Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee

The Friday Five - October 7th, 2016

The Friday Five - October 7th, 2016

1. Mysterious dark-money fliers target highly contested Colorado House and Senate races

In Colorado, fliers lacking any “paid for” disclosure are flooding hotly-contested Colorado House and Senate races in support of Republican candidates. The fliers exploit a loophole in state campaign finance law by avoiding phrases that would mandate disclosure such as “vote for” or “vote no” and instead praise or condemn specific candidates with unsourced information. One race targeted by this shadowy conservative group is Senate District 19; Democratic candidate and former state Sen. Rachel Zenzinger is notably concerned, stating, “Who is to say this isn’t coming from some sort of outside group from outside the state who could very well be putting millions of dollars into a race to influence a community, to influence voters with false information.” With the GOP holding a one-seat majority in the state Senate, the Zenzinger race is one of the most closely-watched legislative races this year as Democrats aim to flip multiple chambers across the county. The DLCC has named Zenzinger’s campaign to their list of 2016 Essential Races.

2. Democrats widen Nevada registration advantage to 77,000

In the battleground state of Nevada, Democrats saw another surge in voter registration as the number of registered Democrats now outnumber registered Republicans by 77,000. According to Nevada’s Secretary of State’s office, Republicans added 12,000 new voters to their ranks last month while Democrats added nearly 17,000 voters. This increase in Democratic voter registration, particularly among the state’s Hispanic population, has been seen as a response to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his incendiary anti-immigration rhetoric. During the course of his campaign, Trump has spouted numerous bigoted and racially-charged statements targeting Mexicans and immigrants and has made building a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border and the deportation of millions of immigrants a key part of his policy platform. With Democrats targeting Nevada races up and down the ballot, this surge in voter registration and Trump’s poor performance among minority voters will likely help Democrats make gains in both state legislative chambers and will affect the outcome of federal races, as well.

3. Oklahoma Supreme Court finds abortion law unconstitutional

In a unanimous ruling, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that a restrictive abortion bill passed by the Republican-led legislature is unconstitutional and unenforceable. The ultra-conservative legislation would have made it a felony for a person to help a minor obtain an abortion without parental consent, added several unnecessary requirements for abortion providers in the state, and empowered the state Board of Health to create new restrictive policies and procedures for licensing abortion facilities. In a ruling similar to the June decision by the U.S. Supreme Court striking down Texas Republicans’ anti-abortion law, Oklahoma justices found the bill placed “undue burdens on access to abortion under the guise of protecting the health of women.”

4. DMV workers at 7 more stations give wrong voter ID info

Numerous newly-released recordings reveal employees at seven DMV locations across Wisconsin provided inaccurate or incomplete information about the availability of IDs for voting in the November election. Last Friday, a federal judge ordered the Wisconsin DMV to investigate an incident in which three DMV workers were caught on tape giving incorrect information about whether a voter could obtain an ID without a birth certificate. Attorney General Brad Schimel's office claims all DMV employees have been trained to tell people they will get voting credentials within six days – even without birth certificates – but some employees were recorded telling volunteers from voting right advocate group VoteRiders, that "there's no guarantee" they would get an ID in time for the November 8 election, that it could take weeks to get an ID without a birth certificate, and that there may be a charge associated with obtaining a copy of their birth certificate (despite rulings from state and federal courts that the DMV cannot require people to pay any government fees to get IDs for voting, that doing so would amount to charging an unconstitutional poll tax). On Monday, Assembly Democrats asked the DMV to develop a plan to make sure state workers were trained correctly and to make sure voters were given the correct information. Meanwhile, a separate challenge to Wisconsin Republican's voter ID law is pending with the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals. A letter sent from Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) and 27 of her colleagues declared, “The conduct of your staff is why taxpayers believe government is so inept and dysfunctional.”

5. Capital Beat: Gateway to Work program stalled by politics

In New Hampshire, state House Republicans are blocking the launch of Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan’s welfare-to-work program, which will provide job training to welfare recipients. Gateway to Work was stalled by the GOP-led fiscal committee; Republican lawmakers are refusing to take action on the bill until next January, when the new legislature will be called to session. With Republicans’ legislative majority in the House and Senate on the line this cycle, state Democrats and the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee aim to flip control of the legislature; the DLCC has designated state Rep. Alexis Simpson and former state Sen. Peggy Gilmour’s Senate campaigns as Essential Races. These races will be key in determining which party holds the majority in the state’s upper chamber.