As many states are wrapping up legislative sessions, two continue to blink on our radar. Both Oregon and Texas have bills on their dockets that could affect voters in their states. We will watch both states closely in the coming days.
By now you may have noticed that the US Census Bureau released the results of its polling around the 2012 elections. While the numbers do not indicate partisanship of voters or the candidates whom they supported, they provide a wealth of information on demographics such as age, gender, education level, and race of voters as well as the methods they used to vote and register, or, in other cases, why they skipped going the polls all together last year.
At a recent concert at DC’s 930 Club, fans threw their hands up in the air displaying wrists alight with glow bracelets scattered throughout the crowd. While you may not believe it, those bracelets had as much to do with music as they did with voting.
Following partisan fights surrounding election reforms, one election reform is giving hope for bi-partisan compromise nationally. Online voter registration is gaining recognition for its benefits to voters and elections administrators as more states are considering implementing an online system. Currently, 12 states have online voter registration measures in place, and five are working on implementation or final approval of similar measures.
On April 17, the Connecticut House of Representatives voted in favor of placing on the 2014 ballot a proposed constitutional amendment allowing early and no-excuse absentee voting. Currently, the state does not allow any voting before Election Day unless a person has an acceptable excuse and has applied for and submitted an absentee ballot. Acceptable excuses include illness, travel, disabilities, and religious beliefs that would prevent a voter from going to the polls.
Fair Elections Legal Network has been a longtime proponent of the benefits of online, or electronic, voter registration. It’s more affordable, in Washington state the cost of processing an online registration is $.45 more than a full dollar less than the $1.55 it costs to process a paper form. Electronic registration also dramatically improves accuracy in the registration process.
News broke this morning that Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell signed a bill which will require all voters in Virginia to present a photo ID to vote. The law, which will go into effect in 2014, will be the second drastic voter ID change in the Commonwealth in the span of three years if it is implemented.
Governor McDonnell, who earlier this year made headlines urging the Republican controlled General Assembly to automatically restore the rights of felons to vote in Virginia, has proven he is not focused on expanding or protecting the right to vote through signing this bill.
We often hear our nation’s prison system described as “rehabilitative”; meaning if someone commits a crime, they serve time in order to correct their criminal behavior, and later enter back into society with the hope that they will contribute to their community and refrain from committing another crime. Work release programs, mandatory rehabilitation programs, and probationary periods help ensure that former felons start over and stay on a new, productive path once they have completed their sentence. We want these people to become engaged members of society.