The Voting News Daily: Texas’s Road To Victory in Its Decades-Long Fight Against Voting Rights, Biden takes on voting rights issues at NAACP convention

Editorials: Texas’s Road To Victory in Its Decades-Long Fight Against Voting Rights | The Nation Earlier this week, Attorney General Eric Holder declared in his address to the NAACP national convention in Houston what many voting rights advocates had been saying for months: that the photo voter ID law passed in Texas is a poll…

Editorials: Texas’s Road To Victory in Its Decades-Long Fight Against Voting Rights | The Nation

Earlier this week, Attorney General Eric Holder declared in his address to the NAACP national convention in Houston what many voting rights advocates had been saying for months: that the photo voter ID law passed in Texas is a poll tax. Determining whether voter ID laws are as unconstitutional as poll taxes won’t be up to him, though. That honor goes to the US Supreme Court justices who lately have been signaling they may be ready to gut the 1965 Voting Rights Act. What this means is that a legal challenge to a voter ID law in Texas could be the trigger for the demise of the constitutional act that made it possible for people of color to vote in much of the country. Right-wing pundits have all but conceded this week’s US District Court hearing over Texas’s voter ID law to the Department of Justice. There’s agreement on the left and the right that Texas didn’t do a good enough job proving that the law has no discriminatory purpose nor effect. Experts have testified that almost 1.4 million Texans could be disenfranchised due to lacking ID. The state’s argument wasn’t helped by Texas state Senator Tommy Williams, an author of the voter ID law, who said, “I think people who live in west Texas are accustomed to driving long distances for routine tasks,” when confronted with the fact that the closest DMV for some low-income Texans could be dozens of miles away.

National: Biden takes on voting rights issues at NAACP convention | CNN

Vice President Joe Biden delivered a rousing address to the NAACP in Houston on Thursday, bolstering support for President Barack Obama and drawing sharp contrasts with the Republican Party on civil rights issues. On the heels of recent voter identification disputes, Biden strayed from his typical campaign speech to zero in on voting rights, arguing that Republicans were making it more difficult for certain group to vote. By implementing laws requiring voters to present official identification at the voting booth, Biden said, the GOP sees “a different future, where voting is made harder, not easier.”

National: Green Party Strains to Be Heard Now That Its Voice Isn’t Nader’s |

Jill Stein, presumptive nominee of the Green Party, is probably the only candidate on the campaign trail who spends an hour a day cooking her own organic meals — and who was, not too long ago, the lead singer of a folksy rock band. But her difference does not end there. When Dr. Stein, a former physician, is introduced on the trail as “Jill Stein for president,” she is also very likely the only candidate to be asked, “For president of what?” That’s what Keith Brockenberry, a cook, wanted to know at a meet-and-greet in Roxbury last week. After one of Dr. Stein’s supporters clarified, “for president of the United States,” Mr. Brockenberry seemed both taken aback and delighted. “Get out of here!” he blurted out. “I had no idea.”

California: Cudahy officials threw away ballots, manipulated two elections |

Cudahy officials at the city’s highest levels tampered with and manipulated the results of at least two city elections, according to federal documents released Thursday. The documents were part of the plea agreements of two Cudahy city officials who agreed to plead guilty Thursday to bribery and extortion. But the documents also shed light on a culture of corruption within City Hall, with examples of widespread bribery and developer payoffs to voter fraud. “The very definition of democracy is that all those qualified as voters have the opportunity to cast their votes and to have those votes counted,” Assistant U.S. Atty. Joseph Akrotirianakis said.

Editorials: Election confusion looms in Florida | Tampa Bay Times

Most Florida voters don’t know it, but come the Aug. 14 primary election, the majority of them won’t have the same opportunities to cast a ballot as Floridians in five counties because the state is enforcing two different sets of rules. That’s the basis of the latest lawsuit seeking to halt Gov. Rick Scott’s assault on voting rights. And it shows how determined the governor is to ignore law and precedent in order to manipulate the election process. On June 29, the American Civil liberties Union of Florida, the National Council of La Raza, the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights organization, and state Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, filed an administrative petition challenging the state’s policy that has created an illegal, dual system of elections. Five Florida counties (Hendry, Hardee, Collier, Monroe and Hillsborough) operate under rules that were the law before 2011. These counties are “covered jurisdictions” under the Voting Rights Act. Consequently, any change in voting law or procedure must be approved (“precleared”) by the U.S. Justice Department or the federal court in Washington before it can be implemented. The remaining 62 Florida counties are operating under rules approved by the 2011 Legislature and immediately implemented by the Scott administration.

Michigan: Governor calls for special election to fill vacancy left by McCotter |

In accordance with state law and the U.S. Constitution, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley on Tuesday called a special election on Wednesday, Sept. 5 in the 11th Congressional District to fill the vacancy created by last week’s sudden resignation of U.S. Rep. Thad McCotter. State election officials estimate the cost of the special election to total $650,000 for the impacted local and county governments. The lieutenant governor’s strong preference is to save local tax dollars and spare election officials a significant burden by conducting the special primary election in conjunction with the regularly scheduled Aug. 7 primary. However, the timing of McCotter’s resignation makes that impossible. Primary ballots already were printed and absentee ballots were mailed when McCotter made his announcement. In addition, ballots must be sent to Michigan voters who are overseas or serving in the military at least 45 days before an election, which means the special primary election must be held on a different date than Aug. 7.

Voting Blogs: My Voting Struggle: Two Hours in New York City | Jonathan Backer/Brennan Center for Justice

During New York’s June federal primary, I became personally aware of the enormous barriers that exist for many Americans to cast their votes. When I went to vote, a poll worker informed me that my name did not appear in the voting book. I had my registration card with me, but she said that I still could not vote if my name did not appear in the book. The poll worker offered me a provisional ballot, but I insisted that I wanted to ensure that my vote would count. She then offered to write an order allowing me to appear before a trial court judge to prove my eligibility, something she said she had never done in five years as a poll worker. At the New York City Board of Elections, the staff looked up my information and said I was not affiliated with a political party. Since New York has closed primaries, this explained why I did not appear in the voting book. But I remembered very clearly registering as a Democrat. I asked the staff to print out a copy of my original voter registration form, which showed that I had crossed out my selection of a minor party before settling on the Democratic Party. This happened because the volunteer with whom I registered reminded me about New York’s closed primary rules. Wanting to vote in primaries, I had asked the volunteer if I should fill out a new registration form, but she said that crossing out my original choice and initialing the change would suffice. The Board of Elections said this invalidated my party selection and informed me I would be unable to vote. I refused to accept this and said my intent was perfectly clear on the form. The Board of Elections staff said my intent did not matter. At this point, I demanded to appear before a judge.

Voting Blogs: Minnesota Election Law Ballot Measure – So Much More than Just Voter ID | Brennan Center for Justice

This week, Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie announced the title of the ballot measure addressing election administration for the November election. The new title of the measure is: CHANGES TO IN-PERSON & ABSENTEE VOTING & VOTER REGISTRATION; PROVISIONAL BALLOTS. Some proponents of the measure have cried foul, arguing this title is misleading. In fact, it is painfully accurate. Many voting rights advocates, including this blogger, have been loosely referring to the measure as the “Voter ID Amendment.”  But the proposed amendment is much broader than simply drastically increasing the ID requirements for voters. This amendment goes further by limiting how registered voters are verified, impacting more than in-person voting on Election Day. It will undermine the long tradition of Election Day registration that many believe accounts for Minnesota’s consistently high voter turnout rates. Beyond that, it will affect how voters confined to their homes can vote and will necessitate the creation of a cumbersome and costly provisional balloting system.

Tennessee: Electronic poll books set for many Nashville voting precincts after $777K upgrade | Nashville City Paper

Poll workers won’t be shuffling through papers to verify voter registration information at many Davidson County precincts during August’s election. New electronic poll books will do the work for them. The Davidson County Election Commission, following a $777,000 purchase, is making the transition from paper poll books to electronic versions at 60 of the city’s 160 precincts beginning this election cycle. Early voting for state primaries and Metro school board races begins Friday, but the commission won’t roll out the new machines until the Aug. 2 election. “They speed up the process for the voter and they greatly reduce the opportunities for errors,” Elections Administrator Albert Tieche said, adding that the electronic poll books are identical to versions the Shelby County Election Commission uses.

Voting Blogs: Tennessee program to provide photo IDs missing most voters who need it | Facing South

In 2011, as part of a nationwide push for new restrictions on voting, Tennessee enacted one of the most stringent voter photo ID requirements in the country. In response to criticism that it would disenfranchise voters, state lawmakers agreed to issue free photo ID cards to make sure eligible voters aren’t wrongfully denied the vote. But a Facing South analysis shows that, less than four months from Election Day, Tennessee’s photo ID program is reaching only a fraction of those who likely need it. The Tennessee law, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2012, prohibits voters from casting a ballot unless they show a photo ID at the polls, with a few exceptions, such as for those who are hospitalized. Student IDs don’t count, and neither do locally-issued IDs like library cards, although handgun carry permits do. Critics argued the bill posed an especially big problem for the elderly: A unique Tennessee law allows residents over 60 to get driver’s licenses without a picture. According to state records, more than 230,000 Tennessee seniors have such licenses — 126,000 of whom are registered to vote — meaning they wouldn’t be able to vote with those IDs.

Texas: Witness backs voter ID discrimination claims | San Antonio Express-News

Four days of testimony ended Thursday in a federal trial on the legality of a new Texas voter ID law that was rejected by the Justice Department under the Voting Rights Act. The case is being watched closely by other states that have recently passed restrictive voter laws. “It’s over. The trial has ended. It’s a tough set of issues, it’s a tough case,” said U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer, one of three federal judges hearing the case. Closing arguments are scheduled today, and a decision by the judges on the lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott could come this month. At issue is a voter ID law that the government and experts have said will disproportionately affect more than 1 million minorities in Texas. Attorneys for the state reject the claim and argue that the law is designed to combat voter fraud.

Texas: Judges Will Rule on Voter ID | Roll Call

The war over this election’s voting rules is heating up, drawing crowds this week to a closely watched federal court trial in Washington, D.C., where a three-judge panel is hearing arguments for and against a contested Texas voter ID law. “This is certainly something that is going to have broad reverberations beyond Texas,” said Wendy Weiser, who directs the Democracy Program at New York University School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice. The center is on the legal team representing Latino and civil rights leaders who have intervened in the case. Immediately at issue is whether the Texas law discriminates against minority voters by requiring a photo ID at the polls. But the case could reverberate all the way up to the Supreme Court. Texas has also challenged the constitutionality of Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which requires states with a history of discrimination to obtain Justice Department approval before changing their voting rules.

Texas: Fewer blacks will vote under Texas voter ID law, witness says | Chicago Tribune

A Texas law requiring voters to show photo identification will lead to fewer African Americans voting, a community leader testified during the third day of a landmark trial on Wednesday. Rev. Peter Johnson, a Southern civil rights leader who has worked for decades to help black Americans access polls, said the voter ID law passed in 2011 reflects a state still rife with racism. “The brutality and ugliness of racism exists from the governor’s office down to the mainstream of Texas,” Johnson, who lives in Texas, told the court. “It’s dishonest and naive to deny this.” A three-judge panel on the District Court for the District of Columbia will not allow the law to take effect if it finds the state hoped the law would harm minority voters.

Madagascar: Election law could block Ravalomanana | News24

Draft legislation in Madagascar banning convicted criminals from standing in elections could prevent exiled former president Marc Ravalomanana from making a comeback in next year’s presidential poll. In a copy of the document obtained by AFP, candidates “convicted of crimes or offences” will not be able to stand in elections. The text stipulates that “individuals who are convicted and not pardoned are neither eligible as candidates nor can vote”, thereby excluding Ravalomanana who faces life in prison in Madagascar.

Russia: Fines raised for election fraud |

The Kremlin announced it signed a measure that amends a section of the Russian penal code, raising the penalty for election violations. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a document amending Russian law that governs “hindering fulfillment of electoral rights or the operation of election commissions.”

United Kingdom: Scottish National Party say Electoral Commission’s referendum question refusal is a ‘humiliation’ for unionist parties | The Courier

The Electoral Commission will refuse to consider an independence referendum question proposed by Scotland’s three unionist parties — in a move described as a ”humiliation” by the SNP. Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives had announced the creation of an expert panel to devise wording for the ballot, planned for autumn 2014. They had then proposed to have the question tested by the impartial Electoral Commission.