A federal judge signed a consent order Tuesday concluding a voting rights challenge in Georgia that has drawn national attention because of a proposed earlier registration deadline before a hotly contested congressional election runoff. In the end, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp agreed not to impose voting registration deadlines earlier than those set by federal law 30 days before an election, according to an order signed by U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Batten Sr. of the Northern District of Georgia. Civil rights advocates filed the lawsuit in April after the secretary of state tried to impose a voter registration deadline for the special election for the Sixth District runoff. That would have cut off registration two months earlier than the 30 days the federal law allows. But Batten issued a preliminary injunction opening up registration. Batten’s order also said the secretary will also have to pay “reasonable attorney fees and costs” for the plaintiffs, which include: the Georgia NAACP, the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta Inc., Third Sector Development Inc. (parent of the New Georgia Project) and ProGeorgia State Table Inc.
Kansas has once again taken center stage in the fight over voting rights in America. The American Civil Liberties Union on Sunday night made a point of calling out Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who has championed stricter requirements for voters and alleged widespread election fraud that he’s been unable to prove. The criticism of Kobach came as the ACLU kicked off a 50-state “Let People Vote” campaign at the Lied Center in Lawrence, roughly a half hour from Kobach’s office in Topeka. “This is going to be difficult, this is complex,” said Faiz Shakir, the ACLU’s national political director. “Because given the dysfunction in Congress, we are not going to pass anything through there to expand voting rights. It would be ideal if we could. But it’s not going to happen. “So the only way that we can fight to expand voting rights in America is to go state by state by state.”
New Hampshire: ACLU, state come to terms on release of voter data to Trump fraud commission | Union Leader
The Secretary of State will proceed with the release of information from voter checklists to a presidential commission on election fraud, now that a lawsuit filed by two New Hampshire lawmakers and the ACLU to stop the release has been resolved. The resolution was announced in a Nashua courtroom just as a hearing was about to get under way Monday on a request for an injunction to stop Secretary of State Bill Gardner from providing the information to the election commission. The case came down to interpretation of language within the same state statute (RSA 654), which in one part states “the information contained on the checklist of a town or city … is public information subject to (the Right to Know law),” but in another section regarding the statewide database maintained by the Secretary of State, says “The voter database shall be private and confidential and shall not be subject to (the Right to Know law).”
A lawsuit led by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) against Missouri’s new photo voter ID law will have a hearing in September. The suit, filed in Cole County Circuit Court in Jefferson City, claims the state hasn’t adequately provided education, poll worker training or funding for ID’s the law calls for. Daniela Velazquez with the ACLU of Missouri says that voters’ right are under threat. “This lawsuit is really about ‘Can Missouri really implement this law that they said they were going to do without putting the voters of Missouri at risk for being able to vote” said Velazquez. When the lawsuit was filed in the second week of June, the ACLU had hoped a judge would issue a temporary restraining order to block the law before two local special elections took place – one in southern Missouri’s New Madrid, and the other in St. Louis city. The judge declined to do so.
A court petition by the American Civil Liberties Union and two state lawmakers seeking to block the secretary of state from sending voter data to President Donald Trump’s election integrity commission cites a 2006 state law that restricts how such voter information can be disseminated. But the sponsor of that bill 11 years ago, former House Speaker William O’Brien, said Monday the legislation was not intended to keep voter information that is already available publicly from the federal government. The ACLU’s reinstated petition to block Secretary of State William Gardner from sending publicly available voter data to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, on which Gardner serves, says that in 2006, Gardner’s office supported the O’Brien-sponsored bill that restricted the use of the data.
The NAACP Legal Defense Fund on Tuesday filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that President Donald Trump’s voting commission “was formed with the intent to discriminate against voters of color in violation of the Constitution.” “Statements by President Trump, his spokespersons and surrogates … as well as the work of the Commission as described by its co-chairs, are grounded on the false premise that Black and Latino voters are more likely to perpetrate voter fraud,” the suit alleges. As evidence, the suit points to Trump’s repeated unsubstantiated claims that millions of illegal immigrants voted in the 2016 election. Those claims were subsequently repeated by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, now the chair and vice-chair of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, which Trump set up to investigate his unfounded claims.
A day after Gov. Chris Sununu signed into law legislation to tighten voter registration identification requirements, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire said it is reviewing whether to mount a constitutional challenge. ACLU legal director Gilles Bissonnette, who was one of the most outspoken critics of Senate Bill 3 throughout the legislative session, in a statement called it “an attack on eligible voters’ voting rights.” Bissonnette said the bill improperly allows people to be fined for “doing nothing wrong other than not returning to a government agency with certain paperwork — paperwork that these legitimate voters may not have. Senate Bill 3 is also a violation of voters’ privacy by sending government agents to voters’ homes to check their documents. Requiring people to accept this government intrusion as a condition of voting will chill the right to vote.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is suing the state of Missouri over its new Voter ID law. The ACLU is challenging the Show-Me State in court, saying Missouri failed to provide adequate funding to implement the law. The funds are to be used for voter education, providing free voter identification and birth certificates, and training for poll workers. The new law took effect June 1. The case was filed on behalf of the Missouri NAACP and the League of Women Voters of Missouri, who are seeking a temporary restraining order to block the law from remaining in effect during a local special election on July 11. In-person absentee voting begins Monday, June 12, and an additional 52 Missouri counties head to the polls on August 8.
The American Civil Liberties Union and another civil rights group filed suit Thursday seeking to stop implementation of Missouri’s new photo ID voting law in advance of a July 11 St. Louis special election, claiming the law is an attempt to disenfranchise voters. The suit, filed in Cole County Circuit Court in Jefferson City, alleges the state has failed to provide adequate public education about the new requirements. “Voters were promised that this law was not about disenfranchising the most vulnerable in our state,” Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri, said in a written statement. “The state’s lack of funding and implementation of this law tells another story.”
Thousands of Kansas voters will be allowed to cast regular ballots in local, state and federal elections in November without providing proof of citizenship under an agreement forged by the American Civil Liberties Union and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. The agreement was announced Thursday, a day before Kobach was to appear in court for a contempt hearing. The hearing was canceled shortly after the agreement was filed in court. Federal Judge Julie Robinson had ordered Kobach in May to ensure that people who registered to vote at the DMV could vote in November’s election under the federal Motor Voter Act regardless of whether they had provided proof of citizenship. There were more than 18,600 such voters earlier this month. Kobach and the ACLU, representing the plaintiffs, disagree about what that order entails, but they have resolved the most pressing issues. Voters can cast their ballots unimpeded on Nov. 8 while the case continues to be litigated. Under the agreement, Kobach will instruct local election officials to send out a new notice “that unequivocally advises covered voters that they are ‘deemed registered and qualified to vote for the appropriate local, state and federal elections’ ” in the Nov. 8 general election.
A federal appeals court will decide whether Kansas has the right to ask people who register to vote when they get their driver’s licenses for proof that they’re citizens. The decision could affect whether thousands of Kansas residents have their ballots counted in November’s election. Three judges from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in the case Tuesday from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and the American Civil Liberties Union but didn’t indicate how soon they could rule. Kansas wants the court to overturn a ruling by a federal judge in May that temporarily blocked the state from disenfranchising people who registered at motor vehicle offices but didn’t provide documents such as birth certificates or naturalization papers. That was about 18,000 people at the time. If the order is allowed to stand, the state says up to an estimated 50,000 people who haven’t proven they’re citizens could have their votes counted in the fall.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a class-action lawsuit Tuesday seeking to block a Kansas election rule that could throw out thousands of votes in state and local races by people who registered at motor vehicle offices or used a federal form without providing documents proving U.S. citizenship. The temporary rule, sought by Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach and approved last week by the State Rules and Regulation Board, will count votes only for federal races by that segment of new Kansas voters through Nov. 8, the date of the general election. It comes in response to a federal judge’s recent decision that voters do not need to show citizenship papers to register for federal elections as required by a 2013 Kansas law. If allowed to stand, thousands of Kansas voters will be denied their right to vote in state and local elections in a year when all 165 seats of the Kansas Legislature are up for election, the ACLU argued in its lawsuit.
Civil rights groups demanded Tuesday in an open letter that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach rescind his instructions to local election officials to throw out votes cast in upcoming local and state races by tens of thousands of people who registered at motor vehicle offices without providing proof of U.S. citizenship. The executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas, Micah Kubic, says Kobach is “deliberately creating chaos” for voters and “acting out of petulance.” At issue is an email sent from Kobach’s office to county election officials last month outlining the state’s plans for implementing a two-tiered election system in the wake of a federal court order requiring Kansas to allow such voters to cast provisional ballots in the federal race. Kobach wants to allow election officials to throw out any provisional ballots in which votes were cast in state and local races and count only votes cast for president and U.S. Senate and House races.
Secretary of State Jon Husted is not illegally removing voters from voter registration rolls, a federal judge ruled Wednesday. The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio filed suit in April arguing Husted was too aggressive in his efforts to clean-up voter rolls in an effort to keep the list updated. In recent years, Husted’s office has removed 465,000 deceased voters and 1.3 million duplicate registrations from Ohio’s voter rolls. The ACLU argued Husted violated the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 by canceling the registrations of those who do not update their registrations or vote over six years, including three federal general elections. Voters also are sent a confirmation notice. But U.S. District Judge George C. Smith said Ohio’s process is consistent with the Registration Act because voters are never removed from the rolls solely for failure to vote.
The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday will seek to block a Kansas state law that requires people to prove American citizenship if they want to register to vote while applying for a driver’s license. The civil rights group will ask a federal judge in Kansas City, Kansas, to issue a preliminary injunction pending the outcome of a lawsuit the group filed in February. The ACLU claims Kansas is making illegal demands for additional proof of citizenship, violating the so-called Motor-Voter Law that Congress passed in 1993 to boost voter registration for federal elections by allowing voters to register at motor vehicle departments. The Kansas law requiring documents like a birth certificate or U.S. passport for voter registration, which took effect Jan. 1, 2013, is one of numerous voter ID laws passed by Republican-led state legislatures in recent years. The ACLU alleges that Kansas goes beyond what is required by federal law.
Kansas: Republicans hold to hard-right stance; ACLU and League of Women Voters ‘communists,’ Kobach says | Lawrence Journal-World
The Kansas Republican Party held firm to its hard-right stance on social issues during its state convention this weekend as various officials gave speeches railing against Planned Parenthood, same-sex marriage, the Kansas Supreme Court, the Obama administration and even the League of Women Voters. The convention came just two weeks before Republican voters in the state will vote in the March 5 caucuses to make their choice for a presidential nominee. And while some of the presidential campaigns sent surrogates to speak on their behalf, the real focus was on upcoming races for the Kansas Legislature. “Help them out because the national left doesn’t like what we’ve done in Kansas. So the next target will be getting at these state legislators,” Gov. Sam Brownback said. “You really need to get out and help them.” One of the biggest events of the day Saturday was the annual Kansans for Life prayer breakfast, which drew attendance from dozens of legislators and the state’s entire congressional delegation.
Missouri: Voting on trial: ACLU case against Ferguson-Florissant goes to court | St. Louis Public Radio
Are African-American voters in the Ferguson-Florissant school district shortchanged because board members there are elected at-large? Or would dividing the district into subdistricts actually weaken the clout of black voters, not increase it? U.S. District Judge Rodney Sippel will hear arguments for both sides of the issue this week in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU claims that the racial history of the makeup of the board shows that African Americans do not have representation proportional to their population. Dale Ho, an attorney from New York who handles voting rights cases nationwide for the ACLU, says the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson in 2014 brought a sharper focus to the issue. But, he added, it really has been present since the 1970s, when the Ferguson-Florissant school district was created from the Ferguson, Berkeley and Kinloch districts under a federal court order.
Around the nation, voting rights for people of color are under attack. But in central Washington, an historic advance for Latino voters is taking place in the wake of a legal victory by the ACLU. In the City of Yakima, Latinos account for approximately one-third of the voting-age population and approximately one-quarter of its citizen voting-age population. Yet, in 37 years, no Latino has ever been elected to the Yakima City Council. In the absence of Latino representation on the City Council, issues of interest to the Latino community in Yakima have been met with indifference. Now things are changing in this agricultural community of 93,000. Five Latino City Council candidates are on the ballot in Yakima’s November general election. Two of the five candidates are running in the same district, so that district is certain to have a Latino representative. However, it is possible that one, two or three other Latinos may also be elected.
More than 100 people filed into the Yakima City Council chambers Tuesday, calling for an end to the city’s appeal of a voting rights case that changed Yakima’s elections system to give Latinos a greater voice. But none of the four council members who supported both the appeal and a request to stay this year’s elections offered a motion to reconsider the issue. The protest was in response to the council’s surprise vote June 2 to seek an emergency stay more than a month and a half after the city said it would allow elections to proceed, despite appealing the judge’s ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court.
A proposal to allow Washington cities to rearrange voting districts so minorities could have a greater voice in elections was praised Thursday as a way to avoid costly federal lawsuits and denounced as a Trojan horse for more litigation. The proposed state Voting Rights Act, which passed the House on a partisan vote during the regular session but stalled in the Senate despite bipartisan support, got an airing in a joint Senate committee work session. It’s unlikely to be revived for the special session, which is concentrating on budgets, but that didn’t keep tempers from occasionally flaring as legal experts disagreed on its effectiveness.
Voting rights advocates and Ohio’s top election official have settled a lawsuit over controversial cuts to the pivotal presidential state’s early voting period. The deal, announced Friday morning between Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, and the ACLU, undoes some but not all of the damage to voting access caused by last year’s cuts.…
New elections will be held for all seven Yakima City Council seats this year regardless of whether the city appeals a federal judge’s order requiring a new election system, council members said Monday. And the council will see at least two new faces. Councilmen Rick Ensey and Dave Ettl said Monday that they won’t seek re-election. With Friday looming as the deadline for appealing the judge’s ruling in the voting rights case with the American Civil Liberties Union, the City Council has scheduled a special meeting at 2 p.m. Wednesday to decide on an appeal. If the city does appeal, the new system could eventually be thrown out, but council members said the city won’t stop the judge-ordered election.
Civil rights advocates asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday to reverse a decision upholding Wisconsin’s voter photo identification law, arguing the case raises questions of national importance about limits on a state’s ability to restrict voting. The American Civil Liberties Union and allied groups argued in their filing that the Wisconsin case offers an “ideal vehicle” to settle the legal debate over voter ID laws. They said 17 states have adopted voter identification laws since the high court upheld Indiana’s law in 2008. They contend that arguments by supporters of such laws that they help prevent voter fraud is a pretext. The measures don’t serve any legitimate state interest and curtail the rights of black and Hispanic voters who lack ID, opponents say. What’s more, legal challenges moving back and forth between state and federal courts have created confusion, they argued.
The North Carolina state Supreme Court ruled on Friday that redistricted voting maps designed in 2011 by the state’s Republican-led legislature are constitutional. Critics denounce the maps as an attempt to marginalize black voters by weakening their influence through unlawful gerrymandering. A majority of justices disagreed, saying instead that the redistricting plans for the state’s congressional and legislative seats do not violate anyone’s rights, Reuters reported. The ruling comes 11 months after the justices first heard arguments in the case and supports a similar July 2013 ruling by a panel of three judges. In 2010, Republicans took the North Carolina legislature for the first time in more than a century, and after drawing new voting districts, increased their majority in subsequent elections, according to Reuters.
North Carolina: 4th Circuit Court of Appeals hands NAACP partial victory on voter ID law | Associated Press
The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a federal district court’s denial of a preliminary injunction on some parts of North Carolina’s controversial new voter ID law. The higher court will delay elimination of same-day registration and prohibition on counting out-of-precinct ballots. “The court’s order safeguards the vote for tens of thousands of North Carolinians. It means they will continue to be able to use same-day registration, just as they have during the last three federal elections,” said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, in a statement.
The Secretary of State’s Office said Friday the decision by Strafford County Superior Court Judge Brian Tucker means there will be no change in the current voter registration forms. Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan said the disputed language change for voter registration forms — passed by the Legislature in 2012 and challenged in court by four University of New Hampshire students and the League of Women Voters as unconstitutional — was never implemented. A preliminary injunction was granted by a different Strafford County judge, and the state Supreme Court let the ruling stand in October 2012. … Then-House Speaker Bill O’Brien had supported changing the registration law primarily to prevent students from outside New Hampshire but attend college in the state from being allowed to vote in New Hampshire college towns.
A civil liberties group asked an Arkansas judge Tuesday to block the state from enforcing its voter ID law, saying more than 1,000 people were disenfranchised during last month’s primary election because of the requirement that they show photo identification before casting a ballot. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox ruled last month that the voter ID requirement was unconstitutional but suspended his ruling, allowing the requirement to stay in place during the May 20 primary and June 10 runoff election. The primary was the first statewide test of the law, which took effect in January. The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas on Tuesday asked Fox to lift his stay, saying 933 absentee ballots and 131 ballots cast in person during the primary were thrown out because of the new law.
Ohio Republicans have already imposed a slew of voting restrictions in the nation’s most pivotal swing state. But now, they may be gearing up for a renewed push on the most contentious tactic of all: voter ID. The Ohio Christian Alliance (OHA), a conservative group, said last week they’re launching a campaign aimed at getting a voter ID measure passed, either by the legislature or by voters themselves. The effort is already giving heart to Republican voter ID supporters. Here’s how the OHA initiative works: If the group gathers 100,000 signatures by the end of the year, lawmakers would have four months to act on a voter ID bill the group has drawn up.
Gov. Tom Corbett put another nail in the coffin of Pennsylvania’s voter identification law on Thursday, announcing he would not appeal a judge’s decision that the law violated the fundamental right to vote. The Republican governor issued a statement that defended the law, but he also said it needed changes and that he hoped to work with the Legislature on them. “It is clear that the requirement of photo identification is constitutionally permissible,” he said. “However, the court also made clear that in order for a voter identification law to be found constitutional, changes must be made to address accessibility to photo identifications.” The centerpiece of the law — a requirement that nearly all of the state’s 8.2 million voters show photo ID at the polls — was declared unconstitutional in January by a Commonwealth Court judge who said it imposed an unreasonable burden on the right to vote and that supporters had failed to demonstrate a need for it.
If the cuts to early voting in North Carolina’s restrictive voting law had been in effect in 2012, Election Day wait times would have risen dramatically, a significant number of would-be voters would have given up in frustration—and African-American voters would have been hit hardest. That’s according to two top voting scholars, whose testimony in the lawsuit seeking to overturn the measure was released Thursday by the ACLU, one of the groups leading the effort. The law’s challengers, including the U.S. Justice Department, allege that it violates the Voting Rights Act, which bars racial discrimination in voting. The expert testimony of Ted Allen of Ohio State and Paul Gronke of Reed College is a key part of establishing both that the measure would make it harder to vote and that its impact would be felt disproportionately by non-whites. Among other provisions, North Carolina’s law, passed last year by Republicans, cut seven days from the state’s early voting period. In 2012, 900,000 North Carolinians used those days to vote.