Posted by Shadi Matar on May 06, 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.
Florida’s 10th District Up for Grabs
Many congressional races have been affected after the Florida Supreme Court ruling that redrew the district boundaries. One notable outcome is Arab American Congresswoman Gwen Graham (D FL-2) announcing she would not run for re-election after her district was split in half. (Graham’s considering a run for Governor.) District 10 experienced one of the greatest changes going from Republican leaning to a district with 45% registered democrats. Because of the new makeup, it’s attracted four Democratic candidates running for an open seat. One of the candidates, Arab American Fatima Rita Fahmy, is positioning herself as an outsider. Speaking to the Orlando Sentinel:
Fahmy said talking to voters revealed that many are looking for someone outside the traditional party "status quo."
"When they learn that there's an alternative, that there's somebody who's basically just like them … they are very receptive and happy to know that there's an alternative," she said.
Democrats Use Trump Nomination Against Opponents
With Donald Trump's position as the presumptive GOP nominee, many are focusing on down the ticket races as Democrats use Trump’s profile against their rivals. In Illinois, incumbent Senator Mark Kirk is seen as one of the most vulnerable Republicans. His challenger, Representative Tammy Duckworth is already linking him to Trump based on previous comments he made to CNN and local local television . Democrats are defending 10 Senate seats this year while the GOP is defending 24. Read more about Illinois here
Baltimore Primary Problems
The Maryland Primary was more than two weeks ago, yet election officials are still counting provisional and absentee ballots in the city of Baltimore. Results may be finalized today. The fairly tight Mayoral race could theoretically tip in Sheila Dixon’s favor once all ballots counted. Dixon trails Catherine Pugh by about 2,800 votes. Election officials are also facing backlash. Late-opening polls, issues with voter rolls and improperly trained judges, and allegations of fraud are just a few problems voters are citing. Some voters are advocating for the state prosecutor to investigate these issues and others are calling for the entire Board of Elections to resign. Read more about Maryland here
New York Supreme Court Rejects Closed Primary Challenge
Earlier this week, Manhattan attorney Mark Warren Moody’s challenge to New York’s closed primary system was rejected by State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron. Moody, an unaffiliated voter, claimed the closed primary was unfair because it prevented him from voting in New York’s April 19th primary. Moody would have had to register as either a Democrat or a Republican by October 5, 2015 to participate. Engoron questioned the motives of the party affiliation deadline, saying it could be “an unnecessary hindrance to citizens” or it could be used as a way to stop “party raiding.” However, Engoron determined that Moody’s stated argument was insufficient. Douglas Kellner, a top Democrat who is on the state elections board, believes this legal question may be up to the New York legislature. Read more about New York here
Republicans Sue McAuliffe over Felon Voting Rights
Last week, we wrote about Virginia reinstating felons’ voting rights. Now,Republican legislators are planning to sue Governor Terry McAuliffe over, what they say is an overstep of “his constitutional authority” in an attempt to increase democratic votes. If every single previous felon were to register to vote (about 206,000 people), it would increase the state’s registered voters by four percent. Charles J. Cooper, a Washington, D.C. based attorney who defended California’s gay marriage ban at the Supreme Court in 2013, was hired on `behalf of Virginia’s Republicans. Gov. McAuliffe’s spokesman stated Republican lawmakers have not yet pointed out a specific instance where his executive order was unconstitutional. In the fight for Virginia’s important electoral standing in November, the outcome of this court case will have a wide ranging impact. Read more about Virginia here
Naturalized Citizens Not Equal in Louisiana?
The Southern Poverty Law Center filed suit against Louisiana’s top elections officials accusing the state of violating naturalized citizens rights by requiring them to show extra proof of citizenship before they can register to vote. For registration, Louisiana law requires a person to be at least 16 years old (but 18 to cast a ballot), not be a felon, and reside in the state and parish where registered. According to activists, naturalized citizens are contacted shortly after they file their registration paperwork and asked for additional proof of citizenship. There are more than 70,000 naturalized citizens in Louisiana. Read more about Voter Rights here