


But after three weeks of early voting ahead of Tuesday’s primary, record-breaking turnout is undercutting predictions that the Georgia Election Integrity Act of 2021 would lead to a falloff in voting.

By the end of Friday, the final day of early in-person voting, nearly 800,000 Georgians had cast ballots — more than three times the number in 2018, and higher even than in 2020, a presidential year.
Voting rights groups and Democrats say they have changed their strategies to mobilize voters under the new rules.

In Spalding County, for instance, local activists moved Souls to the Polls to a Saturday, and they defiantly promised that they would work twice as hard if that was what it took to protect voter access…….

 
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Optimus Prime

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Guess this can go here
===================

Organizers of a Republican-backed Michigan petition to enact voter restrictions to combat would-be voter fraud missed the state's filing deadline on Wednesday after discovering tens of thousands of fraudulent signatures.

Michigan Republicans are backing the citizen initiative petition known as Secure MI Vote, which would impose strict voter ID requirements, restrict absentee voting and ban private donations that help keep polling places open. The petition drive was launched after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, vetoed a slew of voting restrictions passed by the Republican-led legislature.

Though the petition is ostensibly a citizen initiative, voters are not expected to see the measure appear on the ballot. Republicans have openly plotted all along to exploit a bizarre provision in the state constitution that allows the legislature to adopt a citizen initiative and pass it with a simple majority that the governor cannot veto.

This latest fake-signature scandal comes only days after the two leading Republican candidates for governor were booted off the ballot.
Organizers had planned to submit the petition to the state by Wednesday's deadline but abruptly backed down after discovering that around 20,000 signatures were fraudulent. Organizer Jamie Roe insisted that the effort had gathered 435,000 signatures, more than the 340,047 required, but said the group did not submit the petition out of an "abundance of caution."

"The fact of the matter is our volunteers, our supporters had put in too much hard work for us to end up getting bounced off the ballot due to some technicality," he told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday.

The announcement came just days after the state's Bureau of Elections and Board of Canvassers disqualified five of the 10 Republicans running for governor, including frontrunners James Craig and Perry Johnson, after discovering that thousands of the signatures on the petitions they circulated to qualify for the ballot were fraudulent.

The Bureau of Elections identified 36 petition circulators who submitted at least 68,000 fraudulent signatures in the gubernatorial primary, as well as in nine other nominating contests. Craig and Johnson argued they were victims of the fraud, not its perpetrators, but a court upheld both of their disqualifications this week...............

 

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Good article
===========
In last week’s primary election, Georgia residents cast their first votes since the state enacted what many call one of the nation’s most restrictive voting bills.

Preliminary data shows that more than 90 percent of early voters cast in-person rather than mail-in ballots, which is likely due at least partly to the new law’s restrictions on absentee voting.

That suggests that where polling places are located will be urgently important in the upcoming fall midterm elections, when more voters are expected.


However, many states have been consolidating polling places, offering fewer sites for voting. Political science research suggests that this trend could make it harder for communities of color to vote.

Closing and consolidating polling sites are among the voter-suppression strategies that have gone unregulated since the 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder.

In that ruling, the Supreme Court eliminated what’s called “pre-clearance” from the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965, by declaring the VRA’s Section 4(b) unconstitutional.

“Pre-clearance” identified jurisdictions with histories of racially discriminatory election practices, and required those states and counties to submit any proposed changes to election procedures to the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division to be evaluated for racially discriminatory effects before they could be put into action.

Without this provision, states can now execute new voting laws and practices without any federal oversight beforehand……

 

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supreme court is really on a roll of making america great again

Earlier this month, a federal court found that a Republican-drawn map of Louisiana's six congressional districts violated the US Voting Rights Act and needed an additional Black-majority voting district.

(also found this one which also seemed to violate the voting rights act)
 
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It’s almost as if the dam has now broken and they can just nakedly vote for all things that will benefit Rs. They don’t have to pretend anymore.
 

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The Department of Justice is challenging a new Arizona law that requires voters to provide proof of citizenship for presidential elections, among other new restrictions, saying the measure was a “textbook violation” of a federal law meant to protect voters.

The challenged Arizona measure, HB 2492, was signed into law by Republican governor Doug Ducey in March, requires anyone who wants to vote in a presidential election, or vote by mail in any election, to provide proof of citizenship.

The law was among several pushed by the Arizona legislature following the 2020 election in a state where Donald Trump and his allies have spread baseless claims of fraud. Voting by mail is widely used in Arizona, a key battleground state, and Republicans in the state have made numerous attempts to make it harder to cast a ballot that way.

In 2013, the supreme court ruled 7-2 in a case called Arizona v Inter Tribal Council of Arizona that the state could not require anyone who used the federal government’s voter registration application to provide proof of citizenship when they registered............

Some see the law as a blatant effort to get the US supreme court to reconsider its 2013 decision. The court has become significantly more conservative since then; three of the justices who were in the majority in that case - Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg - have been replaced with more conservative justices. Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented in 2013, saying they believed Arizona could require proof of citizenship for those who use the federal form.

The court’s new conservative majority has shown a blunt hostility to voting access, siding with state lawmakers and upholding nearly every voting restriction that has come before it in recent years.............

 

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quoting myself because this is the 3rd person arrested, and all 3 worked at the same place
(and... SURPRISE they were all trump supporters)

 

DaveXA

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quoting myself because this is the 3rd person arrested, and all 3 worked at the same place
(and... SURPRISE they were all trump supporters)

Idiots doing idiotic things.
 

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guess this can go here

and people still won't believe it "bunch of Trump hating RINOs!"
==================

A group of GOP lawyers, former senators, and judges, after a review of dozens of legal filings, determined that there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

The findings were released in a 72-page report Thursday. The authors of the report include former US Sens. John Danforth and Gordon Smith, three former federal judges, and a GOP election lawyer.

After the results of the 2020 presidential election, the Trump campaign and supporters of the former president filed dozens of lawsuits alleging voter fraud, most of which have been denied, dismissed, or withdrawn.

Independent election watchdog groups have repeatedly said there was no widespread voter fraud. Days after Election Day, the New York Times contacted election officials in every state, each of which said there is no evidence that fraud influenced the presidential election..............

 

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ATLANTA (AP) — Voting rights groups asked a judge on Monday to block a provision of a new Georgia law that is not necessarily the most consequential, but one that has certainly attracted the most outrage: a ban on handing out food and water to voters waiting in line.

The ban is just one piece of a 98-page bill containing dozens of changes to state voting law, including shortening the time to request a mail ballot, rolling back the pandemic-driven expansion of ballot drop boxes and reducing early voting before runoff elections.

But it is perhaps the easiest to understand and one that critics call especially punitive. The groups argued that it illegally infringes on their free speech rights and should be blocked immediately, even before any broader case challenging other areas of the law goes to trial.

U.S. District Judge J.P. Boulee didn’t immediately rule on the request for a preliminary injunction.

Lawyers for the state described the provision as a “bright line" drawn to prevent circus-like conditions around polling places that could spur concerns over the possibility of illegal campaigning or vote-buying. But former Richmond County elections director Lynn Bailey called the measure “harsh.”.............

 
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There was a study done by several prominent conservatives of the expanded drop boxes, specifically looking for fraud - they found nothing in excess of the usual single vote here and there, certainly nothing to affect the election results.
 
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I love it when normal Rs call out the wacko Trumpists. Wish it would happen more often.

 

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His last night as a prisoner in North Florida, Kelvin Bolton couldn't sleep. Fifty-five years old, with a wispy goatee the same color as the gray flecks in his hair, he was about to get out after serving a 2 1/2-year sentence for theft and battery. The last time he'd seen his brothers and sisters at a big family gathering, he'd marched onto the dance floor ostentatiously, turned away and wrapped his arms around himself to caress his own back. As he swayed goofily to the music, everybody laughed.

Now Bolton was so close to being free and seeing his family again. The next morning, a bright Wednesday in April, he was already dressed in his street clothes and cleared to go when the woman processing his paperwork stopped him.

"The lady said, 'Hold on, you can't go anywhere,'" Bolton remembered in a recent phone call.

Confused, he asked her what was going on, he recalled. There was a warrant out for his arrest for incidents in 2020, she explained gruffly. But that was impossible. He'd been in jail at the time, awaiting his prison stint.

Guards loaded Bolton into a van, then drove an hour and a half south to deposit him in Alachua County Jail.

There, he found out what he'd done wrong.

He'd voted.

In 2018, Florida voters overwhelmingly passed Amendment 4, in a historic ballot initiative that restored the right to vote to most state residents with felony convictions. Until then, Florida had been one of only four states — the others were Iowa, Kentucky and Virginia — where people who had committed felonies needed to petition the governor to have their voting rights restored. It was a grim legacy of 19th-century laws passed after the 15th Amendment granted African American men the right to vote.

Supporters applauded the law as restoring voting rights to what experts estimate is over 1 million people in Florida, about 5% of the population of the state.

But the state's dominant Republican lawmakers quickly installed a financial hurdle to those new rights. The following year, they passed a law to clarify that people convicted of felonies could only vote if they first paid off any money they owed for committing their crimes. The penalty for registering or voting without doing so: a felony charge for voter fraud.

On the surface, the mandate seemed reasonable: Even advocates for Amendment 4 agreed that requiring paying off fines and restitution to victims was just. In Florida, however, that task proved a sometimes insurmountable challenge — one that disproportionately hit Black people. Florida has no centralized database to allow people to figure out what legal financial obligations they owe to the state. Instead, its 67 counties and various state agencies each maintain their own databases. The state also does not track information for federal or out-of-state convictions, which people are also required to pay off before voting.

On top of the fines and restitution, Florida layers on court fees that can run into the hundreds of dollars. Together, a voter's debt can run into the thousands, a financial hole that some may never climb out of.

"That's kind of the bottom line of the absurdity of this — it's Kafkaesque," said Dan Smith, chair of the political science department at the University of Florida. "It's very troubling that we would have state attorneys prosecuting individuals who did not know their status, and there was no way for them to determine their status."..........

 

DaveXA

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His last night as a prisoner in North Florida, Kelvin Bolton couldn't sleep. Fifty-five years old, with a wispy goatee the same color as the gray flecks in his hair, he was about to get out after serving a 2 1/2-year sentence for theft and battery. The last time he'd seen his brothers and sisters at a big family gathering, he'd marched onto the dance floor ostentatiously, turned away and wrapped his arms around himself to caress his own back. As he swayed goofily to the music, everybody laughed.

Now Bolton was so close to being free and seeing his family again. The next morning, a bright Wednesday in April, he was already dressed in his street clothes and cleared to go when the woman processing his paperwork stopped him.

"The lady said, 'Hold on, you can't go anywhere,'" Bolton remembered in a recent phone call.

Confused, he asked her what was going on, he recalled. There was a warrant out for his arrest for incidents in 2020, she explained gruffly. But that was impossible. He'd been in jail at the time, awaiting his prison stint.

Guards loaded Bolton into a van, then drove an hour and a half south to deposit him in Alachua County Jail.

There, he found out what he'd done wrong.

He'd voted.

In 2018, Florida voters overwhelmingly passed Amendment 4, in a historic ballot initiative that restored the right to vote to most state residents with felony convictions. Until then, Florida had been one of only four states — the others were Iowa, Kentucky and Virginia — where people who had committed felonies needed to petition the governor to have their voting rights restored. It was a grim legacy of 19th-century laws passed after the 15th Amendment granted African American men the right to vote.

Supporters applauded the law as restoring voting rights to what experts estimate is over 1 million people in Florida, about 5% of the population of the state.

But the state's dominant Republican lawmakers quickly installed a financial hurdle to those new rights. The following year, they passed a law to clarify that people convicted of felonies could only vote if they first paid off any money they owed for committing their crimes. The penalty for registering or voting without doing so: a felony charge for voter fraud.

On the surface, the mandate seemed reasonable: Even advocates for Amendment 4 agreed that requiring paying off fines and restitution to victims was just. In Florida, however, that task proved a sometimes insurmountable challenge — one that disproportionately hit Black people. Florida has no centralized database to allow people to figure out what legal financial obligations they owe to the state. Instead, its 67 counties and various state agencies each maintain their own databases. The state also does not track information for federal or out-of-state convictions, which people are also required to pay off before voting.

On top of the fines and restitution, Florida layers on court fees that can run into the hundreds of dollars. Together, a voter's debt can run into the thousands, a financial hole that some may never climb out of.

"That's kind of the bottom line of the absurdity of this — it's Kafkaesque," said Dan Smith, chair of the political science department at the University of Florida. "It's very troubling that we would have state attorneys prosecuting individuals who did not know their status, and there was no way for them to determine their status."..........

This should be patently unconstitutional and a violation of the victim's rights. Yet another example of Republican faux freedom.
 

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