Posted by Shadi Matar on January 08, 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-BDS Bill Introduced in California

Assemblyman Travis Allen (R, CA) introduced a new bill (AB 1551 and AB 1552) this week that aims to counter the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS Movement). If passed, the language in the bill would forbid the California state government from contracting with companies that are “engaging in boycotts based on race, color, religion, gender, and nationality.” Allen, who boasts about his pro-Israel activities on his website, commented that “No group better demonstrates this fact than the BDS movement, whose use of false, demonizing and delegitimizing propaganda against the State of Israel has become a pretext for the expression of anti-Jewish bigotry,”. In 2015, similar legislation was passed in South Carolina and Illinois that hopes to ground the efforts of the BDS movement.


Florida’s New District Map is Causing a Political Scramble

The Florida Supreme Court’s decision to redraw the district map is having major impacts not only on U.S. Congressional races but also on all of the races for the Florida Senate. The 40 Florida Senate seats are up for reelection because of redistricting, but the new map is wreaking havoc on incumbents and candidates alike with its new, randomly assigned district numbers. The random assignment of district numbers is not just confusing for candidates, but it also comes with big implications. Districts that were given an odd number will receive four year terms, while even numbered districts get two-year terms. The Florida Senate has a two-term (eight year) limit, but the Senators who were randomly assigned to a two-year term will run for a full 4-year term in 2018, and are eligible to run again in 2022 to make it 10 years in office. While Senators assigned to a four-year term will still be limited to serving 8 years.


Maryland Changes Primary Date, Will Have Paper Ballots

In 2007, Maryland state officials decided to supplement their touchscreen voting machines with paper ballots. Thanks to state funding that came through this year, a print out of voters’ paper ballots will finally become a reality. These print outs will allow voters to review their choices before they officially cast their ballots into a secured holding machine before being counted. In addition to this change, the Maryland primary election has been moved from April 5th to April 26th. This adjustment was made so that Maryland voters have an opportunity to cast their primary election ballots during an early voting period, from April 14th through the 21st, which does not interfere with Good Friday or Easter. The voter registration deadline for the state ends April 5thRead more about Maryland here


Pennsylvania Sets Special Election for Four State Legislature Seats

Lieutenant Governor Michael Stack announced this week that there would be two seperate special elections to fill four seats in the state legislature. On March 15th, there will be a special election for three House of Representatives seats. Two seats will be open from the Philadelphia area, the 192nd and 200th district, vacated by Louise Williams Bishop, and Cherelle Parker. Bishop resigned last month amid a corruption investigation, while Parker was elected to the City Council. On the other side of the state, Tim Krieger of the 57th District, was elected to a county judgeship and resigned his seat on January 4th. The other special election will take place on the same day as Pennsylvania’s primary election, April 26th, to elect a new State Senator in the 9th district. Dominic Pileggi resigned his State Senate seat after he was elected to a county judgeship, as well. Read more about Pennsylvania here.