A broad alliance of civil rights groups representing voters most affected by Wisconsin’s photo ID law pressed the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a challenge to the measure enacted during Gov. Scott Walker’s first term. The Wisconsin Department of Justice, meanwhile, are asking the high court to reject the appeal. The case, Frank v. Walker, is pending before the Supreme Court, on appeal filed after the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the statute last October. After the appellate ruling, challengers secured from the Supreme Court a temporary hold that kept the law from being implemented for the 2014 midterm election. However, the high court has not indicated whether it will hear the case on merit.
Voting rights advocates are hoping that the U.S. Supreme Court will take up Wisconsin’s voter ID law, one of the most stringent in the country. “There are a lot of barriers that Wisconsin’s law imposes on voters that have not been resolved,” said attorney Karyn Rotker of the ACLU of Wisconsin, which is among the groups asking the court to review the voter ID law. “We hope that the Supreme Court will make sure that voting rights are protected.” The law, passed in spring 2011 and only in effect during one low-turnout election, has had a tumultuous legal history. As it was challenged in state and federal courts, it was put on hold, then suddenly revived by a federal appeals court just before last November’s general election—and put on hold once again, this time by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Editorials: Will the Supreme Court Re-Visit Voting Rights Before the 2016 Elections? | Jessica Mason Pieklo/RH Reality Check
Civil rights advocates want the Supreme Court to step back into the fight over voting rights, urging the Roberts Court to act soon and strike down Wisconsin’s 2011 voter ID law or risk getting caught in the “untenable position of referring voter ID disputes in the run-up to the November 2016 election.” Wisconsin Act 23 mandates that voters show one of nine specific forms of identification in order to vote either by absentee ballot or in person. Wisconsin lawmakers passed the law more than three years ago, but because of ongoing legal challenges to its constitutionality, the restrictions have only been enforced once in a state primary election, in 2012. Two state courts blocked the law’s enforcement in 2012 on the grounds that it violates the state constitution. Meanwhile, a federal trial judge in April ruled that the law violates the U.S. Constitution as well as Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott won the most recent round in the fight to require voters to show valid photo identification to cast ballots, but a potentially much bigger fight looms beyond Tuesday. Abbott’s victory has only short-lived implications, since last month’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed Texas to enforce its voter ID law will affect only Tuesday’s election. But later a federal judge may decide whether Texas should once again be required to ask for permission from the federal government before enacting changes to election laws, a ruling that could affect Texas and possibly other states for years. “That might be bigger than the ID issue itself,” said Richard Hasen, an election law expert and a professor at the University of California, Irvine School of Law. Texas and North Carolina, which also has a voter ID law facing a legal challenge, are test cases for the Justice Department, Hasen said.
The fate of Wisconsin’s voter ID law, set to take effect in one month, is pending before two federal courts, both of which have been asked to issue an emergency order halting implementation of the law. Meanwhile, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen on Tuesday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to leave the law in place for the Nov. 4 election , when voters will select Wisconsin’s next governor. On Tuesday, one day after a three-judge appeals court panel affirmed that Wisconsin’s voter ID law is constitutional, opponents including the League of United Latin American Citizens and the American Civil Liberties Union asked the full 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to stop implementation of the requirement that residents show a state-issued identification or other photo ID before voting.
A controversial voter ID law in Wisconsin, which critics fear will disenfranchise thousands of voters in the November midterm elections, must be implemented after a federal appeals court turned down a request to re-hear a legal challenge. The seventh circuit court of appeals in Chicago declined to take up the application to hear the challenge before its full panel of judges. On 12 September, three judges stayed an injunction issued by a district court that had prevented the law’s implementation. With less than six weeks to go until the 4 November midterms, voter-rights advocates fear chaos as people rush to get the required identification, and confusion at the polls as election workers and voters struggle with the new rules. Previous testimony in the case indicated that about 300,000 people who had previously been eligible to vote will have difficulty obtaining the identification now needed to cast their ballots. The plaintiffs in the voter ID cases include Ruthelle Frank, the League of United Latin American Citizens of Wisconsin, the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, and the Advancement Project.
At a Federalist Society event in Washington D.C. last November, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker called 7th Circuit Judge Diane Sykes “one of our favorite jurists,” and joked about appointing her to the U.S. Supreme Court if elected president. During Friday’s hearing on Wisconsin’s blocked voter ID law, Sykes didn’t disappoint. “We are on the eve of an election,” Sykes said, indicating that she would like to immediately put one of Walker’s signature pieces of legislation in place for November’s vote. “No court has ever allowed voter ID to got into effect this close to an election,” replied NAACP attorney Dale Ho, “even courts that have ultimately upheld” voter ID. Hours after argument wrapped, Sykes and the two other Republican judges on the panel made history, and ordered Wisconsin’s restrictive voter ID law to take effect immediately. The case came to the 7th Circuit from an appeal of district court Judge Lynn Adelman’s decision in April striking down Wisconsin’s voter ID law as violative of the U.S. Constitution and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
A panel of three federal appeals court judges in Chicago will hear arguments on whether to reinstate Wisconsin’s voter ID law on Friday, less than eight weeks before the Nov. 4 election. Gov. Scott Walker and Republicans in the Legislature in 2011 approved the law, which requires voters to show poll workers certain types of photo identification to vote. Litigation immediately followed, and judges at the state and federal level halted the law. The requirement was in effect for just one election, a low-turnout primary in February 2012. Two cases were brought in federal court, and U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman in Milwaukee heard them together. This April, he ruled the voter ID law placed an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote. He also determined it violated the federal Voting Rights Act because minorities are less likely than whites to have IDs for voting. Adelman found some 300,000 people in Wisconsin do not have IDs and wrote the voter ID law would “prevent more legitimate votes from being cast than fraudulent votes.” He ruled there was no rational basis for the law because voter impersonation — the only kind of fraud the voter ID law would curb — is nonexistent or virtually nonexistent. Supporters of voter ID disagree with that sentiment, saying voter fraud is difficult to detect and requiring IDs gives the public more confidence in election results.
Texans are on the hook for $3.9 million in costs for Attorney General Greg Abbott to fight for Republican-championed redistricting maps, and that number will only grow as a years-long legal fight continues Monday in federal court in San Antonio. A big tally is expected in complicated redistricting litigation, experts say, particularly with the Abbott legal team’s aggressive defense of the congressional and legislative maps approved by the GOP-majority Legislature. “Abbott’s attitude has been very much ‘I’m going to litigate this to the ends of the earth,'” said Michael Li, redistricting counsel at the Brennan Center at New York University School of Law. Abbott’s staff said he simply is doing his job as the state’s top lawyer and that the responsibility for the costs lies with those who have challenged the maps. Democrats said Abbott is using taxpayer funds as an ATM to defend discriminatory maps. Minority and civil rights groups, including the League of United Latin American Citizens, Mexican American Legislative Caucus and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, originally mounted the redistricting challenges in 2011.
Editorials: Wisconsin voter ID ruling a ‘blueprint’ for similar challenges in North Carolina, Texas | Facing South
In a major victory for voting rights, a federal judge struck down Wisconsin’s voter identification law last week, ruling that requiring voters to show a state-issued photo ID at the polls discriminates against low-income and minority voters. Legal experts say the decision in a state that’s been called the “Selma of the North” for its history of racial conflict has important implications for legal challenges to similar laws passed in North Carolina and Texas. The ruling is “absolutely a blueprint” for the courts considering those other challenges, Katherine Culliton-González of the Advancement Project, a national civil rights group that challenged the Wisconsin law, said last week during a press call about the decision. “This case is very symbolic of turning the tide toward democracy,” Culliton-González added. Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled legislature passed the photo ID requirement in 2011. The law was in force only for the 2012 primary before it was temporarily blocked.
Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz will appeal the decision handed down last month nullifying rules his office wrote regarding voter registration. The Republican, who has made voter fraud investigations and ballot security efforts the centerpiece of his term in office, on Thursday asked the Iowa Supreme Court to review and overturn the March 6 ruling which said he exceeded his authority regulate elections in the state. At issue in the case, American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa v. Schultz, was a rule issued by Schultz’s office to identify and remove ineligible voters from the state’s voter rolls. The rule outlined a process for identifying and removing non-citizens from Iowa’s voter registration list first by screening registered voters against state and national lists of non-citizens and then running suspected foreign nationals through a federal citizenship database. Voters identified as ineligible were then to be referred to their local county auditor, who would initiate a challenge to their registration.
Voting rights groups filed an appeal Friday of a judge’s order that federal election officials must help Kansas and Arizona enforce state laws requiring new voters to provide documentation proving their U.S. citizenship. A court filing sent to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals challenges a ruling earlier this month by U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren in Wichita. Melgren had ordered the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to immediately modify a national voter registration form to add special instructions requiring proof of citizenship for Kansas and Arizona residents. The appeal was filed by more than a dozen voting rights groups and individuals who had earlier intervened in the case on behalf of the election commission. They include the League of Women Voters of the United States, Project Vote Inc., Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Common Cause, Arizona Advocacy Network, League of United Latin American Citizens Arizona, Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, Chicanos Por La Causa and others.
Iowa: Judge strikes down Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz’s voter purge efforts | Omaha World Herald
Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz did not have the authority to create a new rule aimed at ridding voter registration rolls of voters who didn’t appear to be U.S. citizens, a judge said Wednesday. Polk County Judge Scott Rosenberg ordered the rule stricken and said Iowa’s secretary of state is “enjoined from taking any action” pursuant to the rule. Rosenberg gave a victory to the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa and the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa, which sued Schultz over the rule, saying it could intimidate or unfairly deny votes to immigrants. Schultz tried to pass it as an emergency rule just before the November 2012 general election. Another judge halted the rule before the election, concluding that it created confusion and mistrust in the voter registration process.
Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz did not have the authority to create a new rule aimed at ridding voter registration rolls of voters who didn’t appear to be U.S. citizens, a judge said Wednesday. Polk County Judge Scott Rosenberg delivered a victory to the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa and the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa, which sued Schultz over the rule. He tried to pass it as an emergency rule just before the November 2012 general election. Another judge halted the rule before the election, concluding that it created confusion and mistrust in the voter registration process. Schultz, however, proceeded to pass a similar rule through the regular rulemaking process last year but it too was halted by Rosenberg, who in September issued a temporary injunction preventing Schultz from acting on it until the court could further review the legal questions. Rosenberg said then that the rule would have a chilling effect on the right to vote and could cause irreparable harm.
Iowa: Court throws out secretary of state’s controversial voter registration rule | The Des Moines Register
A Polk County court has struck down a controversial rule issued by Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz meant to identify and remove ineligible voters from the state’s voter rolls. Judge Scott D. Rosenberg found that Schultz, a Republican who has built his reputation and focused his office on ballot security issues, exceeded his authority in adopting the rule. The order invalidates the rule and assesses costs associated with the case to Schultz’s office. A spokesman for the secretary said his office plans to appeal. The rule at issue set out a process for identifying and removing non-citizens from Iowa’s voter registration list first by screening registered voters against state and national lists of noncitizens and then running suspected foreign nationals through the federal Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements database. Voters identified as ineligible would then be referred to their local county auditor, who would initiate a challenge to their registration.
Texans will have to prove who they are to cast ballots today, beginning a series of U.S state elections that will show the effect of laws pushed by Republicans requiring photo identification at the polls. Nine states this year are holding their first major votes – – including for governor and Congress — under such laws, according to the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures. The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for many such requirements last year after throwing out a core element of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which was meant to enfranchise blacks in the segregated South.
A federal trial in Milwaukee on Wisconsin’s 2011 voter ID law concluded recently, and the verdict, when it comes, will help define the future of the Voting Rights Act, which has been in question since the Supreme Court gutted a core provision, Section 5, in June. This case could also set an important precedent for lawsuits recently filed against similar laws in Texas and North Carolina. The Wisconsin law, which is now on hold, is among the strictest in the country. It requires a voter to show poll workers government-issued photo identification, like a driver’s license or passport. The law’s challengers, which include the A.C.L.U., the League of United Latin American Citizens, the League of Young Voters and several private citizens, sued under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. That section, which survived the Supreme Court’s ruling, prohibits state and local governments from imposing any “voting qualification or prerequisite to voting” that has a racially discriminatory effect. The test is whether a law causes minority voters to have “less opportunity than other members of the electorate to participate in the political process.” The plaintiffs presented substantial evidence that the Wisconsin statute had precisely that effect.
Controversial rules governing voter fraud investigations will remain suspended until the conclusion of a lawsuit challenging their legality. A Polk County judge on Wednesday issued a temporary injunction against implementation of the rules. The move is a positive development for the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa and the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa, which brought the suit against Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz. At issue are rules written by Schultz’s office guiding the process by which the state may verify a voter’s eligibility and strip the voting rights of those found to be ineligible.
Controversial rules governing voter fraud investigations will remain suspended until the conclusion of a lawsuit challenging their legality. A Polk County judge on Wednesday issued a temporary injunction against implementation of the rules. The move is a positive development for the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa and the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa, which brought the suit against Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz. At issue are rules written by Schultz’s office guiding the process by which the state may verify a voter’s eligibility and strip the voting rights of those found to be ineligible. The ACLU and LULAC argue Schultz exceeded his authority in issuing the rules, and say the rules themselves could violate eligible voters’ right to vote. They’re asking that the rules be struck down entirely. Schultz’s office, by contrast, argues the rules are appropriate and has asked the court to dismiss the case.
Two civil rights groups will proceed with their lawsuit challenging Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz’s authority to pass emergency voting rules in the months before an election. It comes after a judge refused to dismiss the lawsuit over the weekend. Polk County Judge Scott Rosenberg said in a ruling Saturday that since there is nothing to stop the secretary of state from attempting to pass voting rules again prior to an election, the court must hear the case and resolve the issues. “If Schultz refiles these emergency rules before a future election, the same issues will arise of whether he abused the emergency rulemaking process, exceeded his statutory authority, and violated the right to vote,” Rosenberg wrote.
The Iowa chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa have sued Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz (R) over a rule that aims to remove names from voter rolls if a federal immigration database suggests they are not authorized to vote. The ACLU and the LULAC filed a legal motion in Iowa’s Polk County on Wednesday asking the judge to issue a ruling in the lawsuit, originally filed last year, and permanently block Schultz’s rule. Schultz was given tentative permission to use the rule Aug. 14. If the judge approves the request, the activists will have successfully stopped the proposed voter roll purge. The rule in question allows Schultz’s office to cross reference self-identified non-citizens on voter registration rolls with the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) program, which the Department of Homeland Security operates. The SAVE program retains information on immigrants in the country on a temporary visa. If a non-citizen on the SAVE list is also listed as a registered voter a letter is sent to the registrant telling him or her that he or she might be illegally registered to vote. If the voter does not respond to that first letter, a second letter is sent reminding “the individual that registering to vote without citizenship is a felony,” according to Schultz’s office. After the second letter a voter might have to appear before a hearing to present evidence on voter eligibility.
Texas: Court Ruling Allows Texas To Use Current Election Maps; Civil Rights Groups Claim Victory | Fox News
A judicial ruling means Texas’ primary elections will not be delayed since the state will be able to use existing voting maps, not the controversial 2011 maps drawn by the legislature, deemed as illegal by civil rights groups. But advocates may not be able to claim victory for long, since the ruling is temporary as judges sort out a complex and possibly precedent-setting lawsuit. The three-judge panel in San Antonio gave both sides in the lawsuit over Texas’ voting maps reason to claim victory. The court will not draw its own map for the 2014 elections, as civil rights groups wanted, but it also did not throw out the lawsuit completely, as Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott requested. But the ruling is viewed largely as a win for state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, because the redistricting case at one time threatened to dismantle her senate district.
Civil liberties groups have renewed their court battle with Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz in their effort to stop him from using a federal immigration database to try to find voters registered in Iowa who might not be citizens. The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa and the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa filed documents on Aug. 26 asking a judge to rule on a lawsuit they filed last year or to at least issue a temporary order to keep Schultz from using the data until the lawsuit can be decided. The lawsuit revolves around a voter removal rule Schultz proposed that went into effect March 27. The rule sets up a process to remove voters from registration rolls if Schultz cannot confirm their citizenship by comparing state records with a federal immigration database. After months of negotiations, Schultz obtained permission from the federal government Aug. 14 to get access to the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements program, called SAVE. It’s administered by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a division of the Department of Homeland Security and used to confirm immigrant citizenship status to determine eligibility for certain federal benefits.
Unless a federal judge intervenes, the South Texas city of Edinburg could be the first to enforce a new voter ID law next week, and lawyers will likely use the special election to gather evidence to strengthen lawsuits to block it in the future. While the U.S. Justice Department and several civil rights groups have filed federal lawsuits to block the requirement that voters produce a state-issued photo ID, no one as of Friday had asked for a restraining order to stop enforcement of the law. That means it will be in effect when early voting in the city’s special election begins Wednesday. Allowing Texas to enforce the law could be part of a larger legal strategy to defeat it in the long run. Texas has been the center of the fight over voting laws after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that Congress must update how it enforces the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Texas is the only state in the last three years where a federal judge has ruled the Legislature intentionally discriminated against minorities.
A lawsuit filed by several civil rights groups this week could result in continued federal oversight of Texas voting laws despite a Supreme Court ruling that section 4 of the voting rights act is unconstitutional. Section 4 mandated that some states, including Texas, must get pre-clearance for any voting changes made by the legislature. The suit was filed in a Washington D.C. court by the League of United Latin American citizens, the NAACP, the Texas Legislative Black Caucus and state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth.
A state appeals court overturned a Dane County Circuit Court ruling Thursday morning, handing proponents of the state’s controversial voter ID law a minor legal victory. The ruling from the 4th District Court of Appeals came in a case brought by the Wisconsin League of Women Voters. The league argued the law passed in 2011 violated a provision of the Wisconsin Constitution that guarantees every person the right to vote. Thursday’s ruling, however, will not result in the voter ID law being enacted. Three other lawsuits are still pending that challenge the legality of the law. In the other case brought in state courts, Voces de la Frontera, an immigrant rights group, and the Milwaukee branch of the NAACP won a permanent injunction against the voter ID law in Dane County Circuit Court. The state Department of Justice has asked for an appeals court review of the ruling.
Two civil rights groups have sued Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz to halt a new state rule allowing people to be removed from voter registration lists if their citizenship is questioned. The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa and the Iowa League of United Latin American Citizens filed the lawsuit Friday in Polk County District Court. The document asks a judge to find the rule, which took effect Wednesday, illegal and issue a court order that prevents its implementation. Schultz, a Republican, has said the change is needed to reduce voter fraud, an issue he’s championed since taking office in 2011. Critics have called the rule a witch hunt, voter suppression and “a solution in search of a problem.”
An Arizona law designed to stop illegal immigrants from voting hangs in the balance, as the Supreme Court will take up a landmark case this month on whether the state can demand would-be voters to prove they are citizens before casting ballots in federal elections. The dispute centers on its Proposition 200 referendum passed by voters in 2004 that requires residents to show “satisfactory evidence” of citizenship — such as naturalization papers, a birth certificate, passport or Indian tribal identification — before registering to vote. A standard Arizona driver’s license also is accepted because the state requires proof of citizenship to obtain one. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals — responding to a legal challenge by a group of Arizona residents, Indian tribes and civil-rights groups — ruled the citizenship requirement conflicted with the 1993 federal lawknown as the “Motor Voter Law,” drafted in part to make it easier for people to register to vote, including requiring states to offer registration at driver’s license offices. Arizona appealed and the Supreme Court agreed to take the case, with oral arguments set for Monday.
Arizona: Can Arizona Make You Show Your Birth Certificate to Vote? The state’s voter ID requirement goes to the Supreme Court on Monday | Slate Magazine
You’ve probably heard that the Supreme Court may be on the verge of striking down an integral part of the Voting Rights Act. That case, however, is not the only chance that the highest court will have this term to affect voting rights around the country. On Monday, the justices will hear oral arguments in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc., a case that concerns Arizona’s power to impose its own conditions on top of the federal rules for voter registration. The case began as a challenge to Proposition 200, an initiative passed by Arizona voters in 2004 that requires voters to prove that they are U.S. citizens by showing a birth certificate, passport, driver’s license, naturalization certificate, or tribal document before registering and also to show identification when casting their ballots. Under the law, state election officials must reject any voter registration forms not accompanied by sufficient evidence of citizenship—even the federal form produced by Congress under the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), which doesn’t generally require the documents Arizona does.
A general election that went off with hardly a hitch hasn’t changed Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz’s determination to clean up voter registration rolls. Now that the election is over, Schultz plan to resume efforts to root out voter fraud as soon as a Polk County District Court judge lifts a temporary injunction preventing him from removing ineligible Iowans from voter registration rolls. “My position hasn’t changed: If you’re not a citizen you shouldn’t be voting,” the first-term Republican said. “It’s my job to protect the integrity of the vote. If every vote really does count, then it’s important for us to protect that.”