Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019
This bill establishes new criteria for determining which states and political subdivisions must obtain preclearance before changes to voting practices in these areas may take effect. (Preclearance is the process of receiving preapproval from the Department of Justice or the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia before making legal changes that would affect voting rights.)
A state and all of its political subdivisions shall be subject to preclearance of voting practice changes for a 10-year period if (1) 15 or more voting rights violations occurred in the state during the previous 25 years; or (2) 10 or more violations occurred during the previous 25 years, at least one of which was committed by the state itself. A political subdivision as a separate unit shall also be subject to preclearance for a 10-year period if three or more voting rights violations occurred there during the previous 25 years.
A state or political subdivision that obtains a declaratory judgment that it has not used a voting practice to deny or abridge the right to vote shall be exempt from preclearance.
All jurisdictions must preclear changes to requirements for documentation to vote that make the requirements more stringent than federal requirements for voters who register by mail or state law.
The bill specifies practices jurisdictions meeting certain thresholds regarding racial minority groups, language minority groups, or minority groups on Indian land, must preclear before implementing. These practices include changes to methods of election, changes to jurisdiction boundaries, redistricting, changes to voting locations and opportunities, and changes to voter registration list maintenance.
The bill expands the circumstances under which (1) a court may retain the authority to preclear voting changes made by a state or political subdivision, or (2) the Department of Justice may assign election observers.
States and political subdivisions must notify the public of changes to voting practices.
The bill revises the circumstances under which a court must grant preliminary injunctive relief in a challenge to voting practices.
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 is a civil rights and police reform bill drafted by Democrats in the United States Congress, including members of the Congressional Black Caucus. The legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on June 8, 2020. The legislation aims to combat police misconduct, excessive force, and racial bias in policing.
The bill passed the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives on a mostly party-line vote of 236–181 but is not expected to advance in the Republican Controlled Senate. President Donald Trump opposes the legislation
The drafting of the legislation was preceded by a series of killings of Black Americans by white police officers and civilians in 2020, including and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, which resulted in a protest movement. However, the proposed legislation contains some provisions that civil rights advocates have long sought.
Congressional gridlock. The bill is not expected to advance in the Republican-controlled Senate and is thus gridlocked Republican senators led by Tim Scott have proposed alternative police legislation that is far narrower than the House bill.
The Scott bill would introduce incentives for states and localities to change police practices (by limiting chokeholds and promoting the use of body cameras), but would not restrict the qualified-immunity doctrine, would not ban chokeholds or otherwise federally restrict police use of deadly force, and would not restrict no-knock warrants.
Democrats and civil rights organizations oppose the Senate Republican proposal as too weak; Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Democratic Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker (the sponsors of the Senate version of the Justice in Policing Act), called the Republican bill "not salvageable" and "so threadbare and lacking in substance that it does not even provide a proper baseline for negotiations."
On June 24, 2020, the Senate Republican proposal failed in a procedural vote of 55–45, on a mostly-party line vote, failing to obtain the 60 votes needed to advance to a floor debate. Democrats called upon Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to enter "bipartisan talks to get to a constructive starting point.
- Grant power to the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division to issue subpoenas to police departments as part of "pattern or practice" investigations into whether there has been a "pattern and practice" of bias or misconduct by the department
- Provide grants to state attorneys general to "create an independent process to investigate misconduct or excessive use of force" by police forces
- Establish a federal registry of police misconduct complaints and disciplinary actions
- Enhance accountability for police officers who commit misconduct, including by restricting the application of the qualified immunity doctrine for local and state officers, and by changing the federal statute on police violation of constitutional rights to lower the standard of criminal intent from violation conducted "willfully" to a violation "knowingly or with reckless disregard"
- Require federal uniformed police officers to have body-worn cameras
- Require marked federal police vehicles to be equipped with dashboard cameras.
- Require state and local law enforcement agencies that receive federal funding to "ensure" the use of body-worn and dashboard cameras.
- Restrict the transfer of military equipment to the police (see 1033 program, militarization of police)
- Require state and local law enforcement agencies that receive federal funding to adopt anti-discrimination policies and training programs, including those targeted at fighting racial profiling
- Prohibit federal police officers from using chokeholds or other carotid holds (which led to the deaths of George Floyd and Eric Garner), and require state and local law enforcement agencies that receive federal funding to adopt the same prohibition
- Prohibit the issuance of no-knock warrants(warrants that allow police to conduct a raid without knocking or announcing themselves) in federal drug investigations, and provide incentives to the states to enact a similar prohibition.
- Change the threshold for the permissible use of force by federal law enforcement officers from "reasonableness" to only when "necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury."
- Mandate that federal officers use deadly force only as a last resort and that de-escalation be attempted, and condition federal funding to state and local law enforcement agencies on the adoption of the same police.
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Primary elections were NOT supposed to look like this. Long lines, wrong ballots, missing or broken machines, and closed polling places – all while voters demonstrated their determination to exercise their right to vote in the middle of a global pandemic. But the truth is that COVID-19, and a lack of planning and funding, has wreaked havoc on our primary elections this year.
In the last two weeks, we’ve seen voters in D.C., Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Wisconsin, and other states waiting in line up to FIVE hours to cast their ballot because of limited in-person voting opportunities, as well as voting equipment that didn’t show up on time or wasn’t functioning. Last week, many voters in Maryland received the wrong absentee ballot, forcing them to vote in person at limited polling locations.
Despite a push for absentee voting this year, it is clear that voters want to cast their ballots in person and need that option. But there simply are not enough election workers or polling places due to the pandemic and last-minute closures.
This is unacceptable.
And we don’t have much time to correct these problems before November.
That’s why the League launched the COVID Fund, to ensure voters are protected and can safely make their voices heard this November. Every dollar you contribute will help us:
Thank you for your support in making sure voters are prepared for elections this fall.
This "Voter Lookup" system will enable you to check your voter status. It will also assist you in updating your information if you recently changed your address or name. You can easily change your party affiliation and more!
2020 PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY VOTE CENTERS
Limited in-person voting will also be available on June 2, 2020, but this is intended for use by voters who are unable to return their mailed ballots or who never received their ballots. Due to the risk posed by COVID-19, please do not use the in-person voting centers if you are able to mark and return your ballot by mail or at a ballot drop-off location.
There will be six in-person voting centers in Baltimore City. They will be open on June 2, 2020, only, from 7:00, am to 8:00 pm. They are located at:
- Edmondson High School, 501 N Athol Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21229
- University of Maryland at Baltimore Community Engagement Center, 870 W Baltimore Street, MD 21201
- Mount Pleasant Church & Ministries, 6000 Radecke Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21206
- Dr. Carter G. Woodson School #160, 2501 Seabury Road, Baltimore, MD 21225
- Northwood Elementary School, 5201 Loch Raven Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21239
- Northwestern High School, 6900 Park Heights Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21215
There will also be ballot drop-off boxes at those six locations. And an additional 15 ballot drop-off boxes at the locations listed below.
Click to view additional locations:
ADDITIONAL BALLOT DROP-OFF BOX LOCATIONS
Ballot drop-off boxes will be open 24/7 beginning on May 21, 2020, or May 30, 2020, through 8:00 pm on Election Day. As a reminder, the oath on the back of the return envelope must still be signed if you are using a ballot drop-off box.
Please check our website and the Maryland State Board of Elections website regularly for updates. And make sure your ballot is postmarked on or before June 2, 2020!