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Voting Rights Abstract: Manchin broadly factors the way in which for compromise on electoral reform

In Manchin's new memo, several key aspects of H.R. 1, which it supports either fully or in modified form, including provisions that:

Mandate for 15 consecutive days of early voting, including two weekends;
Prohibit partisan gerrymandering and "use computer models", the latter of which is not further specified;
Establishment of automatic voter registration by state driving license authorities;
Encourage states to encourage registration for groups such as people with disabilities;
Prohibition of false statements that are intended to deter voting;
Improving federal funding for training election officials;
Encourage states to notify voters of changes in polling stations at least one week before polling day;
For absentee votes, accept prepaid postage;
Allow voters to vote if they appear in the wrong district but in the correct jurisdiction for races they are eligible to vote for; and
Require disclosure for donations and ads for "dark money" campaigns.

Manchin's position on unexcused postal voting has been more opaque, with his memo stating that the bill "should require states to send postal ballot papers to eligible voters prior to an election if the voter cannot vote in person during the early election". or election day due to a justifiable circumstance and civil penalties for failure to do so. ”However, separate reports indicated that he refuses to require that all states that are still demanding an apology (now only a small minority) comply with this requirement Delete postal voting.

Campaign action

Although Manchin's exclusion of existing provisions from the For the People Act does not necessarily suggest in his memo that he opposes them, he has spoken out specifically against the provisions of the bill that would establish a system of public funding for campaigns that would be one of the Focus of the Republican attacks.

Perhaps most of the controversial, he pushed for a national electoral ID card. While the voter ID cards adopted by the Republican-led states have enraged progressives for their undisguised goal of suppressing turnout among colored communities, the repressive impact of such a requirement could be greatly lessened if the federal government provided a free and widely available ID card. Democrats may understandably not be interested in making such a compromise, but it might be worth it when it comes to getting a much more important ban on congressional suffrage and a major expansion of other electoral access measures like auto-registration.

Finally, Manchin also discussed the content of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which was supposed to revive the invalid “preclearance” regime of the Voting Rights Act, which the 2013 Supreme Court Conservatives had put down on pretexts.

Manchin has long said they would like this law passed and have proposed a nationwide preclearance system that would require any jurisdiction wishing to change their electoral process to first seek approval from the Department of Justice or a federal court to ensure that they do not discriminate against racial or ethnic lines. However, the new Manchin memo called for additional changes that could undermine the effectiveness of the bill, such as: B. Limiting the Attorney General's power to view “acts of a jurisdiction as a violation of voting rights without a judicial determination of discrimination”, which could potentially block disputes in court for years.

While Manchin's recent demands are likely to disappoint Democrats and Democratic reformers who have called for the broadest possible bill, the Democrats have little leverage over the West Virginia Senator, whose vote is crucial in overcoming both GOP procedural obstacles and opposition to reform the underlying merits. Manchin's move to changes in the details that could win his vote is an important first step towards some sort of compromise that might one day pass Congress, though there are many more hurdles. One of those hurdles is fast approaching after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told Democratic Senators this week that a procedural vote will be held Tuesday to further develop the voting legislation.

Reassignment

Louisiana: The Democrats have prevented the Republican majority in the Louisiana State House from passing a constitutional amendment that had bipartisan support in the state Senate to add two seats to the Louisiana Supreme Court and reassign the subordinate counties for the first time in decades draw, with the requirement to redraw the districts after every ten-year census thereafter.

With a two-thirds majority, which was necessary for advancement, the Democrats had supported the amendment in the upper chamber because the expansion of the court would have made it easier to draw an additional district in which black voters could vote for their elected candidates. However, House Democrats were reluctant after Republicans removed a provision that required cartographers to consider race when drawing districts.

Only one of the seven counties used to elect justices at the Louisiana Supreme Court allows black voters to vote for their preferred candidates, although Louisiana's population is one-third black and it would be entirely possible to have a second district with black preference to build. Although the Democrats supported the expansion of the court to ensure a second black district, the court would still have fewer such districts (two out of nine) than the black portion of the state's population (three out of nine).

Republicans, meanwhile, were likely keen to pass this amendment to challenge an ongoing federal lawsuit to force the drawing of a second black district under the proxy law.

North Carolina: The Republican-led North Carolina Legislature has passed bipartisan bill that will allow dozens of local governments to postpone local elections this fall for offices elected by district, thanks to the delayed release of the key to have more time to redistribute census data. Instead, these places would reschedule their elections to the March 2022 primaries by extending the terms of some officials.

While the proposed change is a one-off measure to address census delays, the bill also permanently postpones elections in the state capital of Raleigh to November from even years from 2022 and extends the terms of office of current incumbents by one year. The inclusion of this provision has proven divisive for the Democrats: every Democrat in the State House supported the bill, but shortly thereafter all of Raleigh's Democratic Senators rejected it, arguing that city officials violated the requirements to receive public contributions.

If Democratic Governor Roy Cooper signs the bill, combining these election dates with federal races could lead to higher turnout and likely save money on election administration. However, the provision to change the dates of Raleigh's elections also eliminates runoff elections so that a winner can only prevail with a majority.

Enhancements to voice access

California: The state Senate Democrats have passed a bill designed to strengthen California's automatic voter registration law by changing the way that potential voters have the option of deregistering. Currently, voters doing business with the California Department of Motor Vehicles are automatically enrolled unless they choose to log out at the time of the transaction, known as a "front-end" system. This latest bill would instead shift that opt-out to a subsequent email notification, a "back-end" system that proponents hope will encourage more new voters to stay active.

Connecticut: Democratic lawmakers have returned to a special session and passed a spending bill that includes several voting expansion provisions that were not passed as a separate bill during this year's regular session. These provisions include:

Automatic voter registration with multiple government agencies;
Ending the disenfranchisement of persons convicted of a crime who are not in prison by restoring persons to parole;
Employers oblige their employees to give two hours of unpaid time to vote.
Allowing online requests for absentee voting; and
Making mailboxes permanent after their temporary introduction last year during the pandemic.

The bill now goes to Democratic Governor Ned Lamont for the expected signature.

Delaware: The Republicans in the State House have prevented the Democrats from passing a constitutional amendment to remove Delaware's obligation to apologize for postal votes, with the Republican opposition denying the Democrats the two-thirds majority required to pass it. The Democrat-led lawmaker had already passed this change before the 2020 election, the first of two times it took for it to become law, and many of the same Republicans who voted against it this month had backed the move when the House of Representatives passed them in 2019.

The Democrats are two seats away from the necessary super majority in the State House, and while this latest vote tarnishes hopes for the amendment to pass, it is not quite dead. Two Republican MPs have voted neither for nor against the measure, and there too If Democratic majority leader Valerie Longhurst voted against to allow her party to bring up the amendment again at a later date, it is possible that these two Republicans could get the votes it needs to pass it.

Legislators are due to adjourn this year's session in late June, however, and if those Republicans don't get on board later this year or by next year's session, Democrats must hope they can win a two-thirds super majority in a future election. That would mean postponing the earliest possible date for the amendment to come into force, since constitutional amendments in Delaware have to be passed in identical form in two consecutive legislative sessions and an election takes place in between.

District of Columbia: A majority of the Democrat-led Washington, D.C. Council supports a newly introduced law that gives permanent residents, better known as green card holders, the right to vote in local elections.

A few smaller jurisdictions in the U.S. have allowed non-citizens to vote in local elections in recent years, and San Francisco, California has allowed non-citizens to vote in school board elections, but a jurisdiction as large as DC has not yet done so. in the local elections. Non-citizen elections were widespread in the United States in the 19th century, but largely ended by 1920 when lawmakers introduced significant immigration restrictions based on race and nationality.

Louisiana: Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards signed a bill, passed by the GOP-led Louisiana legislature with broad bipartisan support, to extend the early election period in presidential elections from seven to eleven days.

Nevada: Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak has signed several bills passed by Democratic lawmakers aimed at expanding access to voting in Nevada, including measures that:

The abolition of presidential elections in favor of a primary will both make voting easier and weigh Nevada's diverse electorate over the starkly white Iowa and New Hampshire, the traditional first states. Officials in these other states, however, are almost certain to retaliate, which could include bringing their own elections forward, risking national party committees to sanction states for violating party election date rules.

The passage of these new laws follows on from the earlier signing of another new law by Sisolak, which, following its temporary passage last fall due to the pandemic, will permanently introduce universal postal voting.

new York: Shortly before the adjournment of this year's regular legislature, the Democratic-led legislature in New York passed several voting-enhancement laws, including measures that would allow voters to request postal votes online and "heal" supposed problems with their tentative ballot papers “Known in New York as an affidavit of ballot papers; This latter procedure is currently only available for postal votes. However, the Assembly Democrats failed to pass a Senate-passed bill that would have made postal voting boxes permanent after being temporarily introduced last year due to the pandemic.

In addition to the above measures, the Democratic legislature recently passed two other election-related bills. The first would allow voters to track the status of their postal ballot papers and applications, while the second would require election officials to process postal ballot papers shortly after receiving them, rather than waiting several days after polling day to begin. All four bills now require the signature of Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo before they can become law.

Voter suppression

Florida: Supporters of the polls have filed what is now the fourth federal lawsuit contesting the Republicans' new electoral restriction law, which includes new restrictions on postal ballot papers and mailboxes, as well as a ban on the distribution of food or water to waiting voters. We have already described the other three lawsuits in detail here.

This latest lawsuit targets part of the law that adds restrictions on third party registration of voters. Plaintiffs allege that the law requires them to include warnings on registration forms misleadingly telling potential registrants that the organization may not meet the deadline for submitting the forms, although there is no evidence that such groups regularly meet the relevant deadlines have not complied.

Pennsylvania: The Republicans of Pennsylvania just unveiled an important new bill to restrict voting that they have already passed by a state committee. The law would reverse many of the voting access extensions that the GOP legislature approved in a bipartisan agreement in 2019. The bill would include:

Implement a compulsory voter ID (voters without ID can sign an affidavit stating that they are eligible to vote under threat of perjury);
Eliminate the state's permanent postal voting list;
Move the deadline for registering voters to 30 days before election day – the maximum allowed by federal law – from the 15 days of the 2019 law;
Request signature verification for postal voting documents; and
Prohibition of private subsidies for election administration.

The bill also contains some directives that would strengthen access to voting rights and electoral procedures, including measures that:

Create in-person votes for six days, starting not before 2025;
Have counties start processing postal ballot papers five days before election day instead of waiting for election day, causing delays in 2020 that fueled Donald Trump's conspiracy theories;
Allow postal voting subjects one week before election day;
Have voters fix problems with absent signature postal ballot papers;
Allow counties to open satellite polling stations where voters can cast a personal postal vote, similar to regular early voting;
Encourage counties to get electronic voting books, which would make it easier to introduce early voting and eventually same-day voter registration (a policy that Democrats support but Republicans generally oppose).

Republicans have an orderly majority that they could use to pass this bill over any Democratic opposition. However, Democratic Governor Tom Wolf sounded very skeptical of the proposal and unless some of the voting restrictions were lifted he would likely veto, a move the GOP lacks the votes to override.

The Republicans, however, have a different plan to try to bypass Wolf's suspension of veto by passing these changes as constitutional amendments. Such changes require the approval of the legislature in two consecutive legislative sessions with an intervening election, followed by a referendum. It is crucial for the GOP that the governor does not play a role in the change process.

To that end, Republicans have passed a constitutional amendment on a state Senate committee that requires a voter ID, which could potentially go before voters as early as 2023 and go into effect before the 2024 elections. Republicans passed a tough voter identification bill back in 2012, but a court rejected it.

Texas: Republican Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill banning the use of post office boxes for voter registration, which could prevent homeless people or voters living in remote rural areas with limited postal service from registering. In response, Democratic suffrage attorney Marc Elias, whose law firm has been involved in numerous legal disputes over the past few years, announced that he would sue over this latest law.

Ballot Measures

South Dakota: A federal court issued an injunction blocking a Republican-backed bill requiring paid signature collectors to register with the state, suggesting it is likely to violate the First Amendment. Plaintiffs had argued that posting information online from petition circulators could open them up to harassment.

South Dakota is one of many states where Republicans have tried to curtail the electoral initiative process to thwart progressive policies and democratic reforms in recent years, including upcoming efforts to put Medicaid expansion and an independent redistribution commission on the 2022 ballot . Republican lawmakers put their own constitutional amendment on the ballot during next year's primary election that would raise the electoral threshold for moving from a simple majority to 60% for any initiative that exceeds US $ 10 million over a five-year period Taxing or spending dollars, which could affect policies such as the Medicaid expansion.

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