What started as a bill on electing school board members received an important amendment as it went through the Illinois Senate, transforming it into a major piece of positive election reform. HB2418 was approved by both chambers this week and has been sent to the governor for his signature.
This week, Virginia took a major step for people with felony convictions’ voting rights with Governor Bob McDonnell’s announcement that the state will restore voting rights for nonviolent felons who have already completed their sentences. Currently, the state constitution requires a person with a felony conviction to apply in writing to the governor after a prescribed waiting period to regain their right to vote.
Colorado has taken major step to improve voters’ rights while simplifying, modernizing and making the state’s election system more fiscally responsible. With Governor Hickenlooper’s signing of the Voter Access and Elections Modernization Act, HB1303, Colorado has become the most recent example for what states should be doing to improve elections.
To the dismay of voting rights proponents, Governor Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would allow voters to vote early at select polling locations. The bill passed the General Assembly mostly along party lines which reduced the likelihood for the Governor’s signature.
The first day of the Florida legislative session in early March, saw the passage of a major election reform bill in the Florida House of Representatives. Despite the early promise of prompt reform, it took until the last day of session, this past Friday, for both chambers of the legislature agree on one comprehensive reform bill. The final product, HB 7013, offers some reforms to undo damage caused by 2011’s HB 1355. Unfortunately, the solutions are far from perfect and more work needs to be done.
A recent report from MontPIRG shows why Election Day registration, allowing citizens to register and vote on the same day instead of requiring a two-step process, is important to advancing voters’ rights. Using the University of Montana as a case study, the report demonstrates extensive use of Election Day registration among students and faculty.
The polls have been open for a few hours now and turnout appears heavy all over the country. Many are waiting in long lines to vote and these lines are only made worse by confusion at the polling sites. In Ohio, there have been reports of voting machines not working in Toledo, Dayton, and Cleveland. In Cuyahoga County, there are concerns that the emergency ballots voters are filling out are being feed into a machine that is full.