Entries in Vote (33)


How to Register to Vote Before Election Day

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As Election Day, Nov. 6, nears, here is a quick rundown on how U.S. residents can register to vote.

To vote by mail, residents should use the National Mail Voter Registration form. North Dakota, Wyoming, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands don’t accept the form, so residents should contact their local election offices for registration information.

The voter registration form can also be used to update information such as a name or address change or to register with a different political party.

U.S. residents can also apply to register to vote at state election offices, the Department of Motor Vehicles, public assistance offices, armed services recruitment centers, as well as public sites that have been designated as voter registration agencies.

Some states also offer online voter registration but residents should contact their local registration offices for more information.

In August, Google launched its Online Voter Guide, which allows Google users to register to vote. Users can easily access TurboVote from the Google page and register to vote or vote by mail.

In addition, the Federal Voting Assistance Program is available for U.S. citizens living abroad and U.S. uniformed service members and their family members who seek to vote absentee.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


House to Vote on Banning Sex-Selection Abortions

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The House will vote late Wednesday on a bill that would ban doctors from performing abortions based on the sex of the unborn child.

Opponents say so-called "sex-selection” abortions are sought mainly to terminate a pregnancy because the fetus is female.

“You know, if that doesn't insult our conscience collectively as Americans, I don't know what will,” said Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), the bill’s lead sponsor.

The practice is said to occur frequently in China, where families are permitted to have just one child, and boys have greater value in the culture.

“A lot of the Asian immigrant communities here is where it's most prevalent in America,” Franks charged.

Abortion rights supporters say the law is unnecessary and they worry it could lead to racial profiling by doctors.  Under the new law, physicians could face up to five years in prison if they knowingly perform an abortion based on the unborn baby’s sex.

Franks noted other developed nations, including Australia and the United Kingdom, ban sex-selection.

“At least we have got to be able to agree that it's wrong to kill a little unborn baby girl, simply because she's a little girl instead of a little boy,” he said.

Because of the procedure chosen by House leadership, Franks’ bill will require a two-thirds majority.

“That may make it very difficult to pass,” he said.  “But at least we will know, clearly, who is with us and who is against us.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


House to Vote Friday on 1-year Extension of Student Loan Rate

TOBY JORRIN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- House Speaker John Boehner announced Wednesday that the House of Representatives will vote Friday to extend the current student loan interest rate of 3.4 percent for one year, just months before current law is set to double the rate, but the House GOP would do it by taking money away from the president’s health reform law.

President Obama on Wednesday wrapped a two-day campaign swing through battleground states where he focused on the need to extend the lowered loan rates. He got support from Mitt Romney, but Republicans in the House insist that the $6 billion cost of lowering the rates is offset and not added to the deficit.

“We will pay for this by taking money from one of the slush funds in the president’s health care law,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said as he explained how the cost of the bill would be paid for. “This is this prevention of public health slush fund that was put into the bill by one of the senators from Iowa, I believe.”

Where would the money for continued low student loan rates come from? The Prevention and Public Health Fund, as it will be formally titled, was established in the Affordable Care Act for prevention, wellness, and public health activities authorized in the Public Health Service Act. It is administered by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, with the secretary owning full discretion on how to distribute funds from that account.

A senior GOP explained that the Student Interest Rate Reduction Act would take back some funds from the provision and apply them as a stopgap measure. Five billion dollars has already been used from fund to pay for the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which extended the payroll tax credit and unemployment insurance.

Boehner blamed Democrats for passing the law in 2007 when they controlled both chambers of Congress, and questioned why the president is working to make the interest rate a campaign issue, considering both Republicans and Democrats agree that the rate should not go up.

“Back in 2007, Democratic-controlled Congress put in place a law that would double student loan interest rates this year, and Republicans and Democrats on both sides of the aisle here at the Capitol have long agreed that this was a problem that must be addressed,” he said. “This week the president’s traveling the country on the taxpayer’s dime, campaigning, and trying to invent a fight where there isn’t one. And never has been one on this issue of student loans. We can and will fix the problem without a bunch of campaign-style theatrics.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Massachusetts Teens Inch Closer to Lowering Voting Age to 17

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(LOWELL, Mass.) -- When Carline Kirksey, 17, went knocking on doors around her hometown of Lowell, Mass., last summer, seeking support for a measure to lower the voting age, many of her neighbors were surprised to learn she wasn't just selling Girl Scout cookies.

Nowadays, Kirksey is walking the halls of the Massachusetts state house, lobbying lawmakers to allow her classmates to step into a voting booth and cast a ballot.

"We knocked on something like 3,000 doors," Kirksey said.  "Some people didn't like the idea of letting 17-year-olds vote, but we got a lot of people to change their minds."

Kirksey and her peers, organized by the United Teen Equality Center, may be on the verge of voting in municipal elections in Lowell.  If successful, they'll be the only 17-year-olds anywhere in the U.S. who can legally cast ballots in a government contest.

But success still could be a long way off.  The measure, backed by the Lowell city council, requires passage in the Massachusetts legislature, and then a referendum by city residents.  If passed, high school seniors will be allowed to vote only in Lowell municipal elections, not in state or federal sweepstakes.

Students in Lowell first started talking about changing the voting age two years ago, following cuts to school programs.  But they were motivated to turn that chatter into a movement when 18 out of 19 city council candidates said they'd support a change to the rules.

With local politicians on their side, including Mayor Patrick Murphy, the town brought the idea to the state legislature to receive a special "home rule" dispensation for the city.

The bill recently passed committee, but still needs a vote by the state's full house.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Senate: Hold That Vote, We Have a Party to Attend

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The highway bill will have to wait; senators, after all, have a party to get to Tuesday night.

Votes on the $109 billion federal highway bill has been stopped Tuesday in the Senate so that senators can attend the engagement party of one of their own, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.

“There is a very important event tonight that does not mean much to anyone outside of the Senate family, but to us being able to recognize Susan Collins on a very special occasion in her life,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced early Tuesday evening on the Senate floor. “We’re going to leave here so that people that want to go to that event can do that.”

Last month, 59-year-old Senator Collins became engaged to Thomas Daffron, chief operating officer of Jefferson Consulting Group, a lobbying firm in Washington, D.C. A small, private ceremony is being planned in Maine this summer.

Federal highway funds are set to expire on March 31, and for weeks the Senate has been debating over the particulars of the bill to extend funding. After more than 15 amendments, the bill inched closer to passage Tuesday. Many thought that with the bill having just a few amendments left to vote for, final passage could come Tuesday night.

But not anymore.

With some senators attending the soiree Tuesay, Reid announced that they will finish the bill Wednesday. The Senate will hold three or four more votes on amendments to complete the bill, with final passage expected after that.

That is, if the senators have no other parties to attend.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Senate Showdown Over Contraception, Birth-Control Mandate Repeal Vote

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- On Thursday the Senate will be voting on a repeal of the White House’s controversial birth-control mandate.

It’s a debate that has already sparked impassioned rhetoric and fierce partisanship, and shone a spotlight on an ideological hot topic with some cracks within parties.  Senators will be forced to put their vote publicly on the record for the first time.

Republicans argue that this amendment is about protecting religious freedom. Democrats argue that the amendment is an assault on women’s health.

In the spotlight is the Republican amendment, the “Respect Rights of Conscience Act,” offered by Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.  It is a response to the White House’s controversial contraception mandate.  If passed, the amendment would allow any employer or any insurer in America to be given an exemption from covering contraception -- or any service they choose -- based on “religious belief or moral conviction.”

“This is a fundamental matter of religious freedom and the proper role of our federal government. It’s about who we are as Americans and renewing our commitment to the principles upon which this nation was founded,” Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said in defense of the amendment. “Unfortunately, many have tried to characterize this amendment as denying women access to contraception. That’s a red herring, and it’s false. We are talking about government mandates that are interfering with conscience protections here that have long been ingrained in our law.”

Republicans argue that this is about a faith principle that the First Amendment guarantees, and point out that the word “contraception” is not mentioned once in the legislation.

Some conservative Democrats agree with this too. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., announced Wednesday he will be voting for the amendment, saying that for him it “comes down to our religious liberties.”

“I truly believe that we must safeguard Americans’ right to exercise their sincerely held religious views, and I support this measure to protect that freedom of conscience,” Manchin said in a statement late Wednesday.

But most Senate Democrats argue that the amendment is nothing more than “politics masquerading as morality,” and is a “radical departure” that gives employers “broad discretion” to deny employees coverage. They argue this could put a woman’s health at risk, with services including contraception, mammograms, pre-natal screenings, cervical cancer screenings, and potentially even flu shots not being offered.

“If this amendment passes, it would ban contraception coverage for any woman in America whose boss has a personal objection to it,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Wednesday.  “The measure would force women to surrender control of their own health decision to their bosses. That concept is not merely quaint or old-fashioned, it is dangerous and it is wrong.”

Additionally, Democrats argue that the law is too broad and that it is hard to define what “religious” or “moral” issue could be that an employer could claim.

“Under the Blunt amendment, if an employer has a conviction against smoking they can refuse treatments for lung cancer or emphysema. If an employer says ‘I don’t approve of drinking and I refuse to cover any treatment program for alcoholism or substance abuse,’ they could do it,” Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., said Wednesday, “It puts the personal opinions of employers over the practice of medicine.”

Democrats argue that this amendment would also go beyond women’s health -- that it would affect men, children and families as well. They argue that employers could limit access to childhood immunizations if they personally objected to them, or cut off coverage for prenatal care for children born to unmarried parents if they thought that was wrong.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has allowed the amendment to get a vote as part of an unrelated bill, the surface transportation bill, because he says it’s clear Republicans will hold up the bill until this amendment is allowed a vote.

The amendment is not expected to pass but it does put many Senators -- moderate Republicans and some Democrats -- in a difficult and tricky position, having to go on the record with their vote on this for the first time.

Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, in an interview about her decision to leave Congress, said the amendment too broad for her, and she’d favor a narrower bill sponsored by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

“I think it’s much broader than I could support,” Snowe said Wednesday, “I think we should focus on the issue of contraceptives and whether or not it should be included in a health insurance plan and what requirements there should be.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Payroll Tax Credit Reaches Stalemate on Capitol Hill

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- House Republicans voted Tuesday to reject a bipartisan Senate-passed bill for a two-month extension of a popular payroll tax cut, demanding a formal conference to work out their differences instead. But Democratic leaders in both the House and Senate have so far insisted on the Senate bill and publicly vowed not to appoint any conferees to the negotiations.

The standoff is jeopardizing the future of the tax cut, which benefits 160 million Americans and is set to expire at the end of the year.

President Obama quickly jumped on the political advantage of the maneuver, making an appearance in Washington to demand that House Republicans reconsider the Senate-passed bill.

“I need the Speaker and House Republicans to put politics aside, put aside issues where there are fundamental disagreement and come together on something we agree on,” Obama said, appearing in the White House briefing room. “The American people are weary of this brinkmanship they’re tired of it and they expect better,” Obama said.

But House Speaker John Boehner was quick to fire back. Asked moments later at a press conference about the president’s demand that Republicans “help out,” Boehner said, “I need the president to help out,”  to raucous cheers from his colleagues. He argued that a conference between the House and Senate to work out their differences is the way the Constitution spells out for resolving differences.

By a mostly party-line vote of 229-193, House Republicans defied Congressional Democrats by passing a motion that the House disagree to the Senate Amendments to H.R. 3630, the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011, and request a conference with the Senate. Seven Republicans joined a unanimous Democratic caucus in opposing the motion.

A senior GOP leadership aide said that with a narrow majority in the Senate, Democrats needed to first negotiate with Republicans to pass a Senate bill before Boehner would concede any ground from the House-passed bill.

“The Senate did produce a bill, and today Republicans will move to conference to reconcile the two measures,” the aide said shortly before the vote. “That’s how Congress works, and we see no reason to stray from regular order. This is the system our founders gave us, so let’s take the next 10 days and make it work.”

The Senate passed a two-month extension of the payroll tax on Saturday, and the House passed its own year-long extension last Tuesday.

Monday night, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi insisted she would not appoint Democratic members to the conference -- a decision in line with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s declaration to sit out the negotiations, while simultaneously accusing Republicans of stalling the process.

Once Tuesday’s legislative business concludes, it’s unclear what the next move might be in order to prevent the tax cut from expiring at the end of the year. Republicans are holding out hope that Pelosi and Reid will buckle under pressure and appoint conferees. Members say that later Tuesday the House is expected to recess, but lawmakers could be called back if and when there is a product to vote on from the conference negotiations.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


David Axelrod Memo Warns Senators Ahead of Jobs Bill Vote

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- As President Obama’s jobs bill heads toward its first test vote in the Senate, senior Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod says that members of Congress who oppose the measure willingly defy a majority of American voters.

“Since introducing the American Jobs Act, the American people have rallied around President Obama’s call for Congress to pass this plan,” Axelrod wrote in a memo to “interested parties” distributed by the campaign Monday night.  “The more people know about the American Jobs Act; the more they hear the President talking about it; the more they want Congress to pass the plan.”

Axelrod cites recent polling data to argue that support for the bill has gained momentum over the past month, ratcheting up pressure on members -- including Democrats -- some of whom seem prepared to vote “no.”

The most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, for example, found that 52 percent of Americans support the bill while 36 percent oppose it.

Polls have also found majorities of Americans supportive of the specific provisions in the president’s plan, including more funding for teachers and first responders, extension of the payroll tax cut for workers and businesses, and new spending on infrastructure improvements.  Strong majorities also favor higher taxes on wealthier Americans to pay for the plan.

“While Republicans may claim that this is class warfare, the American people are seeing right through their opposition to asking the wealthiest to do their part,” Axelrod says.

“The American people agree with economists across the political spectrum who are saying that the AJA will immediately create jobs and put more money in the pockets of middle class Americans who are struggling to make ends meet,” he says.  “Yet Republican leaders -- from Congress to the presidential campaign trail -- have been steadfast in their opposition without providing an alternative that would create jobs now.”

While Republicans have opposed aspects of Obama’s plan, and vowed to block passage of it in its present form, many have shown support for the payroll tax cut extension and infrastructure bank, among other elements.  Meanwhile, several Senate Democrats have expressed unease over the package of tax increases meant to pay for the deal.

Axelrod focuses exclusively on Republicans, questioning whether they will “put country ahead of party and pass this bill?”  But it’s a question he could just as easily put to Senate Democrats, too.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Democrats Invoke ‘Nuclear Option’ in Senate

Reid [dot] Senate [dot] gov(WASHINGTON) -- Democrats invoked on Thursday the so-called “nuclear option” to change the rules in the U.S. Senate, bypassing Republicans and evading two difficult votes, including one on President Obama’s jobs bill.

The procedural precedent, which blocked Republicans from adding more amendments, could speed passage of a bill to punish China for currency manipulation.  It could also open a Pandora’s box, forever altering the traditions of the Senate and its role on Capitol Hill.

The bickering was the culmination of months of arguments and fierce partisanship that revealed themselves Thursday night in a nasty fight over procedure that yielded little actual progress on legislation.

After a marathon argument on the Senate floor for more than two hours, the precedent of the Senate was changed; none of the bills that were intended to get voted on did, votes were delayed until next week, Senators have gone home for the holiday weekend with little to show for their work week, and there are now changes to Senate procedure that could have ramifications for years to come.

The argument originally started on the Senate floor Thursday night over the China currency bill, which ironically enough enjoys bipartisan support.  Earlier Thursday, it received 79 votes on one procedural motion and 62 votes -- two more than necessary -- to cut off debate.

But Republicans sought to add as amendments to the China currency bill two measures on which Democrats did not want to vote -- one was on the president’s jobs bill, which they hope to change, and another was from Sen. Mike Johanns, R-NE., to block EPA rules on farm dust.

When Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell would not give up on seeking votes for the two unrelated bills, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid used the nuclear option.  Reid said that the Senate must have the ability to move forward with bills that have broad bipartisan support.

Reid said that unlimited motions to suspend the rules could lead to a filibuster.  So in the end, the Senate voted on appealing the ruling of the Senate parliamentarian, and won.  This created the new precedent allowing the majority to cut off motions to suspend as dilatory, ie: wasteful.

McConnell accused the Reid of turning the Senate, usually with ample time for debate and discussion, into the House.

“We are fundamentally turning the Senate into the House,” McConnell said.  “No amendments before cloture.  No motions to suspend after cloture. The minority’s out of business.”

“I know there are some hurt feelings here,” Reid admitted.  “This has to come to an end; this is not the way to legislate,” although adding that he’s "very comfortable" with his move to block dilatory amendments.

McConnell rebutted that the country is better off with more debate and said the Senate made a “big mistake” Thursday night.

The vote on the China currency bill, three long-stalled trade agreements and President Obama’s jobs bill are now all delayed until Tuesday of next week.  Senators have now gone home for the Columbus Day holiday weekend and will be back on Tuesday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


In Ohio, Democrats in 'Make-or-Break' Fight over Early Voting

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- As President Obama visited Ohio, his army of campaign volunteers there were engaged in a "make-or-break" fight to roll back Republican-imposed voting restrictions they say will limit critical support for the president ahead of Election Day 2012.

A new law, signed by Republican Gov. John Kasich in July, would shorten by two weeks the window for early voting by mail and in person, eliminate early voting the three days before the election, and cease automatic mailing of absentee ballots to all registered voters in the state's largest counties, among other measures.

Democrats and Obama relied heavily on the extended early-voting period to turn out support in 2008 and 2010. They are now fighting to save the system with a statewide petition campaign, driven largely by Obama's grassroots volunteers.

If they reach more than 231,300 signatures by the end of the month, the new law will remain on hold through the 2012 election, giving Obama an advantage headed into the campaign and allowing voters a chance to weigh in directly through a referendum.

If they don't get the signatures by Sept. 29, the law will immediately take effect, potentially hampering Democrats' efforts to turn out their vote.

"We're ahead of where we need to be," said Brian Rothenberg, who's leading the coalition of progressive groups fighting the change, "but it is very critical."

"Reducing early voting to three weeks will have a major impact," he said. "Remember, the current system was put in place after 2004 when we had all the long lines. Some people waited over 10 hours to vote."

In 2008, some 1.4 million Ohioans voted before Election Day, according to the United States Election Project at George Mason University.

An informational flyer produced by the Obama campaign says the new rules would force many of those voters to find a new time and place or way to vote in 2012, unless supporters put up a "citizens' veto."

But state Democrats say it's not just voters who stand to lose out with the new changes, but their candidates -- including the president -- as well.

"We've been better at taking advantage of early voting than Republicans," said Seth Bringman, communications director of the Ohio Democratic Party.

"Instead of one Election Day, there's 35 election days," Bringman said. "The Obama campaign took advantage of that in 2008, and went into Election Day with a wide lead because of the early vote margin that had been acquired prior to Election Day."

Republicans say the process is too long, too costly for budget-strapped counties and too prone to fraud and abuse. They also insist trimming the early-voting window -- not eliminating it entirely -- does not upend the convenience of the current process.

Still, Obama supporters say the voting restrictions -- coupled with pending measures, like a tougher voter ID law, and separately-passed restrictions on union rights -- are all meant to disadvantage Democrats headed into a tough campaign.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio