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.
Tennessee: NAACP says Tennessee’s voter ID law makes it harder for poor, minorities to vote | Times Free Press
Local NAACP officials say it’s getting harder for poor people and people of color to vote, and they point to Tennessee’s 2011 voter ID law as part of the problem. “This year, we determine if America is a place for everyone or a place for a few,” said City Councilman Yusuf Hakeem, who spoke at the NAACP’s State of the Vote 2016 meeting this month. “Some of the obvious things that should tell us how important voting is, is the effort to keep people from voting, like the new voting ID Laws,” Hakeem said. “We don’t want to give people looking to the past a free ride by not even going to the polls.” The website WalletHub says Tennessee’s black voters are among the least politically engaged in the nation. The website said its research showed Tennessee ranked 43rd among 48 states for black turnout.
Members and allies of the NAACP rallied against photo voter ID laws Tuesday morning in the Capitol rotunda for the group’s legislative lobby day, the day after voter ID was brought up in the Senate for a second time in two weeks. State and local leaders, including Secretary of State Jason Kander, State Auditor Nicole Galloway, Democratic Kansas City Rep. Brandon Ellington, and Ben Chapel – president of the NAACP’s Missouri Chapter, spoke to a group of supporters and called for action on photo voter ID, education, court reform and other issues. “Before we leave today, we will take our place in the Senate gallery and bare witness,” Chapel told the crowd. “Let’s go see everyone who stands in our way. Our way is the American way. We vote and we pay taxes.”
The N.C. NAACP is asking a federal judge to postpone a trial on the state’s photo ID requirement until after the March 15 primary, according to court documents filed Tuesday. The trial is set to start Jan. 25 in U.S. District Court in Winston-Salem. The state NAACP, the U.S. Department of Justice and others sued North Carolina and Gov. Pat McCrory in 2013 after state Republican legislators passed a controversial sweeping elections law known as the Voter Information Verification Act. Part of that law required people to show a photo ID this year when they cast their ballots.
North Carolina: State attorneys oppose call for preliminary injunction against photo ID law | Winston-Salem Journal
Attorneys for the state filed court papers Friday opposing the request for a preliminary injunction against the state’s photo ID requirement before the March primaries. The N.C. NAACP filed a motion for a preliminary injunction last month, arguing that allowing the photo ID requirement during the March primaries would cause “irreparable harm” to minority voters. They argue that state officials haven’t done enough to educate voters about the photo ID requirement or about changes that state Republican legislators made to the requirement in June.
A federal lawsuit challenging Alabama’s law that requires voters to present identification before they can cast a ballot was filed Wednesday by Greater Birmingham Ministries and the Alabama NAACP. The lawsuit alleges Alabama violated the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 when the state enacted a photo ID law in 2011. Alabama’s secretary of state had estimated that at least 280,000 registered voters would be immediately blocked from voting, the lawsuit states “If the Photo ID Law remains in place, hundreds of thousands more eligible and registered voters will be barred from voting in the years to come,” according to the lawsuit.
The top federal prosecutor in North Alabama says she is reviewing a lawsuit filed Wednesday by groups challenging Alabama’s law requiring people to present photo identification before they can vote. “We received a copy of the lawsuit … We are certainly reading the lawsuit with great interest,” said U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance. But Vance said it was “too speculative” at this point on whether the U.S. Department of Justice would get involved in the issue. But, she added, “we are acutely concerned with protecting the right to vote.”
Yesterday marked the 60th anniversary of the Montgomery bus boycott, launched when Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of a segregated bus. Ten years before her historic act of civil disobedience, Parks tried to register to vote. She was denied three times and had to pass a literacy test and pay a poll tax before finally registering. Ten years after the bus boycott, Parks helped lead the historic march from Selma to Montgomery and attended the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The VRA had a dramatic impact in Alabama, increasing the number of black registered voters from 23 percent in 1965 to 69 percent by 2012. But in recent years the state has been moving backward on voting rights. Alabama passed a strict voter ID law in 2010, then challenged the constitutionality of the VRA in 2013.
Gov. Christie on Monday vetoed legislation that would have brought sweeping changes to the state’s voting laws, panning the bill as “thinly veiled political gamesmanship.” Christie, a Republican running for president, previously criticized the legislation as an effort by the Democratic National Committee to increase voter fraud. “Ultimately, New Jersey taxpayers deserve better than to have their hard-earned tax dollars spent on thinly veiled political gamesmanship, and the state must ensure that every eligible citizen’s vote counts and is not stolen by fraud,” Christie wrote in his veto message. “This 71-page bill, styled as ‘the Democracy Act,’ will not further democracy but endanger the state’s long-standing and proven election system,” he wrote.
About 50 voters were permanently removed from Hancock County’s registration list in recent months, according court filings. Most were African-American, and the Georgia NAACP is now suing the county Board of Elections for what it says are racially biased voter purges. Hancock County is about 100 miles southeast of Atlanta. At issue is how the Board of Elections conducted a series of voter challenge hearings. Julie Houk, an attorney with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, represents the plaintiffs. She said since August, at least 201 voter registrations were challenged, according to the lawsuit.
A federal judge on Friday refused a request from state lawmakers to dismiss a challenge to the N.C. voter ID law. U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder set the issue for a trial, tentatively in January. Attorneys for state lawmakers argued that a 2015 change to the ID provision of an election law overhaul made the 2013 legal challenge moot. Though the law initially restricted voting to people who had one of six specified photo identification cards, the General Assembly added a provision on the eve of the federal trial this summer that made it possible to cast a provisional ballot without an ID. The law is set to go into effect next year. Advocates of the ID law say it is necessary to prevent voter fraud. But few cases have been prosecuted.
A federal judge on Friday refused a request from state lawmakers to dismiss a challenge to the North Carolina voter ID law. U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder set the issue for a trial, tentatively in January. Attorneys for state lawmakers argued that a change made this year to the ID provision of election law made the 2013 legal challenge moot. Though the law initially restricted voting to people who had one of six specified photo identification cards, the General Assembly added a provision on the eve of the federal trial this summer that made it possible to cast a provisional ballot without an ID. The law is set to go into effect next year.
Parties in a legal battle over Fayette County voting rights are awaiting direction from an Atlanta mediator on how or if the case can be resolved without going to trial. Fayette County officials and the NAACP and a group of black Fayette residents met all day Wednesday with Steven J. Kaminshine to try to settle the matter. Kaminshine is dean and law professsor at Georgia State University. The meeting ended Wednesday without an agreement reached between the two sides. Consequently, another meeting is likely once data collection is complete. It’s unclear when the next meeting will be.
Attorneys will update a federal judge Friday about their latest arguments over North Carolina’s voter ID provision that is set to go into effect in 2016. Lawyers representing state lawmakers contend the legal challenge should be dismissed. They say the issue is moot now, because legislators changed the law earlier this year to make it possible for some people to vote without a photo identification card. The NAACP and others have contended that requiring IDs to vote has a disproportionate negative impact on minority voters, who don’t always have access to birth certificates and other documents needed for the identification cards. Though the 2015 amendment to the elections law overhaul now makes it possible to vote without one of the six specified IDs, the challengers have asked for more time to study the practical effect. They also have questioned whether elections officials have had adequate time to educate the public about the most recent version of voting laws.
North Carolina: State wants federal judge to rule on Voter ID before March primaries | Winston-Salem Journal
State attorneys want a federal judge to dismiss the legal challenge to North Carolina’s voter-identification law before the March 2016 presidential primary, according to court documents filed Wednesday. And though the plaintiffs, including the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP, said they hoped to settle the matter before a trial, state attorneys said there’s no chance of that. A hearing is scheduled for Oct. 23 before U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder. The state NAACP, the U.S. Justice Department and others sued the state and Gov. Pat McCrory over 2013’s Voter Information Verification Act. The law’s most well-known provision is the photo ID requirement, but the law also reduced the number of early-voting days from 17 to 10, eliminated same-day voter registration and got rid of out-of-precinct provisional voting.
Louisiana’s Terrebonne Parish has never elected a black judge, even though one in five parish residents is African-American. In fact, it re-elected a white parish judge who had been suspended for wearing black-face as part of a racist parody Halloween costume. Lawyers for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund say the problem is the discriminatory voting system the parish uses, and last year they sued Gov. Bobby Jindal under the Voting Rights Act to force a change. On Friday, they filed papers asking a federal judge for a summary judgment in their favor. The lawsuit demonstrates how the Voting Rights Act, which was badly weakened by the Supreme Court in 2013, remains a key tool for stopping not only high-profile statewide laws like voter ID, but also a range of local election rules that often fly under the radar.
Attorneys on both sides of the lawsuits challenging the 2013 state election law overhaul are trying to find common ground on North Carolina’s voter ID law and plan to report the results of their efforts to a judge next month. Lawyers for the NAACP and others offered that detail in an update to the federal judge presiding over the cases that will determine which rules govern elections in North Carolina next year. They plan to report to the judge on Sept. 17 as part of a trial that could test the breadth of protections for African-Americans with claims of voter disenfranchisement two years after the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder presided over three weeks of arguments in July on parts of the challenge that did not include the requirement that N.C. voters show one of six photo identification cards to cast a ballot. The legislature amended that portion of the law on the eve of the trial, setting up a request from the challengers for deeper review of the broader implications of the changes.
North Carolina: Court documents: Legal challenge to N.C. voter ID could be settled | Winston-Salem Journal
North Carolina’s voter ID law may not go to trial after all, according to court documents filed Monday. The recent federal trial on North Carolina’s Voter Information Verification Act that ended about two weeks ago did not deal with the state’s photo ID requirement that goes into effect in 2016. It only dealt with other provisions of the law, which reduced the early voting period, eliminated same-day voter registration, prohibited county election officials from counting ballots cast in the wrong precinct but correct county, and abolished preregistration for 16- and 17-year-olds.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder decided that the legal challenge to the photo ID requirement would be dealt with later. Schroeder’s decision came after state Republican legislators approved an amendment easing the photo ID requirement.
North Carolina: Court documents: Legal challenge to voter ID could be settled | Winston-Salem Journal
North Carolina’s voter ID law may not go to trial after all, according to court documents filed Monday. The recent federal trial on North Carolina’s Voter Information Verification Act that ended about two weeks ago did not deal with the state’s photo ID requirement that goes into effect in 2016. It only dealt with other provisions of the law, which reduced the early voting period, eliminated same-day voter registration, prohibited county election officials from counting ballots cast in the wrong precinct but correct county, and abolished preregistration for 16- and 17-year-olds. U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder decided that the legal challenge to the photo ID requirement would be dealt with later. Schroeder’s decision came after state Republican legislators approved an amendment easing the photo ID requirement. The amendment allows voters without photo ID to sign a declaration saying they had a “reasonable impediment” to getting a photo ID and also enables voters to use a photo ID that has expired as long as it has not been more than four years. State Republican leaders proposed the changes less than a month before the federal trial was to start.
North Carolina: Federal trial in Winston-Salem could determine meaning of Voting Rights Act | Winston-Salem Journal
The past and the present merged into one during a three-week federal trial on North Carolina’s election law that ended just a week before the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. On July 13, the first day of the trial, the Rev. William Barber, president of the state NAACP, told a crowd of at least 3,500 people gathered in Corpening Plaza that “this is our Selma,” referring to the 1965 civil rights battles in Selma, Ala. For many civil rights activists like Barber, state Republican legislators were seeking to roll back the gains of that struggle by pushing through House Bill 589, which became law in 2013 and either curtailed or eliminated voting practices that blacks have disproportionately used.
Georgia: Judge calls for district election to fill vacant Fayette seat | Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A federal judge granted an injunction against Fayette County, requiring the county to use district voting to fill a vacant district seat created by the death of the county’s first black commissioner last month. U.S. District judge Timothy C. Batten Sr. cited in his 36-page decision, the timing of the Sept. 15 special election and that Pota Coston was elected under district voting – a plan he ordered in 2013 – as his reasons for granting the preliminary injunction requested by the NAACP, which has been in three-year legal fight with Fayette over its electoral system.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder interrupted attorneys numerous times with questions during closing arguments Friday at the North Carolina voting rights trial. The federal judge is presiding over a nationally-watched case that could test the breadth of protections for African-Americans with claims of voter disenfranchisement two years after the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The NAACP, League of Women Voters, the U.S. Justice Department and others contend that four parts of the 2013 overhaul to North Carolina’s election laws are intended to disenfranchise black, Hispanic and young voters.
North Carolina: State attorneys rest their case in federal voting rights trial | Winston-Salem Journal
Attorneys representing North Carolina and Gov. Pat McCrory rested their case this morning after calling six witnesses in a federal trial over the state’s controversial election law. The last witness for the state was Brian Neesby, business systems analysis for the State Board of Election. Neesby testified about data analysis he conducted, including an analysis that showed higher mail verification failure rates for same-day voter registration than the traditional registration that occurs 25 days before an election. Several groups, including the N.C. NAACP and the U.S. Department of Justice, are suing the state and McCrory over House Bill 589, which became law in 2013. House Bill 589 eliminated same-day voter registration, reduced the days of early voting from 17 to 10, got rid of out-of-precinct provisional voting and abolished preregistration of 16- and 17-year-olds.
The federal judge presiding over the North Carolina voting rights trial agreed Thursday to give the state more time to prepare for closing arguments, pushing them to Friday. Thomas Farr, a private attorney representing state legislators who shepherded the 2013 election laws through the General Assembly, told U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder he needed more time to cross-examine rebuttal witnesses. On Thursday morning, attorneys for the NAACP, League of Women Voters, U.S. Justice Department and others challenging key provisions of the 2013 election law changes asked experts and voters about testimony presented by attorneys representing the state. The challengers’ witnesses offered rebuttal to testimony from state experts and election board workers.
North Carolina: State elections director discusses prevention of voter fraud | Winston-Salem Journal
Kim Strach, the executive director of the State Board of Elections, took the stand Tuesday for a second time in a closely watched federal trial over North Carolina’s controversial election law. But this time she was on much friendlier ground. Unlike last week, she was called as a witness by attorneys representing the state and Gov. Pat McCrory. Several groups, including the N.C. NAACP and the U.S. Department of Justice, are suing the state and McCrory over House Bill 589, legislation passed in 2013 that eliminated same-day voter registration, reduced the days of early voting from 17 to 10, prohibited out-of-precinct provisional voting and eliminated preregistration for 16- and 17-year-olds, among other provisions.
North Carolina: Expert: New voting law wouldn’t have affected black turnout in 2014 | Greensboro News & Record
An elections analyst testified Monday that North Carolina’s new voting law had no discernible impact on black voter turnout in the 2014 election. But attorneys for the N.C. NAACP and other groups suing the state and Gov. Pat McCrory objected to testimony from Sean Trende, the senior elections analyst for RealClearPolitics, saying he is not qualified to be an expert. House Bill 589, which became law in 2013, is at the center of a federal trial in U.S. District Court in Winston-Salem, which is in its third week. House Bill 589 eliminated same-day voter registration, reduced the number of days for early voting from 17 to 10 and prohibited out-of-precinct provisional voting. The law also eliminated preregistration of 16- and 17-year-olds, among other provisions. Plaintiffs, including the U.S. Department of Justice, allege that the law imposes disproportionate burdens on blacks and Hispanics, poor people and young people, and that state Republican legislators had discriminatory intent in passing the law.
For the past two weeks, U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder has presided over a crowded federal courtroom as lawyers challenging key provisions of the state’s election law presented witness after witness. This week, attorneys for the state began presenting their witnesses to counter claims by the NAACP, League of Women Voters and others that a 2013 North Carolina voting law overhaul was a not-so-subtle attempt to limit the participation of black, Hispanic and young voters in the electoral process. … On Monday, Trey Hood, a University of Georgia professor of political science, testified he could find no evidence that limiting the number of early-voting days had discouraged a significant number of people from voting.
North Carolina: Plaintiffs rest case in federal voting rights trial; state attorneys call first witness | Winston-Salem Journal
After two weeks, attorneys representing the N.C. NAACP and other groups rested their case Friday, having called more than 40 witnesses who testified either in court or via video depositions, that North Carolina’s election law is racially discriminatory. Now, it is the state’s turn to present evidence. Attorneys representing North Carolina and Gov. Pat McCrory called Janet Thornton, an economist, as their first witness. Thomas Farr, one of the attorneys for the state, said they expect to finish presenting evidence by Wednesday. The N.C. NAACP and other groups, including the U.S. Department of Justice, are suing North Carolina and McCrory over House Bill 589, which passed both chambers of the General Assembly in July 2013. McCrory signed the legislation into law in August 2013. The law eliminated same-day voter registration, reduced the days of early voting, got rid of preregistration of 16- and 17-year-olds and prohibited out-of-precinct provisional voting, among other provisions.
Editorials: Democracy Act provides first wave in restructuring of New Jersey voting laws | Richard T. Smith/Star Ledger
Voting is the most fundamental right, and yet the mechanics of registering to vote have not improved very much since the days when we had to crank down our car windows to pay a toll collector. We need to bring the mechanism of registering to vote into the 21st century. Fortunately, the first step in modernizing voting awaits Gov. Chris Christie’s signature. In the 2014 election, New Jersey ranked among the worst in the nation in voter turnout with only 30.4 percent of eligible voters casting a ballot. In late June, the N.J. Legislature passed a strong bill, the Democracy Act, which includes voting reforms that have successfully increased voter registration and turnout in other states.
State Republican leaders deviated from customary practices to rush through the most significant election law changes in a generation, a Democratic state senator testified Tuesday. State Sen. Josh Stein, D-Wake, took the stand Tuesday afternoon in a trial in U.S. District Court in Winston-Salem. Several groups, including the N.C. NAACP and the U.S. Department of Justice, are suing North Carolina and Gov. Pat McCrory over a 2013 election law that curtailed or eliminated voting practices that they say result in undue burdens on black and Hispanic voters, poor voters and young voters. Stein said that state Republican leaders had worked with Democratic legislators in April to craft a much shorter version of House Bill 589 that dealt strictly with requiring registered voters to have a photo ID when they cast their ballots. The legislation passed the House and then was sent to the Senate Rules committee, where it sat for several months, Stein said.