Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill has intervened in a lawsuit filed earlier this year by a civic group that alleges discrimination in access to early voting. Hill specifically wants to defend a 2001 state statute cited in the complaint. The statute requires a unanimous vote of a three-member board — comprising of a Democrat, a Republican and the county clerk — to expand early voting. An IndyStar investigation published earlier this month highlighted how the law has been used by state and local Republicans to restrict early voting in predominantly Democratic areas while expanding voting access in Republican-held areas.
Voting Blogs: Federal Lawsuits Challenge Indiana’s Wildly Disparate Precinct, Early Voting Site Laws | The Brad Blog
In two separate federal lawsuits, Common Cause v Marion County Board of Elections (May 2, 2017) and Indiana NAACP v. Lawson (Aug. 9, 2017), both challenging restrictions on voting rights in Indiana, civil rights organizations have sought to block what they describe as unconstitutional Republican schemes that, with “surgical precision”, seek to depress the vote in large minority, Democratic-leaning counties while contemporaneously enhancing voter turnout in white, Republican-leaning counties. The lawsuits entail two sets of laws. One of the lawsuits seeks to block a law that specifically targets Lake County — and only Lake County — for precinct consolidation and/or elimination. Lake County sports the state’s second largest African-American population and its largest Hispanic population. The other lawsuit challenges a voter suppression scheme that significantly reduces early absentee voting sites for a significant number of African-American (Democratic) voters in Marion County, even while mostly white (Republican) voters in neighboring counties benefit from a significant expansion in the number of available early absentee voting sites.
Indiana: After Obama’s 2008 Win, Indiana GOP Added Early Voting in White Suburb, Cut It in Indianapolis | Slate
n 2008, Barack Obama squeaked out an unexpected win in Indiana thanks in part to his huge margin of victory in Marion County, which has a large population of black Democrats. The state’s Republicans got to work right away, cutting early voting in Marion County, which includes the state capital of Indianapolis, while expanding it in a nearby suburban county filled with white Republican voters. That’s the distressing but entirely predictable upshot of a blockbuster report published by the Indianapolis Star on Thursday. The Star found that between 2008 and 2016, Republican officials reduced the number of early voting stations in Marion County from three to one, resulting in a 26 percent decline in absentee voting in the 2016 presidential election. (Early votes are cast via absentee ballots.) Meanwhile, officials added two early voting stations to the neighboring Hamilton County, which is populated primarily by white Republicans. The county saw a 63 percent increase in absentee voting in 2016. There is now one early voting station for every 100,000 voters in Hamilton County and one for every 700,000 voters in Marion County. In total, the number of people who voted in Marion County decreased by 11,261 between 2008 and 2016 and increased in Hamilton County by 27,376—this “despite an increase of registered voters in both counties,” the Star reports.
Indiana: Republicans limit early voting in Democratic Marion County, encourage it in GOP strongholds | Indianapolis Star
State and local Republicans have expanded early voting in GOP-dominated areas and restricted it in Democratic areas, an IndyStar investigation has found, prompting a significant change in Central Indiana voting patterns. From 2008 to 2016, GOP officials expanded early voting stations in Republican dominated Hamilton County, IndyStar’s analysis found, and decreased them in the state’s biggest Democratic hotbed, Marion County. That made voting more convenient in GOP areas for people with transportation issues or busy schedules. And the results were immediate. Most telling, Hamilton County saw a 63 percent increase in absentee voting from 2008 to 2016, while Marion County saw a 26 percent decline. Absentee ballots are used at early voting stations. Population growth and other factors may have played a role, but Hamilton County Clerk Kathy Richardson, a Republican, told IndyStar the rise in absentee voting in Hamilton County was largely a result of the addition of two early voting stations, which brought the total to three.
Secretary of State Corey Stapleton said Tuesday he’d oppose any effort to allow Montanans to change absentee ballot votes that are cast before Election Day. Most states, like Montana, do not allow early voters to change their minds. That became an issue last month when then-candidate Greg Gianforte assaulted a reporter a little over 24 hours before his election as Montana’s sole representative in the U.S. House. Reaction to the assault sparked questions by those who had already voted if they could change their ballots. By then 259,558 of the 383,301 who would cast a ballot had already voted, or nearly 68 percent. “I would be very much opposed to letting people change their vote,” Stapleton told a legislative interim committee Tuesday in response to a question about if he would support a change in the law. “I think it’s much better to wait until Election Day and (vote) once.”
part of a push to reshape the state’s often-criticized voting laws as time winds down on New York’s annual legislative session. Former gubernatorial and congressional candidate Zephyr Teachout joined good-government groups and labor unions Tuesday for a last-gasp rally, hoping to convince the the state Legislature to approve voting reforms — including one that would allow early voting — before leaving the Capitol. State lawmakers are scheduled to break for the year on June 21.
The U.S. Supreme Court decisions in the past 30 days rejected efforts by North Carolina lawmakers to make it harder for African Americans to vote while also packing them into as few districts as possible to diminish their electoral influence. In the latest ruling, announced May 21, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s opinion that North Carolina’s efforts to draw new lines for congressional districts unfairly packed two districts with African American voters and thus limited their ability to influence other political contests. The court agreed that majority-black districts might help the candidates favored by black voters win elections. But it said that North Carolina lawmakers had gone too far by drawing the lines in an effort to dilute the number of African Americans voters in other districts.
Secretary of the State Denise Merrill says it’s time Connecticut update its constitution to allow for early voting. She says early voting would address the 21st century needs of voters. “It reduces long lines on Election Day and it gives people multiple opportunities to vote. You know it’s a different world than it was 200 years ago and people are mobile and busy.” Merrill says that getting more people to vote is key to creating a healthy democracy.
The majority of Gallatin County voters did not agree with the rest of the state’s decision Thursday to elect Republican candidate Greg Gianforte to the lone congressional seat, according to election results on the secretary of state’s website. Final results show the county was in favor of Cut Bank Democratic candidate Rob Quist, who earned a 14-point win in the Republican candidate’s backyard. Libertarian candidate Mark Wicks had 4 percent of the vote in Gallatin County. In total, Gallatin had 76,633 registered voters, according to the secretary of state’s website. Charlotte Mills, clerk and recorder for Gallatin County, said 35,491 absentee ballots were cast and a little more than 6,000 voters went to the polls.
If early voting comes to Connecticut, it will be late — following at 37 other states and the District of Columbia. A sharply divided House of Representatives took a small step Tuesday toward putting the issue to a referendum vote, though not before 2020. The House voted 78 to 70, with two Republicans joining 76 Democrats, for a resolution authorizing a referendum on a constitutional amendment allowing early voting. Connecticut is a rarity: The terms for casting ballots early or by absentee ballot is dictated by the constitution. If passed by the Senate, the road to change still is long and uncertain. The General Assembly elected in 2018 would have to vote in 2019 for the same resolution if voters get to have their say in 2020. Even if approved at referendum, the constitutional amendment only would allow legislators to consider a bill permitting early voting in the 2021 session.