Posted by Joan Hanna on January 29, 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.


Virginia Senate Committee Considers Expanding Absentee Ballot Measure


Earlier this week, Senate Bill 106 was passed by the Virginia State Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections. The bill aims to expand voter rights by permitting any registered voter to cast an absentee ballot in person. The most significant aspect of this bill is that it abolishes the 19 statutory reasons one must make clear when submitting an absentee ballot, meaning that for any reason, a voter can cast a vote by absentee ballot. While this passed in committee, it still needs to pass the full Senate, and then pass the Republican dominated House of Delegates. Read more about Virginia here.


 New York Governor Proposes Early Voting, Mixed Reactions from Counties

On Tuesday, Governor Cuomo announced a new early voting measure included in his budget proposal. If passed by the legislature, New York voters would have more time to cast their ballots ahead of Election Day. While many counties are welcoming the opportunity to have higher voter participation, some districts have voiced concerns, citing an unreasonable financial burden for the bigger counties as well as technological issues. Other states that have enacted early voting have had to make the switch from paper poll books to electronic ones, which may be costly and a time consuming process. If this proposal does not pass the legislature, it would need to be introduced as a separate bill in order to move forward with the measure. Read more about New York here


Unconventional Day Picked for Massachusetts State Primary Again


For the second time in four years, Massachusetts’s voters will head to their state primary a few days after Labor Day, this year on Thursday, September 8th. The reason for changing Election Day from a Tuesday to a Thursday is due to a 2009 federal law requiring that overseas voters must be sent their ballots 45 days before an election, which puts this year’s primary on Labor Day. In order to avoid having to pay staff to set up polling places on a holiday, requiring overtime pay, lawmakers decided on Thursday. Voter participation is a major concern of both parties’ officials, and candidates will have to drive home the point of a Thursday state primary if they want voters to turnout. Read more about Massachusetts here.


Loretta Sanchez Defends Caliphate Statement

California Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-46) is standing by her previous statements in which she said that up to 20% of the world’s Muslims would support an Islamic caliphate and that they’re willing to use terrorism to get it. Sanchez recently went on Capital Public Radio and defended her statements saying that she considers herself “an expert on the issues of terrorism” and that since she first made the statement “Nobody has been able to refute those numbers.” Sanchez has previously defended Arab Americans and American Muslims from bigoted rhetoric in her district. Sanchez is currently facing Attorney General Kamala Harris for Senator Barbara Boxer’s open seat in 2016. Read more about California here.


Tampa Democrats Show No Interest in Running for Vacant House Seat

Florida State Representative Dana Young (R-60) has announced that she will not be running for re-election for her House seat in the next election cycle. Florida Democrats are certain that this seat could be won by Democrats because of the new district lines that were drawn late last year. Although Democratic strategists think a victory is possible, no candidates have shown any interest in running for the seat. Former Tampa City Councilwoman Linda Saul-Sena commented that the seat is one “we need to find a great Democrat for” after saying she herself was not interested in running for the seat. Many districts now face competitive races after new district lines were drawn following a Florida Supreme Court Decision late last year. Read more about Florida here.                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Texas Representative Ruth Jones McClendon Submits Resignation

State Representative Ruth Jones McClendon (D-120) is resigning from her position after 20 years of public service in the Texas House. The announcement comes after a year long battle with lung cancer. Rep. McClendon is most remembered for her work in creating legislation to prevent wrongful convictions and as the Chairwoman of the House Rules and Resolutions Committee. Democratic hopefuls vying for her seat will have to battle it out in the March 1primary. In a press release McClendon said, “My life has been blessed through my work, and I hope my efforts have blessed others. I am grateful for the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with many great leaders, both from our local community and our state. I offer my love and appreciation to all who have worked with me, those who made my life possible, and those I have represented. I can never repay you for allowing me to be your public servant and Representative. May God bless all of you!”. Read more about Texas here.