Posted by Joan Hanna on November 20, 2015 in Blog

AAI compiles a weekly roundup of election news tracking key races across the country as well as legislation that will impact voting rights ahead of the 2016 elections. For AAI’s coverage of presidential candidates and races, make sure to check out our profiles over at #YallaVote’s Election Central. And for more state specific information, head over to our election map and click on your state. You can read previous editions of our 2016 Election News Roundup right here at its headquarters.

Governor Snyder First in Wave of Anti Refugee Sentiments

Governor Rick Snyder (R-MI) was the first of over 34 governors this week to voice their opposition to resettling Syrian and Iraqi refugees into the United States. Although Governor Snyder \ cited caution as his justification, and said that he would allow resettlement to continue when he is “confident that we have a system to let in people who have had their lives shattered, and at the same time can keep out the bad guys”. It was also unfortunate to see the Michigan Commission on Middle Eastern Americans come out in support of the Governor’s misunderstanding of the refugee vetting process (See this infographic for the facts!).  Ultimately, these governors cannot legally stop these refugees from resettling to the United States, but they can make it more difficult for them and withhold state funding from them.On the other hand, 18 governors have vocally supported the continued resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in their states. Read more about Michigan.

California Candidates & Governor Welcome Refugees

This week the House voted 289-137 to approve legislation that would require new screening requirements on refugees from Syria and Iraq, which will inevitably bring the process too vetting refugees to a hault. If passed by the Senate, this legislation would require the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and Director of National Intelligence to certify that the refugees are not a threat before allowing them in, in addition to the original vetting process. Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) and Congressman Mark Takano (D, CA-41) were one of the many people who spoke out against this bill before it passed. Rep. Sanchez is in a contentious race for the open California Senate seat next November, and Rep. Takano will run for his second term representing the 41st district. California Governor Jerry Brown has joined in with 17 other governors who have said that refugees would be welcome in their states. Arab American and American Muslim community in have been joined by allies, including Japanese Americans, to praise Governor Brown for his leadership and speak out against the bigotry coming from elected officials across the country. Read more about California.

Massachusetts Prepares for Early Voting in 2016

Last year, Massachusetts’s lawmakers approved measures giving residents another opportunity to participate within the electoral system. Early voting will be available for voters, up to 11 business days before election day, just in time for next year’s general Presidential election. Local Massachusetts officials are skeptical of whether early voting will increase voter turnout, but they admit this new initiative will give busy voters more time to get to the polls in person and also reduce long lines on election day. Officials are still working out the funding and logistics for early voting, but they anticipate the details will be worked out before early voting begins. Read more about Massachusetts.

New Jersey’s Ward 6 Council Race

Current Ward 6 Councilmember, Andre Sayegh, will face fellow Arab American, Al Abdel-aziz, for Sayegh’s seat in about seven months. At a fundraising event held last week, Paterson Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres made a controversial endorsement of Abdel-aziz. Sayegh previously challenged Mayor Torres for office, and Sayegh only lost the mayoral race by a little over 1,500 votes in 2014. The Mayor's endorsement also estranged many councilmembers, who believe the Mayor is tipping the scales to elect as many of his personal allies as possible. Abdel-aziz raised well over $65,000 during the event, a lot for a local council race. Councilmember Sayegh dismissed the notion that additional money in local elections makes a huge difference. That assumption will be tested this May. Read more about New Jersey.