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Voting & Elections 12.6.2023

Inclusive Democracy Act Would End Felony Disenfranchisement 

Today, Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Sen. Peter Welch (D-VT) introduced the Inclusive Democracy Act of 2023, a bill to end felony disenfranchisement. This groundbreaking legislation seeks to eliminate the discriminatory practice of felony disenfranchisement for federal elections, ensuring that all Americans, regardless of a criminal conviction, have the fundamental right to vote. 

Baltimore Sun (Editorial): Finding a better way to fill Maryland’s state legislative vacancies

Common Cause Maryland and others see a troubling pattern. You make friends with party insiders and your path to the State House is far easier. You get the appointment and then special interest money steered your way keeps you in the job. Other vacancies from state attorney general to comptroller to U.S. Senate seats get a special election (under a 2016 state constitutional amendment ratified by voters).

Washington Post: Ohio’s GOP supermajority tests limits of democracy before abortion vote

“This was about playing games with an election, not about playing around with the language that goes directly into the Ohio Constitution,” said Catherine Turcer, the executive director of Common Cause Ohio and a member of the Ohio Voter Rights Coalition’s steering committee.

Voting & Elections 10.2.2023

Denver Post: Colorado lawmakers often win seats with dozens of votes. Would a different process to fill vacancies be fairer?

“We have every confidence that lawmakers who enter the legislature this way are able to earn the trust of their district and represent the interests of the voters in their district,” said Aly Belknap, the executive director of Colorado Common Cause, an election-advocacy group. “Even so,” she added, “we know that this process doesn’t meet the standards of an inclusive and representative democracy because vacancy committees entrust this (decision) to a fraction of district voters.”

Honolulu Civil Beat: What Does Hawaii Have In Common With These Red States? A Fear Of Direct Democracy

There was a push to establish statewide initiatives, referendums and recalls during the last constitutional convention in 1978. A key proponent was the good-government organization Common Cause Hawaii. In a newspaper interview at the time, Common Cause’s Carol Zachary said special interests “can better use the established legislative process than they can the entire electorate. Their defense of the present system proves that they don’t want to give people the franchise. They’re scared of what they might do.”

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