Thursday, May 28, 2009

EDR passes Connecticut House of Representatives

Hartford, Connecticut--Yesterday, the Connecticut House of Representatives passed a bill that would allow the state's citizens to register and vote on Election Day.

In response, Miles Rapoport, former Connecticut Secretary of State and President of Demos, a national public policy center, issued the following statement praising the vote, urging the state Senate to vote on the bill before the end of session, and asking Governor Rell to sign it into law. Read more.

Graph showing turnout in states with
Election Day registration compared to states
without Election Day registration in the
2008 Election.

Thanks to Demos for this update.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

See how education affects us all, state by state.

This great interactive tool from the United Way and the Social Science Research Council's Human Development Project shows how conditions would change in each state if people achieved higher levels of education.

Use the sliding bars to move the percent of college or high-school educated people in a state up or down- as you move the bars, watch how Health, Achievement, Civic Participation and Financial Stability rise or fall in response.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Stamp price increase - let your audiences know!

New postage prices - let your communities know before they send in voter registrations, requests to vote absentee, or mail-in ballots!

Nonprofits: why not include a line in your communications this week reminding your audiences that:

The new first-class stamp price is $0.44, up as of May 11th from $0.42.

The new postcard stamp price is $0.28, up from $0.27.

Check out these new special edition stamps featuring The Simpsons!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Nonprofits: Help build trust around the 2010 Census!

Statement from NVEN:

Across the country, people have been calling the police, taking to blogs or posting on YouTube to report suspicious characters walking or driving slowly around their neighborhoods knocking on doors.

Those "suspicious characters" are the Census 2010 address canvassers, who you can recognize from their Census 2010 shoulder bags, handheld computers and ID badges. They are coming around neighborhoods in May and June to verify addresses in order to prepare for the 2010 count.

It is critical that we enable the address canvassers to do their jobs effectively, to make sure that people are not missed and funds are not lost for our communities for the next decade.

Nonprofits can help by including in their communications an update that the 2010 Census address count is currently underway, and by reiterating to their constituents that the 2010 Census is:

1. Safe: Data collected in the Census, by law, CANNOT be disclosed. Title 13 is the law under which the Census Bureau operates. The law guarantees the confidentiality of census information, and establishes penalties for disclosing this information. You can learn more about Title 13 here.

2. Important
. For every person not counted, a community risks losing as much as $1200 dollars per year over the next ten years (based on 2000 Census average loss per person).

3. Easy
. This year the Census form will be just one page and very simple to fill out.

Spread the word!

-The Nonprofit Voter Engagement Network

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

CA Special Election - Ballot measures and results

At LA Times.

Read below on the ballot issues CA voters are currently deciding on, in addition to casting votes in runoffs for L.A. city attorney and races for City Council, state Senate and U.S. House seats.

CA Special Election Ballot Measures: May 19 2009

» Prop 1A: Rainy Day Fund
The proposition would require lawmakers and the governor to increase the state's rainy-day reserves during boom times to 12.5% of the general fund (the current amount is 5%)
» Prop 1B: Education Funding
This measure would restore $9.3 billion to schools if Proposition 1A passes. Annual "supplemental" payments to K-12 schools and community colleges would begin in 2011 to make up for recent cuts.
» Prop 1C: Modernize Lottery
The proposition would authorize state officials to borrow $5 billion that would be repaid by profits from a revamped California State Lottery.
» Prop 1D: Child Services Funding
This measure would shift about $1.7 billion away from early childhood development programs over the next five years and use it to help balance the state's budget.
» Prop 1E: Mental Health Budget
This measure would temporarily shift about $460 million away from mental health programs over the next two years to help balance the state's books. Redirected money would fund screening, diagnosis and treatment services for MediCal patients younger than 21.
» Prop 1F: Elected Official Salaries
This measure would prevent pay raises for legislators and statewide officeholders in deficit years.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Mayoral Elections this Week: 5/18/2009-5/22/2009

Falmouth, MA - Incumbent Kevin E. Murphy (Town pop. 32,660)
Hagerstown, MD - Incumbent Richard F. Trump (Town pop. 36,687)
Redondo Beach, CA - Incumbent Michael A. Gin (Town pop. 63,261)

1 in 4 military voters never received ballots

Based on testimonies at a May 13th hearing at the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, it looks like the previously-cited statistic of 1 in 5 was too small - as many as 1 in 4 overseas/military voters may have been disenfranchised due to not receiving their requested ballot in time.

Charles Schumer cites Congressional Research Service data to state that up to 27% of ballots requested by miltary voters were never received.

The Overseas Vote Foundation, who worked tirelessly last year to combat this issue, chimed in with 2 reports on this phenomenon, which included quotes from a survey of overseas voters. See some samples:
"I want to vote. I have sent in a FPCA 8 years in a row now, and have only received an absentee ballot once and then it was less than a week before the deadline. Is this some form of voter fraud?..."

"There are way too many steps to qualify to vote in a state and precinct in which I have already been voting for years. The military mail is far too slow and things keep getting lost. I can't send or receive faxes from overseas combat theater. This needs to be done by secure military or government email addresses. I simply can't spare enough time from the mission to perform all the steps necessary to re-qualify someplace that I have resided since 1990. "

"I had to complete the paperwork three times before I received confirmation that I was good to go and could vote in this election. There has got to be a better way."

"The voting assistance officer was no were to be found. The information that was given was not enough to help and it is upsetting because my vote will never count in the biggest election in history. I think things need to be a little different."

"Many of my fellow U.S. active duty service members chose to not vote at all because the process was so unclear and frustrating. Many people were unaware of registration deadlines and many more were frustrated that they did not receive their ballots in the mail even when requested in a timely manner."

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

1 in 3 voters voted early in 2008

This chart from Paul Gronke of the Early Information Voting Center (from a briefing presented at the Election Reform Agenda Conference in Iowa last week) shows how Early Voting has steadily grown in popularity among the 50 states over the past 18 years. A good overview of current status and best practices for Early Voting legislation.

Friday, May 8, 2009

New from NVEN's

Check out this brand-new page of downloadable materials for nonprofits on the 2010 Census, produced by the Nonprofit Voter Engagement Network and by the US Census Bureau!

NVEN materials include fact sheets, maps of hard to count areas, PowerPoint presentations on various aspects of the Census and information on the distribution of federal funds based on Census data.

Census Bureau materials include fact sheets and flyers on the 2010 Census, posters and sample 2010 Census Questionnaires.

NVEN's Nonprofits Count! campaign will energize and engage nonprofits to help promote a complete count in Census 2010.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Overseas Voting to Get Easier in Kansas and Oregon

Kansas and Oregon both took steps this week to make voting for military voters overseas easier.

The Kansas House of Representatives recently approved a bill that would allow soldiers and diplomats to vote by e-mail. In Oregon, a House committee advanced a bill in early May that would allow military and overseas voters to cast their ballot via fax. Instead of requiring an original signature, the bill would allow election officials to compare the signature on a fax with the signature on a voter registration card to verify an identity.

Voting for overseas/military voters involves unique logistical issues due to the difficulty in obtaining and returning an absentee ballot from abroad. As Doug Chapin of the Pew Center cited at a recent House Administration Committee hearing on voter registration, "22 percent of overseas voters did not receive their ballots for the 2008 general election, and nearly 40 percent of those who did receive them after the middle of October, making it very difficult for them to return their ballot in time to be counted."

Thanks to Electionline weekly for this update.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Timeline of Franken-Coleman = Yikes.

Looking at a timeline of the Franken-Coleman Senate race (especially now that Specter's switch to Democrat has made Franken's seat the 60th Dem. Caucus seat) it has never been more clear how important it is to:

1. Vote.
225. 215. 133. 49.
These are just a few of the numbers of different kinds of ballots that that were fought over fiercely by both camps, and ultimately ended up counting big time. How many people do you know who didn't cast a ballot last year?

2. Vote well.
The State Canvassing board spent weeks poring over confusing ballots, which had multiple candidates checked, included voter-identifying marks, or even had pictures drawn on them. This process and resultant fallout has pushed back the seating of the MN State Senate seat for 4 months and counting.

3. Have a paper trail.
The hand recount and physical examination of regular, challenged and absentee ballots- which added votes to both candidates and took away Coleman's lead- would not have been possible without a paper ballot audit trail.


"A Timeline of Errors"
"Why it is important to vote on Election Day"

by Norm Coleman and Al Franken

The players:

  • Norm Coleman, incumbent Republican Senator
  • Al Franken, liberal media personality and Democratic candidate for MN US Senate
  • 2.8 million voters, 78% of the dutiful citizens of Minnesota
  • Mark Ritchie, MN Sec. of State and member of MN canvassing board
  • MN Supreme Court

11/4/2008: 2008 General Election. 78% of Minnesotans turn out to cast 2.8 million ballots.

11/18/2008: Franken comes in 215 votes under Coleman (less than a .0075% lead). The closeness of the race mandates a recount.

11/19/2008 : Hand recount commences. Representatives of Coleman and Franken are on hand challenging ballots, which are sent to the Canvassing Board for review.

12/05/2008: 133 ballots go missing in one precinct during the recount. The envelope of ballots never turns up. The Board decides to use the Election Day totals for those wards, which contributes 46 votes to Franken's total.

12/05/2008: Last day of the recount. Each candidate has gained votes as a result of the recount process.

1,325 challenged ballots are addressed by Canvassing Board. Each candidate originally challenged around 3,300, but were required by Sec. of State Ritchie to withdraw some.

12/16/2008: MN Supreme Court rules that wrongly rejected absentee ballots, which some counties have already started identifying, can be included in the recount/challenge.

12/19/2008: Board concludes reviewing the challenged regular ballots. 319 are awarded to Coleman, 758 to Franken, and 248 are labeled "other".

Franken is left with a 49 vote lead after recount of regular ballots.

12/30/2008: 1350 improperly rejected absentee ballots have been received by the Canvassing Board. Of these, 933 are found to be eligible.

1/3/2009: 481 ballots for Franken and 305 for Coleman are yielded in a count of the newly-approved absentee ballots (with 147 for other candidates). Norm Coleman's Senate term officially expires, with no one seated.

Franken leads by 225 votes in the Canvassing Board's certified ballot recount total.

Coleman files for an election contest. By law as a result, Franken cannot be issued an election certificate until the contest is resolved. A 3-judge panel is appointed to hear the contest.

Judges agree to consider 4,797 rejected absentee ballots. This number including only those where voters either met all legal requirements, or failed to meet them through no fault of their own.

Number of ballots cut to 3,500 rejected absentee ballots after a court ruling on evidence.

3/31/2009: At most 400 rejected absentee ballots are ordered to be counted.

4/7/2009: Franken emerges with a final margin of 312 votes after a court determines that 351 of these ballots were legally cast. 111 go to Coleman, 198 to Franken, and 42 to Other.

4/13/2009: MN Supreme Court dismisses Coleman's suit "with prejudice" in its final ruling.

Coleman files appeal to Minnesota Supreme Court.

Sen. Arlen Specter, in a stunning move, announces he is switching from Republican to Democrat. This heightens the tension on the Franken-Coleman case, as a seated Democratic Franken would become the 60th member of the Senate's Democratic Caucus, giving it the power to overcome any Republican filibuster without any Republican votes.

6/1/2009: Oral arguments to commence in Coleman's appeal to MN Supreme Court. A decision is not expected until mid-June, and the possibility exists that Coleman will file a federal appeal to the US Supreme Court in October 2009.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Local Elections this Week: 5.4.2009

These towns are having mayoral elections this week.

Tuesday, May 5th

Alexandria, VA
San Angelo, TX
Racine, WI
Lewisville, TX
North Miami Beach, FL
Mount Prospect, IL
Hackensack, NJ
Deer Park, TX
Shrewsbury, MA

Friday, May 8th
Monteray Park, CA

Saturday, May 9th
San Antonio, TX
Austin, TX
Amarillo, TX
Longview, TX
Baytown, TX
McKinney, TX
Edinburgh, TX
Grapevine, TX
Bedford, TX
Lufkin, TX

Live here? Learn more about voting in your area from your local Secretary of State or

Friday, May 1, 2009

Washington ratifies National Popular Vote; referendum filed

One day after WA Gov. Christine Gregoire signed the National Popular Vote compact- joining Washington with Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland and New Jersey in officially calling for an end to the Electoral College- a man named David Anderson has filed for a referendum to repeal the new law.

Anderson would need to garner over 120,000 signatures for his referendum to qualify for the ballot in July. (Seattle Times) View the referendum.

Black women highest turnout group in '08 election

The longstanding gap between blacks and whites in voter participation evaporated in the presidential election last year, according to an analysis released Thursday. Black, Hispanic and Asian voters made up nearly a quarter of the electorate, setting a record, with black women turning out at a higher rate than any other racial/gender group. Read more (New York Times/Pew).