Posted by Joan Hanna on June 03, 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.



California: A Lot on the Line Tuesday

California’s June 7th primary is already creating headlines for the presidential primary but the 85 state legislature seats on the line this November will also have a major impact on the state’s future. 15 additional seats have no challenger. Of the 85 contested seats, 59 are incumbent races while the remaining 26 are open. California's “jungle primary” method creates scenarios where candidates of the same party may face each other in the general election if they are among the top two vote getters during the primary. With many key races potentially having two Democrats or two Republicans facing each other, the policy stances are often similar leaving voters to cast their ballot based on other preferences.  As the state with the largest Arab American population, our community will definitely have an impact throughout the state, whether they vote or are voted for. Read more about California here.


New Jersey’s Legislature Not as Representative as Populace

New Jersey’s legislature is not as demographically diverse as the constituents they represent according to the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University. In a study the Hughes Center revealed legislators are older, more often male, white, more educated and are Democrats. New Jersey’s populace is an average age of 39, women make up 51 percent of residents, and just about a third of the population is non-white. Additionally, the legislature’s members have more than double the number of higher education degrees as the general population and while Democrats make up 63 percent of the legislature, only a third of New Jersey’s voters are Democrats. By our estimates, Arab Americans account for a quarter of a million residents in New Jersey, making the state our sixth most populous. To make sure our voices are heard on Tuesday, June 7th, it is so important that Arab Americans cast their ballots in the primary and engage in the political process. Read more about New Jersey here.


Ohio: Swing State In The Balance

With only 85 days until the Republican National Convention comes to Cleveland, many are speculating who will attend or not attend the convention. U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) has announced he will attend the convention but it is still unclear what role he will take. Portman has already endorsed Trump, and understands the importance of Ohio going into November. Portman is focussed on his own Senate race against Democratic challenger and former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. Portman’s play-it-by ear strategy is likely aimed at appealing to moderate Republicans who did not support Trump in Ohio’s March primary. Read more about Ohio here.


Virginia Voter ID Law is Upheld and Appealed 

Virginia passed a strict photo ID law in 2013. Supporters cited fraud prevention as their motivation and Virginia Democrats have legally challenged state lawmakers since it was enacted, calling the law “politically motivated.” OnMay 19th, U.S. District Court Judge Henry Hudson upheld the voter law, writing that it was the court’s mission to judge whether the law was constitutional, not whether it was wise. In his opinion, Judge Hudson acknowledged Virginia’s sordid racial history of suppressing black and minority voters, but he conceded that the “inconvenience” of obtaining a driver’s license or another government-issued ID was not enough to overturn the law. Virginia Democrats challenged the ruling on May 27th, taking their suit to the4th Circuit Court of Appeals. In the past eight years, Democrats have swept elections where candidates had to compete state-wide. Republicans hold a majority in both state houses. Read more about Virginia here.


Texas Changes Leaves Things the Same for Now  

For Texas’ GOP the May 24th runoff primary featured seven House and two Senate races. With the results in, the ongoing conservative standoff between House Speaker Joe Straus (R-121) and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick will likely continue. While Straus’ Republican allies fended off tough challenges from more conservative candidates, the Senate winners were both endorsed by Patrick who has been trying to pass stricter immigration laws and tax cuts. Straus has been holding off this agenda. With Texas’s rapidly changing demographics, many analysts argue Texas conservatives will need to change their strategies based on the younger, more Hispanic populations emerging in the state. Read more about Texas here.