California Governor Jerry Brown has signed legislation that will allow for automated voter registration at the DMV for citizens obtaining or renewing a driver’s license or state ID. The law is being referred to as the New Motor Voter Act. California lawmakers are attempting to combat historically low voter turnout rates in the state by removing barriers to registration. The law will go into effect on the first of 2016, but it may not be immediately implementable. The goal is to have the system functional by the June 2016 primaries.
By Hannah Whiteker
Fans of direct democracy should be excited about the increased use of state ballot initiatives to legalize marijuana use. Direct democracy allows citizens to enact and change laws, instead of electing representatives to make important decisions for them. One of the ways that the United States utilizes direct democracy is through state ballot initiatives. If a group of voters wants to get an initiative on the ballot to pass a law in their state (there is no initiative process for federal elections), the group must first get enough voters to sign a petition supporting the initiative. The number of signatures required varies by state. If the group satisfies the signature requirement, the initiative is put on the ballot for the next statewide election to be voted on by the people.
In August of 2015, California restored the voting rights to approximately 60,000 former felony offenders who had been improperly disenfranchised as a result of a glitch in the political process. In the whirlwind of California’s recent prison reform acts, these citizens had been inappropriately classified as ineligible to vote in violation of California’s Constitution and election laws. Although the case had already been decided in the voters’ favor by a trial court, it was not until California’s current Secretary of State, Alex Padilla, decided this summer to drop the appeal that these former felony offenders could feel safe registering to vote. But how did such a large number of potential voters end improperly disenfranchised in the first place?
By: Lauren Coleman
Greenville, South Carolina, will become the largest municipality in South Carolina to cancel an election this upcoming November. Mayor Knox White and three members of the City Council are running unopposed and will take office without going through a formal election process.
by Nathan Yu
During the November 6 general election, the state of California saw the effects of one fascinating component of its electoral system: its top-two open primary.
Over two years ago, California voters proposed and passed Proposition 14, a ballot initiative that drastically reformed the state’s primary system. Prior to Prop 14, California conducted closed primary elections, which meant a voter could only vote for candidates in his own political party. The candidate with the most votes from each “qualified” political party—the Democratic Party, Republican Party, American Independent Party, Americans Elect Party, Green Party, Libertarian Party, and Peace & Freedom Party—advanced to the general election where he would face the candidates who advanced from the other parties. In a sense, the old system guaranteed that a third party or independent candidate could secure a spot on the November general election ballot. [Read more…] about All Bark, No Bite: How California’s Top-Two Primary System Reinforces the Status Quo