Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee

State of the States (Week of October 5th, 2016)

State of the States (Week of October 5th, 2016)


For the Week of October 5th

TABLE OF CONTENTS

KEY QUOTES

“Our field operation is our not-so secret weapon.”

DLCC Executive Director Jessica Post highlights Democrats' down-ballot strategy to take back legislative majorities and erode GOP strongholds across the country. With both parties looking ahead to 2020 redistricting and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump damaging GOP prospects up and down the 2016 ballot, DLCC's Grassroots Victory Program has been dominating voter contact efforts. With a record-breaking milestone of 6 million voters reached, Democrats have blown their Republican counterparts out of the water in the battle to connect with voters and get them to the polls. From the White House to statehouses, organizations and campaigns up and down the ballot will be working together to achieve Democratic victories this November.

“The conduct of your staff is why taxpayers believe government is so inept and dysfunctional."

- Wisconsin state Representative Katrina Shankland (D) and 27 of her colleagues signed a letter to the Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles, decrying the department staff's inability to correctly disseminate vital voting information. Numerous newly released recordings reveal employees at seven DMV locations across the state providing 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 VoteRider volunteers 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 Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

“A right-to-work law will do nothing to achieve meaningful economic progress for Kentucky’s workers; in fact, it will hurt them.”

Kentucky state Representative Larry Clark (D) wrote a heartfelt and incisive column detailing the pitfalls of so-called “right to work” legislation. Rep. Clark urged Republican Gov. Matt Bevin and his GOP colleagues in the legislature to examine the facts before pushing “right to work” legislation for political purposes in future sessions. The Democratic Representative from Louisville highlights the wage and median household income gap of employees in RTW states versus free-bargaining states, pointing out that lower wages from these anti-worker laws would result in reduced tax bases for local and state governments, which explains why RTW states invest less in education per pupil than free-bargaining states. Rather than pushing a divisive anti-worker bill, Rep. Clark encourages Kentucky Republicans to support training and education reforms that guide students and dislocated workers toward in-demand careers and trades. An IBEW member of almost 50 years, Rep. Clark is motivated to continue partnering with organized labor, the business community, and education stakeholders to make sure all Kentuckians can earn a living wage.

STORIES OF THE WEEK

Who Gets to Vote?

Alexander Keyssar (The New York Times)
September 30, 2016

In recent years, you’ve needed a scorecard to keep track of voting laws in the United States. For nearly a decade, Republican-dominated state legislatures have been churning out strict voter ID laws and other measures likely to reduce access to the ballot box. But the pace of activity quickened after June 2013, when the Supreme Court disabled a vital provision of the Voting Rights Act, the so-called preclearance provision, opening the door to restrictive legislation in the nine states (and parts of six others) that had been covered by the law.

Within hours of that decision, Shelby v. Holder, Texas announced that it would start enforcing a very strict ID law that had been turned back under the Voting Rights Act and that could affect more than 600,000 registered voters. Alabama and Mississippi followed suit, with laws that created particular hurdles for rural and small-town voters without driver’s licenses. North Carolina went further, passing a bill that imposed a strict ID requirement, reduced early voting and eliminated same-day registration. Things looked bleak for voting rights advocates and for the people most likely to be barred from the polls by these laws: members of racial and ethnic minorities, the poor and working class, the elderly and the young.

Over the last few months, however, federal courts around the country have overturned, challenged or blocked some of the most restrictive laws, including in Texas, North Carolina and Wisconsin (as well as Ohio’s method of purging the voting rolls). The cases differ; many legal issues will remain unsettled until after this year’s election; and Republicans in North Carolina and Texas have already tried to circumvent the courts’ decisions. ...

That said, most studies conclude that the new restrictions will reduce the participation of African-Americans, Latinos and poor people generally, most likely by a few percentage points — and perhaps by as much as eight to 10 percentage points. The figure will surely vary from community to community.

The outcomes of some local and even congressional races may well be affected by these laws; and it’s not out of the question that they could play a role in a tight presidential contest, although the North Carolina and Wisconsin court decisions make that less likely. The results will almost certainly skew in favor of Republicans: as a growing number of Republican officials have publicly acknowledged — or been caught saying in private — that’s precisely what they are supposed to do.

But the significance of these laws goes far beyond this election. Laws of this type strike at the rights and the dignity of some of our fellow citizens: A great majority of us will be unaffected, but to others the message sent is that they do not quite belong to the polity.

[Read More]

DMV workers at 7 more stations give wrong voter ID info

Patrick Marley (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
October 3, 2016

Workers at seven Division of Motor Vehicles stations across Wisconsin provided inaccurate or incomplete information about the availability of IDs for voting, newly released recordings show.

“You’re not guaranteed to get an ID card. Nothing’s guaranteed,” a worker at the DMV station in Hudson told a woman on Wednesday.

That conflicts with what Attorney General Brad Schimel’s office has claimed in court documents. His assistants have contended that all DMV workers have been trained to tell people they will get credentials for voting within six days, even if they don’t have birth certificates.

The recordings could further roil litigation over Wisconsin’s voter ID law. On Friday, a federal judge ordered the state DMV to investigate an incident in which three DMV workers gave incorrect information about whether a Madison man could get an ID without a birth certificate. ...

After the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and The Nation wrote about the recording, [U.S. District Judge James Peterson] ordered the DMV to investigate what happened and file a report with him by Friday. ...

Assembly Democrats on Monday asked the DMV to develop a plan to make sure state workers were giving voters the correct information.

[Read More]

COMING UP

Voter Registration Deadlines, State by State - The New York Times

When does early voting start in every state? - POLITICO

November 8 - Election Day (United States)

LEGISLATIVE BULLETIN

Abortion

AL: Judge considers Alabama abortion restrictions - Associated Press
CO: Woods’ de-funding plan would force Planned Parenthood to turn away 1,000 Arvada patients - Colorado Pols
FL: Florida Group Intends to Outlaw Abortion and Birth Control as First-Degree Murder - Slate
LA: Legal battle persists as Louisiana attempts to revive cutting Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood clinics - Associated Press
OK: Oklahoma Supreme Court strikes down restrictive abortion law - Reuters

Guns

CA: A California gun measure that’s too high-stakes to fail - The Sacramento Bee
NH: Senate upholds Hassan veto of concealed carry bill - New Hampshire Union Leader
SC: ‘Thoughts and prayers do not legislate. ... We have failed miserably’ - Myrtle Beach Online
U.S.: Polls Have Backers of Gun Safety Ballot Initiatives Eyeing a Clean Sweep - The Trace

Health Care

AR: Arkansas group tries to kill challenges to medical lawsuits ballot proposal - Associated Press
CA: California Governor Signs Flurry Of Health Laws - California Healthline
CO: Woods’ de-funding plan would force Planned Parenthood to turn away 1,000 Arvada patients - Colorado Pols
FL: Medical marijuana opponents look to snuff out support for November ballot measure - Palm Beach Post
WA: Sen. Hargrove honored for lifetime of work on mental health care - The Daily World

Labor

CO: Forum on Colorado minimum wage amendment stimulates spirited debate - The Denver Post
KY: ‘Right-to-work’ legislation - Middlesboro Daily News
MO: Chair of Labor Committee Plans to File Right-To-Work Legislation - Ozarks First
NJ: NJ Workers In Line For Small Wage Hike, But Not What Democrats Wanted - NJ Spotlight
VA: Virginia's right-to-work amendment - News Leader

LGBT

AL: Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore suspended for rest of term - AL.com
CA: California Passes Law Preventing Colleges From Discriminating Against LGBT Students - Advocate
CA: California governor approves gender-neutral restrooms - Associated Press
CA: Calif. Gov. Signs Bill Banning California State-Funded Travel to States with New Anti-LGBT Laws - AB1887 - California Newswire
MA: Effort to repeal transgender anti-discrimination law qualifies for 2018 ballot - MassLive

Voting Rights

CA: Gov. Brown Signs Bill Allowing Felons To Vote In Jail - Associated Press
FL: Democrats sue Florida over ‘defective’ signatures on discarded mail ballots - Miami Herald
IL: Editorial: Illinois Republicans make voting harder, not easier - The Daily Illini
IA: Iowa officials urge use of new voter verification lists - The Gazette
KS: Appeals court rules against Kansas in voting rights case - Associated Press
KS: Kris Kobach caves in contempt case in big win for Kansas voters - The Kansas City Star
NV: Feds back Nevada tribes on voting test - Associated Press
NC: NC early voting plans challenged in 5 counties with aid from Clinton campaign counsel - News & Observer
SC: State tells Greenville County to drop voter registration questionnaire for college students - Greenville Online
TX: Texas Schools May Be Flouting Law on Registering Students to Vote - The Texas Tribune
WI: Judge orders DMV to investigate voter ID incident - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
WI: DMV workers at 7 more stations give wrong voter ID info - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
U.S.: Who Gets to Vote? - The New York Times

CAMPAIGN UPDATES

AZ: Holiday or not, voter-registration deadline remains Oct. 10 - The Arizona Republic
AR: Judge upholds unopposed new nominee for state House seat - Arkansas Times
FL: African-American coalition ad buy in black press pushes voting - Florida Politics
FL: Hialeah Republican: Who I support for president is not important to Florida House race - Miami Herald
FL: Jeff Brandes wins SD 24 seat after write-in candidate drops out - Florida Politics
FL: Democrat Marra drops out of state House race - Orlando Sentinel
FL: Duval Democrats pick Tracie Davis as HD 13 candidate - Florida Politics
FL: Ben Diamond boasts of campaign endorsements in his HD 68 race - Florida Politics
IL: Sheila Simon, Paul Schimpf compete for open Illinois Senate seat - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
IA: Independent could block GOP from controlling Iowa Capitol agenda - The Des Moines Register
IA: Former Marine Pat Ritter Runs On Water Quality In Northeast Iowa House Race - Iowa Starting Line
IA: Early Voting Begins in Iowa - Iowa Public Radio
KY: Kentucky candidate refuses to withdraw after posting pictures of Obama as an ape - Lexington Herald-Leader
ME: Ballots go out as absentee voting gets more popular in Maine - Portland Press Herald
MA: A dozen Republicans targeted by environmental group - Boston Globe
MN: ‘Do-nothing session’ could decide who controls Minnesota Legislature - Twin Cities Pioneer Press
MN: Charges: GOP House Candidate Assaulted Wife’s Son Over Pizza - WCCO
NV: Democrats widen Nevada registration advantage to 77,000 - Associated Press
NY: Another Shockingly Low Turnout Election - Gotham Gazette
NY: Chris Boyark, running on transparency, filed financial disclosure forms late - Times Union
NC: North Carolina Democrats Aim to Narrow GOP Legislative Margin - Associated Press
NC: NC senator who champions fossil fuels happened to get industry money for 20 years - McClatchy DC
OH: Ohio voters request absentee ballots for presidential election at record pace - Cleveland.com
SC: SC voter registration deadline will be unaffected by hurricane - The State
WI: Top Assembly Republican comes around to Trump - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
WY: Early, absentee voting now occurring throughout state - Casper Star-Tribune
U.S.: GOP Faces Challenge to Its State Legislature Dominance - The Wall Street Journal
U.S.: Dems build files to track Trump 'stain' - POLITICO
U.S.: The big-money Election Day battle you’re probably not thinking about - The Washington Post
U.S.: Google Searches for Voter Registration Have Surged in Hispanic Areas - The New York Times

CONTACT

Carolyn Fiddler
National Communications Director
Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee
fiddler@dlcc.org