Posted by Joan Hanna on April 29, 2016 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.


Pennsylvania Senate Race Heats Up

On Tuesday, former Chief of Staff to Governor Tom Wolf,Katie McGinty, won the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania. She beat out former U.S. Representative Joe Sestak, who was unpopular with the state and national Democratic leadership, but was leading in the polls for the majority of the campaign season. McGinty also handedly beat current Braddock Mayor John Fetterman and small business owner Joseph Vodvarka. Looking toward theNovember general election, McGinty will face incumbent Senator Pat Toomey. Predictions about who will win this race must take into account the top of the ticket. On the Republican side, analysts agree that a Donald Trump or Sen. Ted Cruz ticket hurts Toomey’s chances. For Democrats, if Sec. Hillary Clinton, currently leading in the delegate count, secures the nomination, McGinty could benefit from the gender dynamics of the race. McGinty would be the first woman Senator from Pennsylvania. Although it’s not as cut and dry because Pennsylvania has a history of splitting tickets (four out of seven times since the 1970s) in presidential and senatorial election years. Read more about Pennsylvania here.


Maryland Senate Race Update

It was also Election Day in Maryland on Tuesday, and just like in Pennsylvania, voters elected a party insider for the Democratic nomination for Senate. Rep.Chris Van Hollen (D, MD – 8) defeated Rep. Donna Edwards (D, MD – 4) by almost 15 points. Van Hollen’s significant lead included one third of black voters. As for the Republicans, State House member and current Minority Whip,Kathy Szeliga, beat out 13 other opponents to capture 36 percent of the vote, blowing away her closest challenger, Chris Chafee, by almost 23 points. Van Hollen has an advantage going into November both financially and with voter registration. Democratic voters outnumber Republican voters by a margin of two-to-one in Maryland. However, there is one strategy Szeliga will utilize to try to win over conservative Democrats and Independents: running as a “Larry Hogan Republican.” Even with Hogan’s popularity, Szeliga will face a tough race in November. Read more about Maryland here.


San Diego Students Protest University President Over Anti-BDS Poster

Students at San Diego State University are upset with the University’s response to posters circulated on campus which equate them to terrorists. The posters, created by the David Horowitz Freedom Center, identified students and accused them of allying with terror organizations. San Diego State University President, Elliot Hirshman, released a statement two weeks after the posters were found on campus defending them as a form of free speech. Palestine Legal criticized the posters for harassing and attempting to scare the students into silence. Similar posters have been found on four other California campuses which some chancellors have condemned. Read more about California here.


Virginia Reinstates Felons’ Voting Rights

Last Friday,Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe issued an executive order to restore voting rights to more than 200,000 convicted felons. These new potential voters have served their time and completed parole and probation sentences. The order overturns a Civil War era provision in the Virginia Constitution, which barred felons from voting for life. Gov. McAuliffe, a Democrat, has faced backlash from Republicans who accuse him of trying to increase the Democratic vote. The governor consulted University of Virginia School of Law Professor A. E. Dick Howard about the legality of his executive order before he signed it, but it may still face a court challenge. Read more about Virginia here.


Florida Candidate Vying for Rubio’s Senate Seat Wants to Ban ‘Middle Easterners’

Carlos Beruff a businessman and developer who’s seeking a  U.S. Senate in Florida says he wants to ban anyone from the Middle East from entering the United States. The ban would exclude Israel, but would apply for both Christians and Muslims elsewhere in the region. When pressed about his idea Beruff said “I think our immigration department is broken. And I don’t think it’s safe to allow anybody from the Middle East into this country, until they fix it.” Beruff doubled down on his comments later that week. Read more about Florida here.


Supreme Court rules Texas May Enforce Voter ID Law

The U.S. Supreme Court denied civil rights groups’ request to block Texas from enforcing its voter ID law ahead of the 2016 election cycle. The case was brought against a 2011 law requiring voters to present a government approved ID before voting. A lower court found that the law violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965 because of its impact on African-American and Hispanic voters. Although the case is headed to the 5th Circuit Court if they do not rule by July 20, the Supreme Court left the door open for rights groups to bring it up again. Read more about Texas here