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Voting & Elections 01.26.2023

Tampa Bay Times: Tampa election first locally to test new absentee ballot law

“Tampa is a huge city. A major city and it’s one of the first (to deal with the new law),” said Amy Keith, program director for Common Cause Florida, a branch of the national voting rights and government accountability organization. The extra step required to request a mail ballot for each election makes accessing a ballot harder, especially for the disabled, elderly, working poor and other groups, Keith said. “It makes it harder to participate, for people to have their voice heard and have a say,” Keith said. In the November election, one-third of Florida voters cast their ballots by mail, she said.

Voting & Elections 01.25.2023

Texas Tribune/Houston Chronicle: Two years after Texas’ voting rights showdown gripped the nation, lawmakers again push dozens of elections bills

“Looking back over the past few legislative sessions, there have been repeated attempts to find creative ways to prosecute people for what really looks like an honest mistake,” said Anthony Gutierrez, executive director of Common Cause Texas, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for policies such as online voting registration and ending gerrymandering. “There’s no infrastructure to tell people what the process is for when you can vote again [after release from prison] or how you can vote again.”

Voting & Elections 01.21.2023

HuffPost: Democrats Are Mounting A Push To Expand Voting Rights After Big State-Level Midterm Wins

“New York historically has been a state that did not keep up with other states’ election administration and voting reforms,” Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause New York, a nonprofit that works on democracy-related issues, said.

Voting & Elections 01.16.2023

Patriot-News/PennLive (OP-ED): Some lawmakers are trying to sneak through legislation to advance their hardline agenda

Despite Pennsylvania voters’ overwhelming rejection of hardliner policies this past November, as the new legislative session begins, it’s clear very little has changed in Harrisburg. Lawmakers are still using sleight-of-hand tricks to force their hardliner agenda on Pennsylvanians because they can’t pass it through regular legislation. As they have for so many years, these lawmakers have ignored the voice of the people and are trying to circumvent the legislative process by forcing through constitutional amendments that limit voting rights, create unnecessary and expensive bureaucracies, and upset the balance of power in the state government.

Voting & Elections 01.13.2023

NPR: Despite mail voting changes, ballot rejections remain relatively low in 2022 midterms

Sylvia Albert, director of voting and elections at Common Cause, says that since the beginning of the pandemic, voting by mail or absentee has become significantly more popular. In response, some states expanded access to mail in voting. "What we also saw in 2020 was the demonization of vote by mail," Albert says. "This really affected state legislatures during the 2021 sessions. So, even though we saw a lot of states expand access, we saw other states restrict access."  She says that includes laws that set new limits on drop boxes, new ID requirements, as well as tighter deadlines for turning in a mail ballot. Albert says that even if the percentage of mail ballots that are thrown out remains relatively small, there were still hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. "who tried to have their voices heard but were silenced" when their ballot was tossed out. "We know that elections are getting closer," she said. "And we know that every small policy change actually can make a big difference — and a difference enough to flip an election." Particularly in local races, Albert says, a few rejected ballots could have made a difference in the outcome of an election.

Voting & Elections 01.12.2023

VoteBeat/Texas Tribune: Ken Paxton wants more power to prosecute election crimes. These bills in the Texas Legislature would give it to him.

Anthony Gutierrez, executive director of Common Cause Texas, said the bills would also hamper election worker recruitment. “The potential for prosecution if you mess something up, that Ken Paxton just decides is not a mistake but a violation of the law, is going to dissuade voters and also the people who are qualified to do those [election administration] jobs from wanting to do those jobs,” he said.

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