Saturday, March 29, 2014
Some things about voting and elections worth thinking about.
Thanks to Bill Cash for these remarks.
I agree with getting partisanship out of our elections and getting independents fully into the process. However, I do realize there is a difference between the parties. Both are corrupt but the republican party is far worse. They are waging a war on our democracy. Through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) they are driving bills through state legislatures to guarantee their success. In Republican controlled states they are severely gerrymandering districts so that it is almost impossible for anyone else to have more districts than them. That is the first step. The second step is to change how the state allocates its electoral votes. They've already voted in some republican controlled states to allocate the votes by district rather than popular vote. The courts did not allow these changes for the 2012 elections but the courts are not a sure way to stop it. It only applied to that one election.
In Virginia, they've already passed these laws and if they had been in effect in 2012, even though Obama won the popular vote by 4%, he would have only garnered 4 electoral votes and Romney would have received 9. These bills are being passed in all the republican controlled states.
The republicans are in a rush to change these laws because they know demographics will overtake them eventually. With these changes, they don't have to worry about it. Their one problem is the statewide offices which are still governed by popular vote. Statewide, Virginia just went democratic but the republicans are firmly in control of the legislature because of the gerrymandering.
I am working with Common Cause for the National Popular Vote which would undermine these stunts in the presidential elections but, from having been at legislative sessions, I can tell you the republicans fiercely oppose it. ALEC is sending representatives out to speak against it in many states. They sent a woman from Texas to testify in Connecticut.
A few positive things happening for voter registration come from Obamacare and the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.
Under the terms of an agreement announced between California and an alliance of good government groups, the state will mail voter registration forms to 4 million people who applied for Obamacare via California’s online exchange. The deal could end up creating 400,000 new registered Golden State voters—the actual numbers will be available later this year.
Nationwide, Obamacare could ultimately be responsible for registering anywhere from 3 to 7 million voters—potentially over 10% of the total number of eligible voters who aren’t registered today—over the next eight years.
Under the 1993 National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), which aimed to boost voter registration, people applying for public assistance—as well as DMV customers—must be offered the chance to register to vote. That means every state insurance exchange like California’s, as well as the federal exchange, will need to ask people whether they want to register. Even those people who end up getting covered via Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion or through other parts of the law, rather than through the private market, will still be offered the chance to register to vote.
After congressional Republicans raised concerns about the ACA being used for voter registration, the Obama administration soft-pedaled the requirement on the federal exchange by merely including a one-sentence link to an all-purpose federal government website. Project Vote and Demos have said that approach isn’t enough to comply with the NVRA, and are urging the administration to make it more prominent. Many state exchanges also still aren’t complying with the law, the groups say. So once again the republicans are able to make Obama back down.
Throwing support behind these registration efforts could be very fruitful.
In some states the republicans are also driving fear into people trying to register voters. They are passing restrictive laws that if a registration form isn't completely completed or if it isn't processed within a certain number of days (a short time frame like 48 hours) the registrar can be subject to a heavy fine or even imprisonment in some cases.