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Campaign Legal Center

Through litigation, policy analysis and public education, CLC works as a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization to protect and strengthen the U.S. democratic process across all levels of government.

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The League of Women Voters and its Georgia affiliate are asking the Georgia secretary of state to halt plans to remove 300,000 names from the state's voter rolls. Stacey Abrams' failed for Georgia governor was marked by allegations of voter suppression.

League of Women Voters asks Georgia to stop new voter purge

Georgia's plans to remove at least 300,000 names from the voting rolls before the primary in March are badly flawed and should be delayed or dropped altogether, one of the country's most renowned nonpartisan civic activist groups says.

The national League of Women Voters and its Georgia chapter have made that request to the Republican secretary of state, maintaining the biggest problems are with the state's policy of cancelling registrations of people simply because they haven't voted in five years.

The state's plan, announced two weeks ago, is getting heightened scrutiny because the primary could be a turning point in the Demoratic presidential contest and there will be three important races next fall: The parties will be competitive in a tight contest for Georgia's 16 electoral votes and both Senate seats. Republicans have won every statewide contest since 2004 but the record could be threatened if there's a big turnout from Democrats who have not been regular ballot-casters.

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Voting
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"Some people just released under the First Step Act are learning that they never lost the right to vote in the first place under state law and could have been voting while incarcerated," writes Bowie.

First Step Act beneficiaries left wondering: Can I vote?

Bowie is a staff attorney with the Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit government watchdog. She leads the group's RestoreYourVote public education campaign.

Recently 3,100 Americans were released early from federal prisons because of policy changes from the First Step Act, a criminal justice bill enacted with lopsided bipartisan support last fall. Those individuals are returning to their homes across the country and embarking on the challenging path to restoring their place as members of their communities. Studies show that regaining the right to vote is a critical step in the re-entry process, one that can help formerly incarcerated individuals feel like full citizens. Those who were incarcerated understand best the impact that government policies have on our lives and why participating in democracy is so important.

State felony disenfranchisement laws can be extremely confusing. And because they vary so widely, they lead to the persistent misperception that most people with convictions can never vote again. In fact, while at least 23 million Americans have been convicted of felonies, only 5 million to 6 million are actually disenfranchised under law.

Americans returning from federal prison face an even more confusing landscape. On top of the already complicated patchwork of state laws, some states treat federal convictions differently than in-state convictions — both for determining whether a federal conviction means the loss of voting rights and for the steps that an individual will have to take to get rights restored.

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Government Ethics
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GOP Rep. Chris Collins of New York at his August 2018 arraignment on insider trading charges.

Watchdogs want to extend limits on board service by House members

The prohibition on House members serving as directors of outside groups should include nonprofit and private company boards, not only publicly traded enterprises, three prominent watchdog groups say.

The House has barred its members from such corporate boards only since January. The new Democratic majority changed the rules largely in response to the case of Republican Rep. Chris Collins of New York, charged a year ago with fraud, conspiracy and lying to the FBI in an alleged insider stock trading scheme involving Innate Immunotherapeutics, a biotech company where he was a board member. (Collins was re-elected last fall and is set to go on trial in February.)

The rules change resolution also set up a pair of House members to help the Ethics Committee recommend by the end of the year whether members and their aides should also be restricted from holding other outside positions.

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Lance Wissinger (left) and Neil Volz shake hands after turning in their voter registration forms in Fort Myers, Fla., in January. Both have felony records but had their voting rights restored under an amendment passed in November 2018.

Advocates challenge Florida law placing restrictions on felons' voting rights

What had been hailed as a major victory for those who favor restoring voting rights for convicted felons has now become a legal battle over exactly how that process should work.

On Friday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill that requires those seeking to recover their voting rights to first pay all fines and fees that they owe. In swift order, voting and civil rights groups then filed legal action seeking to block the requirement.

Last fall, voters in Florida passed by a wide margin a state constitutional amendment that restored voting rights to Floridians "after they complete all terms of their sentence including parole or probation."

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