Posted by Shadi Matar on February 19, 2016 at 11:39 AM

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.


Confusion Among Massachusetts’ “Independent” Voters

In late January, before the February 10th voter registration deadline, William Galvin, Secretary of the Commonwealth, noticed a huge increase in registrations among the United Independent Party (UIP), a party that only emerged in 2014 and currently does not have a single candidate running for office. Questioning this spike, Galvin’s office sent almost 21,000 letters to these voters  clarifying the difference between “unenrolled,” meaning that the voter is an independent and may chose to vote in either the Democratic or Republican primary, and the UIP, which would disqualify voters from participating. Only about a quarter of those voters changed their registration before the deadline. Regardless, there will still be confused voters heading to the polls on March 1st, also known as Super Tuesday. Read more about Massachusetts here

 

Illinois Redistricting Reform Gains Momentum

More than 480,000 signatures have already been collected in Illinois to petition a ballot initiative that would reform Illinois district lines. The initiative, spearheaded by Independent Maps, is proposing to amend the state constitution in order to create an 11-member, non-partisan commission to redraw state legislative districts. The committee would be comprised of at least two Democrats, two Republicans and three Independents. The initiative, which has garnered support from a broad base of supporters, is facing opposition from current Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) who successfully blocked another redistricting attempt in 2014. The group hopes to collect 600,000 signatures by May to ensure the petition survives and questioning by opponents. Read more about Illinois here

 

Mixed Opinions of New York Automatic Voter Registration

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan to  implement automatic voter registration when a New Yorker applies or renews his or her driver’s license, is meeting pushback. Some New York City lawmakers believe that this measure would create a disadvantage for New York City residents because they are less likely to drive, compared to those in the suburbs or in upstate New York.Other election officials in the state worry about an increase in voter fraud and the amount of time and money the program will require. While those city legislators agree that the proposal is well intentioned, and that automatic registration has been shown to increase the number of registrants (and provide other benefits), they also cite a decrease of political clout among their reasons for their hesitation. To remedy this situation, some have proposed an easy fix – allow other state agencies to offer voter registration when residents apply for benefits, including social services and health agencies. Gov. Cuomo is open to a discussion regarding this issue. Read more about New York here

 

Bush and Rubio Scramble for Florida’s Early Voters

Primary Election Day in Florida is March 15 but already nearly 43,000 Floridians have already cast their votes through absentee ballots, of which ~25,000 have been Republican. Both Floridian candidates Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio have spent a significant amount of time in their home state trying to get as many as these early votes as possible. The two candidates, who live five minutes apart from each other, know that early voters are a critical aspect of Florida voting patterns. Both Bush and Rubio know that historically Floridians who turn out to the polls on election day (March 15) look at the early voting results to help direct their vote. In 2012, Mitt Romney was able to defeat his opponent Newt Gingrich by using his “crystal ball” in Florida of early voters. Read more about Florida here 

 

Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Race is Shaken Up

In a turn of events on Tuesday, incumbent Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced that she would not seek re-election in November. Last month there were mixed reports of whether she intended to run or not, even with an ongoing criminal investigation for two felony counts of perjury and other misdemeanors. Kane stated her reason for leaving office is to spend more time with her two teenage sons. This leaves the Attorney General race open to five contenders. On the Democratic side, Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli, Montgomery County Commissioner and former State Representative, Josh Shapiro, and current Allegheny County District Attorney, Stephen Zappala. Joseph Peters, a former Executive Deputy Attorney General of Pennsylvania under Kane, and incumbent State Senator John Rafferty will seek the Republican nomination. Kane’s withdrawal is especially significant since she was polling well ahead of the other candidates late last month. Read more about Pennsylvania here

 

Anaheim City Council Gives Final Approval for ‘People’s Map’

This past Tuesday the Anaheim City Council voted to restore the “people’s map” that changes how the City will determine which districts will be up for election this year or in 2018. This final map is a product of 2012 lawsuit that alleged that the 53% of Latinos who make up the city’s population were being undermined by gerrymandering. The controversy headed up in a December 2015 City Council meeting when Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait prematurely adjourned the meeting after activists protested the meeting. Both the Latino and Arab American community of Anaheim praised the decision to restore the map and push for fairer representation of the two communities into the political process. Read more about California here