This week, the Republican-controlled Missouri Legislature forced the override of several gubernatorial vetoes, including two high-profile measures that would require Missouri voters to present photo ID at the polls and decimate state gun safety regulations. As is the case with many state voter ID laws, the restriction would disproportionately affect elderly, poor, and minority voters who have limited access to obtaining a valid ID. Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadel (D) commented, “This bill, in my belief, is a definite step backwards. What we should be promoting is inclusion and activism for all people.” The override of Democratic Gov. Nixon’s veto of Republicans’ controversial gun measure was passed in the Senate on a party-line vote. The measure will allow permit-less concealed carry, establish an extreme “Stand Your Ground” law, and eliminate firearm-training requirements. Rep. Kim Gardner (D) noted the absurdity of the measure, saying, “We’re putting citizens in the place of law enforcement who have training and skills and experience.”
Newly released emails from Wisconsin Republican lawmakers and conservative lobbyists and consultants illustrate a perverse effort by Republicans to foster public speculation around the 2011 state election results by planting news stories alleging widespread voter fraud was at play. Steve Baas, a conservative lobbyist, emailed former GOP Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, asking, “Do we need to start messaging ‘widespread reports of election fraud’ so we are positively set up for the recount regardless of the final number? I obviously think we should.” Jensen, who was a lobbyist at the time, responded “Yes. Anything fishy should be highlighted. Stories should be solicited by talk radio hosts.” In a later correspondence, Jensen went further, suggesting GOP Justice David Prosser “needs to be on talk radio in the morning saying he is confident he won and talk radio needs to scream the Dems are trying to steal the election.” In reaction to the release, Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca noted, “This latest revelation exposes the way the Republican spin machine works – they were prepared to simply make things up.”
Virginia Republicans’ effort to disenfranchise ex-felons hit a setback this week as the Virginia Supreme Court issued a unanimous order rejecting the state GOP’s request to hold Gov. McAuliffe in contempt for restoring voting rights. The ruling resolves the legal fight between Republican lawmakers and the Democratic governor and helps to clarify the voter status of thousands of Virginians. In a written statement, Gov. McAuliffe said, “It is my hope that the court’s validation of the process we are using will convince Republicans to drop their divisive efforts to prevent Virginians from regaining their voting rights and focus their energy and resources on making Virginia a better place to live for the people who elected all of us to lead.” Coupled with the court’s decision, Democratic lawmakers proposed a constitutional amendment to end Virginia’s ban on felon voting. The amendment, authored by Del. Marcus B. Simon (D), aims to move Virginia away from the “racially motivated politics of a bygone era.”
In January, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) and the majority-Democratic legislature made Oregon the first state to automatically register citizens to vote when they get or renew a driver license. Over the past twelve months, 300,000 Oregonians have registered to vote, and more than 75% of them registered under the “motor voter” law. Additionally, the state is on track to register 250,000 new voters under the law prior to the November election. Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins noted, “With our expectations to top voter participation records this November, my office is doubling down on our work to make sure voters have the information they need to cast their ballot this November.”
Nolan West, a Republican state House candidate in Minnesota, resigned from his job as a legislative assistant at the state House after several of his racist and pro-confederacy Facebook posts went public. West posted, "It's lynching time," on the eve of Election Day in 2008, and criticized President Lincoln multiple times on social media. Additionally, after South Carolina removed the confederate flag from statehouse grounds following the racially-motivated murders of nine people in a Charleston church, West reposted an advertisement for the confederate flag and belittled efforts to ban the flag.