Posted by Joan Hanna on January 15, 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.
New York State Assembly Considers Elected Official Recall Bill
The New York State Assembly is considering a bill that would put more power in the hands of the people regarding their officials’ ethics while in office. A public vote would only be established if a petition with enough signatures was completed. Proponents of the bipartisan bill believe they can extinguish the sordid historical record of political scandals in Albany, making lawmakers more accountable. On the other hand, challengers of the bill believe there are more efficient ways of battling corruption, like instating comprehensive ethics reform. Moreover, opponents are concerned that some allegations against lawmakers may be unfounded and with this bill in place, the courts will be bypassed. Read more about New York here.
PA Senator Toomey has Upwards of $10 Million in the Bank
The incumbent junior senator from Pennsylvania is starting off 2016 on the right foot. According to Senator Toomey’s campaign, they have $9.6 million on hand. Over the past three months, the campaign has raised around $1 million, but the next reporting period will provide for more accurate financials, coming at the end of this month. Six years ago, the Toomey campaign only had a quarter of what they have now and came out of the race a winner, spending $17 million. The three Democratic candidates Senator Toomey will face off with in November, Katie McGinty, Joe Sestak, and John Fetterman, have a combined $4 million in the bank as of October, making this an uphill fight for the incumbent’s Senate seat. Read more about Pennsylvania here.
In Hyattsville, Maryland, Non-U.S. Citizens may Vote in Municipal Elections
In an 1851 city memo, the state of Maryland chose to let local municipalities decide on the voting rights of non-U.S. citizens. Currently, there are six cities that permit non-citizens to exercise their right to vote: Takoma Park, Barnesville, Garrett Park, Glen Echo, Martin’s Additions and Somerset – and Hyattsville may be next. The majority of councilmembers support this motion, citing that they want all residents to have an opportunity to participate in a civic duty that voices everyone’s opinion in the community, not just those who are U.S. citizens. Others were not as supportive, stating that non-U.S. citizens are able to attend city council meetings and voice their opinions on city issues. The motion will continue to be dated in the council. Read more about Maryland here.
Four Maryland Legislators Will Introduce Bill to Outlaw Gun Sales to Those on No-Fly List
Maryland State Senator Jamie Raskin, a professor of Law and Director of the Law and Government Program at American University’s Washington College of Law, joined three Democrats in planning to introduce new legislation outlawing those on the federal government’s no-fly list from purchasing guns. Raskin, a candidate running to replace U.S. Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland’s 8th congressional district, is passionate about this issue, stating, “We obviously can't stop every gun massacre in America but we can at least stop suspected terrorists from purchasing firearms in our own community.” Despite this passion, Maryland’s policy regarding this issue has been to alert authorities of gun permit requests of those on the do not fly list. Read more about Maryland here.
Ohio Legislature Close to Having Online Voter Registration
Ohio lawmakers are close to passing legislation that would allow for online voter registration. The bill, which passed the Ohio Senate this past June, would allow Ohioans with a state-issued driver’s license or identification card to register online. The new measure would save the state an estimated 50 cents per online submission compared to traditional paper registration. Some Democrats are accusing GOP members of trying to slow the process down because it would allow younger, more democratic voters to register for the November 8th elections. Legislators are hoping that the House will hold a vote on the bill by the end of February to allow for the system to be up and running by June. This would give voters five months to register for the November 8th elections. Read more about Ohio here.
Anaheim Residents Angered by Tossed ‘People’s Map’
More than 150 Southern California residents attended a packed meeting at the Anaheim City Hall this week demanding the City Council adopt a voting map that would more accurately represent the city's voting demographics in the 2016 elections. This comes in response to the City Council voting 3-2 to remove the map in favor of a map that would disperse the Latino population and only give them a majority in two districts. Many Anaheim residents spoke up at the City Council meeting urging the Council to restore the old version of the district map which was nicknamed the “People’s Map” because it more accurately represents the voting diversity in the city. Although Latinos make up 53% of the population of Anaheim only few have been elected to public office in the city. Anaheim is also home to one of the largest populations of Arab Americans in the country and has even earned the nickname “Little Arabia”. Read more about California here.
Darin LaHood Setting New Course in Illinois
Arab American Representative Darin LaHood (R-IL-18) has been very busy since winning the special election in September for the vacant seat of former Representative Aaron Schock. In the first few months since LaHood has been elected into office he has not missed a single vote on issues pertaining to his district of 710,000 people. Rep. LaHood is the son of former Congressman, Secretary of Transportation, and longtime friend of the Arab American Institute, Ray LaHood. Rep. Darin LaHood is revered by his colleagues and regarded as a “natural leader” and a “wicked smart” politician. He has set his focus on eliminating unnecessary spending and passing a balanced budget. When asked about his goals in office Rep. LaHood commented that “Congress needs to get serious about reining in our spending”. Read more about Illinois here.