Civil rights groups filed a lawsuit Monday challenging a new North Carolina voter ID law in one of the first tests of the legality of new voting restrictions being implemented after the Supreme Court struck down parts of the 1965 Civil Rights Act in June. The Advancement Project and North Carolina NAACP, who filed the suit, charge that the law’s voter requirements will make it harder to vote and that racial minorities will be disproportionately impacted because they are less likely to possess required forms of identification. The lawsuit also argues voter fraud is not a significant problem in North Carolina. Republican Gov. Pat McCrory defended his signing of the law as common sense way to guard the integrity of North Carolina’s election process, insisting that the law is needed to ensure “no one’s vote is disenfranchised by a fraudulent ballot.” In a statement, McCrory also noted that voters won’t be required to present photo identification until the 2016 elections.
National: Southern Discomfort: Republican voter ID initiatives are making it hard to rebrand the GOP as open to black voters | Slate Magazine
On Monday, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed an omnibus voting standards bill into law. In a video message, he talked only about the voter ID portion of the law and assured citizens that only “the extreme left” opposed the law, for its usual crazy, extreme reasons. He neglected to mention that he’d just cut back on same-day registration and in-person early voting. Hours later the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People sued the governor, arguing that he and legislators had “evidence that African-Americans used early voting, same-day voter registration, and out-of precinct voting at higher rates than white voters.” On Wednesday, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul spoke at the Louisville Forum and fielded a question about voter ID bills. “The interesting thing about voting patterns now,” offered Paul, “is in this last election African-Americans voted at a higher percentage than whites in almost every one of the states that were under the special provisions of the federal government. So really, I don’t think there is objective evidence that we’re precluding African-Americans from voting any longer.” While Paul was speaking, the Republican National Committee announced a special 50th-anniversary commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. It would take place a few blocks from the Capitol, and feature the party’s lone black member of Congress, state legislators from Oklahoma and Louisiana, the party’s black committee members, and two once-rising black Republican stars who lost their last elections.
Editorials: Our Failure to Stop You from Voting Means We Weren’t Trying to Stop You from Voting | American Prospect
North Carolina recently passed what can only be described as an omnibus voter suppression law, including a whole range of provisions from demanding photo IDs to cutting back early voting to restricting registration drives, every single one of which is likely to make it harder for minorities, poor people, and/or young people to register and vote. It’s not just the Tar Heel state—across the South, states that have been freed by the Supreme Court from their prior obligation under the Voting Rights Act to get permission from the Justice Department before changing their voting laws are moving with all deliberate speed to make voting as difficult as possible. Since these are Republican states, these laws are going to pass (some have already), and I think it’s worth addressing what is fast becoming the main argument Republicans use to defend them. They’ve always said that their only intent was to ensure the “integrity” of elections and protect against voter impersonation, a virtually nonexistent problem. But they recently realized that they’ve got a new, and seemingly compelling, piece of evidence they can muster against charges of voter suppression. Many voter-ID laws were passed over the last few years (the Supreme Court upheld voter ID in 2008), and as Republicans will tell you (see for example here or here), turnout among blacks hasn’t declined, and in some cases has gone up. Blacks even turned out at a slightly higher rate than whites overall in the 2012 election. As Rand Paul recently said, “I don’t think there is objective evidence that we’re precluding African-Americans from voting any longer.”
Colorado: Boulder County DA Stan Garnett clears all 17 suspected illegal voters | Boulder Daily Camera
Last month, Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler gave Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett a list of 17 names, all suspected of voting in the November election despite being non-citizens. Those names were among 155 people identified statewide as possible illegal voters. But an investigation by Garnett’s office found that all 17 people were citizens and were able to easily verify their status, the district attorney said Wednesday. Garnett said the outcome shows Gessler’s emphasis on finding ineligible voters and eliminating them from the voter rolls is a waste of resources and politically motivated. “Local governments and county clerks do a really good job regulating the integrity of elections, and I’ll stand by that record any day of the week,” Garnett said. “We don’t need state officials sending us on wild goose chases for political reasons.”
Pueblo County Clerk Gilbert “Bo” Ortiz filed his appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court this afternoon, arguing that a Denver judge’s decision this week should be overruled and that a mail-ballot recall election on Sept. 10 should go forward as originally planned. State Sens. Angela Giron, of Pueblo, and John Morse, of Colorado Springs, face recall elections that day. Both are Democrats being targeted for supporting gun-control laws this year. Ortiz’s appeal says District Judge Robert McGahey erred in upholding the state constitution’s wording that says recall candidates should have until 15 days before the election to petition onto the recall ballot.
Indiana: Brizzi’s competence on trial as former secretary of state Charlie White seeks relief from conviction | Indianapolis Star
Former Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White’s appeal hinges on the following question: Was his attorney, Carl Brizzi, incompetent or did the decision not to present much of a defense boil down to an agreed-upon “legal strategy” that went wrong? Despite a long day of legal arguments Thursday, mixed in with some testimony from two witnesses — one expert and White’s wife, Michelle — little progress was made in answering that question. Hamilton Superior Court Judge Daniel Pfleging instead said he wanted to hear from White and Brizzi. White, who is trying to erase his felony convictions for theft and voter fraud, spent the day beside his new attorney, Andrea Ciobanu, who struggled to put on her case after the judge dismissed several of the arguments she had prepared.
Kansas: Proof-of-citizenship law targeting fraud puts voting rights in limbo for 15,000 residents | The Washington Post
A few weeks after moving to suburban Kansas City from the Seattle area, Aaron Belenky went online to register to vote but ended up joining thousands of other Kansas residents whose voting rights are in legal limbo because of the state’s new proof-of-citizenship rule. Starting this year, new voters aren’t legally registered in Kansas until they’ve presented a birth certificate, passport or other document demonstrating U.S. citizenship. Kansas is among a handful of GOP-dominated states enacting such a rule to keep noncitizens from voting, but the most visible result so far is a growing pool of nearly 15,000 residents who’ve filled out registration forms but can’t legally cast ballots yet. Critics of the law point out that the number of people whose registrations aren’t yet validated — and who are blocked from voting — far outpaces the few hundred ballots over the last 15 years that Kansas officials have reported as potentially tainted by irregularities. Preventing election fraud was often cited as the reason for enacting the law.
A few weeks after moving to suburban Kansas City from the Seattle area, Aaron Belenky went online to register to vote. But he ended up joining thousands of other Kansas residents whose voting rights are in legal limbo because of the state’s new proof-of-citizenship rule. Starting this year, new voters aren’t legally registered in Kansas until they’ve presented a birth certificate, passport or other document demonstrating U.S. citizenship. Kansas is among a handful of GOP-dominated states enacting rules to keep noncitizens from voting, but the most visible result is a growing pool of nearly 15,000 residents who’ve filled out registration forms but can’t cast ballots. Critics of the law point out that the number of people whose registrations aren’t yet validated — and who are thus blocked from voting — far outpaces the few hundred ballots over the last 15 years that Kansas officials say were potentially tainted by irregularities. Preventing election fraud was often cited as the reason for enacting the law.
Kansas officialdom is strangely blasé about the growing number of voters in “suspended” status, meaning they have filled out registration forms but won’t be able to cast an official ballot unless they provide proof of U.S. citizenship. The numbers are approaching 15,000, and the American Civil Liberties Union has notified officials of a possible lawsuit. Kansas risks notoriety as a voter suppression state. But Gov. Sam Brownback, when asked about the problem, said voting is the secretary of state’s responsibility. Brownback’s Department of Revenue, which runs the vehicle offices where citizens can also register to vote, says it doesn’t plan to change its procedures, even as voter experiences suggest the procedures might be part of the problem.
On Tuesday, Bill de Blasio became the latest frontrunner in New York City’s mayoral election, a race which has seen several major shifts in polling. Whoever emerges victorious in the first round of the Democratic primary next month, almost all of the polling indicates he or she will be headed to a runoff against the second place finisher three weeks later. This might be a problem. The Big Apple’s recent history of elections have included legal battles, chaotic lines at the polls, and vote counts that seem to never end. Adding to those headaches next month are the return of the city’s aging lever-pull voting machines and the possibility of a close finish for that number two spot, opening the door for a nightmare scenario where the results are still in dispute as the date of the final runoff approaches. “I can’t even think about that, the concept is too stressful,” one mayoral campaign staffer, who asked not to be named, said after TPM asked about how the potential Election Day chaos could complicate the tightly scheduled race.
Within hours of Gov. Pat McCrory signing a Republican-backed bill this week making sweeping changes to the state’s voting laws, local elections boards in two college towns made moves that could make it harder for students to vote. The Watauga County Board of Elections voted Monday to eliminate an early voting site and election-day polling precinct on the campus of Appalachian State University. The Pasquotank County Board of Elections on Tuesday barred an Elizabeth City State University senior from running for city council, ruling his on-campus address couldn’t be used to establish local residency. Following the decision, the head of the county’s Republican Party said he plans to challenge the voter registrations of more students at the historically black university ahead of upcoming elections. Voting rights advocates worry the decisions could signal a statewide effort by GOP-controlled elections boards to discourage turnout among young voters considered more likely to support Democrats.
North Carolina’s sweeping and restrictive new voting law is facing multiple legal challenges from civil rights groups that argue it discriminates against black and young voters. Republican Governor Pat McCrory signed the bill Monday, which goes into effect in 2016. Among other things, the law requires voters to bring state-issued photo IDs to the polls, cuts down early voting time by one week, eliminates same-day voter registration, and bans pre-registration for youth voters who will turn 18 on Election Day. The American Civil Liberties Union, along with two other groups, immediately filed a legal challenge that argues the law attempts to suppress minority voters, thereby violating the Constitution and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The NAACP has filed a similar suit.
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s Shelby v. Holder decision, which gutted significant portions of the Voting Rights Act, it’s difficult to say which of the many recently passed voter-suppression bills constitutes the greatest threat to that most sacred of American freedoms: the right to vote. The contest has several leading contenders, but the winner just might be North Carolina’s especially draconian bill, signed into law on Monday. The bill includes the usual provisions that have come to characterize the quiet assault on the franchise: a shortened early-voting period, the elimination of the state’s successful same-day registration program and, of course, a strict photo identification requirement despite any evidence of voter fraud in the state.
When I saw Rep. Alan Clemmons’ guest column, “Voting problems continue to haunt us” (July 21), I was hoping he’d explain his part in peddling the myth of dead people voting in South Carolina, and apologize to the people he misled. He did neither. Instead, he again claimed an “undeniable presence of election fraud in South Carolina,” and took a cheap shot at the S.C. Progressive Network to make his point. He referenced an instance years ago when bogus forms were turned in by someone the network hired to do voter registration in Florence County. I caught the fraud myself and called SLED and the County Election Board the day the forms were submitted. No fraudulent votes were cast. I testified against the perpetrator, and he went to jail. The system worked.
The first major scandals of the Moscow mayoral campaign have erupted. The Prosecutor General of Russia claimed to have found evidence that opposition candidate Alexei Navalny received funding for his campaign from overseas, while Navalny has released information about the misdealings of his main rival, current acting mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin. Experts think the mudslinging is unlikely to swing voters one way or the other, although Navalny’s alleged transgressions may lead to his removal from the race. The Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) was the first to drive attention towards the source of funding in Navalny’s election campaign. An investigation by the Prosecutor General’s office following a complaint filed by LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky has revealed that more than 300 foreign entities – businesses, private individuals and anonymous donors – from 46 countries and 347 addresses used the Yandex.Money electronic payment system to send money to the digital wallets of Navalny and other members of his campaign team. According to reports from Russian newswire Interfax, the evidence has been forwarded to the Investigation Committee so that a criminal proceeding can be initiated.
One of the nation’s most restrictive voter ID bills was signed into law Monday by North Carolina’s Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican. The new law requires voters to show government-issued ID cards, with polling places not allowed to accept college ID cards or out-of-state driver’s licenses. The law also shortens early voting by a week; eliminates same-day voter registration; allows any registered voter to challenge another voter’s eligibility; and ends popular preregistration for high school students. Republicans have said the law will combat voter fraud and restore integrity to voting, but they have offered no evidence of voter fraud in the state. Civil rights groups and many independent analysts say the law is a blatant attempt to curb voting by blacks, students, the poor and other groups that tend to vote Democratic. The law takes effect for the 2016 elections. Civil rights groups have threatened to sue the state and Atty. Gen. Eric Holder has said the Justice Department may pursue legal challenges to voter ID laws passed by several states, including North Carolina. North Carolina Republicans introduced the so-called Restore Confidence in Government Act after the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act in June. The court overturned the Act’s requirement for Justice Department “pre-clearance” for any changes to voting laws in certain states.
A Pittsburgh judge on Friday barred enforcement of Pennsylvania’s voter-identification law for the Nov. 5 general election, as well as any election that may come before. State Judge Bernard McGinley’s preliminary injunction means Pennsylvania will again go the polls with no enforcement of the law – a different judge made similar ruling a month before the 2012 presidential election. In fact, the controversial law has never been implemented; it has languished in a legal limbo since Republican Governor Tom Corbett signed the bill into law in March of 2012.
Last month Eric Holder, the attorney-general, asked a district court to make Texas “pre-clear” any proposed changes to its election procedures with the federal government. Texas was doing this as a matter of course in every election for the last 40 years: it was subject to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). That section requires jurisdictions with a history of discrimination against minority voters to get approval from either the Justice Department or a federal district court in Washington, DC before changing their election procedures to ensure those changes have “neither discriminatory purpose or effect”. But the Supreme Court’s ruling in Shelby County v Holder last June made Section 5 vestigial. The court found that the formula used to determine which jurisdictions must pre-clear changes was outdated, but it did not, as some VRA opponents had hoped, find Section 5 a violation of the tenth amendment. Hence Mr Holder’s turn to the previously little-used (because little-needed) Section 3 of the VRA, which lets courts mandate pre-clearance for jurisdictions found to be violating the 14th- or 15th-amendment guarantees of equal protection and access to the ballot. In this case, Mr Holder argues, the violation stems from state redistricting plans proposed in 2011—plans that a federal court already rejected, saying that they “provided more evidence of discriminatory intent than [the Court had] space, or need, to address.”