Voting Law Proposals and Voting Rights Efforts (3 Viewers)

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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.
     
    Heavily armed Florida police officers descended on the homes of two men accused of illegally voting and arrested one of them at gunpoint as part of Governor Ron DeSantis’s crackdown on voter fraud, new body-camera footage obtained by the Guardian can reveal.

    Both men were in their underwear, unarmed, and placed in handcuffs as police arrested them in front of their Miami-Dade county homes on 18 August.

    “Let me put on my pants,” Ronald Miller, 58, said shortly before noon, when he opened the door to find police officers surrounding his home, their guns pointed at him. “What happened?” he asked as officers instructed him to come outside, their guns still trained on him……

    Voter fraud is exceedingly rare in the United States, but Republican lawmakers in several states, like Florida, have beefed up units charged with investigating it. Several voting experts said they could not recall seeing another case in which someone accused of voter fraud was arrested at gunpoint.

    “We’ve seen a lot of arrests in recent months for voting issues here in the state, but I have not seen guns drawn in that manner,” said Neil Volz, the deputy director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, which works with people with felony convictions to help them get their voting rights back. The videos, he said, were “alarming and heartbreaking”……..





    The Florida Gestapo.

    Republicans really do love to bring back history's worst acts.
     
    more voter fraud
    ==============

    According to a report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a Georgia conservative talk show host has been accused by the state of voting illegally nine times while he was still serving out a felony conviction for forgery and theft in Pennsylvania.

    Brian K. Pritchard, a prominent conservative voice in North Georgia, is currently running for an open seat in the state legislature where he hopes to face the widow of former Speaker David Ralston who died last month.

    However, his campaign is now faced by accusations from the Georgia attorney general's office stating Pritchard broke state law each time he voted before his sentence was completed.

    According to the report, Pritchard who has used his platform to complain about election fraud, "allegedly voted illegally nine times while serving a felony sentence in a $33,000 forgery and theft

    "Pritchard pleaded guilty in 1996 to three felonies, including two counts of forgery and one count of theft by failure to make a required disposition of funds, according to court records from Allegheny County, Pennsylvania," the AJC is reporting before adding, "After Pritchard registered to vote in Georgia in 2008, he voted in nine elections before his felony probation sentence ended in 2011, according to the attorney general's office.".............


    Look - more voter fraud arrests. Guess who again?

     
    The advocacy arm of the Heritage Foundation, the powerful conservative thinktank based in Washington, spent more than $5m on lobbying in 2021 as it worked to block federal voting rights legislation and advance an ambitious plan to spread its far-right agenda calling for aggressive voter suppression measures in battleground states.

    Previously unreported 2021 tax filings from Heritage Action for America, which operates as the foundation’s activist wing, shows that it spent $5.1m on contracting outside lobbying services. The outlay comes on top of $560,000 the group invested in its own in-house federal lobbying efforts that year, as well as registered lobbying by Heritage Action staffers in at least 24 states.

    The 990 tax filing was obtained by the watchdog group Documented and shared with the Guardian. It points to the pivotal role that Heritage Action is increasingly playing in shaping the rules that govern US democracy……..

     
    Ohio GOP makes it harder to exercise voting right of service-members overseas.


    COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s restrictive new election law significantly shortens the window for mailed ballots to be received — despite no evidence that the extended timeline has led to fraud or any other problems — and that change is angering active-duty members of the military and their families because of its potential to disenfranchise them.

    The pace of ballot counting after Election Day has become a target of conservatives egged on by former President Donald Trump. He has promoted a false narrative since losing the 2020 election that fluctuating results as late-arriving mail-in ballots are tallied is a sign of fraud.

    Republican lawmakers said during debate on the Ohio legislation that even if Trump’s claims aren’t true, the skepticism they have caused among conservatives about the accuracy of election results justifies imposing new limits.

    The new law reduces the number of days for county election boards to include mailed ballots in their tallies from 10 days after Election Day to four. Critics say that could lead more ballots from Ohio’s military voters to miss the deadline and get tossed.


    This issue isn’t confined to Ohio.

    Three other states narrowed their post-election windows for accepting mail ballots last session, according to data from the nonpartisan Voting Rights Lab. Similar moves pushed by Republican lawmakers are being proposed or discussed this year in Wisconsin, New Jersey, California and other states.

    Ohio’s tightened window for receiving mailed ballots is likely to affect just several hundred of the thousands of military and overseas ballots received in any election. Critics say any number is too great.

    “What kind of society do we call ourselves if we are disenfranchising people from the rights that they are over there protecting?” said Willis Gordon, a Navy veteran and veterans affairs chair of the Ohio NAACP’s executive committee.

    Republican state Sen. Theresa Gavarone, who championed the tightened ballot deadline, said Ohio’s previous window was “an extreme outlier” nationally. She said Ohio’s military and overseas voters still have ample time under the new law…..

     
    Republican Robert Spindell, a member of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, is proud as a peacock of the work Republicans did to suppress the vote in Milwaukee in the November 2022 election. Spindell, who also serves as chairperson of the party’s Fourth Congressional District, which includes much of Milwaukee County and almost all of the city of Milwaukee, sent an email to Republicans in the district hailing the party’s success at undermining the democratic process:

    “In the City of Milwaukee, with the 4th Congressional District Republican Party working very closely with the RPW, RNC, Republican Assembly & Senate Campaign Committees, Statewide Campaigns and RPMC in the Black and Hispanic areas, we can be especially proud of the City of Milwaukee (80.2% Dem Vote) casting 37,000 less votes than cast in the 2018 election with the major reduction happening in the overwhelming Black and Hispanic areas.”

    “…this great and important decrease in Democrat votes in the City” was due to a “well thought out multi-faceted plan,” Spindell bragged, that included:

    • “Biting Black Radio Negative Commercials run last few weeks of the election cycle straight at Dem Candidates…
    • A substantial & very effective Republican Coordinated Election Integrity program resulting with lots of Republican paid Election Judges & trained Observers & extremely significant continued Court Litigation.”
    Urban Milwaukee shared these comments with Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair Ben Wikler, who was momentarily stunned.

    “Wow,” Wikler said. “That’s as ugly as it gets. I have never seen someone take credit so blatantly for suppressing the vote. We saw the same techniques with the Russian effort to suppress the vote in 2016.”...........

     
    Hundreds of thousands of Florida voters had their requests for mail-in ballots cancelled last month, a consequence of a new law championed by Ron DeSantis.

    The change is part of a suite of new restrictions on voting by mail – including new identification requirements and ballot drop box limits – Republicans passed after the 2020 election.

    Previously, Florida voters could elect to automatically receive a mail-in ballot for every election for up to four years. The new measure cancelled nearly all of the standing requests on file at the end of 2022. Voters can also now only request to automatically receive a mail-in ballot for up to two years.

    The change has meant a huge drop in the number of people who are signed up to automatically receive a mail-in ballot. Local election officials have been working to get people to renew their requests by contacting them directly and by promoting the change on their websites. But in the first month since the reset, relatively few people have renewed their requests.

    Republicans enacted the measure even though Florida regularly earns praise for having well-run elections and saw no major problems with voting in 2020. Voting by mail is popular in the state – about a third of voters used it in the 2022 general election. DeSantis has said the new restrictions are necessary to improve voter confidence, while voting advocates say that is a pretext for making it harder to vote.

    In Miami-Dade county, 438,000 vote-by-mail requests expired on 1 January, according to data from the county’s supervisor of election office. As of 31 January, only 24,000 had renewed their mail-in ballot request…….

     
    LOS ANGELES (AP) — California voters could decide whether to reinstate voting rights to people in prison on felony convictions under a newly proposed constitutional amendment.

    It would be a major expansion of suffrage for incarcerated people if passed. California would join Maine and Vermont, as well as the District of Columbia, as the only states where felons never lose their right to vote, even while they are in prison, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

    The California bill, introduced Monday by Assembly Member Isaac Bryan, proposes an amendment to the state constitution. Bryan’s proposal doesn’t include any exemptions based on the crime committed. After decades of disenfranchisement, he said it’s time to open up voting for everyone.

    “I think we’re having a deep discussion on what it means to have voting as a right for every citizen,” Bryan said Wednesday.


    Two-thirds of each chamber of the state legislature must vote yes for the bill just for it to appear on the ballot as a proposition. Voters must then approve it by a simple majority for it to become a constitutional amendment.

    California is currently among 21 states where felons only lose their right to vote while they are incarcerated, the conference says. The right is automatically reinstated upon release……

     
    LOS ANGELES (AP) — California voters could decide whether to reinstate voting rights to people in prison on felony convictions under a newly proposed constitutional amendment.

    It would be a major expansion of suffrage for incarcerated people if passed. California would join Maine and Vermont, as well as the District of Columbia, as the only states where felons never lose their right to vote, even while they are in prison, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

    The California bill, introduced Monday by Assembly Member Isaac Bryan, proposes an amendment to the state constitution. Bryan’s proposal doesn’t include any exemptions based on the crime committed. After decades of disenfranchisement, he said it’s time to open up voting for everyone.

    “I think we’re having a deep discussion on what it means to have voting as a right for every citizen,” Bryan said Wednesday.


    Two-thirds of each chamber of the state legislature must vote yes for the bill just for it to appear on the ballot as a proposition. Voters must then approve it by a simple majority for it to become a constitutional amendment.

    California is currently among 21 states where felons only lose their right to vote while they are incarcerated, the conference says. The right is automatically reinstated upon release……

    i have no problem with felons losing voting right while serving their sentence. But i do not agree with losing voting rights forever..
     
    Republican Robert Spindell, a member of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, is proud as a peacock of the work Republicans did to suppress the vote in Milwaukee in the November 2022 election. Spindell, who also serves as chairperson of the party’s Fourth Congressional District, which includes much of Milwaukee County and almost all of the city of Milwaukee, sent an email to Republicans in the district hailing the party’s success at undermining the democratic process:

    “In the City of Milwaukee, with the 4th Congressional District Republican Party working very closely with the RPW, RNC, Republican Assembly & Senate Campaign Committees, Statewide Campaigns and RPMC in the Black and Hispanic areas, we can be especially proud of the City of Milwaukee (80.2% Dem Vote) casting 37,000 less votes than cast in the 2018 election with the major reduction happening in the overwhelming Black and Hispanic areas.”

    “…this great and important decrease in Democrat votes in the City” was due to a “well thought out multi-faceted plan,” Spindell bragged, that included:

    • “Biting Black Radio Negative Commercials run last few weeks of the election cycle straight at Dem Candidates…
    • A substantial & very effective Republican Coordinated Election Integrity program resulting with lots of Republican paid Election Judges & trained Observers & extremely significant continued Court Litigation.”
    Urban Milwaukee shared these comments with Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair Ben Wikler, who was momentarily stunned.

    “Wow,” Wikler said. “That’s as ugly as it gets. I have never seen someone take credit so blatantly for suppressing the vote. We saw the same techniques with the Russian effort to suppress the vote in 2016.”...........

    MILWAUKEE (AP) — Recent revelations about Republican election strategies targeting minority communities in Wisconsin’s biggest city came as no surprise to many Black voters.

    A Wisconsin election commissioner bragged about low turnout in predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods during last year’s elections. Weeks later, an audio recording surfaced that showed then-President Donald Trump’s Wisconsin campaign team laughing behind closed doors about efforts to reach Black voters in 2020.

    Many people who voted this past week in the state’s primary election said they had long felt targeted by Republicans. The difference now is the public display of strategies that at best ignore the priorities of Black voters and at worst actively look to keep them from voting.

    “It’s a plan that they devised and carried out with quite a lot of precision,” said lifelong Milwaukee resident Dewayne Walls, 63. “It’s a repeatable pattern that’s going to continue to happen over and over as long as they have that plausible deniability and as long as they have the power in Madison” — the state capital.
    Walls and other Black voters said they are tired of the countless hurdles that disproportionately try to keep them from being heard at the ballot box. Voters said their experiences with the GOP have been as voices to silence, not to win over…….

     
    When the new Arizona attorney general took office last month, she repurposed a unit once exclusively devoted to rooting out election fraud to focus on voting rights and ballot access.

    In North Carolina on Tuesday, the State Board of Elections began proceedings that could end with the removal of a county election officer who had refused to certify the 2022 results even as he acknowledged the lack of evidence of irregularities.


    And later this week, a group of secretaries of state will showcase a “Democracy Playbook” that includes stronger protections for election workers and penalties for those who spread misinformation.

    These actions and others reflect a growing effort among state election officials, lawmakers and private-sector advocates — most of them Democrats — to push back against the wave of misinformation and mistrust of elections that sprang from former president Donald Trump’s false claim that his 2020 defeat was rigged.
Since that vote more than two years ago, election administrators have regularly found themselves fending off false accusations, baseless lawsuits and violent threats.

    They have fielded demands that go beyond their official powers — to stop using electronic voting equipment, to hand-count all ballots, to end mail voting or to refuse to certify results. Hundreds have resigned or retired as a result of the pressure and abuse, with some states, including Colorado, reporting that a majority of their county election clerks have turned over since 2018.


    Election administrators and their advocates say they are motivated to take action because election denialism does not appear to be going away, even as the evidence has grown — in public polling as well as in the midterm election results — that most Americans have grown tired of it……..

     
    Chief election officials in several states want to make it illegal for someone to knowingly spread false information about an election, a move that raises questions around first amendment protected speech.

    The Democratic secretaries of state for Michigan and Minnesota told the Guardian they’re supporting legislation that would criminalize people who spread misinformation about an election.

    Michigan’s secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson, said the law would prevent people from tweeting that Election Day is on a Wednesday or saying that voting machines are insecure, when they know that information to be false.

    Benson said that since she took office in 2019, she has seen an increase in people lying to voters about their rights, which she considers an election security threat.

    “We have to hold those folks accountable, otherwise it’s going to continue and it will harm our democracy,” she said.

    Most states already prohibit interference with the election process in some manner, but the specificity in the laws when it comes to the spread of misinformation or the use of deceptive practices before an election varies from state to state.

    Minnesota secretary of state Steve Simon, also a Democrat, is supporting a bill proposed in his state that would prohibit anyone within 60 days of an election from causing “information to be transmitted by any means that the person intends to impede or prevent another person from exercising the right to vote; and knows to be materially false”.

    The legislation clarifies that “includes but is not limited to information regarding the time, place, or manner of holding an election; the qualifications for or restrictions on voter eligibility at an election; and threats to physical safety associated with casting a ballot”. Any person who violates the law is guilty of a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and up to a $3,000 fine.

    “It isn’t criminalizing speech,” Simon said. “No one wants to do that. It’s everyone’s right, within limits of course of the first amendment, to think something and say what they think. This is different. This is a bill aimed at interference with the election process.”………

     
    The Georgia Senate Ethics Committee passed a version of an elections omnibus bill Tuesday night that includes a last-minute ban on absentee drop boxes and would expand the ability of Georgia residents to challenge the eligibility of other voters.

    Some of the changes included in the roughly 20-page bill would ban non-citizens from working in elections, add more risk-limiting audits, allow counties to use paper ballots filled out by hand instead of by voting machines if approved by the State Election Board and could disqualify voters from voting based on an allegation that they had changed their address.

    A Republican majority on the committee approved the substitute to Senate Bill 221, which could receive a vote in the full Senate within days.

    Lawmakers and the public had access to the bill for only about 10 hours before the vote, and even then, several amendments were crafted in real-time or after lawmakers and legal counsel for the committee questioned certain language included in the substitute.

    "Georgia is trying to enact a new omnibus voter suppression law in the middle of the night," Democratic election lawyer Marc Elias warned on Twitter, vowing to file a lawsuit if the bill is approved.

    Several voting rights experts and advocates have criticized the bill for appeasing conspiracy theorists and imposing more unnecessary challenges on voters..............

     
    Thousands of formerly incarcerated people in Minnesota woke up Saturday morning with a right they lacked the day prior.

    On Friday, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed House File 28, which restores the right to vote to convicted felons who complete their term of incarceration. According to the governor's office, 55,000 individuals who previously were deprived of voting rights now can register to vote, the most significant expansion of that right in Minnesota in a half-century.

    "Minnesotans who have completed time for their offenses and are living, working, and raising families in their communities deserve the right to vote," Walz said.

    The new law followed the unsuccessful legal challenge to state law, Schroeder v. Minnesota Secretary of State. The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled last month that the state constitution does not guarantee convicted felons the right to vote. House File 28 passed the Democratic-held Minnesota Senate and House following the court's decision.

    Under the new law, Department of Corrections or judiciary system officials will provide newly released persons a written notice and an application to vote.

    "People who are prohibited from voting, they have to pay their taxes, they have to obey all the laws, they have to do everything, but they don't have any choice in who represents them," said Minnesota State Attorney General Keith Ellison. "Now they do."............

     
    ST. LOUIS (AP) — Three Republican-led states on Monday pulled out of a bipartisan effort among states to ensure accurate voter lists, undermining a system with a demonstrated record of combating voter fraud.

    The moves, encouraged by former President Donald Trump, are the latest indication of how conspiracy theories related to the 2020 presidential outcomecontinue to ripple throughout the Republican Party and upend long-established traditions in how the country administers elections.

    Chief election officials in Florida, Missouri and West Virginia notified the Electronic Registration Information Center, more commonly known as ERIC, that they would depart the voluntary program, which has long been comprised of both Republican-led and Democratic-led states. They join Louisiana, which left last year, and Alabama, which previously announced plans to withdraw this year.

    Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, in a letter to member states Monday, also threatened to withdraw. That came just weeks after the Republican defended the system, telling reporters it was “one of the best fraud-fighting tools that we have.”
    Florida and its 14.4 million registered voters pose a considerable loss for the data-sharing group, which relies heavily on member states to produce reports on voters who may have died or those who have moved to another state. Its reports also help states identify and ultimately prosecute people who vote in multiple states.

    The system has been credited in Maryland with identifying some 66,000 potentially deceased voters and 778,000 people who may have moved out of state since 2013. In Georgia, officials said nearly 100,000 voters no longer eligible to vote in the state had been removed based on data provided by ERIC.

    Yet the effort to improve election integrity and thwart voter fraud — which Republican lawmakers and local officials commonly cite as priorities — has become a target of suspicion after a series of online posts early last year questioning its funding and purpose. One conspiracy involves billionaire philanthropist George Soros, who has long been a target of conspiracy theories, and claims that he funded the voter data-sharing system……

     

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