Home – Voting Rights Effort Shifting to Ballot Box

Voting Rights Effort Shifting to Ballot Box

A number of voting-rights measures are bound for states’ ballots this year. In Florida, for example, voters will weigh whether ex-felons should be allowed to vote. In Maryland, voters will decide whether people should be allowed to register to vote on Election Day. In Nevada, voters will determine whether the state should automatically register those eligible to vote when they interact with the department of motor vehicles. And Michigan voters will consider a measure combining both same-day and automatic voter registration.


In the case of Florida’s ballot measure to restore the voting rights of former felons (Amendment 4), a constitutional amendment is required to make the change, meaning the issue must be put before voters. But some of the measures were prompted by a lack of success with the issues in the legislative process. Nevada’s Question 5, for instance, came after Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval vetoed an automatic voter registration bill passed last year by the state’s Democrat-controlled Legislature.


“A number of these ideas have been proposed as bills during the last several sessions, and they haven’t gone anywhere,” said Judy Karandjeff, president of the League of Women Voters of Michigan, one of the sponsors of the voting rights measure in that state.


Progressives have had some success with ballot measures dealing with the minimum wage and the legalization of marijuana in recent years. And they’re hoping they’ll have better luck convincing voters of the merits of expanding voter access - despite concerns that have been raised about voter fraud - than they’ve had with conservative lawmakers.


“People who have come into power as a result of the current electoral system have less interest in changing that system,” said Sean Morales-Doyle, a counsel at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice. “Direct democracy puts changes to elections in the hands of people without a direct vested interest.” (GOVERNING)