Fight for fair voting in Indiana continues. SB 353 returns to the house- E-mail Tim Wesco r(21)

27 Feb

Amended version of SB 353 is at the bottom of this blog. The State League ask that the Senators not pass this bill -To no avail. Did you ask Senator Rogers to vote NO? This is our next attempt- Please take a minute to send Tim Wesco an E-mail and phone him. He is the sponsor and Chair of the elections committee and can stop this bill that sets up voting barriers. TIM WESCO – h21@iga.in.gov ph 317 232 9753 you can copy and paste, then sign with your address and phone number.

Dear Representative Wesco, As a member of the League of Women Voters and an advocate of voting rights, I would ask you to VOTE NO for SB353. Why sponsor a bill that makes it more difficult for registered people to vote. It prohibits necessary actions by the governor in a time of emergency.  Tying the hands of the leadership to make essential changes in the election process in times of emergency.  This will create unnecessary hardships for voters.  This language makes voting harder in times of crisis.  This bill will serve to disenfranchises voters and will harm the process of democracy.  
To prohibit the Indiana Election Commission is an overreach and usurps that group’s responsibilities.   This language limits the commission’s ability to serve and protect Indiana voters’ rights.  
The Indiana General Assembly is using this law to restrict voters’ access by making voting more difficult during times of emergency.
Adding the Social Security number or the drivers’ license number requirement to the absentee ballot application process may impede some voters.  Current processes already preclude an unregistered voter from receiving an absentee ballot. This language in the bill adds nothing to election security.  This language is totally meritless. This part of your bill is unconstitutional.
The goal of this bill is to erect barriers to voting.  By adding unnecessary steps to applying for an absentee ballot, this bill makes the process more difficult and increases chances for error. By blocking interventions by state leadership in times of crisis, guarantees that voters’ rights will not be protected and assures specific groups in the electorate will have to overcome onerous barriers to be able to vote.

News release from Chicago Feb. 17th. The Indiana Senate has sent the bill back to the house after they determined this requirement of proof of citizenship was unconstitutional. Thank you Chicago Civil Rights Lawyers.

Indiana has some of the nation’s harshest voting restrictions. Recently, state lawmakers proposed erecting another barrier by requiring eligible voters to bring proof of citizenship when registering to vote.

Senior Counsel Ami Gandhi speaks about voting rights.
Senior Counsel Ami Gandhi speaks about voting rights.

Non-citizens are already kept off the voter rolls through existing protections, which have made instances of illegal voting vanishingly rare in Indiana and across the nation. The proof-of-citizenship provision that had been proposed in Senate Bill 353 would only serve to further disenfranchise and intimidate eligible voters, particularly citizens of color.

On February 15, our Senior Counsel Ami Gandhi submitted testimony to the Indiana State Elections Committee urging lawmakers to reject the proof of citizenship requirement in Senate Bill 353. The requirement was stripped from the bill because of constitutional concerns raised by advocates.

Read Ami Gandhi’s testimony below or click here to download it:

My name is Ami Gandhi and I am a Senior Counsel at Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, a non-profit, non-partisan organization that has been working for the past 50 years to advance racial equity and economic opportunity for all. The right to vote is fundamental to a healthy democracy. Our voting rights practice area was established to reduce barriers to voting and civic participation, especially in communities of color and low-income communities, to ensure that all eligible voters are able to cast ballots and make their voices heard. I lead our organization’s efforts to protect voting rights in Illinois and Indiana, and I reside in Indiana. Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights submits this testimony today in opposition to Indiana Senate Bill 353, which requires documentary proof of citizenship for voter registration.

Chicago Lawyers’ Committee’s work puts us in a unique position to understand voter access barriers from the point of view of the voter. A major component of our work is Election Protection, the nation’s largest non-partisan voter protection program, which operates the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline and supports companion lines at 888-VE-Y-VOTA, 888-API-VOTE, and 844-YALLAUS. Our staff and pro bono volunteers answer calls from Illinois and Indiana and have answered thousands of voter questions. Hoosiers called us in record breaking numbers during the 2020 primary and general elections, with many of them experiencing unfair barriers to registering and voting. We are proud to work with Common Cause Indiana, the Indiana State Conference of the NAACP, and national Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law on a number of initiatives to strengthen voter access, including litigation challenging Indiana state laws that undermine the fundamental right to vote.

Senate Bill 353 would block registration of eligible voters in violation of the United States Constitution and the National Voter Registration Act. Courts have struck down proof of citizenship laws in Kansas and other states. Requiring documentary proof of citizenship for voter registration will disenfranchise many eligible voters, including Black, Latino, and Asian American citizens. Seniors and low-wealth community members of all racial backgrounds and political parties would also be unduly burdened by having to track down and pay for the citizenship documents called for in the bill.

Senate Bill 353 would worsen already existing racial disparities in voter registration access. Adding onerous and unfair steps to voter registration is a modern-day form of a poll tax or literacy test. This bill would invite illegal racial profiling and discrimination by state and local election authorities and other charged with administering our elections. If documentary proof of citizenship were required, voters who are perceived to be “foreign” would especially be at risk of being unfairly taken off the voter rolls. Voter registration drives in all Indiana communities would be made unreasonably difficult.

This bill is a solution in search of a problem. The facts show in Indiana and across the nation that voter fraud occurs at an exceedingly low rate, given the existing protections to keep non-citizens off voter rolls. Our immigrant communities are well aware of the grave repercussions for noncitizens who vote and have no interest in illegal voting or registration.

Throughout our history and unfortunately still today, rhetoric about voter fraud has been used to disenfranchise and intimidate eligible voters, particularly citizens of color. Given the violent events at the United States Capitol on January 6 and the danger caused by efforts to discredit American elections, this is a frightening moment for the Indiana legislature to perpetuate myths of widespread voter fraud.

Indiana should be tearing down barriers to voting, not erecting new ones. We need more, not fewer, citizens to take an interest in registration and voting. The time is ripe to improve election administration, but this bill would do the opposite. Those states that are legitimately working to improve election administration have been taking actions to make voter registration more fair, accurate, and streamlined. Instead, Senate Bill 353 would take Indiana a big step backward.

As an experienced voting rights and civil rights attorney, a resident of Indiana, and the daughter of immigrants, I am deeply concerned about the disenfranchisement that Senate Bill 353 would cause. Such policies send a message to immigrant citizens and citizens of color – a message that we don’t belong in Indiana. The Indiana Senate Elections Committee should reject the proof of citizenship requirement in Senate Bill 353. Thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony today.February 17, 2021

SB353

Citations Affected: IC 3-6; IC 3-11; IC 10-14.

Synopsis: Various election law matters. Prohibits the Indiana election commission from: (1) instituting, increasing, or expanding vote by mail or absentee vote by mail; and (2) changing the time, place, or manner of holding an election. Prohibits a person from providing an absentee ballot application with the driver’s license number or last four digits of the voter’s Social Security number already printed on the form. Requires an applicant for an absentee ballot application to include the driver’s license number or last four digits of the individual’s Social Security number. Prohibits the governor from changing, during a declared disaster emergency, the time, place, or manner of holding an election.

Effective: July 1, 2021.

E-mail State Senator Rogers regarding SB 353

19 Feb

Before Monday-Take a few minutes in your day and help voters get absentee ballots easier. Unregistered voters are already blocked, these are un necessary steps to prevent more absentee ballots. Protect the VOTE, we need more participation in elections.

Copy and Paste letter if you like. Send to Senator.Rogers@iga.in.gov Sign your name with address and phone number

Dear Senator Rogers,Please Vote NO for Senate bill 353 on Monday. Senate Bill 353-Prohibits necessary actions by the governor in a time of emergency.  Tieing the hands of the leadership to make essential changes in the election process in times of emergency, will create unnecessary hardships for voters.  This language makes voting harder in times of crisis.  This bill will serve to disenfranchises voters and will harm the process of democracy.  
To prohibit the Indiana Election Commission is an overreach and usurps that group’s responsibilities.   This language limits the commission’s ability to serve and protect Indiana voters’ rights.  
The Indiana General Assembly is using this law to restrict voters’ access by making voting more difficult during times of emergency.
Adding the Social Security number or the drivers’ license number requirement to the absentee ballot impedes some voters.  The number requirement will result in legitimate cast votes being tossed because of error or confusion.  Current processes already preclude an unregistered voter from receiving an absentee ballot. This bill adds nothing to election security.
The goal of this bill is to erect barriers to voting.  By adding unnecessary steps to voting by absentee ballot, this bill makes the process more difficult and increases chances for error. By blocking interventions by state leadership in times of crisis, guarantees that voters’ rights will not be protected and assures specific groups in the electorate will have to overcome onerous barriers to be able to vote.

Thurs. Feb. 11th 7:30 Redistricting film

11 Feb

Third Film: 

Thursday, February 11, 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM EST
Line in the Street

Created by film makers Robert and Rachel Millman. 

This award-winning film on gerrymander reform is about citizen activists and a landmark win for voting rights in the 2018 Pennsylvania Supreme Court case, League of Women Voters Pennsylvania v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This first of its kind lawsuit held that partisan gerrymandering violated Pennsylvania’s State Constitution, irrespective of federal law, or federal courts.


PANELISTS: 

Jesse Kharbanda (Executive Director, Hoosier Environmental Council)Jennifer McCormick (Former IN State Superintendent of Public Instruction) 

https://fb.me/e/3S1VBi3W0 link for watching on face book Go to www.LWVIN.org events and register to go onto Zoom , there you can participate with the panel

Brian Howey: Devil is in the details of Hoosier redistricting

This year the Indiana General Assembly has two tasks it must complete: Forge a $30 billion-plus biennial budget and draw new maps for congressional and legislative districts.

By this point in time in 2001 and 2011, U.S. Census data was in the hands of Hoosier legislators and their computer-assisted consultants, creating new congressional and General Assembly maps.

This year, because of the pandemic and the Trump administration’s late decision to demand U.S. Census data on illegal immigrants, Indiana’s new maps will be delayed until late summer after the first special session of the Holcomb era is called. It promises to stall the informal start of the 2022 cycle.

In 2001 and 2011, the reapportioned maps were passed by the April 29 and signed shortly thereafter by Govs. Frank O’Bannon and Mitch Daniels, setting off the traditional spate of candidacies during the summer and fall months heading into the next cycle. The delay this year means that potential candidates won’t know what district they are in for an additional four months or so.

“At the end of the day, it means we’ll be here after July, trying to figure out redistricting, what those districts look like,” Senate President Pro Tem Rod Bray said last Friday.

While Indiana Democrats had spent much of the last decade pushing for an independent redistricting commission with the support of then-House Speaker Brian Bosma, those reforms were clamped shut in the Senate, which has been controlled for all but two years (1975-76) by the GOP over the past half century.

In 2001, the maps were initially drawn by State Rep. Ed Mahern, D-Indianapolis, who moved in a clockwise manner that began in The Region’s 1st CD, working in the 2nd CD that would feature Kokomo dangling by a string of townships connected to the Michiana-based district, and then the 5th and 6th CDs. After that, he created the new 8th and 9th CDs, with the scraps forging the spindly-shaped 4th CD that ran in elongated fashion from several counties north of the Ohio River to several counties south of Lake Michigan. These maps were largely panned as a classic example of gerrymandering.

By 2011, then-Secretary of State Todd Rokita vowed to end “gerrymandering” by urging the creation “compact” districts that sought to preserve “communities of interests” while avoiding separating counties, cities and school districts.

The 2001 maps created one of the most competitive decades in state history. While the Indiana Senate stayed monolithically Republican, the Indiana House changed majority hands three times — from Democrat to Republican in 2004 with the election of Gov. Mitch Daniels, back to the Democrats in 2006 mid-term, and then to the GOP in 2010 in the Tea Party mid-term. In 2006, Republican Jon Elrod upset Rep. Mahern by eight votes.

In congressional districts, five incumbents were defeated under the 2001 maps, including 9th CD Democrat Rep. Baron Hill by Mike Sodrel in 2004; Rep. Sodrel by Hill in a rematch in 2006, along with 2nd CD Democrat Joe Donnelly over Chris Chocola, and 8th CD Democrat Brad Ellsworth over Rep. John Hostettler; and 9th CD Republican Todd Young defeating Hill in 2010. A sixth seat changed parties when Republican Larry Bucshon defeated State Rep. Trent Van Haaften in 2010.

While the 2011 maps were compact and not considered “gerrymandered,” the comparison starkly revealed the devil in the details. Not a single congressional incumbent lost in the five election cycles, and only one CD changed parties, when in 2012, Rep. Joe Donnelly decided to seek the Senate seat held by U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, and Republican Jackie Walorski won the 2nd CD.

In contrast, of the three U.S. Senate races run between 2012 and 2018, two resulted in changed parties.

In the Indiana House, the days of endangered majorities came to an abrupt end. The Republicans went from a 60-seat majority in 2010, to a 69 seats in 2012, 71 seats in 2014, 70 seats in 2016, 67 seats in 2018, and 71 seats in 2020. Hoosier Democrats are basically powerless in the shaping of the new maps later this year.

The shapes of the 2011 maps appeared to mesmerize the Hoosier political world while creating a competitive desert. Gov. Daniels called them a “huge improvement on the 2001 gerrymander.” Late in the decade, Daniels appeared to realize what the lack of competition meant, suggesting “salamander-shaped districts.”

Common Cause’s Julia Vaughn was also caught in the geometry trap, saying, “They seem to be far, far better, and to meet any reasonable test of compactness and respecting communities of interest.”

The uncompetitive, compact districts helped create an Indiana that by 2014 had one of the worst voter participation cycles in the nation. The Indiana Citizens Action Coalition observed, “In 2014, 54 of the 125 candidates for the Indiana House and Senate had no opponents. As a result, Indiana’s voter turnout rate was the lowest in the country at 28%. In 2016, 35 of the 125 candidates for the Indiana House and Senate had no opponents. In 2018, 37 out of 125 seats were unchallenged.

The reason that Washington is mostly grid-locked is that the maps of 2011 kept most incumbents safe in general elections, and susceptible to primary challenges, which continues to empower the fringes of both parties.

The columnist is publisher of Howey Politics Indiana at www.howeypolitics.com. Find Howey on Facebook and Twitter @hwypol.

LWV Video Tonight 7:30 pm Feb. 4th UNCIVIL WAR- US ELECTIONS UNDER SIEGE

4 Feb

Go to LWVIN.org to register if you want to do zoom version with the ability to ask questions. This video also will be streamed on face book at 7:30 pm.- Feb. 4th. Go on “The League of Women Voters of Elkhart County” face book page or State League face book page page to watch stream of video. ( you can ask questions off zoom by E-mailing them to lwvin1920@gmail.com

Specific Link for LWVIN Video

29 Jan

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03DGjnIkTdI&list=WL&index=12&t=995s

Sign in to see these LWVIN Videos

23 Jan

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0rc-2qpz4pHNzfroVQZCT-X4lvk7N7m-ng

Link for Viewing League Redistricting Panel Thurs. Jan 21st 5:30-7pm

19 Jan

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/9750158759

Log in and Watch our Panel discuss drawing fair district lines

after the panel share your ideas by typing in the chat room, or by turning on your microphone. During the event you will have your video and mic off.

Here is your link for google calendar -https://calendar.google.com/calendar/u/0/r/eventedit/copy/NWJsb3FlOHVsa2pwNDUwczRuOG9tazFhNzMgbHd2ZWxraGFydGNvdW50eUBt/am9ub2tyYXdjenlrQGdtYWlsLmNvbQ?sf=true

“We The People” should pick politicians, not the other way around. We must end gerrymandering now!

Event will be streamed on facebook-link here: https://www.facebook.com/LWVEC/

Please Contact Tim Wesco before Indiana’s Jan. 19th Election Committee Meeting. He is the Chair

17 Jan

League of Women Voters of Elkhart County

COPY AND PASTE, THEN ADD YOUR OWN NAME- PLEASE INDICATE IF YOU ARE A MEMBER OF THE LEAGUE. SEND TO h21@iga.in.gov or phone (317) 232 9753

Dear Representative Time Wesco,

Founded by the activists who secured voting rights for women, the League of Women Voters has always worked to promote the values and processes of representative government that are open, accountable, and responsive to the people.Voting is a fundamental citizen right that must be guaranteed and actively protected.The League of Women Voters strongly advocates for the removal of any barriers that restrict and disenfranchise voters.

The League has established a League of Women Voters of Indiana’s Voter Services Coordinating Committee, I am calling on you as the House Chair of Electionsto support bills during this 2021 session that would expand voters’ access and oppose bills or language in bills that would deny or hinder free, fair, and equal access to…

View original post 324 more words

Please Contact Tim Wesco before Indiana’s Jan. 19th Election Committee Meeting. He is the Chair

16 Jan

COPY AND PASTE, THEN ADD YOUR OWN NAME- PLEASE INDICATE IF YOU ARE A MEMBER OF THE LEAGUE. SEND TO h21@iga.in.gov or phone (317) 232 9753

Dear Representative Time Wesco,

Founded by the activists who secured voting rights for women, the League of Women Voters has always worked to promote the values and processes of representative government that are open, accountable, and responsive to the people.  Voting is a fundamental citizen right that must be guaranteed and actively protected.  The League of Women Voters strongly advocates for the removal of any barriers that restrict and disenfranchise voters.

The League has established a League of Women Voters of Indiana’s Voter Services Coordinating Committee, I am calling on you as the House Chair of Elections to support bills during this 2021 session that would expand voters’ access and oppose bills or language in bills that would deny or hinder free, fair, and equal access to voting.  

It is especially important to increase the accessibility of registration and voting for those with disabilities; college students; working families; and minority and underserved populations.  Same day registration, eliminating restrictions on who can cast an absentee ballot, and extending polling hours on Election Day are barriers that currently impede and disenfranchise Hoosier voters and require action by your committee.   

Legislation is also needed to establish consistent voting procedures and processes statewide.  A fair and equitable implementation of early voting and vote centers and enhanced poll worker training are critical priorities that are essential to protecting the votes of Hoosiers.  

The right to vote is a fundamental principle of our democracy.  Obstacles impeding citizen participation must be addressed by lawmakers.  When more Hoosiers participate in our elections, the outcome better reflects who we are as a state, and increased civic engagement.  Elections impact every aspect of our lives, and all eligible voters should have equal access to the ballot box.  The League of Women Voters of Elkhart County looks forward to future VOTER rights and FAIR district laws.

sign and send

As a member of the Indiana League Voter Services Coordinating Committee, I have already sent Representative Wesco a letter, But the more input from citizens regarding Indiana Voting rights, the better. Let him know we are watching. Tell him stories about bad experiences from the 2020 election. We only had one drop box in the whole of elkhart county- in Goshen. Tell him if you think vote by mail should be automatic in Indiana. The population is getting older and this is probably not the last pandemic to hit. I know this applies to him, but tell him why you don’t think someone from Granger who infrequently comes to Elkhart City meetings should represent the downtown Elkhart population. (Gerrymandering). Thank You for being an active worker for democracy and fair VOTING AND VOTING DISTRICTS. Keep in touch for more League Activities, Bev Wiemeri League Web Master

Why do we have people in Congress who don’t represent us- Stop Gerrymandering in Indiana now- League Campaign.

12 Jan

Arnold Schwarzenegger on Congress and Gerrymandering:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2w-pgvRsIuE 

LWV Elkhart County ZOOM Event Jan 21st  5:30-7pm https://us02web.zoom.us/j/9750158759

google calendar link https://calendar.google.com/calendar/u/0/r/eventedit/copy/NWJsb3FlOHVsa2pwNDUwczRuOG9tazFhNzMgbHd2ZWxraGFydGNvdW50eUBt/am9ub2tyYXdjenlrQGdtYWlsLmNvbQ?sf=true

* Recording available on https://www.facebook.com/LWVEC/

   How should FAIR district lines be drawn? This is your chance to join the decision. This ZOOM meeting will have a panel to discuss redistricting with us and present suggestions on how FAIR lines should be drawn.  Next step, present our maps to the State Legislature. 

Jan 21stRedistricting Panel

                 Paulette Vandgriff, LWV redistricting committee

                Arvis Dawson, Elkhart City Council Member

                Mike Yoder, former Elkhart County Council President 

 

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