The fierce partisan battle over voting rights has both sides planning to pour massive amounts of money and resources into a handful of key 2014 campaigns for secretary of state.
The new-found attention for these once-obscure races is driven by an awareness on both sides that a state’s top election official can play a critical role in expanding or restricting the right to vote—meaning control of secretary of state offices in swing states could be crucial in the 2016 presidential contest.
On Thursday, a group of high-level Democratic strategists launched iVote, a political action committee that will back Democratic secretary of state candidates in four pivotal 2016 states: Ohio, Colorado, Iowa, and Nevada. All four Democratic candidates are strong advocates of expanding access to the ballot, and all are likely to face Republicans who are looking to make it harder to vote. The initiative is part of a broader move by Democrats and voting-rights advocates to push back against the wave of restrictive voting laws advanced by Republicans in recent years.
Secretaries of state are charged with administering most aspects of their state’s elections, giving them responsibility for everything from maintaining voter rolls to sending out absentee ballots to counting votes.
WASHINGTON — The United States government took a historic step back from its long-running drug war on Thursday, when Attorney GeneralEric Holder informed the governors of Washington and Colorado that the Department of Justice would allow the states to create a regime that would regulate and implement the ballot initiatives that legalized the use of marijuana for adults.
DENVER | Supporters of Colorado’s new civil unions law say a court ruling declaring a same-sex divorce final means gay couples married in other states can legally terminate their relationships in Colorado without uprooting their lives.
Juli Yim and Lorelei Jones wed in Massachusetts in 2009, where same-sex marriage is legal. Yim said that relationship went sour and she found a new partner in Colorado.
Colorado is one of several states that treat gay and straight couples the same in almost every respect through civil unions or domestic partnerships. Gay couples are not allowed to marry in Colorado, but can get divorced there under state statute.
Gay rights advocates said other states also grant divorces to gay couples who were married elsewhere, but some require in-state residency to dissolve the relationship. Gay-rights advocates contend the requirement is more than an inconvenience because it can put lives on hold for those who have moved to different states.
Denver lawyer Kyle Martelon said there is some confusion on how gay couples can get divorced, and the issues are different in other states.
In a decision being hailed as a major victory by advocates for transgender Americans, the division concluded that the Fountain-Fort Carson School District created an unnecessarily hostile situation for Coy Mathis when it made the female bathroom off limits.
By not allowing Coy to use the girls’ restroom, the school “creates an environment rife with harassment,” Steven Chavez, the division director, wrote in the decision.
The school district, about 15 miles south of Colorado Springs, Colo., also showed “a lack of understanding of the complexity of transgender issues” by referring to Coy as a male or using quotes around “her” throughout the litigation, Chavez wrote.
The school district could not be reached for comment on the ruling Sunday.
Coy was born a male, but began at an early age to identify as a girl through toys and dress and started calling herself a girl between the ages of 4 and 6, according to the summary of the division’s ruling.
Last November, Coloradans voted to approve a constitutional amendment on recreational marijuana. The measure, Amendment 64, will allow Colorado adults–21 and older–to purchase up to one ounce of marijuana for recreational use from specialty marijuana dispensaries (which could open as soon as January) and to grow up to six marijuana plants–with only three flowering at a given time–in their homes.
Video surveillance of pot growing will become established by an agency that will oversee seed-to-sale tracking next year.
The measure also limits possession up to an ounce for personal use. And selling marijuana without a license, purchasing marijuana from a party who is not licensed as well as public use of marijuana will remain illegal.
For the first few months, Colorado’s marijuana industry be restricted to individuals and shops licensed to sell or produce medical marijuana. Licenses will be granted only to residents of two years, and investors will also need to meet the residency requirements.