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Voting & Elections 01.3.2024

Public News Service: Bill aims to restore voting rights for those incarcerated in Alabama, US

Keisha Morris Desir, justice and mass incarceration project manager for Common Cause, said the Inclusive Democracy Act is the first of its kind to include voting rights for people even if they are still behind bars. "This is the first really expansive bill that would allow everyone -- including those who are currently incarcerated, on parole and probation -- to vote in a federal election," Desir explained.

Yahoo! News/The Hill: Lobbying World

Virginia Kase Solomón will be the next president and CEO of Common Cause. Currently CEO of the League of Women Voters, she will start her new role in February and will be the first Hispanic person to lead the democratic watchdog. She succeeds Karen Hobert Flynn, who died this spring after three decades with the organization.

Voting & Elections 12.14.2023

Public News Service: 'Inclusive Democracy Act' would expand ballot access for people in prison

The nonprofit Common Cause helped to create the National Voting in Prison Coalition. Keshia Morris Desir, justice and mass incarceration project manager for the group, explained the bill, known as the Inclusive Democracy Act, would restore the right to vote in federal elections for individuals who are incarcerated or on probation and parole. "What that does is help to disenfranchise the 4.6 million individuals that currently do not have access to the ballot box in federal elections," Morris Desir explained. "More than 50% of people across the United States support voting for currently incarcerated folks," Morris Desir pointed out. "People across the country know that, you know, just because you made a mistake in your past and you have a criminal conviction does not exclude you from citizenship and your right to vote."

Voting & Elections 02.23.2023

Texas Tribune: Texas Senate revives effort to make illegal voting a felony

“SB 2 seems like an acknowledgement by the state that they do a crappy job of educating Texans about voting and a concession that they have no plans to do better,” said Anthony Gutierrez, executive director of Common Cause Texas. For the 2022 election cycle, the Texas Legislature allocated $3.5 million for voter education efforts. Advocates say that’s not enough to reach the more than 16 million registered voters in the state. “The real problem here is, if you’re increasing the penalty for a crime, you would think the state would take some responsibility for telling people what the law is, so [voters] know not to break the law,” Guitierrez said, adding that the increased penalties could also keep some eligible voters away from the polls. “The public will see this, wonder what is going on and wonder if it’s even worth the hassle of going to vote if there’s voting police out there and if they risk getting charged with felonies if they’re not up to speed on all of the new election laws.”

Associated Press: Bill raising riot penalties in North Carolina clears House

Tyler Daye of Common Cause North Carolina said the legislation, if enacted, could be used to punish bystanders or speakers whose words inadvertently incite violence. “If a riot takes place, some innocent, peaceful protesters may be interwoven with intruders who have come to hijack their message,” Daye said.

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