Posted by Shadi Matar on April 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.

California Delegate Applications to DNC, RNC Up 5X

As the primary season continues, many voters in California are gearing up to register as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in July. California’s Democratic Party has already received 4,600 applications for 317 district level delegate spots. The state’s Republican Party has received over 1,000 applications for its 172 delegates to their convention. The number of applicants so far is already five times the number in 2012.

If you want to apply, April is the month to do it. The parties have various deadlines in the coming weeks:

          • “The California Republican Party has pushed back its March 31 deadline. The next hard deadline is May 8, but the California Republican Party encourages those interested to apply as soon as possible.
          • The California Democratic Party has an April 13 deadline for district-level delegates to apply. District-level delegates are voted on during caucuses around the state May 1. At-large, party leaders and elected officials have a June 9 deadline. These will be confirmed at the party's June 19 Statewide Delegation Meeting in Long Beach. All applications can be found online.”

Read more about California here 

Michigan GOP’s State Convention Friday

Michigan Republicans are meeting Friday at 7PM ET in Lansing to choose three delegates and three alternatives from each of the 14 congressional districts to attend the Republican National Convention in July. After Michigan's March 8th presidential primary Donald Trump won 25 of the 59 delegates from the state while Cruz and Kasich will each get 17. GOP officials in Michigan are going to be looking for delegates who will remain loyal to their candidate throughout the National Convention process. If none of the candidates have gathered the required 1,237 delegates necessary to secure the nomination, delegates are allowed to change their vote on the second ballot. Each campaign will have to make sure that their delegates remain loyal through multiples ballots in the event of a contested convention. Read more about Michigan here


Supreme Court Upholds Texas Law

The US Supreme Court unanimously upheld a Texas law that counts all residents, not just those registered to vote, in drawing congressional districts. The case was brought by two Texans who felt they were disenfranchised because their district had larger eligible voter populations compared to more populous urban areas with significant numbers of ineligible residents (children, immigrants, felons). Voting districts in Texas are required to be roughly equal in population. The plaintiffs argued that the current system favors urban areas, with large populations of ineligible residents, over less-populated rural areas. The issue has come up before in Florida where convicts were counted in the district’s voting population even though they are unable to vote. A federal district court held that including convicts in the population count is constitutionally sound and that changing the districting rules would create unfair advantages. Read more about Texas here

New York Voter Registration A Mess Ahead Of Key Primary

Over the past month, theNew York Board of Elections has received several hundreds of complaints each week about residents’ voter registration status. They claim that when they checked their status online, many found their party affiliation was incorrect among other mistakes. Most of those reporting issues with their party affiliation are would-be Democrats. Tom Connolly, spokesman for the state Board of Elections, said there could be a number of reasons for these mishaps, including technological errors. Throughout the chaos, some Donald Trump supporters also called to complain about missing the October deadline for changing party affiliation. Although Connolly says nothing can be done to assist those who missed the October deadline, judges will be stationed at some polling stations to hear individual cases if voters feel they have a case. Meanwhile, Scott Stringer, New York City Comptroller, is trying to get a higher turnout from residents.Voter participation in the city has steadily declined in the past few years, with only 61 percent voting in 2008 (the lowest of any major city that year) and 26 percent turnout for the 2013 mayoral race. To turn the tide, Stringer has proposed 16 new voter engagement strategies. Between the New York Board of Election’s technological and clerical errors and the city’s low turnout rate, New York voting proponents have their work cut out for them before April 19th and November 8th. Read more about New York here.

Maryland Senate Race Neck and Neck

With two and a half weeks until Marylanders go to the polls,the race between Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D - 8) and Rep. Donna Edwards (D - 4) for Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s (D) Senate seat could not be more intense. As of Tuesday, one poll shows Van Hollen trailing by 4 points. However, Van Hollen has raised more money, gotten more endorsements and is a rising star in the Democratic leadership, so many are wondering why the race is so close when it was Van Hollen’s to lose. Edwards is currently leading among African American and women voters. To connect with those communities, Edwards has highlighted her biography as a single mom working minimum wage jobs. She also put herself through law school while raising her son. Van Hollen leads with white voters and men. Both candidates are similar ideologically, although they differ in their approaches as legislators. If Van Hollen wants to pull off a victory on April 26th, engaging with minority voters is a must -- especially the African American community in Baltimore. Based on AAI’s demographics, Van Hollen represents around 32,000 Arab Americans in his district while Edwards represents about 5,000 in our community. Read more about Maryland here.

New Jersey’s Most Vulnerable Seat

Scott Garrett, the U.S. Representative for New Jersey’s 5th District is facing a tough primary. His seat is considered the most vulnerable in the state, in part because he will not back the National Republican Congressional Committee over its reported recruitment of gay candidates. In the seven terms he has been in office, Garrett, a social conservative, has won the general election with at least 55 percent of the vote. Garrett’s district includes part of Bergen County which is home to New Jersey’s largest Arab American community and has been shifting Democratic. This primary will be one to watch, especially since Garrett will face two Republican challengers on June 7.  Read more about New Jersey here.