Posted by Joan Hanna on April 01, 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.


Anti-Syrian Refugee Bill in New York Senate

New York lawmakers recently introduced a bill in the state senate creating agencies to “provide aggregate data to state and local government on where refugees’ points-of-origin and where they are currently residing, along with monitoring them for potential threats under rules to be devised by the state’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services”. The move has already been denounced by the New York Immigration Coalition which represents 200 organizations saying that the bill “treats refugees who are fleeing from violence and conflict like criminals”. This bill is one example of many emerging across the country that attempts to deter refugee resettlement. Currently, the United States has only taken in 3,000 Syrian refugees over the past five years which is a small fraction of the 12  million the UNHCR estimates to have been displaced. The bill has passed the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Veteran Affairs and is currently awaiting a vote.. Read more about New York here


Loretta Sanchez Continues Primary Fight

Attorney General Kamala Harris is leading Representative Loretta Sanchez by 11 points in a new survey by USC Dornsife and the Los Angeles Times. The survey also showed that almost one third of voters in California are still undecided about who to support in the June nonpartisan blanket primary. Sanchez currently represents a district with a large Arab American population in Orange County and many in the community have supported her. Rima Nashashibi is optimistic that Sanchez will do well in the primary and believes she has a strong chance of making it on to the general election ballot. “Loretta has always been a fighter. She fought to win her House seat and she is fighting now”. Sanchez is polling higher than the two Republican competitors who are also trying to make it past the primary ballot. Read more about California here


Michigan Republicans Gear Up for RNC

Mark Gurley and Kathy Berden are running to represent Michigan on the Republican National Committee in their state convention on April 9th. Michigan Republicans will gather to vote on the national committee leadership that will represent the state in the Republican National Convention in July. Gurley, who unsuccessfully ran against John Dingell in 2010, would be taking over for previous RNC delegate Dave Agema who has come under fire for social media postings bashing homosexuality and Muslims. Agema has endorsed Gurley for the position and Gurley has said that he would carry on Agema’s stances on many issues. Michigan’s 59 GOP delegates will be part of the 2,139 total delegates who will vote for the Republican presidential nominee. Read more about Michigan here.



Governor McAuliffe Vetoes Voter Registration Bill

Last week, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed a voter registration bill saying it  would unnecessarily disenfranchise new voters. The bill would have required individuals fill out the voter registration form completely, including all of the standard questions as well as newly added questions with check boxes. Opponents of the bill believe some of the questions are redundant and confusing. For example, the form asks for the registrant’s date of birth and farther down the form, asks them to again affirm whether or not they’ll be 18 by the time of the next election. Gov. McAuliffe’s dispute with the bill focused on this latter part of the bill, which orders “the “automatic denial” of applicants who fail to check a box indicating that the applicant will be at least 18 years old before the next general election.” Proponents of the bill viewed the inclusion of these types of inquiries as easy “check the box” questions. Last year, the Virginia State Board of Elections suggested these questions be made optional, but their effort failed.Read more about Virginia here.


Pennsylvania Looks at Redistricting Reform


In 2014, theWashington Post gave ratings to each congressional district based on how gerrymandered they were – and Pennsylvania scored as one of the most gerrymandered states in the country, with five districts labeled incredibly unrepresentative. Three of those districts – 1, 2, and 13 – include much of the state’s Arab American population. Redistricting reform could change the state’s representation while reshaping what districts Arab Americans are apart of.  A newly proposed constitutional amendment in the state Senate aims to create a commission made up of four Democrats, four Republicans and three unaffiliated members.  The bill has bipartisan support and there is now a companion bill in the state House. Historically, Republicans have done better in congressional and legislative elections than in statewide races. While they comprise 72% of those elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and more than 50% of both chambers of Pennsylvania’s state legislature, Republicans have not fared the same in statewide elections. The amendment must pass both the state House and Senate in two consecutive terms in order to be put on the ballot. A difficult process but  lawmakers remain optimistic.Read more about Pennsylvania here.                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Stakes are Raised Three Weeks Before Pennsylvania Primary


High profile endorsements and new campaign ads rolled out for Pennsylvania’s Senatorial racethis week ahead of the April 26th primary. President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden came out in support of Democratic candidate Katie McGinty, leaving former admiral and congressman, Joe Sestak and current Mayor of Braddock, John Fetterman, out in the political cold. Sestak, who has led both in polling as well as in fundraising, is viewed as a political outsider.  This is the second time that President Obama has endorsed a Sestak rival. But thechallenge does not end there for Sestak. The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), an organization aimed at electing and keeping as many Republicans in the Senate as possible, released an ad Thursday attacking Sestak as having a “weak foreign policy” agenda. Four weeks ago, the NRSC had $16.2 million to spend on these types of ads, while the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee had $2.6 million less in the bank.Read more about Pennsylvania here