Widespread poll closings found in places no longer subject to federal election oversight
Almost 1,700 polling places have been closed in counties that are no longer subject to federal oversight brought on by past voting discrimination, according to a new study that was highlighted at a congressional hearing Tuesday.
The poll closings, documented in the report Democracy Diverted by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, was one of several examples witnesses gave of what they say are discriminatory practices that have occurred since the Supreme Court voided a key part of the Voting Rights Act six years ago.
A federal judge is allowing a coalition of 15 states and the District of Columbia to be defendants in a lawsuit seeking to exclude noncitizens from being counted in the run-up to the re-allocation of congressional seats.
Last year the state of Alabama and one of its Republican congressmen, Mo Brooks, sued the Trump administration, arguing that the counting of undocumented immigrants in census figures used for determining reapportionment unfairly benefits states with higher numbers of noncitizens.
Alabama contends that counting the whole population — the practice used for apportionment since Congess began — rather than just citizens will cost the state one of its seven House seats (and therefore one of its electoral votes) following the 2020 census tally.
Pennsylvanians who need absentee ballots will now be able to apply online, starting with this year's municipal elections. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf announced the new system on Monday, a week before the applications open, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Pennsylvania's deadlines to apply for and return absentee ballots are three days apart, and in previous elections, voters have failed to make the turnaround, leaving thousands of ballots uncounted — more than just about every other state. Wolf said he hopes the change "will make the process faster and more accessible for thousands of voters."
The redrawing of North Carolina's state legislative map has started, as legislators look to meet the Sept. 18 deadline imposed by the three-judge panel that ruled the old map unconstitutional.
Republican lawmakers on the House and Senate redistricting committees proposed using districts that were generated as part of models by University of Michigan redistricting expert Jowei Chen, who testified for plaintiffs during the trial, the Raleigh News & Observer reported. Most Democratic lawmakers are on board with use of the maps, given the time constraints.
The final maps will have to be approved by both General Assembly chambers.
Students can play an important role in strengthening the U.S. political system. Democracy Matters founder and former NBA player Adonal Foyle believes providing them with the skills and resources to participate is key.
Facilitators play a critical role in the broad spectrum of public engagement work. Join New Hampshire Listens for a daylong workshop on Sept. 16 where you'll talk about local and statewide projects and walk through a typical "talk to action" process.
Neal is federal government affairs manager at R Street Institute, a nonpartisan and pro-free-market public policy research organization.
The term "democratic norms" has become a misnomer over the last year. America's governing institutions are undermined by elected officials who dishonor their offices and each other. Standards of behavior and "normal" processes of governance seem to be relics of a simpler time. Our democracy has survived thus far, but the wounds are many.
Free speech and free press have been the White House's two consistent whipping posts. Comments such as "I think it is embarrassing for the country to allow protestors" and constant attacks on press credibility showcase President Trump's disdain for the pillars of democracy. Traditional interactions between the administration and the press are no longer taken for granted. Demeaning, toxic criticisms have become so common that they're being ignored. As the administration revokes critics' press passes and daily briefings are canceled, normalcy in this arena is sorely missed.
Having had remarkable success at signing people up to vote in Texas last year, an Austin group of activists is expanding its pilot program into a full-blown national effort to overcome the sometimes ignored first hurdle for people in the voting process — registration.
"There are millions of voters who are registered who don't get out to vote," said Christopher Jasinski, director of partnerships for Register2Vote. "But the unmeasured part of the pie is the actual number of unregistered voters."