NVRI: National Voting Rights Institute

NVRI E-News Update - May 5, 2005

Friends,

The election reform work continues to churn. In this e-news, read about:
Ohio "Election Reform" Legislation Falls Short
It's "poorly organized, confusing, and filled with vague language…" Moreover, some provisions would make things worse. That's how NVRI and a group of our allies described Ohio's HB 3, a proposed "election reform bill" now pending in that state. In a May 4 statement, we acknowledge that some features of the bill would represent improvement, but that overall it falls far short of the major reforms needed to address the problems exposed in the November 2004 election. And some provisions, such as using mailings to remove registered voters from the active rolls just 20 days prior to the election, would make things worse and would violate federal law. Read the statement here.

In hearings on the bill, Jon Greenbaum of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law presented detailed testimony -- which NVRI helped develop - describing significant problems in Ohio in the areas of voter registration, provisional balloting, absentee balloting, voting machines, lack of resources and proper training of election officials, long lines and delays. To read his testimony, click here.

NVRI will watch the legislation closely.

How Can The NFL Help American Politics?
Attached is an opinion piece I wrote comparing American politics, the New York Yankees and the NFL. The sports fans out there should get this right away. Non sports fans will, I think, get the point pretty well, too. The piece has been distributed by UPI, and we're hoping a number of newspapers will pick it up from there. I welcome your comments in response.

As readers of the NVRI e-news know, the Supreme Court will soon be considering whether to reconsider the issue of campaign spending limits.

Connecticut Edges Closer to Public Financing - Your Calls Needed
Connecticut legislators will soon be casting votes on important public funding measures. If you live in the state, check this website to see what's going on, and how you can help.

Jesse Jackson, Jr. Shakes Things Up
Jesse Jackson, Jr. made an impassioned speech to a standing room only crowd at Lesley University on April 25. Jackson exhorted the crowd to help build a more perfect union, and to support a Constitutional right to vote in America.

"As we try to spread democracy to Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, it might be wise, first, to look in the mirror, to take a serious look at our own house, and to analyze our own democracy. … In 2000 and 2004 - indeed in every election - if every American had had an individual constitutional right to vote, then every vote would have had to be counted… I want to build a more perfect union. Join me."

Attached are Jackson's printed comments - though the speech itself included much more.

Jackson spoke at Lesley in an event co-sponsored by NVRI. To read more about the Amendment, click here.

Why the Voting Rights Act Still Matters: A New York Panel Discussion
On August 6th, America commemorates the Fortieth Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act. While we have come far since its passage, protections for minority voters are still needed, and the renewal of the Act (which expires in 2007) is critical for all of us. New Yorkers can join what promises to be a good panel discussion on the topics on Tuesday May 17, from 12 to 2 at Demos (220 Fifth Avenue, 5th Floor). RSVP at www.demos-usa.org/eventregistration, or by calling (212) 633-1405 x 533.

The discussion is sponsored by Demos, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, New York Voting Rights Consortium, and the Community Service Society.

As always, drop me a note if you have comments, questions, or suggestions.

Best Regards,
Stu

Stuart Comstock-Gay
Executive Director
National Voting Rights Institute
617-624-3900 ext.16
scg@nvri.org
www.nvri.org