Breaking news can be hard to predict, except when it’s tied to a controversial court case. Candidates and consultants spend their time, energy and dollars staying on message — trying to focus voters on winning issues. But breaking news, even something such as a court decision that can be anticipated, often derails those plans by interjecting a subject that wasn’t in the campaign prospectus into the national conversation. It’s far too early to declare which issues will be decisive in the 2016 elections, but a handful of court cases are likely to become news throughout the next year. That would force candidates for president, the Senate, and the House to respond, creating opportunities for them to shine — or to say something controversial, even stupid. Of course these news events could be trumped by bigger breaking news, such as another terrorist attack.
The point was to protest what the 30 people assembled said was the state’s misplaced priorities in recent attempts to shut down rural driver’s license offices – major sources of photo IDs required for voting – while keeping some money-losing Alabama Beverage Control (ABC) stores open. “They would leave state-owned liquor stores open that were losing up to $75,000 a year,” said Sen. Hank Sanders, D-Selma. “What it did was told us over how many a year it was easier to get alcohol than it was to get the ballot. They work hard to make sure you get alcohol. They work hard to make sure you don’t get the ballot.” The crowd chanted “Give us the ballot, not just the bottle” at the end of the performance. The Save Ourselves Movement for Justice and Democracy organized the event.
An Alabama congresswoman has formally asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the state’s shuttering of driver’s license offices in several heavily black counties, warning that the closures throw up another obstacle to voting. The call for a federal probe comes as opposition to the state’s decision, announced last Wednesday, continues to mount. “These closures will potentially disenfranchise Alabama’s poor, elderly, disabled, and black communities,” wrote Rep. Terri Sewell in a letter sent Monday to Attorney General Loretta Lynch. “To restrict the ability of any citizen to vote is an assault on the rights of all Americans to equally participate in the electoral process.” Sewell, a Democrat whose district includes Selma, the historical birthplace of the push for African-American voting rights, called for “a full and thorough investigation by DoJ.”
Editorials: Texas Voter ID law is discriminatory, un-American and needs to be amended | Raúl A. Reyes/Fox News Latino
Just in time for the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, a panel of federal appeals court judges in Texas last week ruled against the state’s Voter ID law. They agreed that the law violated the provisions of the Voting Rights Act, because it disproportionately impacted Latino and African-American voters. In response, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said in a statement, “Texas will continue to fight for its voter ID requirement to ensure the integrity of elections in the Lone Star State.” Texas’ Voter ID law is a solution in search of a problem. While in theory it fights voter fraud, in reality it has disenfranchised thousands of minority voters. Texas’ Voter ID law deserves to be amended or dismantled so that all eligible voters have equal access to the ballot box. True, these days a valid ID is necessary to board a plane or to buy alcohol. But travelling or buying beer is not a constitutional right; voting is.
Recently passed Ohio voting laws create hurdles for minority voters casting absentee and provisional ballots, advocates argued in an updated federal lawsuit filed on Monday. The laws and similar orders by the secretary of state unconstitutionally permit absentee votes to be thrown out for ID errors, according to the lawsuit. Those mistakes could include putting down the wrong birth month on the absentee envelope even when a voter supplied the correct information when requesting the ballot, the lawsuit said. The laws also removed protection for voters casting provisional ballots by failing to provide the chance for voters to be notified of errors that could cause the ballot to be rejected, according to the lawsuit.
The day after the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Texas’s Voter ID law has a discriminatory effect on elections, a new study found some evidence in our backyard. A joint study by Rice University and the University of Houston examined Voter ID’s impact on the 2014 District 23 Congressional race between Democratic incumbent Pete Gallego and Republican challenger Will Hurd. District 23 covers 800 miles of Texas borderland, and stretches from San Antonio to El Paso. Bexar County contains 42 percent of the district’s registered voters. Given that the two major critiques of Voter ID — enacted in 2011 with Republican support, and Democratic opposition — are that it has a discriminatory impact on minority voters and that the GOP pushed it in order to help their own political cause, the 2014 election in District 23 provided the research group a perfect test case. “The great thing about CD-23 was that it allowed us to look at both of those things at the same time, because it’s a Latino majority district, but it’s also one that’s politically relevant,” said Mark Jones, the fellow at Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.
Democrats allied with Hillary Rodham Clinton have filed a voting rights lawsuit in Virginia, the third time they have done so in a crucial presidential battleground state in the last two months. The suit, like the others, was filed by Marc Elias, a Democratic election lawyer whose clients include Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign and four of the party’s major national committees. Mrs. Clinton is not a party to any of the lawsuits, but her campaign aides have expressed supported for the two earlier suits, in Ohio and Wisconsin. The Virginia lawsuit is part of a broader effort by Democrats to try to roll back voting laws that have been passed in nearly two dozen states since 2010. Many of the laws were passed in states where Republican governors and legislatures rose to power after the Tea Party wave.
Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday accused Republicans including her potential rivals Jeb Bush, Scott Walker and Rick Perry of “deliberately trying to stop” young people and minorities — both vital Democratic constituencies — from exercising their right to vote, as she presented an ambitious agenda to make it easier for those groups and other Americans to participate in elections. Speaking at Texas Southern University here in front of her largest crowd yet as a candidate for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, Mrs. Clinton accused Republicans generally of enacting state voting laws based on what she called “a phantom epidemic of election fraud” because they are “scared of letting citizens have their say.”
Virginia House Republicans are fighting to keep hundreds of pages of documents secret as attorneys for Democratic groups push for full access, hoping to find something useful in an ongoing lawsuit over state election maps. The lawsuit targets 12 districts in the House of Delegates, and it follows the same argument that invalidated Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District earlier this year: That the General Assembly’s Republican majority focused on race as it drew maps, packing minority voters into a handful of districts and diluting their voting power in neighboring ones.
A divided U.S. Supreme Court handed down a victory Wednesday for black legislative leaders in Alabama, and the decision may signal a coming win for Virginia Democrats fighting Republican-drawn election maps here. The court’s 5-4 decision sends Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama back to the federal district court there with an admonition that the case be re-argued. Plaintiffs there argued that Alabama legislators unfairly packed minority voters into districts to dilute black voting strength elsewhere. A federal judicial panel in the state disagreed, but the U.S. Supreme Court vacated that decision Wednesday. A three-judge panel in Virginia decided just the opposite in a case challenging the state’s 3rd Congressional District, which is held by U.S. Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, D-Newport News. Federal judges here decided last year that race was the predominant factor in drawing district lines and ordered the map redrawn.