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VA law prevents utility shutoffs in extreme circumstances; MI construction industry responds to a high number of worker suicides; 500,000 still without power or water in the Houston area; KY experts: Children, and babies at higher risk for heat illness.

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Enticing remote workers to move is a new business strategy in rural America, Eastern Kentucky preservationists want to save the 20th century home of a trailblazing coal miner, and a rule change could help small meat and poultry growers and consumers.

Bans on private funding for elections factor big in voting-law analysis

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Thursday, June 20, 2024   

On the heels of its primary election, North Dakota has received a "fair" grade in an annual report examining voting laws for each state.

The Movement Advancement Project's analysis gives North Dakota high marks for policies such as voting rights for formerly incarcerated individuals and having an adequate early voting period.

Not having paid time off for voting and not requiring a postelection audit are among factors weighing down the grade.

Brian Hinkle, senior voting policy researcher for the project, also noted North Dakota is part of the wave of conservative-led legislatures to ban private grants for election administration.

"While there are reasonable arguments that elections are a public function, and therefore should be funded by the government, the reality is that states and local election offices still have to rely on inconsistent and limited federal funding," Hinkle pointed out. "These funding gaps are likely to persist."

Hinkle echoed other experts who said misinformation about voter fraud has played a role in scaling back funding sources. He warned while local offices still carry out fair elections, aging voting equipment and other constraints take their toll, which creates ripple effects, such as longer wait times at polling sites and vulnerability in protecting against foreign interference.

Nationally, Hinkle noted the project's latest report showed since 2020, 18 states have taken steps to expand voting access, while nearly half of the states have enacted tighter restrictions.

"I think it's evident that the continued polarization of states and the divergence highlighted in this report has the potential to sow confusion among voters and lead to potential disenfranchisement," Hinkle emphasized. "Particularly for marginalized groups, who already face barriers to the ballot box."

The project cited a lack of voter protections for North Dakota's Native populations. The state's long-debated Voter ID law is often described as an obstacle for tribal areas during elections.

Meanwhile, with the 2024 presidential election coming up, Hinkle predicted state legislatures will be very active early next year in updating voting policies based on any fallout, as there was after the 2020 vote.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Carnegie Corporation of New York.


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