Michigan: Absentee ballot waiver sought for McCotter special election | The Detroit News

Absentee ballots for the special election to fill U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter’s term were sent out Monday, a day later than allowed by federal rules. State elections officials are working with the U.S. Justice Department to get a waiver of the 45-day rule mandating how long before an election the ballots must be sent out. “The Justice Department is (very) strict on the 45 days,” State Elections Director Chris Thomas told the Board of State Canvassers on Monday. After the meeting, Thomas said there is a provision in the federal law for the Department of Justice to grant a waiver to the 45-day rule. Thomas told board members his office is “in discussions” with the Justice Department about a waiver. The tight timeframe is the result of McCotter’s resignation from Congress after a petition signature scandal. Gov. Rick Snyder’s office set Sept. 5 as the date of a special primary election to fill the remainder of McCotter’s term.

Pennsylvania: Justice Department investigating voter ID law | Politico.com

The Justice Department is investigating Pennsylvania’s new voter identification law, a letter sent to the state government Monday indicates. The letter from Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez seeks a variety of records related to the implementation of the voter ID, which was passed in March and is set to take effect before the November election. Among the items Perez is requesting are databases of Pennsylvania voters and holders of drivers’ licenses and similar state IDs. It’s not clear precisely what triggered the letter but it refers to an estimate Secretary of State Carol Aichele issued earlier this month indicating that 9.2 percent of the state’s 8.2 million voters don’t have a state-issued photo ID. However, a state-issued ID is not the only form of acceptable voting ID, which includes passports, military ID and some student IDs.

Pennsylvania: Justice Department opens probe of voter-ID law | Philadelphia Inquirer

The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department has opened an investigation of Pennsylvania’s new voter-ID law, asking the Corbett administration to document its repeated claims that 99 percent of the state’s voters have the photo identification they will need to vote in November. In a letter delivered Monday to Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele, the Justice Department sought a series of databases and other records that have raised questions about the number of registered voters with proper ID, and left county election boards and the public bewildered about the impact of the new voting requirements. The Justice Department said it needed the information “so that we may properly evaluate Pennsylvania’s compliance with Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and other federal voting-rights laws.” That section of federal law prohibits laws or practices that discriminate against any citizen because of race, color, or language.

Mississippi: Study: Voter ID law would hit Mississippi hard | The Clarion-Ledger

Mississippians could make up 10 percent of all Americans impeded from voting by new voter identification laws. The Brennan Center for Justice estimates that 48,000 low-income Mississippians could have trouble obtaining a government-issued photo identification in order to vote, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports. Overall, the center estimates that 500,000 people across 10 states could face challenges from “restrictive” voter ID laws. The Brennan Center, located at New York University School of Law, focuses on voter participation and similar public policy issues. “Every American citizen should have the opportunity to vote, but these restrictive laws could make it harder for hundreds of thousands to exercise that right,’ said Sundeep Iyer, co-author of the report, which was released Wednesday.

National: Voting Rights Act Section 5 challenges reach Supreme Court | SCOTUSblog

Attorneys for challengers to the constitutionality of the 1965 voting rights law’s key provision for federal regulation of state and local election laws urged the Supreme Court on Friday to settle the issue in the next Term, starting October 1.  One new case arrived from the town of Kinston in North Carolina and a second came from Shelby County in Alabama.  The D.C. Circuit Court has upheld the provision at issue — Section 5 — although the Supreme Court itself three years ago raised significant questions about its validity. The Kinston case reached the Court this morning.  The petition is here, and the appendix (a large file) is here.  The Shelby County case was filed in early afternoon; the petition ishere, and the D.C. Circuit Court ruling in that case is here.   Not only has the time come to examine the constitutional questions the Court has raised, the Kinston petition argued, but the Justice Department’s “overzealous manner” of enforcement of Section 5 has put heavy new burdens on state and local governments covered by that provision.   The Shelby County petition argued that the renewed law puts states into “federal receivership,” raising “fundamental questions of state sovereignty,” while denying equality only to designated states – predominantly in the South.  Shelby County also assailed the Justice Department’s “needlessly aggressive exercise” of its veto powers over state and local election laws.

Editorials: The voter ID mess subverts an American birthright | Charlie Crist/The Washington Post

For better or worse, the central principle behind the unlimited contributions to super PACs that will dominate this election cycle is simple: Money is speech, and we cannot limit speech. Yet many who hold this freedom as an article of faith are all too willing to limit an equally precious form of speech: voting. If we don’t speak out against these abuses, we may soon learn the hard way the danger of that double standard. And a dozen years after the 2000 recount that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, my state of Florida threatens to be ground zero one more time. As Florida’s attorney general from 2003 to 2007, I strongly enforced the laws against illegal voting. When swift action was necessary, I took it without hesitation. I did so out of respect for our democracy — voting is a precious right reserved only for U.S. citizens — but I’m concerned that zealots overreacting to contrived threats of voter fraud by significantly narrowing the voting pool are doing so with brazen disrespect and disregard for our greatest traditions.

National: Study finds costs associated with voter IDs | The Washington Post

New laws in 10 states requiring voters to show IDs could present serious challenges to voters without financial resources and transportation, according to a report released Wednesday. The study by the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, which opposes the new laws, found several obstacles that could keep voters from being able to cast ballots, including limited access to offices that issue the IDs required under the new measures. “The advocates of these laws kept saying we’re going to provide these IDs for free and that’s going to eliminate all of the problems,” said Keesha Gaskins, co-author of the report. “We found the ability to get documents isn’t that simple. The documents are costly for many, many voters and there are serious transportation barriers for many voters. We just found really significant problems.” The study comes on the heels of closing arguments in a trial over Texas’s new law, in which Justice Department lawyers argued that requiring photo IDs from voters would disenfranchise the elderly and minorities.

Florida: Voter purge fight isn’t over | The Washington Post

The federal government is letting Florida use a Department of Homeland Security database of noncitizens to help purge voters from the state’s rolls. But voting rights activists say the fight over Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s controversial purge is far from over. Gov. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) listens during the 2011 Governors Summit of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on June 20 in Washington, D.C. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)The agreement, a victory for Republicans, comes after months of back-and-forth between Scott’s administration and the federal government over access to the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements database, which is designed to determine eligibility for benefits — not voting. Republican administrations across the country are cracking down on potential voter fraud, mostly through more restrictive voter ID laws. The Department of Justice has been fighting many of these efforts, with the support of Democrats who argue that the real goal is to disenfranchise poor and minority voters. Florida is being closely watched by both sides because the attempt to proactively remove ineligible voters from the rolls goes a step beyond other states’ efforts.

Editorials: Not Again! How Our Voting System Is Ripe For Theft and Meltdown in 2012 | AlterNet

The most fundamental of democratic processes has become more barrier-filled and error-prone than at anytime since Florida’s 2000 election, when voter list purges, flawed voting technology and a partisan U.S. Supreme Court majority ended a statewide recount and installed George W. Bush as president. This fall’s potential problems begin with a new generation of voter suppression laws and aging voting machines in a handful of presidential battleground states. And other important factors are in play, such as election officials curtailing voting options due to fiscal constraints, the increasing age of poll workers—volunteers averaging in their 70s—who must referee an ever more complex process, and the likelihood that close races will end up in post-Election Day legal fights. Voters tell academics they want consistency in voting. Yet emerging trends are poised to upend that hope in many states. This year’s big questions are: where will the meltdown—or meltdowns—occur, what will go wrong, on what scale, and, when it comes to computer failures or tampering, will we even know about it?

Alabama: Voter ID is a hot topic but will Alabama’s ID law stop election fraud | Anniston Star

Faye Cochran is convinced voter fraud is rampant in Alabama, and she has her reasons. Cochran is the chairwoman of the Board of Registrars in Hale County, where two years ago, a trio of Hale County residents pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges in a voter fraud investigation. Cochran believes similar cases of fraud are happening across Alabama. And she thinks Alabama’s new voter ID law, which would require a photo ID at the polls beginning in 2014, will help bring that fraud to an end. “You have to prove who you are to get a Social Security check,” she said. “You have to prove who you are to check a book out of the library. You should have to prove who you are to vote.” Voter ID is fast becoming a hot topic in this presidential election year. Just last week, in a speech at the NAACP’s national convention in Houston, Attorney General Eric Holder compared photo ID requirements to the poll taxes Southern states once imposed to keep black voters away from the polls. At the same time, Texas officials were in a federal courtroom arguing that the Lone Star State’s photo ID requirement was needed to prevent fraud at the ballot box. But it’s not at all clear, some experts say, that there’s really that much fraud to prevent — or that photo ID is the best way to do it.

Editorials: Political scientist makes case against Texas voter ID law | The Statesman

The process of electing representatives in the U.S. has always been a contentious one. At its core there are political parties and candidates vying for power. However, the politics of setting election procedures and policy is perhaps even more contentious than the elections themselves. The debate about the integrity of the election process and how to balance it against the basic democratic principle of expanding voter participation is not new; the Founders deliberated over the same concerns we discuss today. The question is, what trade-offs do we consent to in order to protect the integrity of the election process while expanding suffrage? The basis for integrity is honesty and fairness. If we believe that our election processes are fair and honest, we can trust their results. However, if we perceive these processes to be fraught with fraudulent practices or participants we conclude that the results are wrong and an affront to our democratic ideals. Some pundits and elected officials have focused on voter fraud as a real threat, pointing out that thousands of Americans have lost faith in the election process as a result. In this context, voter fraud usually refers to registering voters who are ineligible such as noncitizens, voting “from the grave,” or one person voting multiple times or in multiple jurisdictions (sometimes through absentee ballots).

National: Texas Voter ID trial: closing arguments | Dallas Morning News

A 3-judge panel will now decide whether to let Texas implement its controversial voter ID law. In closing arguments at federal court, a lawyer for the state, John Hughes, insisted that even if non-white Texans lack an acceptable photo ID under the law, the “ultimate question” for the judges to consider is whether that disparity translates into people being turned away from the polls. The requirement enacted by the Legislature in May 2011, Hughes argued, “deters almost no one,” and even people eligible to vote in Texas who lack one of the acceptable forms of photo ID – a drivers license, concealed gun permit, passport, or citizenship card – should be able to easily obtain an alternative voter ID card provided for by the law. “People who want to vote already have an ID or can easily obtain it,” he insisted repeatedly. He noted that the Justice Department – which refused to let the state implement the law, prompting the state to turn to the federal courts – claims that 1.5 million Texas voters lack an acceptable photo ID. “If that were remotely true, the courtroom would be filled with such people,” he said, citing survey evidence that black and Hispanic Texas voters say they have ID in rough proportion to whites. The judges seemed deeply skeptical. “The record does tell us that there is a substantial number of registered voters that lack photo ID,” said U.S. Circuit Court Judge David Tatel. And District Court Judge Robert Wilkins noted that there was uncontested evidence that some Texans would have to travel 120 miles one way to the nearest state office where they could obtain a voter ID card – and that federal court rules bar subpoenas for anyone more than 100 miles from a courthouse on grounds that would be “unduly burdensome.”

Editorials: Voter IDs on Trial in Texas | NYTimes.com

Representative Trey Martinez Fischer, the chairman of the Mexican-American Legislative Caucus in the Texas House of Representatives, flew to Washington this week to persuade a panel of federal judges to invalidate a requirement that voters must have an ID card. His trip was less arduous than the one some residents would have to endure to get a government-issued photo ID. “In West Texas, some people would have a 200-mile round-trip drive” to the nearest state office to get a card, he testified, according to The Dallas Morning News. More than a quarter of the state’s counties don’t even have an office to get a driver’s license or voter card. Lines at the San Antonio motor vehicles offices are often more than two hours long, he said. Texas is one of 10 Republican-controlled states that have imposed a government ID requirement to vote, purportedly to reduce fraud but actually to dissuade poor and minority voters who tend to vote Democratic. (Seven other states have passed slightly less-restrictive rules.) In most cases the federal government can do little to resist this incursion on voting rights, because the Supreme Court upheld ID requirements in 2008. But Texas is different. It is covered by the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which allows the Justice Department to disapprove of any change in voting procedures in areas with a history of discrimination.

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.

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.

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.

National: Debate intensifies over state election laws | USAToday.com

Four months away from a presidential election still considered a tossup, new battles are brewing over state election laws. A federal court in Washington began hearing arguments this week on whether a voter ID law in Texas discriminates against Hispanic voters. Michigan Republican Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed a bill last week that would have required voters to show identification before casting absentee ballots. The Justice Department rejected South Carolina’s voter ID law for the second time, saying it could disproportionately affect black voters. The state sued earlier this year. A federal court has scheduled oral arguments for Sept. 24, just 43 days before the election. A judge ruled in June that Wisconsin’s voter ID law violates the state constitution. An appeal is likely. Attorney General Eric Holder is promising an aggressive effort to safeguard voting rights.

Georgia: Kemp says lawmakers will have to consider ending runoff elections in Georgia | AJC

State lawmakers will have to consider getting rid of runoff elections in Georgia next year – at least those involving federal candidates in general elections – because of a recent ruling by a U.S. district judge requiring 45 days for ballots cast by members of the U.S. military to make their way home, Secretary of State Brian Kemp on Monday. Ballot requirements insisted on by the U.S. Justice Department and upheld by the court last week all but invalidate a current state law requiring that winners in all general elections receive 50 percent plus one vote, Kemp said – given that federal runoffs in those contests would have to be delayed until late December. “We’d be voting during Christmas. There may be people getting certified while other people are getting sworn in. It’s really a logistical nightmare,” Kemp said.

National: Texas case puts voter ID laws to test | The Washington Post

Voter ID laws face a high-profile test this week as the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC hears arguments about Texas’ controversial new regulations. The case pits Texas against Attorney General Eric Holder, who has earned the ire of Republicans across the country for challenging new voting restrictions. Republicans say the Justice Department should be more concerned about fraud; the DOJ counters that these laws suppress minority turnout. Gov. Rick Perry (R) signed Texas’ voter ID law in May 2011. The state already required an ID to vote; the new law requires a photo ID. Those who don’t have a valid photo ID can apply for a new “election identification certificate.” As a state with a history of voter discrimination, Texas must get preclearance from the Department of Justice for changes in election law. The DOJ blocked Texas’ law under Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, declaring that it would disproportionately affect Hispanic voters.

Texas: Voter ID Case Begins, Stirs Debate | Fox News

Texas and the Justice Department began their federal court fight on Monday in a trial over Texas’ new voter ID law, which requires all voters to show a government-issued photo ID in order to vote. Back in March, the Justice Department blocked the law on the grounds that they felt it might discriminate against minority voters. As a result, Texas fired back with a lawsuit against Attorney General Eric Holder. At issue is a 2011 law passed by Texas’ GOP-dominated Legislature that requires voters to show photo identification when they head to the polls. The state argued Monday that the law represents the will of the people and does not run afoul of the Voting Rights Act, passed in 1965 to ensure minorities’ right to vote. The opening statements from both sides of the argument have set the stage for a legal battle over the federal Voting Rights Act.

Texas: Voter ID fight returning to federal court | Houston Chronicle

The decades-old legal battle between states’ rights and civil rights returns to a familiar venue – a federal courtroom – on Monday as lawyers for the state of Texas try to convince a panel of judges that the U.S. Justice Department has no legal authority to block the state from immediately implementing a voter ID law. Civil rights groups contend that Texas’ 2011 law requiring voters to provide identification with a photo issued by the state or the military discriminates against minority citizens and violates the federal Voting Rights Act. They say it harkens back to state laws designed to disenfranchise minorities, such as poll taxes and literacy tests. “The effort to suppress the vote is not a new thing,” said Leon W. Russell, vice chairman of the NAACP Board of Directors. “What we’ve seen in the last two years, though, is the most egregious effort to compound and collect every single method that anybody could think of that would discourage a person to vote and put it in a piece of legislation and inflict it on our community.”

National: US Supreme Court expected to hear Shelby County’s challenge to the Voting Rights Act | al.com

The U.S. Supreme Court ended its term with a flurry of decisions in cases with strong Alabama connections, and there are signs that trend will continue this fall as Shelby County prepares to send the justices its challenge to the Voting Rights Act in the next few weeks. The Shelby County case has been a contender for Supreme Court review ever since it was filed two years ago, and the likelihood has increased as other similar voting cases have slowed down and Shelby County’s has speeded up. It’s had two hearings in federal court and two decisions, both of which upheld the constitutionality of key sections of the Voting Rights Act. The Supreme Court is the next and last stop for the county, which is trying to dismantle the 47-year-old law that puts elections in all or part of 16 states under strict federal supervision. “We are proceeding with our plan to file a petition with the Supreme Court,” said Shelby County’s attorney, Frank “Butch” Ellis of Columbiana.

Texas: Voter ID Law, Which Accepts Gun Licenses But Not Student IDs, Challenged In Court | ThinkProgress

On Monday, the Department of Justice and the Texas Legislature will square off in court over Texas’ contentious voter ID law. A three-judge U.S. District Court panel will hear the case, which could challenge the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Texas is one of nine states that must get any changes to their election law cleared by the DOJ under the Voting Rights Act due to a history of discrimination. Texas flunked the test; as Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas E. Perez wrote in his letter to the Director of Elections, “According to the state’s own data, a Hispanic registered voter is at least 46.5 percent, and potentially 120.0 percent, more likely than a non-Hispanic registered voter to lack this identification.” The law, SB 14, requires voters to show one of a very narrow list of government-issued documents, excluding Social Security, Medicaid, or student ID cards. Gun licenses, however, are acceptable. The DOJ found that Texas’s SB 14 will “disenfranchise at least 600,000 voters who currently lack necessary photo identification and that minority registered voters will be disproportionately affected by the law.”

New York: Latino Groups Call for Probe of Rangel Race | Fox News

A national Hispanic civil rights group is asking the Department of Justice to investigate alleged voter suppression in the Democratic primary in the 13th congressional district. The group, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, has sent a letter to the DOJ voicing concern that Spanish-speaking voters found it difficult to cast ballots because they were unable to receive Spanish-language assistance and were turned away, or were told to vote by affidavit ballots, according to a statement by the organization. The appeal to the DOJ by LatinoJustice, which recently was among several voter advocacy groups that sued Florida over its decision to target more than 2,600 registered voters whose citizenship was questionable, comes as veteran U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel has seen his lead over the runner-up dwindle to slightly more than 800 votes. Some 2,000 absentee and affidavit ballots remain to be counted; the result is expected to be announced Thursday.

Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Voter ID Law May Bar 9% – Over 750,000 – From Presidential Election | Businessweek

Three-quarters of a million Pennsylvanians may be denied a chance to vote in November unless they can come up with an acceptable form of identification, a tally released by the state suggests. In a move lawmakers said would deter fraud at the polls, the Republican-led Legislature passed a law in March requiring voters to have a photo ID to obtain a ballot. A comparison of registration lists and state Transportation Department records showed 758,939 people don’t have either a driver’s license or an alternative state ID, the secretary of the commonwealth said.

South Carolina: Court schedule tightens window for new voter ID | TheState.com

A revised timetable for a federal lawsuit over South Carolina’s voter ID law would make it harder for the new state requirements to impact the Nov. 6 general election. On Tuesday, the judges who will consider the case rescheduled oral arguments for September 24. That’s nearly two months later than originally planned – and is also more than a week after the deadline by which state officials have said they would need a decision in order to prepare to implement the law this year. The three-judge panel doesn’t forecast when it might rule in the case. But state prosecutors say they’ll need a determination by September 15 in order to have enough time to make sure people understand the requirements. In December, the federal government blocked South Carolina’s photo ID requirement in December, saying it could keep tens of thousands of the state’s minorities from casting ballots and failed to meet requirements of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which requires approval from that agency for changes to South Carolina’s election laws because of the state’s past failure to protect blacks’ voting rights.

New Hampshire: Photo ID still has federal hurdle | NEWS0604

Lawmakers and others were celebrating the override of Gov. John Lynch’s veto of the photo identification bill, but the celebration may have come a little too early. The pending law must be reviewed by the U.S. Department of Justice because any significant changes in state election laws — and requiring photo identification is a significant change — have to be reviewed. New Hampshire — the only Northern state affected — and 15 other states are subject to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which seeks to eliminate discriminatory voting practices that bar or hinder voting by minorities. New Hampshire was snagged in the 1968 presidential election when 10 towns were identified with less than 50 percent of adults voting in the a presidential election, a violation of the act.

New Hampshire: Attorney General Holder could block Voter ID | New Hampshire Watchdog

U.S Attorney General Eric Holder could be the last hurdle between New Hampshire and its new Voter ID law. Granite State lawmakers may have overcome the objection of Governor John Lynch to the state’s new Voter ID law, but they may still have to get Holder’s permission. Under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Department of Justice must “pre-clear” any changes in election laws affecting ten New Hampshire communities. The House and Senate overrode Lynch’s veto to a new Voter ID law on Wednesday, meaning voters will have to show photo identification at the polls this fall, or sign an affidavit that they are who they claim to be. New Hampshire Assistant Attorney General Matt Mavrogeorge tells New Hampshire Watchdog that his office has let Washington know that the new law is on the books. “We’ve been in contact with the lawyers in Washington to let them know about the law,” Mavrogeorge says. “We don’t anticipate any problems.”

South Carolina: Justice Department again nixes voter ID law | Rock Hill Herald

The U.S. Justice Department has turned down South Carolina’s voter identification law for a second time as the state’s lawsuit against the federal government moves forward. “I remain unable to conclude that the State of South Carolina has carried its burden of showing that the submitted change in Section 5 of Act R54 neither has a discriminatory purpose nor will have a discriminatory effect,” Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez wrote in a letter Friday to an attorney representing South Carolina in its lawsuit against U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson sued Holder after the federal government blocked South Carolina’s photo ID requirement in December, saying it could keep tens of thousands of the state’s minorities from casting ballots. It was the first such law to be refused by the federal agency in nearly 20 years. The Justice Department has said the law failed to meet requirements of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which requires approval from that agency for changes to South Carolina’s election laws because of the state’s past failure to protect blacks’ voting rights.

Alaska: Justice Department approves redistricting plan | adn.com

The U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday gave its approval to Alaska’s new redistricting plan, clearing the way for the map to be used in this year’s elections. The decision came in the midst of a federal lawsuit filed to keep state election officials from implementing the plan until the Justice Department weighed in — and a day before a scheduled hearing on the matter before a three-judge panel. The judges dismissed the case late Wednesday afternoon. Attorneys for the plaintiffs had requested the move, saying that after the Justice Department’s decision, the plaintiffs “are accordingly satisfied that the process has now completed as it was meant to under the statute.” Federal attorneys had also filed a “statement of interest” in the case Wednesday, asking that the lawsuit — and the state’s response, which raised a constitutional question about the federal government’s involvement in approving election changes in Alaska — be dismissed.