Texas Democrats are renewing their opposition to the state’s voter-identification law, rolling out a program to educate voters ahead of a decisive few months that could see the controversial statute become a top issue in the governor’s race. The law is considered one of the toughest of its kind in the country, requiring voters to show one of a few types of identification cards at the polls. Those whose actual names do not match the names on their IDs must sign an affidavit attesting to their identities. The gubernatorial campaign of state Sen. Wendy Davis, Battleground Texas and the Texas Democratic Party on Wednesday announced a “voter protection” program to tackle the issue by dispatching more than 8,000 volunteers to help with voter registration and making sure voters know what the law requires.
Editorials: Early-voting cuts in Ohio rightfully draw Justice Department ire: editorial | Cleveland Plain Dealer
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has signaled that the Justice Department will back pending Ohio litigation aimed at providing more early voting days for Ohioans and restoring Ohio’s voting “golden week.” Holder and his department are more than justified in doing so. At stake is one of the most precious of constitutional rights, the right to vote. That is a fundamental right Americans have died for, as, for example, three patriots – two white, one black – did 50 years ago in Neshoba County, Mississippi. In February, Ohio General Assembly Republicans passed, and Gov. John Kasich signed, Senate Bill 238. The bill, passed along party lines (Republicans for, Democrats against), abolished Ohio’s so-called golden week. This was the week right before Ohio’s voter registration deadline when an Ohioan simultaneously could register to vote, apply for and then cast an in-person, early-voting ballot at his or her county board of elections.
With the county into its fourth day of early voting for the Aug. 7 election, it’s become apparent to local election official Darrin Thompson that a large percentage of voters so far are very confused by the ballot. Thompson, Henry County’s administrator of elections, said Monday there seems to be general bewilderment about this particular election. Many voters apparently aren’t grasping the fact that there are really two elections in one — a general election in the county and primaries to decide state and federal offices. “The state primaries seem to be throwing them quite a bit,” Thompson said. “A lot of them don’t seem to be aware that it’s two elections happening at the same time — and that it’s only in the primaries that they have to choose a particular party in which to vote.” … It appears some of the confusion is stemming from the judicial races that are on the ballot. Thompson reminded voters Monday that those judicial races — for Circuit Court judgeships, chancellor, and district attorney general, among others — are part of the general election.
Before she was allowed to register and vote for the first time in Franklin County, N.C., Rosanell Eaton had to read the entire preamble to the U.S. Constitution out loud in front of three men in the county courthouse. Eaton is black. The three men testing her were white. The time was the early 1940s, when trying to vote was difficult and even dangerous for African-Americans. Contrived “literacy tests” were one of the milder obstacles that were deployed to suppress the black vote in the South. Now 93, Eaton is back in court. This summer she is lead plaintiff in one of two lawsuits brought by the North Carolina NAACP and others to prevent her state from raising a batch of new hurdles to voting in this November’s midterm elections. That lawsuit is one of two filed this month against a package of voter inconveniences signed into law by North Carolina’s Republican Gov. Pat McCrory. The new law includes cutbacks in early voting, new limits on voter registration, less poll workers’ assistance to voters and new voting requirements such as photo identification.
Editorials: The clear sin of contracting North Carolina’s voter participation | Gene Nichol/NewsObserver.com
North Carolina’s new voter ID law, currently being litigated in federal court in Winston-Salem, is an election lawyer’s dream. Ending same-day registration, cutting early voting from 17 days to 10, eliminating a popular high school civics program encouraging students to register before they turn 18, expanding poll “observers” and instituting the country’s toughest photo ID requirement, the statute is a cornucopia of voter restriction. Small wonder we’ve been sued by the federal government. Winston Churchill once rejected a dessert by saying: “Take away that pudding; it has no theme.” The same cannot be said of our voter ID bill. It changes election law in dozens of disparate and intersecting ways. The principal features have only this in common: Each makes it harder to vote than it was before. Such is life, here, at the leading edge of American voter suppression. Perhaps it should come as no surprise, then, that one of the potent challenges to the statute hasn’t been seen in our voting rights jurisprudence before. Seven college students from across the state argue that the oddly constructed identification measure violates the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. You remember it, the provision that reduced the voting age from 21 to 18 and says, interestingly, that the right to vote “shall not be denied or abridged … on account of age.”
The Obama administration plans to join lawsuits against Republican-backed voting restrictions in two major swing states, Attorney General Eric Holder has said. The moves would represent the first time that Holder’s Justice Department has intervened against statewide voting laws outside the areas that the Supreme Court freed from federal oversight in last year’s Shelby County v. Holder ruling. They underline the administration’s intention to aggressively protect voting rights across the country, not only in the mostly southern jurisdictions directly affected by Shelby. “I expect that we are going to be filing in cases that are already in existence in Wisconsin as well as in Ohio,” Holder said in an unaired portion of an interview with Pierre Thomas of ABC News, according to a transcript provided by the Justice Department to msnbc. The interview was conducted Friday in London, where Holder was attending meetings about terrorism threats.
The Republican head of the Ohio House says he’s open to considering legislation setting hours for early voting in state law, rather than leaving it to the secretary of state or court action to determine when Ohioans can cast ballots in person before Election Day. ”We’re thinking about it, very definitely,” Speaker Bill Batchelder (R-Medina) told reporters following an event at the Statehouse this past week. Statehouse Republicans moved a series of election law changes over the current session but have not dealt with the voting hours issue. Absent action, Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted initially adopted an early voting schedule for the November general election that included mostly weekday polling, a plan he said had the backing of bipartisan county elections officials. A federal judge’s order, however, prompted Husted to open the polls over two additional days — the Sunday and Monday before Election Day, which were not part of his original directive.
A perfectly timed combination of negotiation and grassroots organizing has allowed numerous Native villages across Alaska to become absentee in-person voting locations for federal elections for the first time. That’s a sea change from just a few weeks ago, when voters in only about 30 Native villages had a way to cast a ballot ahead of Election Day, said Nicole Borromeo, general counsel of the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN). Meanwhile, Alaska’s urban voters had 15 days to do so. The locations will be in place for the August primary. This transformation in voting access follows years of fruitless requests to the state for the election services by three groups: AFN, an organization of regional and village corporations, tribes and other entities; ANCSA Regional Association, a group of Native-corporation CEOs; and Get Out The Native Vote. “In late June, AFN and ANCSA sat down with the state and said, ‘we will sign up the locations,’” recalled Borromeo, who is Athabascan from McGrath Native Village. The state agreed, and the Native team began seeking groups and individuals to handle the election activities.
Starting in 2016, students in North Carolina will have to present a photo ID to vote. Among the forms of acceptable identification are driver’s licenses, passports and military IDs. College IDs, however, are not accepted. The new law has troubled many students in the college community, and now seven students are suing. The students claim the photo ID requirement and measures such as the elimination of out-of-precinct voting are discriminatory against young people, joining organizations such as the NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Justice Department in a legal battle against the state. The case challenges the constitutionality of North Carolina’s Voting Information Verification Act (VIVA), passed by the state Legislature in 2013. The law also eliminates same-day registration for voters and shortens the period for early registration.
After three days of testimony, a hearing in federal court is wrapping up on whether to block certain provisions of North Carolina’s new voting law, such as eliminating same-day voter registration, for November’s election. U.S. District Judge Thomas D. Schroeder on Wednesday began listening to final arguments from plaintiffs’ attorneys. The U.S. Department of Justice, the state NAACP, the League of Women Voters and other groups have filed lawsuits challenging the law and are seeking a preliminary injunction to prevent many of the provisions from going into effect during the Nov. 4 general election. Among the many provisions, the law reduces the number of days of early voting from 17 to 10, eliminates same-day voter registration and prohibits county election officials from counting ballots cast by voters in the correct county but wrong precinct. It also gets rid of pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds and would require voters to show a photo ID, beginning in 2016.