Independent Voting Videos


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Proof of Citizenship on Voter Registration Forms

Kobach, et al. v. Election Assistance Commission, et al., was about whether Arizona and Kansas could require voters to prove their citizenship when registering to vote with the so-called “federal form.” Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach led the suit against the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, which was an appeal of a lower court decision.

The Supreme Court had already ruled in 2013 that state proof-of-citizenship laws couldn’t be applied when people try to register with the federal form. The states’ direct request to the EAC was a last-ditch effort to get around that.

By not hearing the case, the Supreme Court effectively upheld the decision of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled against Arizona and Kansas in November 2014, saying the EAC did not have to modify its form to meet state laws. Under the federal form, would-be voters need only swear under penalty of perjury that they are citizens.

But Kobach still hopes states’ authority will be recognized.

“Our position in court is that we’re exercising our state’s right to define the qualifications of electors,”, “By creating this loophole, the federal agency is interfering,” he said in reference to the EAC.

Kobach emphasized the court’s decision not to review the case does not reflect its opinion on the issues of the case. “The Supreme Court decision not to review was not particularly surprising given the fact that there was no circuit split yet,” the secretary of state said.

The Kansas and Arizona laws stand, meaning that people wishing to register to vote with state forms are required to show proof of citizenship. Kobach said more than 99 percent of Kansans use the state forms, many refiling so they could vote in state elections. “But because of the Supreme Court decision not to review the case,” he added, “we do have a small limited loophole.” The slim majority that uses the federal form can “refuse to provide proof of citizenship,” he said, “but that will only vote in federal elections.”

Kobach said he’ll be sending another request to the EAC, but that that request will be presented differently from the state’s previously denied request.

“Every time an alien votes, it may not steal an election, but it will cancel out a vote of a U.S. citizen,” Kobach said.

This matter is the subject of a separate lawsuit that's pending before a state court judge in Kansas, brought by the ACLU and the League of Women Voters, so it may be some time before we get complete clarity.

Now will other states create this dual voter registration system?

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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In Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, the court found that voters had the power to strip elected lawmakers of their authority to draw district lines.

Justice Ginsburg wrote that the Constitution’s reference to “legislature” encompassed the people’s legislative power when acting through ballot initiatives. “The animating principle of our Constitution is that the people themselves are the originating source of all the powers of government,” she wrote.

The Supreme Court decision upholding independent congressional redistricting efforts immediately touched off a push to get more nonpartisan commissions in place before the next reapportionment after the 2020 census.

Backers of taking some of the politics out of the decennial redrawing of the lines for House districts said Monday’s ruling eliminated the legal uncertainty surrounding such efforts. It could also provide momentum for state initiatives with three election cycles — 2016, 2018 and 2020 — before new districts need to be mapped out.

“I believe we have a chance to make Congress work again for the American people by creating competitive districts,” said Ellen O. Tauscher, a former centrist Democratic House member from California and former State Department official.

She is forming a new bipartisan group, “YouDrawTheLines2021,” to push commissions similar to the one adopted in her home state.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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Monday, June 29, 2015

States With No Write-In Voting

Thanks to Richard Winger of Ballot Access News for this post.

As Richard says "Voting is Speech".

There are five states that do not allow write-in voting: Hawaii, Louisiana, Nevada, Oklahoma, and South Dakota.

These states are saying, that the content of a voter's vote determines whether it can be expressed, or some views can and others can not.

The Supreme Court in 1992, upheld Hawaii's ban, Burdick v Takushi.

Richard says "Write-in bans prohibit votes for candidates who are not strong enough to get on the ballot. Therefore, they prohibit a voter from expressing their support for weak candidates."

We both agree that the court should re-examine and overturn.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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NYC Student Voter Registration Day Update

New York City's Student Voter Registration Day (SVRD) is a single-day program that educates New York City high school students about the importance of voting and civic engagement. SVRD is a joint collaboration of NYC Votes, Council Member Helen Rosenthal, and members of the New York City Council. This year's event was held on March 20, 2015 and registered over 1600 students from 25 schools across the city.

The program is designed to increase youth voter registration and to get young people excited about being involved in the democratic process. Through interactive discussion, SVRD encourages youth to see how issues at the polls affect their everyday lives.

In 2016, the city budget includes $343,840 citywide for SVRD in each district.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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The Capital's Congressional Internet of Things Caucus

Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA) and Darrell Issa (R-CA) are the co-chairs of the Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Courts and the Internet, called the Congressional Caucus on the Internet of Things (IoT).

The ‘Internet of Things’ has come to refer to the use of network connectivity to the Internet to enable devices and systems. The IoT is a rapidly developing and broad space affecting the use of devices from cooking equipment to health technology and cars.

Issues in IoT Development: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is currently developing a report on IoT, and future agency regulatory action of both new and traditional industries engaged in connected devices will have implications for future interoperability and development. Additionally, as user engagement increases, there will be likely be policy debate about data sharing and privacy implications. The future of a thriving IoT marketplace will also be affected by spectrum policy and other federal management systems.

Purpose of the Caucus: The IoT Caucus will focus on educating Members on the development of innovative technology and public policy in the ‘Internet of Things’ space. The Caucus will inform Members about new opportunities and challenges in health, transportation, home, workplace, and more as everyday devices take advantage of network connectivity to create new value.

Some interesting facts about Congressional use of IoT:

- Rep. DelBene wears a Microsoft Band on her wrist with mobile apps. Surely she’s using it in the Capitol? No, her staff replied.

- Sen. Harry Reid’s office uses Evoko tablets that let staffers pre-schedule conference rooms via their computer or phone, but it’s an internal system that no one else has access to.

- House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer’s office talked up his new iPhone app, Whipwatch, which blasts out push-notice alerts when there’s about to be a floor vote. It’s a nice improvement on an outdated system but is really just a mobile app.

Did someone say "Smart Cheetos"? There are indeed networked vending machines in service all around Washington, notifying drivers which ones need to be restocked, but not in the Capital. Jim Gousha, a machine repairman fixing a fan on a Pepsi machine in the basement of the Russell Senate Office Building, said his company doesn’t have any deployed in the Capitol.

The reason was explained by Stephen Ayers, the architect of the Capitol, who wrote that Congress has plenty of advanced technology, smart lighting that senses the level of daylight, carbon monoxide sensors that know when the garages need fresh air.

But, he wrote, “None of it is connected to the Internet.”

It turns out that Congress has a deliberate “air gap” between its own networks and the Internet that the rest of us use. Lawmakers and their staff can still browse the Web from their computers, through a firewall. It's buildings' high-tech internal systems that don't connect at all. “From my perspective,” Ayers said, “the Internet of Things is currently focused on the homeowner or personal market, and has yet to display the necessary security features for widespread commercial use.”

In other words, no matter how much some members of Congress want to cheerlead the adoption of the IOT, the people who protect Congress don’t quite trust the technology enough to use it.

It’s tempting to see this as kind of a metaphor for Capitol Hill, cluster of buildings disconnected from the rest of America in the most literal way possible. But Congress’ air gap isn’t unique: Others also exist around nuclear power plants, classified military networks and other systems where a break-in could be catastrophic.

And in a way, it’s kind of reassuring: If anyone maliciously hacks in and scrambles the Senate meeting room schedule, they’ll know it’s probably an inside job.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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NY and the Independent Redistricting Decision

Today, the U. S. Supreme Court upheld the right of states to create independent commissions to draw congressional districts. By rejecting the Arizona Legislature’s argument that only the state legislature can redraw congressional plans, states are able to use independent commissions to redraw congressional districts independent of state legislative approval.

New York does not have an independent commission to redraw either state legislative or congressional districts. While a 2014 ballot referendum approved by voters creates a new redistricting “commission,” this commission will serve only in an advisory capacity. The state legislature will still be able to adopt, modify or reject congressional and state legislative plans the commission suggests and draw its own plans.

Despite arguments to the contrary, the state legislature will not be constrained by fair and objective criteria the advisory commission is required to use. Instead, the state legislature, after rejecting two successive commission plans, can do whatever it wants to do. This has the effect of perpetuating incumbent protection plans and defeats the purpose of independent commissions.

If the legislature fails to adopt either the commission plan or a plan of its own, a state or federal court can step in and draw a plan, as happened in 1992 and 2012 In 1992, the legislature adopted a state court drawn congressional plan to facilitate Voting Rights Act Section 5 preclearance and to prevent use of an already adopted federal court drawn redistricting plan almost nobody liked. In 2012, a federal court drew the current congressional plan.

In today’s opinion, the Court said “the people of Arizona turned to the initiative to curb the practice of gerrymandering and, thereby, to ensure that Members of Congress would have “an habitual recollection of their dependence on the people.” In so acting, Arizona voters sought to restore the core principle of republican government, namely, that the voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around.

New York will not have an independent redistricting process unless state voters first approve a 2017 ballot question asking whether a state constitutional convention should be convened. If this happens, it will be up to a convention to create a truly independent commission and the voters to approve that amendment.

Unless that happens, the same process that has repeated itself over and over is likely to remain.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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Supreme Court Approves Independent Redistricting Commissions

On a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court approves Independent Redistricting Commissions.

The case brought by the GOP-controlled Arizona Legislature, Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission 13-1314, claims that isolating the Legislature from the redistricting process violates the federal constitution’s Election Clause, which states that “the times, places and manner of holding elections for senators and representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the Legislature thereof.”

But Judge Ginsberg, says the people are the legislature.

The case will also approve the Independent Commission of California and ten other states that have commissions that either have more limited roles or that have members appointed by politicians.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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