This Week in 200 Words

This week, Ohio will launch its new bipartisan redistricting process in 2021. Wisconsin approved $1.1 million to reinforce election security. Michigan has seen a rise in dark money in recent times. Even with steps taken by Missouri, big money still has a substantial effect in the state’s politics. Lastly, Oregon plans to strengthen its campaign finance regulations.

In other news, Senator Mitch McConnell capitulated to voter demands to secure US elections by allowing a new infusion of $250 million to help states guard against outside interference in the 2020 voting. Oregon Governor Kate Brown explains how important it is to register to vote. Larry Hincker describes how gerrymandering takes away politicians’ incentive to compromise. A group of interfaith leaders met to discuss democracy reform. Files have been discovered that show that racial gerrymandering effects more states than previously thought. On National Voter Registration Day, Latino organizations in Florida fan out to register voters.

National Updates

The New York Times: After Resisting, McConnell and Senate G.O.P. Back Election Security Funding

Facing mounting criticism for blocking proposals to bolster election security, Senator Mitch McConnell on Thursday threw his weight behind a new infusion of $250 million to help states guard against outside interference in the 2020 voting.

The Roanoke Times: Hincker: The U.S. Supreme Court on gerrymandering: ‘I dunno’

I hate gerrymandering. It flies in the face of a fundamental constitutional principle – one-person, one-vote. Columnists, including this one, have railed against gerrymandered electoral districts, which essentially weight certain votes more than others.

NH Labor News: Interfaith Leaders Meet On Democracy Reform

A coalition of interfaith leaders gathered with U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) to discuss democracy reform efforts like the For the People Act, and how they affect issues important to faith communities like social and economic justice, climate change, and immigration.

The Intercept: GOP Racial Gerrymandering Mastermind Participated in Redistricting in More States Than Previously Known, Files Reveal

THE REACH OF late Republican gerrymandering mastermind Thomas Hofeller may be longer than previously known, according to a review of thousands of documents and emails culled from his hard drives, obtained by The Intercept. While Hofeller was known for drawing maps to give Republicans an advantage and to limit the impact of voters of color in North Carolina, Texas, Missouri, and Virginia, the new documents reveal he also participated in the 2010 redistricting cycle in Alabama, Florida, and West Virginia.

The Hill: Congress can mark National Voter Registration Day by protecting the right to vote for all

Voter registration. It should be easy, simple, and straightforward – but for too many Americans, the simple act of registering to vote is difficult, complicated and time-consuming. It’s the very reason Congress must pass legislation that strengthens the Voting Rights Act of 1965. On National Voter Registration Day, it is imperative that Congress combat attempts by states to prevent and discourage communities of color from participating in our electoral process.

State Updates

NBC News: On Voter Registration Day, Latino organizations in Florida fan out to register voters

One in three Florida residents who are eligible to vote is not registered to do so, according to the New Florida Majority, a nonprofit that helped launch a statewide drive to sign people up on Tuesday, National Voter Registration Day. Other organizations also held events to register voters in one of the country’s most crucial swing states.

Teen Vogue: Oregon Governor Kate Brown, Voter Registration Reform Pioneer, on the Importance of National Voter Registration Day

Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy. I’ve always believed this, but was recently reminded of this truth when I signed into law a bill that would include prepaid postage on all Oregon ballot return envelopes, one part of the sweeping voting reforms Oregon has made recently. On that day, I heard from many young Oregonians about why increasing voter access was important to them.

Ohio-Soapbox Cincinnati: Making every vote count: Ohio seeks a fairer way to map congressional districts

One person, one vote. That’s our civics class understanding of how government representation works in America. But when it comes to electing our representatives in Congress, not all votes are created equal. In fact, according to political and legal experts, millions of people’s votes are “wasted” in congressional elections throughout the country, thanks to a system of drawing congressional district lines that stretches back to the very beginnings of our nation. Called “gerrymandering,” it gives the dominant political party in the legislature of each state the right to draw congressional district lines to their own advantage. The name harkens back to 1812 when Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry drew a contorted district that a newspaper likened to a “monstrous salamander.”

Wisconsin-Wisconsin Public Radio: Wisconsin Elections Commission Approves Funding To Strengthen Election Security

The Wisconsin Elections Commission unanimously approved a $1.1 million grant program Tuesday that aims to help cities and towns beef up their election security.

The program would make up to $1,200 in federal funding available for qualified participants to update operating systems or buy new computers. Municipalities that already meet baseline security standards could use the funding to make security improvements, like setting up a firewall. These measures are meant to protect Wisconsin’s electronic voting system and voters’ personal information.

Michigan-The South End: The rise of dark money in Michigan politics

On Monday, Michigan’s Secretary of State and former Wayne State Law School Dean Jocelyn Benson spoke at the second annual Paul A. Rosen Constitutional Law Series, located in the Spencer M. Partrich Auditorium.

Benson, along with the executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, lectured on the rise of dark money in Michigan politics and the influence it may have. In the lecture, Benson brought up a comparative status of Michigan’s current campaign-finance laws to those of the rest of the country.

Missouri-Springfield News-Leader: Despite voters’ efforts, big money continues to flow to Missouri politicians

Nearly three years ago, Missouri voters made Eric Greitens the victor of the most expensive governor’s race in state history. All told, Greitens and his opponents spent more than $70 million in pursuit of the state’s top elected office — more than twice any collection of candidates for governor ever had before.

Oregon-The Oregonian: Oregon campaign finance watchdog will seek to beef up enforcement

The Secretary of State’s office said Tuesday it will seek to beef up enforcement of Oregon’s campaign finance laws after a report by The Oregonian/OregonLive last week that showed minimal investigation into alleged violations.

Albuquerque Journal: Democracy Dollars will improve all election participation

The Albuquerque Journal published an editorial (Sept. 13) “Democracy Dollars can’t add up without a real bottom line” misleading readers by claiming Democracy Dollars – a proposed enhancement to the City of Albuquerque Open and Ethical Elections Code – (could require additional taxpayer funding). The questionable analysis unnecessarily scares voters with the tired “new taxes” boogie man.

San Francisco Examiner: SF increases public funding to help those running for mayor, supervisor

Those running for the Board of Supervisors or mayor will have access to more public funds to help their campaigns under legislation unanimously approved Tuesday.

Supervisor Gordon Mar said his “Public Financing 2.0” legislation is “the greatest expansion of our public financing program since it was created two decades ago.”

Rochester First: NY lawmakers considering public funding for political campaigns

New York lawmakers paved the way for public campaign financing of statewide and legislative offices during session. It’s up to a commission to come up with the specifics on how it will work.

This Public Campaign Financing Commission hearing in Albany last week generated an out-the-door line of people waiting to have their voices heard.