Posts Tagged ‘rock the vote’

Justice Department seeks trial on Florida’s elections law changes

Posted on: March 5th, 2012 by The American Independent No Comments

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (Photo: Flickr/Ryan J. Reilly)

The United States Department of Justice announced Friday that it will seek a trial regarding Florida’s controversial elections law overhaul, passed last year by the state legislature. The law has drawn harsh criticism from civil rights and advocacy groups and has led to multiple legal challenges.


Florida ACLU, League of Women Voters sue over new voter registration rules

Posted on: December 15th, 2011 by The American Independent No Comments

The ACLU of Florida logo (Photo:

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida announced today that “along with the Brennan Center for Justice and the law firms Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, and Coffey Burlington sued on behalf of the League of Women Voters, Rock the Vote, and Florida PIRG, challenging the state’s new restrictions on voter registration.”


Rock the Vote calls Iowa 2nd best for young voters

Posted on: June 9th, 2011 by The American Independent No Comments

A new Voter System Scorecard by Rock the Vote indicates that Iowa ranks second in the nation in engaging young voters. That’s the good news. The bad news is if Iowa’s overall percentage was a letter grade, the Hawkeye State would earn a mediocre D.

Rock the Vote is the nation’s leading advocacy and education organization geared toward building political power for young adults. The organization’s Voting System Scorecard measures state laws and policies in the areas of voter registration, casting a ballot and young voter preparation.

… Rock the Vote’s analysis of the 50 states’ voting systems reveals that young Americans are being left out of the democratic process because of outdated voter registration practices, barriers encountered when trying to cast a ballot, and our country’s failure to adequately prepare them for active citizenship. …

To download a copy of the report, click or scan the QR code or text “REPORT” to RTVOTE (788683)

Iowa trails only Washington state for overall highest score, earning 13.9 out of a possible 21 points or 66 out of a possible 100 percent score. Since the national average was 41 percent, it’s clear that Iowa has risen above the pack. It’s also clear that considering some policies included in the measurements might further improve youth voting.

Voter Registration

When looking at registration in the states, the scorecard took specific note of automatic registration, permanent and portable registration, same day registration, online voter registration and restrictions on third-party registration drives.

Since Iowa does not provide automatic voter registration of its citizens (no state currently does), the state lost three possible points. An additional three points was lost for not allowing online registration. So, from a possible 11 points, Iowa earned 5 — one for permanence and portability, three for allowing same-day voter registration and one for allowing third-party registrations.

During the 2008 General Election, 45,000 Iowans used same-day registration. Nationally, according to U.S. Census surveys, roughly 15 percent of voters who were not registered at the time of the 2008 General Election indicated they missed a registration deadline.

Casting a Ballot

The scorecard measured the difficulty voters would encounter when attempting to cast a ballot on a day other than a traditional election day as well as voter identification, residency and military or overseas balloting laws.

Iowa nearly aced this section, earning maximum points for not requiring voters to show identification at the polls, for satellite voting stations and other convenience efforts, for allowing absentee balloting and for allowing students to cast their ballots in their college precincts. Iowa lost one-tenth of one point in measurements related to military and overseas voting accessibility, but it is unclear from the report accompanying the scorecard why the state was docked.

Iowa’s big advantage over many other states in this section, according to the scorecard, is derived from the state’s existing practice of verifying identities at the time of registration and not at the polls and voters’ access to a wide variety of ways to cast a ballot, including no-cause-required absentee balloting. During the current General Assembly, the Republican-controlled Iowa House, acting on a campaign platform by 2010-elected GOP Secretary of State Matt Schultz, passed a bill similar to Indiana’s restrictive voter ID law. Shortly after House Republicans sent the bill to the Democratic-controlled Iowa Senate, each of Iowa’s 99 county auditors, regardless of their political affiliation, came out in opposition to the proposal.

Young Voter Preparation

Measurements related to preparation of young people for active civic participation included state curriculum requirements of civics education and evaluation as well as the ability of young voters to register in advance of age 18.

Iowa students do take high school civics courses, which earns the state two points; but the state received no point for pre-registration of 16- or 17-year-olds. To date, only eight states allow eligible citizens to register a year or two before age 18 and have the registration automatically go into effect once legal voting age is reached.

“Voters who pre-registered have been shown to turn out at higher rates than peers who registered to vote for the first time upon or after turning 18. Moreover, in jurisdictions that have embraced pre-registration, elections officials often engage in significant outreach and education efforts in high schools,” states the scorecard report.

The Rock the Vote metric looked specifically at elections and voter registration, but it is worth noting (especially with the 2012 caucuses a few months away) that 17-year-old youth who will turn 18 prior to the November general elections are allowed to fully participate in the caucus process. According to the scorecard report, this type of activity, which some states use during primary contests, does not meet measurement requirements.

Rock the Vote pans Florida voting system

Posted on: June 8th, 2011 by The American Independent No Comments

A report released today by a group that aims to increase youth voter participation blasts states for “actively restricting access to the political process,” and finds Florida is no exception. #

Florida ranks 34 out of 50 states on Rock the Vote’s national scorecard, meeting 35 percent of the group’s recommendations, which are intended to serve as a “national benchmark.” States are meeting 41 percent of the recommendations on average. #

Spokeswoman Chrissy Faessen said that because the group looked at state laws as of May 31, the study reflects the effects of a new law signed last month by Gov. Rick Scott, which the group has criticized because of the chilling effect it expects the law will have on voter registration drives. #

With its early voting and absentee ballot systems and its accommodations for members of the millitary, Florida earns relatively high marks when it comes to voting itself. #

It falls short in the voter registration category for not providing online registration and for its new “onerous restrictions on third-party voter registration drives.” Of 11 possible points for making voter registration accessible, Florida earned just one, for making registration available through the Department of Motor Vehicles. That does top Illinois, Nebraska and New Mexico, which scored no points in that area. #

“Research shows that voter registration is a significant barrier to young voter participation, and citizens ages 18 to 24 have the lowest rates of registration amongst all segments of the population,” notes the press release. #

National groups blast Florida legislature’s ‘assault on young voters’

Posted on: May 4th, 2011 by The American Independent No Comments

The Florida Senate may vote today on an elections bill that national groups are saying will make it harder for young people to participate in the political process. #

This was sent out yesterday: #

WASHINGTON D.C. – The right to vote is under attack in Florida, and so are the rights of voter registrations organizations focused on engaging young voters, including Rock the Vote, Southern Energy Network, HeadCount, Student PIRGs and other groups who work to expand the electorate. #

Florida’s State Senate is expected to pass Senate Bill 2086 this week. Among it’s proposed measures: #

•    Young volunteers who want to register classmates at, for example, college football games or concerts would have to take an in-person oath at local elections offices and be financially liable for completed voter registration forms.
•    Young voters who are now able to update their voter registration information, such as their address, at the polls will no longer be able to do that and would be forced to use provisional ballots, which are often not counted.
•    Busy young people with full-time school and work schedules who now have a 13-day early voting period would see that reduced to just 5 days.
•    Young people with questions at their polling place would not be able to receive legal assistance or other services from non-partisan election protection programs at the polls. #

If these intimidating and restrictive new measures are implemented, it could mean that the work of voter registration and engagement organizations who register and turnout hundreds of thousands of Florida voters could all be lost. #

Here’s what young people who work to register their peers are saying about SB 2086: #

“This bill will make it significantly harder for our volunteers to register voters, harder for young people in Florida to cast their ballots, and, ultimately, harder to have their ballots counted,” said Molly Benoit, a recent University of Florida graduate who served as Rock the Vote’s Florida State Coordinator during the 2010 midterm elections. “If I had been approached by a student on campus who wanted to volunteer with Rock the Vote at our next voter registration drive, I would have had to explain that they would be required to be on file with the state before I could allow them to volunteer. Add in the fact that volunteers would be personally liable for $50 per registration form and it becomes clear that this is an attempt to discourage students from registering their peers.” #

“Having the ability to change your address at the polls and have your vote count is critical if students are going to be able to vote.  This bill is a direct attack on our rights as students to have a say in who represents us in Florida,” said Jessica Okaty, a leader in the Southern Energy Network’s Power Vote campaign that registered more than 500 people at Florida International University in 2010. #

“I have volunteered with the HeadCount organization since 2004, and in that time I have registered countless voters at dozens of concerts.  It’s an amazing feeling for everyone involved when a new voter is welcomed into our democracy,” said Shari Beth Katz, a Team Leader with HeadCount in Miami.  “I’m shocked at the hypocrisy of elected officials who would simultaneously call for less government while denying selfless volunteers the right to provide an essential service to other citizens. Any legislator who would consider a measure that makes it harder for citizens to vote is unpatriotic and putting personal political gain over core American principles.” #

“This bill will make it harder for groups like ours to register new voters on college campuses and lead to many students who vote outside their home county being disenfranchised altogether. It will reduce the youth vote while serving no clear benefit. Pushing more voters to provisional ballots won’t add security to the elections process and all of the additional regulations are supposed to address a fraud problem that does not exist,” said Carley Sattler with the Florida Student PIRGs. #

“This attempt to silence the voices of Floridians and to add even more obstacles to the path of democracy should be ridiculed by all Floridians, regardless of party affiliation,” says Jelani Downing, a former organizer with Florida African-American and Caribbean Empowerment Alliance. “It is my hope that organizations which pride themselves on registering voters will only use this bill as motivation to register more voters. We will continue to fight for democracy by becoming even more thorough in our operations and more vigilant in our quest to provide a voice for all Floridians.” #

Young people are not sitting idly by as their rights are attacked. They’ve been mobilizing against the proposed legislation, rallying at the Capitol, testifying against the voter suppression bills, and lobbying their legislators, legislative leaders, and the Governor. #