Posted by Joan Hanna on February 12, 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.


President Obama calls for Automatic Voter Registration

In his most recent trip to the Golden State, President Obama made the case that every state should adopt an automatic voter registration program like the one California recently passed. The program registers all eligible voters when he/she applies for a driver’s license, a program which makes the registration process much less onerous and more accessible. As one of the only two states that have already passed these voting reforms, California is being looked at as a testing ground by 18 other states who have proposed similar legislation. Currently, there are over 50 million Americans put in a citation on the 50 mil figure who are not registered to vote and many of those people are not eligible because of problems within the registration system itself and put in a citation for this fact. One of the biggest problems being that a voter will lose their eligibility when they change their address but with a registration system tied to the Department of Motor Vehicles this problem would be solved. Read more about California here.


Maryland Restores Voting Rights to Released Felons

On March 10th, 40,000 residents in Maryland will have their right to vote restored, thanks to the state legislature’s override of Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto. Maryland joins a growing number of states that are returning voting rights to people who have been convicted of felonies. Although this law will continue to bar those who are in jail from voting, people who have been convicted of felonies who are on probation or parole will be allowed to cast their ballot. Nationally, these types of laws have disproportionately affected black Americans; however, Maryland is one of several states that are implementing laws that restore the right to vote to felons who are following the conditions of their release. Read more about Maryland here


Two Virginia Representatives Leaving Congress Next January

In late December and early January, two U.S. House of Representatives, Robert Hurt (R, VA-5) and Scott Rigell (R, VA-2), announced that neither would seek another term. Both Virginia Republicans have been described as “civil and reasonable” during their time in Congress and because of their approaches, have faced criticism from a number of their constituents. Since they will not be seeking reelection, Virginia will face a seniority problem, and perhaps a change in parties in those Congressional districts, especially since Rep. Hurt and Rep. Rigell held powerful committee positions in Finance and Appropriations. Read more about Virginia here.


Green vs. Green Race Heating Up

The race for the next Supreme Court justice in Texas is starting to heat up between both Republicans Rick Green and current Supreme Court Justice Paul Green. Both of the Greens have extensive records of public service with Paul Green serving on the the Supreme Court bench since 2005 and Rick Green was a legislator in central Texas until 2003. This race will be crucial because of the recent and upcoming court cases that the court will be seeing. Although both Green’s call themselves staunch conservatives, Rick Green has associated with himself with the Tea Party and previously passed legislation that prevented Texas cities from suing gun manufacturers. Read more about Texas here. 


LLC’s in New Jersey Find Loophole for Campaign Contributions

Following last week’s story on Massachusetts’ campaign finance law allowing more money in their political races, New Jersey is a in a similar situation. Limited Liability Companies (LLC’s) are quickly becoming another avenue in the Garden State that independent groups are using to donate large sums of money and hide their donor’s identities. While contributions for local and state elections must be reported as a result of New Jersey’s Campaign Contributions and Expenditures Reporting Act, donations for presidential elections are not required to be as detailed under federal law. This loophole allows for massive donation amounts as well as anonymity when contributing during presidential elections, like this year. Read more about New Jersey here.