“Your place for all the information you need about voting rights,
voter suppression, and voting trends to prepare you to fight in the 2022 election.”
November 9, 2021, 2021
Illinois Legislative Map Lawsuits Get Dec. 6 Court Date
Illinois’ new legislative district maps that establish new boundaries for all Illinois House and Senate districts are headed to court again. A three-judge panel of the US District Court plans on December 6 to hear a case that consolidates the complaints of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the East St. Louis Branch of the NAACP and other civil rights groups, and Republican leaders of the General Assembly. Each lawsuit claims that the new maps break up concentrated areas of minority voters who tend to vote as a bloc, thus depriving them of their right to elect candidates of their choice.
The judge overseeing the case, US District Judge Robert M. Dow Jr., has put the case on an expedited schedule in order to accommodate the 2022 election cycle. Under the current schedule, candidates can begin circulating nominating petitions on Jan. 13 (https://bit.ly/3bSP6rg).
Jan. 6 Committee Working on Revision of 1887 Electoral Count Act
Members of the House Select Committee on the January 6 attack are working on potential legislation to update 1887 Electoral Count Act. As reported in the September 28 Voting Rights Gazette, it was the weak language in the Electoral Count Act that apparently laid the basis for the White House to attempt to prevent the House from certifying Joe Biden’s election (https://bit.ly/3BAdfgG).
“Every phase of the presidential election process has been thrown into doubt and is now littered with booby traps,” Maryland Democrat Rep. Jamie Raskin told CNN.
The goal is to prepare legislation that provides specific instructions on when Congress can deny a state’s slate of electors and the exact role of the vice president in counting the votes. The Act is vague on both counts, leading to efforts to exploit its vagueness.
Work on the legislation does double duty, not only updating the Act, but also providing the committee with a valid claim to saying its subpoenas serve a legislative function, something Trump’s lawyers have contested. A new bill would also address the contention of lawyer John Eastman that the Electoral Count Act itself is unconstitutional (https://cnn.it/3w5qIvO).
No proposed legislation will be offered until the committee ends its investigation. Regardless, as Democracy Docket’s Marc Elias points out, “While no one questions that the Electoral Count Act needs reform, the idea that we can fix democracy simply by revising this one law is simplistic and wrong.” https://bit.ly/3wrrvHs
Majority of Voters Confident Elections Are Fair, But Millions Convinced Only Violence Will “Save the Country“
A majority of Americans trust that elections are fair, are confident in their state and local governments’ ability to administer elections, and will trust the results in 2022 and in 2024 regardless of whether their preferred candidate wins, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.
Other findings, however, are less positive. The majority of voters holding positive opinions were Democrats and Independents—no surprise—but the poll also showed a huge, 19-point gap between college-educated and non-college-educated voters on the issue. More than half of non-college-educated whites, for instance, stated they wouldn’t trust future elections to be fair (https://n.pr/3EKnVeN).
Meanwhile, a poll from the Public Religion Research Institute has found that nearly 4 in 10 Republicans believe violence might be justified to “save our country.” As the Institute notes, that translates to about 31 million American adults who agree with the statement that “because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country.” Their full report can be found at https://bit.ly/3jXWjdS.
Statistics Show It Was Voter Anger that Propelled GOP to Victory in VA
Here’s an anomaly that Donald Trump would be familiar with—winning more votes than a predecessor but still losing an election.
That, apparently, is what happened to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe in last Tuesday’s race for Virginia governor. According to election returns, McAuliffe won more than 200,000 more votes than outgoing Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam did in 2017. It just wasn’t enough to counteract the fact that Republicans turned out more than 85% of the voters who voted in the 2020 presidential election.
That’s not common in an off-year election. Explains NPR’s senior political affairs correspondent Domenico Montanaro, “People aren’t compelled to vote… It’s also a reminder that—right or wrong—anger motivates, whether it’s about education, race or mask mandates.” https://n.pr/3CMOOy0
Also buoying the Republican win—GOP winner Greg Youngkin, not just Democrat McAuliffe, urged his supporters to vote early. The result? Nearly 870,000 early ballots were cast by the early-voting deadline of October 30—a large increase from the last governor’s race in 2017. Says the Washington Post, the state’s recent voter-friendly voting laws helped that outcome. https://wapo.st/3GTgO5g
Another Rogue County Clerk Under Investigation for Missing Election Equipment
The tabulator from a voting machine in rural Adams County, Michigan, mysteriously disappeared last month after Michigan State Police questioned why the county clerk refused to allow maintenance to be carried out on the county’s voting equipment.
The incident occurred the week before Michigan’s scheduled November 2 election. In refusing the maintenance, Republican Adams County Clerk Stephanie Scott told a Michigan news site, Bridge Michigan, that she wanted to preserve data on the machines from previous elections, a reference to the false idea that voting machines can steal elections. Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson immediately revoked Scott’s ability to run the upcoming election and put a fellow Republican county clerk in her place.
Scott is known to post copious Q-Anon conspiracy theories on her Facebook page.
Short Takes, Good News-Bad News Edition
Good News! New York’s recently enacted domestic violence bill SB 1555 includes privacy protections for victims of domestic violence. Previously, a victim’s voter registration records were available publicly. Now they will be sealed from public view.
In Florida, legislators have introduced a bill requiring all election administrators to include return postage on mail-in ballots. Currently, it’s optional. The bill will be taken up in the 2022 legislative session.
And in Texas, some very rare good news! Gov. Greg Abbott has turned down his lieutenant governor’s request for another special session to take up two more voter suppression bills that never made it through the second special session. Said an Abbott spokesman, the governor saw “no need for another special session at this time.”
The bad news? The Georgia State Election Board unanimously decreed that applicants for absentee ballots must physically sign a ballot request, known as a “wet signature requirement.” The requirement is expected to be a barrier to voters with disabilities and those who either don’t have a home printer or don’t have easy access to a print shop to print out the request form.
More information on all these short takes can be found at https://bit.ly/3CKIeYN.
DuPage County Replaces Aged Voting Equipment with On-demand Paper Ballot System
DuPage County has become the first county in Illinois to use complete on-demand paper-ballot printing for both Early Voting and Election Day voting. This replaces the County’s aged optical scanners and touchscreen machines to provide the same voting experience for all voters, including those with disabilities. “I have been waiting to say these words for 16 years – DuPage County will have 100 percent paper ballots,” says DuPage County Clerk Jean Kaczmarek.
The county selected the Hart InterCivic Verity paper voting solution. It will be in place for the 2022 primary election. Among the system’s features is the ability to provide reliable audits of voter intent with digital captures of all scanned ballots, automatic counting for write-in votes, ranked choice voting capability, faster and reliable recounts, and multiple language options. It is also never connected to the internet, making it impossible to hack. More information is at https://bit.ly/3bxYpwy.
“This looks like a very good choice for a smaller county–no need to pre-print ballots at all,” says Ed Spire, a member of NW Suburbs Organizing for Action (NWSOFA) and an election judge with decades of experience. “The voter who wants to hand-mark a paper ballot can have the ballot printed on-demand, so even early voters at vote centers can mark a paper ballot by hand. I’d love to see all our smaller counties do this.”
The Great Indivisible Illinois Convening Happens on November 13!
The not-to-be-missed, statewide Indivisible Illinois Convening is this Saturday, November 13, 1 pm CST, and have we got a program for you!
Keynote speaker will be the electrifying Rev. William Barber of the Poor People’s Campaign, followed by National Indivisible co-founder Ezra Levin, whom Politico named second on their list of the nation’s 50 top thinkers, doers, and visionaries transforming American politics today.
Then stay tuned for a talk by long-time civil rights activist Heather Booth, followed by a free training from Ali Feldman, Melissa Knutson, and Lisa Wagner, the word wizards from Words That W!N. They’ll teach us how to craft messages that work with OUR narrative, not theirs!
So, join fellow progressives from around the state and the Midwest at the Indivisible Illinois Convening! Meet new and old friends, and commit to organizing for action towards liberty, justice, and equity for all! Progressives from other states are welcome, too! Go to bit.ly/INDIVISIBLE-ILLINOIS-CONVENING to sign up!
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