Elections

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After Riot, Congress Confirms Biden Victory

Meeting in a session that was interrupted by a large-scale riot and storming of the capitol building, members of Congress yesterday rejected attempts to throw out the electoral votes of a handful of states. After hours of delay, the joint session finally affirmed Joe Biden’s electoral college victory at 3:45 a.m.

 

Various members of the House of Representatives and Senate promised to object to the votes cast by electors in at least 5 states. A joint session convened at 1 p.m. to witness Vice President Mike Pence presiding over the counting of these votes. As Arizona’s votes were being counted, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) rose to object. Since his objection slip was signed by a senator, this led to the House and Senate meeting separately to deliberate on that objection.

 

During these meetings, a group of individuals who were protesting outside the capitol broke into the building, assaulted police, and drove the members of Congress into undisclosed locations. These rioters then broke into the Senate chamber and attempted to reach the House chamber. Capitol Police shot one woman. 

 

Hours later, Capitol Police and other law enforcement cleared the capitol building, allowing the electoral vote count to resume. Members resumed deliberations on the Arizona objection, with the House rejecting it by a vote of 303-121 and the Senate by a vote of 93-6. While House members also attempted to object to electoral votes cast in Georgia, Michigan, and Nevada, but no senators joined them. An effort to toss out Pennsylvania’s vote was rejected by the Senate on a vote of 92-7 and 282-138 in the House. 

 

After these objections were defeated, the electoral count continued and Vice President Pence declared that Joe Biden had won the presidency. 

 

The meeting of the joint session of Congress is generally little more than a formality, with members being present to witness the counting of votes. While there had been objections to electoral votes in the past, there had never been this many members of Congress who supported them.

 

What do you think about the riot that took place in and around the capitol building yesterday?

 

Congress Counts Electoral College Votes on Wednesday

On Wednesday the members of Congress will meet in a joint session to count the votes cast by electors from the 50 states and the District of Columbia. While this is usually a session with little drama, some Republicans this year are planning on objecting to the votes by electors in a handful of states.

 

Under the Constitution and federal law, the House of Representatives and the Senate must meet in a joint session to count electoral votes. The vice president presides and opens the votes, announcing the tally. In most years, this is a pro forma session, with little being done but ratifying the votes that were cast. 

 

Members of Congress do have the power to object to a single electoral vote or a slate of electoral votes, however. To do so, they must present an objection to the vice president and that objection must be signed by both a member of the House of Representatives and the Senate. If this occurs, then each house meets in its own chambers to debate the objection for 2 hours. They then vote on sustaining the objection. Both houses must vote in favor of rejecting the electoral vote or votes in order for the attempt to be successful.

 

Some Democratic members of the House of Representatives attempted to do so in 2001, but no senators signed. In 1968 and 2005, there were successful objections but neither house of Congress voted to throw out the votes.

 

This year, Republicans from the House and Senate have said they would object to votes in states where there are allegations of fraud or disputes about the election practices. Members have different arguments in favor of their actions, from complaints about fraudulent votes or arguments that state legislatures, not courts or governors, should set election practices. Regardless of their rationale, these efforts will likely lead to multiple meetings of the House and Senate to vote on accepting or rejecting electoral votes.

 

Given the Democratic control of the House of Representatives and many Republican senators who have said they would not support these objections, it is almost certain that Congress will eventually accept the contested electoral votes. 

 

Do you think that Congress should reject electoral votes in states where Republicans say there was fraud or irregularities?

Electoral College Members Vote Today

The vote for president of the United States occurred today. Electors met in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to cast votes for president, a vote that is expected to place Joe Biden in the White House on January 20.

 

Under the Constitution, it is electors, not voters, who decide who is president. On Election Day, voters cast ballots for a slate of electors. These electors then meet in their respective state capitals in December to vote on who will be president and vice-president. Their only constitutional limitation is that they cannot vote for two people from the same state. Washington, D.C., and 26 states also require that electors vote for whomever won that state's popular vote. Each state has a number of electors equal to the number of its congressional delegation.

 

A joint session of Congress will convene in January to count the electoral votes and formally declare a winner of the presidential election. During that time, members of Congress can object to either a single electoral vote or a state's slate of electoral votes. Such an objection must be presented in writing and signed by a member of the House of Representatives and a senator. While individual members of Congress have objected during the vote counting, an objection has only been considered twice -- in 1968 and 2005. When this happens, the House and Senate meet in individual sessions to consider the objection. Both houses must vote to sustain it in order for the vote or votes to be thrown out.

 

Generally, the meeting of the Electoral College is a routine process. However, due to claims of voting fraud by President Trump and his allies, this year it is being watched more closely than in many other years. 

 

There have long been efforts to reform or eliminate the Electoral College. Critics claim it is a vestige of pre-democratic times, when a slaveholding class was looking to preserve its power. They say that the president should be chosen by popular vote. Supporters of the Electoral College argue that it provides an incentive for presidential candidates to pay attention to the entire country, not merely a few highly populated areas. They also note that it produces a clear winner, which may not happen if there are disputes over the popular vote.

 

What do you think about the Electoral College? Do you support abolishing it?

Virginia Voters Shut Legislators out of Redistricting

Virginia legislators will no longer be determining the shape of legislative and congressional districts in that state.

 

Voters overwhelmingly approved Question 1, which gives power to draw congressional and legislative districts to an independent commission. Those backing this state constitutional amendment said that allowing politicians to draw these districts leads to gerrymandering, which deprives many voters of a meaningful choice. They contended that independent commissions will consider politics less than politicians will. Opponents, however, pushed back. They said that by giving redistricting power to a commission, it will take away the chance of voters to hold their elected officials accountable for how districts are drawn.

 

Congressional and legislative lines must be drawn after every census. In 2011, Virginia legislators were unable to agree on new districts, since Democrats and Republicans split control of legislative chambers. Under an independent commission, this situation would not occur again. Legislators in two successive sessions supported resolutions that would give voters the chance to vote on making this change to the state constitution. 

 

When this commission convenes after the 2020 census results are known, it will be composed of legislators from the Democratic and Republican parties as well as private citizens. The commission will draw maps that could then be approved or rejected by the Virginia General Assembly. Legislators may not amend the maps. If the General Assembly rejects the maps, the commission will draw another set of maps. If the General Assembly votes down these maps, then the Virginia Supreme Court will draw the lines.

 

Prior to Virginia’s approval of this amendment, 7 states had similar independent commissions that draw congressional district lines, while 10 states had independent commissions to compose legislative districts.

 

Question 1 garnered nearly 66% of the vote.

 

Do you support an independent commission to draw congressional and legislative district lines?

California Voters Say Gig Drivers Aren’t Employees

California legislators wanted to classify contractors for Lyft and Uber as “employees.” But California voters disagreed, voting in favor of an initiative that allows these workers to continue being classified as independent contractors.” Some see this as a victory for worker freedom, while others contend that it will allow these companies to continue exploiting drivers.

 

Over 58% of voters approved Proposition 22, which changed California law to allow app-based drivers to be classified as independent contractors. This was in response to the enactment of AB 5 in California. That law put severe restrictions on how companies could use independent contractors, including drivers for Uber and Lyft. Supporters said it was necessary to crack down on unscrupulous companies that were trying to avoid paying workers benefits and higher wages. Opponents countered that it was the government meddling in arrangements that worked well for both employees and contractors.

 

Uber and Lyft strongly supported Proposition 22, saying that it was necessary for them to continue operating in the sate. Besides removing app-based drivers from AB 5’s restrictions, Proposition 22 also:

  • Required app-based driving services to pay certain minimum amounts to drivers
  • Imposed limits on the number of hours an app-based driver could work in a 24-hour period
  • Mandated health care subsidies for some app-based drivers
  • Required companies provide some forms of insurance for these drivers

 

AB 5 only affected drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft. Other independent contractors are unaffected. After AB 5 was enacted, businesses began restructuring or ending their relationships with California independent contractors. 

 

To amend Proposition 22 will take a ⅞ vote in both chambers of California’s legislature.

 

Do you think that states should impose more restrictions on companies using independent contractors?

It's Election Day

It's Election Day. Although tens of millions of Americans have voted absentee or by mail this year, there are also millions who are voting in person today. These votes will determine the fate of a variety of policies across the nation.

 

Who will be our next president, as well as control of the House of Representatives and the Senate will be determined by voters. Governors' races as well as state and local offices will be filled. The men and women elected to these positions will determine policies for the next two or four years. But voters will also directly decide on some policies today through state and local ballot initiatives and referendums. 

 

These are some of the issues being decided directly by the voters today:

  • Recreational marijuana legalization: Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota voters will determine if their states legalize the recreational use of marijuana.
  • Medicinal marijuana legalization: Sound Dakota and Mississippi voters will decide on the fate of medicinal marijuana.
  • Income tax increases: Colorado voters are facing the question of whether to reduce the state's income tax rate, while Arizona voters will determine if their top rate increases. Illinois voters are being asked to move from a flat tax to a graduated income tax.
  • Tobacco tax increases: Voters in Oregon and Colorado will decide if tobacco users will pay more for their products.
  • Ranked choice voting: Alaska may adopt a ranked-choice voting system if voters approve.
  • Affirmative action: In 1996, California voters approved a proposition that banned government from discriminating or giving preferential treatment based on race or gender, among other things. Voters are being asked to repeal that prohibition this year.
  • Rent control: California voters will also determine if the state can expand the use of rent control.
  • Abortion: Colorado voters could approve a proposition that bans abortion after 22 weeks. Louisiana voters are deciding on an amendment that states there is no right to abortion in the state constitution.
  • Sports betting: Maryland voters may allow their state to join the growing number of states that permit gambling on sports. South Dakota voters will also decide whether to allow limited sports betting in that state.

 

What issue do you think is most important during this year's elections?

 

Court Packing Becomes Issue in Presidential Campaign

The number of Supreme Court justices has become a flashpoint of disagreement between Republicans and Democrats this election season.

 

Some liberals are calling on Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to embrace the idea of expanding the Supreme Court if they are elected in November. They argue that since Republicans are intent on pushing through the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett prior to the election, then President Biden should support increasing the number of justices. They say this is a way to fix the conservative tilt that the high court will likely have for decades to come. 

 

Republicans argue this is playing politics with the Supreme Court, and have called on Biden and Harris to promise not to engage in what they call "court packing." So far, however, both members of the Democratic ticket have demurred.

 

The idea of expanding the Supreme Court’s membership in response to a disagreement over its ideological makeup was prominently championed by President Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s. Upset by court decisions invalidating part of his New Deal legislation, President Roosevelt suggested expanding the number of Supreme Court justices. There was an uproar in opposition to that idea, and Congress never acted on it.

 

The current calls to increase the number of Supreme Court justices is not new. There was also support to do this in response to President Trump's prior two Supreme Court nominations. At the time, these liberals contended that Senate Republicans’ played bare knuckle politics with their refusal to allow a vote on President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland and to approve Brett Kavanaugh in light of sexual assault allegations. They argued that these two actions were illegitimate, so it would be only right to counter them by expanding the court’s membership when Democrats regain the White House and Congress. 

 

Opponents of court packing argue that once this process starts, it will lead to an ever-larger number of justices appointed for purely political reasons. They note that if Democrats expand the court’s membership when they control the presidency and Congress, then Republicans will do so when they regain both branches of government.

 

There are currently nine Supreme Court justices. This number is not set by the Constitution, so Congress and the president could pass legislation to alter it.

 

Should Joe Biden and Kamala Harris promise to oppose any efforts to increase the number of Supreme Court justices?

Virginia Voters to Decide on Redistricting Reform

How Virginia's congressional and legislative districts are drawn may change if Virginia voters give their approval in November.

 

Under Question 1, power to draw congressional and legislative districts would move from legislators to an independent commission. Supporters of this change to the state's constitution argue that allowing politicians to draw these districts leads to gerrymandering, which deprives many voters of a meaningful choice. They contend that independent commissions will consider politics less than politicians will. Opponents, however, contend that by giving this power to a commission, it takes away the chance of voters to hold their elected officials accountable for how districts are drawn.

 

Congressional and legislative lines must be drawn after every census. In 2011, Virginia legislators were unable to agree on new districts, since Democrats and Republicans split control of legislative chambers. Under an independent commission, this situation would not occur again. Legislators in two successive sessions supported resolutions that would give voters the chance to vote on making this change to the state constitution. 

 

If voters approve the creation of an independent redistricting commission, it would be composed of legislators from the Democratic and Republican parties as well as private citizens. The commission would draw maps that could then be approved or rejected by the Virginia General Assembly. Legislators could not amend the maps. If the General Assembly rejects the maps, the commission would draw another set of maps. If the General Assembly votes down these maps, then the Virginia Supreme Court would draw the lines.

 

Currently 7 states have similar independent commissions that draw congressional district lines, while 10 states have independent commissions to compose legislative districts. 

California Voters to Decide on 17-Year-Old Voting

In California, voters will decide whether some 17-year-olds will be able to vote in primary and special elections.

 

Under Proposition 18, 17-year-old Californians who will be 18 at the time of the next general election can register and vote in special elections and primaries.Voters will be asked to approve the proposed constitutional amendment during this year’s election, which will go into effect for the next election cycle.

 

Backers of this amendment argue that this allows greater participation for young voters in elections. They note that primary and special elections are part of the election cycle, so if someone will be 18-years-old for the general election, it makes sense to allow them to participate in these other elections. Opponents, however, counter that people who are legally minors should not be participating in the election process.

 

California legislators voted to place Proposition 18 on the ballot during their legislative session this year. It was overwhelmingly supported by Democratic legislators but nearly all Republicans voted against it.

 

Eighteen other states allow 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections as long at they will be 18-years-old by the time of the general election.

 

Do you think that 17-year-olds who will be 18 at the time of the general election should be able to vote in primaries and special elections?

Trump Floats Idea of Delaying Election

President Trump has consistently been expressing his view that lack of in-person voting will reduce the integrity of this year's election. This morning, he suggested a way to deal with these fears: delaying the election.

 

In a tweet, he wrote: 

 

With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???

 

For presidential electors, the Constitution states: "The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States." The Constitution also gives Congress the power to set election procedures for members of the House of Representatives and the Senate. During the early history of the republic, there was no uniform Election Day. But by 1854, Congress stepped in and fixed the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November as the day when voters choose presidential electors and members of the House and Senate.

 

While the Constitution does not mandate any specific day for Election Day, it does mandate that presidents must be inaugurated on January 20. Any election would have to be conducted prior to then, giving enough time for presidential electors to meet, cast their votes, then have those votes counted by Congress. Current law requires that electoral votes be counted during a joint session of Congress during the first week of January.

 

While President Trump may be open to the idea of delaying the election, he has no power to do this unilaterally. Only Congress can pass a law to set Election Day, and obtaining enough votes to do so is unlikely. In the event Congress did, any delay could not be for a significant period of time, since the new president must take office on January 20.

 

Do you think that this year's elections should be delayed?

Democrats Reject Marijuana Legalization Plank

As the Democrats prepare their party platform for the 2020 election, advocates for marijuana legalization suffered a blow. Their efforts to obtain support from the Democratic Party for full legalization of marijuana failed by a vote of 50-106 this week.

 

As marijuana legalization becomes more popular with the public, advocates had been pressing for the Democratic party to embrace this position, too. The Democratic National Committee is meeting this week to prepare the party’s platform, and some members put forward a proposal to amend the platform to back full legalization. That vote failed, however.

 

Instead, the platform will continue to have language in it that supports marijuana decriminalization and federal recognition of state laws that relax marijuana penalties. This is in line with what presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden supports.

 

That stance, while significantly different from the GOP platform, does not go far enough for many of the Democratic Party’s base voters. They argue that marijuana laws are used to harm people of color and minority communities. They say that marijuana legalization is a necessary part of criminal justice reform. 

 

The issue of marijuana’s legal status has been a growing concern in recent years. States across the nation have legalized it for recreational use, joining many states that also allow it for medicinal use. However, the drug is still on the federal controlled substances list. So while states may not recognize marijuana as being illegal, the federal government still does. That puts marijuana businesses and users in a legal limbo that will only change with changes in federal marijuana law.

 

Do you think that marijuana should be legalized?

Supreme Court Allows States to Punish Faithless Electors

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court has ruled that states have the power to punish or remove electors who break their pledges to support specific candidates.

 

Justice Elena Kagan wrote for 7 fellow justices, saying that the Constitution’s text and the history of the Electoral College demonstrate that states have latitude to punish or replace faithless electors. Justice Clarence Thomas came to the same conclusion, although he said that the Tenth Amendment protects states’ power to set limits on electors.

 

When voters cast their ballot for president, they vote for electors who then make the binding vote for president. Electors take a pledge to support a certain candidate for office. Occasionally, electors vote for different candidates than the ones they are pledged to support. In 2016, there were more faithless electors than in any previous election, with ten electors in five states. Two more electors tried to vote for someone other than their pledged candidate, but were replaced.

 

The Supreme Court concerned three of these electors from Washington and one in Colorado. After they cast their votes for someone other than Hillary Clinton, who won their states’ popular vote, the Washington electors were fined and the Colorado elector was replaced. The justices ruled in the case concerning the Colorado elector, but the reasoning applies to the Washington case, too.

 

While not directly affecting other efforts to change the way the Electoral College works, this ruling does appear to confirm that states can reform how they assign electoral votes. Some states want to require electors to vote for the winner of the national popular vote, for instance.

 

What do you think about the Electoral College?

Two States Allowing Online Voting

This week, some West Virginia voters cast their ballots via computers and smartphones. Next month, Delaware voters will have the same opportunity. As the coronavirus disrupts elections across the nation, some states are looking at online voting. But experts warn this type of voting comes with big risks.

 

In West Virginia, anyone who requested an absentee ballot could vote online. Delaware officials will permit voters who are self-isolating due to the coronavirus epidemic cast their ballots via the Internet. These states say that this type of voting is a good way to allow people to exercise their right to vote while also taking into account the restrictions and protocols necessary to keep people safe.

 

Security experts, however, have pointed out security flaws with the software being used by these states. With the votes moving through the cloud, they are vulnerable to hackers, say the experts. West Virginia and Delaware point to the security measures they are taking. However, since voting is an anonymous and private activity, voters will have no way to check to see if their votes were accurately cast or counted.

 

Some people see Internet voting as the way most ballots will be cast in the future. They say that if the security is tight, then people should be free to cast their votes online. However, security experts say that right now widespread online voting has significant risks.

 

During the coronavirus epidemic, many states have expanded their vote-by-mail efforts, but only these two states have embraced online voting.

 

Do you support online voting?

Voting by Mail Facing Praise, Criticism

With voting in person deemed a risky activity during the coronavirus epidemic, states are turning to mail-in ballots as a way to conduct their elections. This has garnered praise from many people, who see it as a safer way to vote. But it has also raised the ire of many, including President Trump, who argue mail-in ballots are ripe for fraud.

 

Currently, five states conduct all their elections by mail: Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Utah. In these states, all registered voted receive a ballot and must mail them back by Election Day. There is also limited in-person voting locations where voters can visit during early voting or can drop off their ballots on Election Day.

 

The coronavirus epidemic has caused other states to temporarily embrace all-mail elections this year. Many of these states are treating this as a temporary matter. While shutdown orders were in effect, state officials concluded it would not be safe to open polling places. Instead, they put in place procedures to allow registered voters to request absentee ballots.

 

In addition, states such as Massachusetts are passing laws that will make it easier to vote by mail in future elections. These new laws would not move to election conducted completely by mail, but would expand the instances where people could request absentee ballots.

 

Some voting rights activists support these moves, saying that it should be easier for people to vote in any manner they want, including through the mail. They say this will help boost political participation among those who have difficulty making it to the polls. But President Trump, among others, have criticized mail-in voting, saying that it opens up large opportunities for fraud. The president says voting-by-mail is a plan by Democrats to help their party win elections.

 

Do you think it should be easier to vote by mail?

Supreme Court Takes up Faithless Electors Case

With the U.S. facing another spirited presidential election contest, the Supreme Court is considering whether states can punish “faithless electors.”

 

Under the U.S. system, voters do not vote directly for the person they want as president. Instead, they vote for electors who then cast votes for president. In every state, these electors are part of a slate that are pledged to candidates of each political party. However, some electors vote for different candidates than the ones they are pledged to vote for. Most states have laws that seek to punish these “faithless electors,” and these laws are at issue before the Supreme Court.

 

In 2016, there were more faithless electors than in any previous election, with ten electors in five states. Two more electors tried to vote for someone other than their pledged candidate, but were replaced.

 

The Supreme Court is hearing the case of three of these electors from Washington and one in Colorado. After they cast their votes for someone other than Hillary Clinton, who won their states’ popular vote, the Washington electors were fined and the Colorado elector was replaced. A federal appeals court ruled that the state could not punish them, while the Washington Supreme Court upheld their fines.

 

The question before the court is whether states have the power to control what electors do. States say they should be able to punish faithless electors to ensure that the voters’ will is respected. Others argue that the Founding Fathers set up a system where people choose electors who then are free to choose the best person for president, and states should not intrude upon this.

 

Do you think that states should be able to punish faithless electors?

Coronavirus Causes Controversy over Election Procedures

Republicans and Democrats are battling over how states should change their election procedures in response to the coronavirus.

 

In key battleground states, Democrats are pushing to make it easier for people to vote by mail. They argue that the coronavirus epidemic shows the need to give voters more options to cast their ballots. Among the items they are supporting is mailing a ballot to every registered voter or moving elections to exclusively vote-by-mail.

 

The Trump campaign and Republicans in these states are pushing back on these ideas. They acknowledge that steps need to be taken to deal with election-related consequences of the coronavirus, but they contend that these should not permanently alter election procedures. They also say that some of the moves being pushed by Democrats will open the door to voter fraud.

 

With a handful of states yet to hold primary elections in the coming months, states are moving to increase the use of mail-in ballots and absentee ballots. It remains to be seen what will happen for the November general election. If the social distancing orders are no longer in place, there will be less urgency to alter election procedures. But if there is still a need to keep people separated to slow the spread of the virus, or if the coronavirus has another outbreak at this time, there will be a strong movement to change how the election is conducted.

 

What changes, if any, should states make to their election procedures in response to the coronavirus?

States Moving to Vote-By-Mail During Epidemic

Most states held their primary elections prior to the onset of social distancing restrictions related to the coronavirus. For states which have yet to conduct their primaries, many are pursuing voting-by-mail as the only viable option in this time when large gatherings are banned.

 

Currently, five states conduct all their elections by mail: Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, and Utah. In these states, all registered voted receive a ballot and must mail them back by Election Day. There is also limited in-person voting locations where voters can visit during early voting or can drop off their ballots on Election Day.

 

Many states have enacted bans on large groups gathering in public and have restricted travel outside the home due to the coronavirus. This has put in jeopardy the ability of these states to conduct any primary elections that have yet to occur.


In response, these states are expanding their absentee ballot process to conduct primaries. Under these procedures, people will still have to request an absentee ballot. There will be no in-person voting locations. States conducting primary elections in this way include Ohio and Idaho.

 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is pushing for greater federal aid for states to assist in ramping up vote-by-mail efforts. She says the coronavirus epidemic has shown that states need to move towards allowing this type of voting in more circumstances. President Trump is pushing back, however, arguing that holding elections exclusively by mail will result in more vote fraud.

 

What do you think of voting by mail?

 

 

Virginia to End Requirement of Photo ID for Voting

In 2012, Virginia enacted a law requiring a photo identification for voting. This week, legislators passed a bill that ends this requirement.

 

Under HB 19, voters could show documents such as bank statements or pay-stubs in order to prove their identity and vote. They can also sign an affidavit attesting to their identity if they do not have these documents. They would no longer be required to produce a photo ID at their polling place.

 

This change, led by Democrats, undoes legislation that the previous governor, Bob McDonnell, signed into law eight years ago. Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam has said he supports ending the photo ID requirement.

 

Supporters of changing the law contend that strict voter ID laws make it more difficult to vote. They say that they disproportionately impact minorities and the poor, so are a way to reduce Democratic turnout. Opponents of ending the photo ID requirement argue that this is a good way to prevent voter fraud. They point out that many areas in life require photo ID, so it is not a hardship to require it for voting.

 

There have been pushes in many states to require photo IDs for voting. In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled that such laws were not unconstitutional.


Do you think that voters should show a photo ID before voting?

Virginia to Replace Lee-Jackson Day with Election Day Holiday

A day honoring Robert E. Lee and “Stonewall” Jackson may soon be removed from the list of Virginia state holidays. Instead, legislators want to give Election Day that honor.

 

Both the Virginia House and Senate have passed bills that would make Election Day a state holiday. This new holiday would replace Lee-Jackson Day, which is currently celebrated on the Friday prior to Martin Luther King, Jr., Day. Election Day was a holiday in Virginia until 1989.

 

Supporters of this idea argue that it will encourage voting by giving people the day off. They also say that Virginia should not celebrate Confederate generals, so ending Lee-Jackson Day is a good trade-off for an Election Day holiday. Opponents counter that there is no need to make Election Day a holiday, since the polls are open all-day and voters can request absentee ballots. They also argue that ending Lee-Jackson day is a blow to the state’s history.

 

Governor Ralph Northam said he supports this legislation.

 

Democrats in the legislature had been pushing to end Lee-Jackson Day for many years. However, the Republican-controlled legislature had never passed such legislation. With Democrats gaining control of both houses of the legislature in 2019, this bill is now likely to become law soon.

 

Do you think Virginia should have a holiday honoring Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson? Should Election Day be a holiday?

Massachusetts May Lower Voting Age to 16 for Local Elections

Legislators in Massachusetts are considering legislation that could result in some high school students gaining the vote.

 

Under this proposal, municipalities could request that the state allow them to permit residents who are 16-years-old and 17-years-old to vote in these local elections. The change would not be made statewide; it would only be considered for those jurisdictions that request it. If approved, these young voters would not be allowed to cast ballots in elections for legislators, state officials, or federal officers.

 

Supporters of the bill say that it will help spur civic participation from younger people, getting them involved in the political process. They note that municipal government decisions affect teenagers, so it is fair for them to have a say in selecting their officials. However, this proposal has met resistance for people who say that teenagers have not fully developed enough to be making such important decisions.

 

A legislative committee held a hearing on the bill last month. Some cities in the state have passed ordinances asking for this change to state law. It is unclear, however, if this legislation has enough support in the legislature to pass. It is also unknown if Gov. Deval Patrick will support it.

 

Do you support allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in city elections?

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