News. Debate. Community. Levers for a better democracy.

Referendum will decide on a citizenship requirement for voting in Alabama

The Alabama legislature has cleared a bill that would amend the state constitution to clarify who is allowed to vote. The Republican-written measure, which will require voter approval in November 2020, would change the constitution to say "only a citizen of the United States" rather than "every citizen of the U.S." has the right to vote in one of the reddest states in the country.

This is one of the first statewide referendums set for next year. Joshua Jones of Citizen Voters, which is promoting the idea, says the measure is needed to ensure that only American citizens are allowed to vote. While federal law prohibits non-citizens from voting in congressional and presidential elections, some communities – including San Francisco – have expanded voting to non-citizens in certain local elections.

Voters in North Dakota approved a similar constitutional amendment in 2018 and comparable initiatives are being proposed in Colorado and Florida.

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Open Government
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FEC Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub

The struggle is real: FEC stalled on regulations for online political ads

The Federal Election Commission has once again punted on establishing rules for identifying who is sponsoring online political advertisements. Thursday marked the fourth consecutive meeting in which the topic fell to the wayside without a clear path forward.

FEC Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub revived debate on the topic in June when she introduced a proposal on how to regulate online political ads. In her proposal, she said the growing threat of misinformation meant that requiring transparency for political ads was "a small but necessary step."

Vice Chairman Matthew Petersen and Commissioner Caroline Hunter put forth their own proposal soon after Weintraub, but the commissioners have failed to find any middle ground. At Thursday's meeting, a decision on the agenda item was pushed off to a later date.

Weintraub's proposal says the funding source should be clearly visible on the face of the ad, with some allowance for abbreviations. But Petersen and Hunter want to allow more flexibility for tiny ads that cannot accommodate these disclaimers due to space.

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Open Government
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California's Supreme Court is expediting President Trump's challenge to a new state law that would require him to release five years of tax returns in order to get on the state ballot for the 2020 election.

California court expedites Trump challenge to new tax returns requirement

The California Supreme Court is fast-tracking its review of a challenge to a new law that would require President Trump to make public his tax returns in order to get on the state's ballot for the 2020 election.

A lawsuit seeking to block implementation of the law was filed August 6 by the California Republican Party against Secretary of State Alex Padilla. It claims the law violates California's constitution.

Two other challenges, one filed by Trump's personal lawyers, are pending in federal court.

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