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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.

Full Article: Seat was vacated by death of commissioner Pota Coston | www.ajc.com.

North Carolina: US judge has many questions in NC voting rights case | News & Observer

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.

Full Article: US judge has many questions in NC voting rights case | News & Observer.

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.

Full Article: N.C. attorneys rest their case in federal voting rights trial - Winston-Salem Journal: Elections.

North Carolina: Closing arguments delayed in voting rights trial | News & Observer

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.

Full Article: Closing arguments delayed in NC voting rights trial | News & Observer.

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.

Full Article: State elections director discusses prevention of voter fraud - Winston-Salem Journal: Local News.

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.

Full Article: Expert: New voting law wouldn't have affected black turnout in 2014 - Greensboro News & Record: Local News.

North Carolina: State begins case in elections trial | News & Observer

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.

Full Article: State begins case in NC elections trial | News & Observer.

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.

Full Article: Plaintiffs rest case in federal voting rights trial; state attorneys call first witness - Winston-Salem Journal: Local News.

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.

Full Article: Democracy Act provides first wave in restructuring of N.J. voting laws | Opinion | NJ.com.

North Carolina: Democratic legislator: GOP rushed to pass voting law | Winston-Salem Journal

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.

Full Article: Democratic legislator: GOP rushed to pass voting law - Winston-Salem Journal: State.

National: Voter ID, registration and early voting laws vary widely across America | Winston-Salem Journal

Across the United States, eligible residents have the opportunity to join voter rolls and vote, but they don’t all have the same options or ease of access. Voting laws vary widely from state to state. “There are certain federal requirements that limit state discretion,” said John Dinan, a political science professor at Wake Forest University. “For instance, states cannot set a registration closing deadline of greater than 30 days before an election. But for the most part, states have significant discretion in how they provide for voting to take place.” For example, about two-thirds of the states allow in-person early voting, but the early voting periods range anywhere from four to 45 days. About two-thirds of states currently require voters to present identification of some kind at the polls, but they vary greatly in what kind of documents they require and what they do if a person doesn’t provide it. “Some states have certainly made it easier than others,” said Jason Husser, assistant professor of political science at Elon University.

Full Article: Voter ID, registration and early voting laws vary widely across America - Winston-Salem Journal: Local News.

North Carolina: The Past Goes On Trial in North Carolina | The Atlantic

“The history of North Carolina is not on trial here,” Butch Bowers, a lawyer for Governor Pat McCrory, told a court in Winston-Salem on Monday. Pace Bowers, that’s precisely what’s on trial over the next two weeks. A group of plaintiffs—including the Justice Department, NAACP, and League of Women Voters—are suing the state over new voting laws implemented in 2013, saying that they represent an attempt to suppress the minority vote. The new laws were passed shortly after the Supreme Court struck down a section of the Voting Rights Act that required some jurisdictions to seek approval from the federal government before altering voting laws. All of those jurisdictions had been found to have voting practices that disenfranchised minorities; most of them were in the South. The new rules required a photo ID to vote; reduced early voting; ended same-day voter registration; banned the practice of casting ballots out of precinct; and ended pre-registration for teens. (The General Assembly later amended the photo-ID law, which had been the strictest in the nation, and it’s not being considered in the trial.)

Full Article: North Carolina Voting-Rights Case Pits Moral Mondays Against Pat McCrory - The Atlantic.

North Carolina: Witnesses: Changes in N.C.’s election law caused voting hardships | Winston-Salem Journal

The second day of the closely watched federal trial on North Carolina’s election law featured testimony from two people, including one from Greensboro, who said their votes did not count in the November 2014 election because of changes that state Republicans made. The North Carolina NAACP, the League of Women Voters, the U.S. Department of Justice and others are suing North Carolina and Gov. Pat McCrory over the 2013 Voter Information Verification Act. The legislation was pushed by a Republican-dominated General Assembly a month after the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The changes in the law included eliminating preregistration of 16- and 17-year-olds, increasing the number of poll observers that each political party can assign and allowing a registered voter in a county to challenge another voter’s right to cast a ballot. Plaintiffs contend that the law is racially discriminatory and imposes unfair burdens on blacks and Latinos, poor people and the young. Attorneys for North Carolina and McCrory deny the allegations and argue that the law gives everyone an equal opportunity to vote.

Full Article: Witnesses: Changes in N.C.’s election law caused voting hardships - Winston-Salem Journal: Local.

North Carolina: Federal trial next month won’t address voter ID mandate | Associated Press

A federal trial in Winston-Salem next month on several provisions of North Carolina’s 2013 elections law won’t consider challenges to the state’s upcoming voter identification requirement in light of recent changes to the mandate, a judge has ruled. U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Schroeder decided that claims against the photo ID provision set to begin in 2016 will be kept out of the July 13 trial and considered later. Schroeder’s order came barely a week after the legislature finalized a bill creating a method by which people who can’t obtain a photo ID before next year can cast a lawful ballot. Other claims that still will be tried on time include accusations that minority citizens will be disproportionately harmed by such changes as reducing early voting days by one week, ending same-day registration during early voting and rejecting Election Day ballots cast in a voter’s incorrect precinct. Republicans in charge of the legislature, who championed the law, reject those claims.

Full Article: Federal trial next month won’t address voter ID mandate - Winston-Salem Journal: Local News.

North Carolina: Judge lays gound rules for trial on voter ID | Robesonian

A federal trial next month on several provisions of North Carolina’s 2013 elections law won’t consider challenges to the state’s upcoming voter identification requirement in light of recent changes to the mandate, a judge has ruled. U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Schroeder decided that claims against the photo ID provision set to begin in 2016 will be kept out of the July 13 trial in Winston-Salem and considered later. Schroeder’s order came barely a week after the legislature finalized a bill creating a method by which people who can’t obtain a photo ID before next year can cast a lawful ballot.

Full Article: Judge lays gound rulesfor trial on NC voter ID - Robesonian - robesonian.com.

Massachusetts: MassHealth settles lawsuit with voting rights organizations | MassLive.com

A coalition of voting rights organizations has reached a settlement with the state, in which public assistance organizations including MassHealth will provide voter registration forms to their clients. The settlements with Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders, Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin and Director of the Office of Medicaid Daniel Tsai, signed on Tuesday, mark the conclusion of a lawsuit that was partially settled with the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance in March.

Full Article: MassHealth settles lawsuit with voting rights organizations | masslive.com.

Washington: Despite pleas, Yakima council stands by appeal of ACLU case | Yakima Herald

More than 100 people filed into the Yakima City Council chambers Tuesday, calling for an end to the city’s appeal of a voting rights case that changed Yakima’s elections system to give Latinos a greater voice. But none of the four council members who supported both the appeal and a request to stay this year’s elections offered a motion to reconsider the issue. The protest was in response to the council’s surprise vote June 2 to seek an emergency stay more than a month and a half after the city said it would allow elections to proceed, despite appealing the judge’s ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court.

Full Article: Voting rights: Despite pleas, Yakima council stands by appeal of ACLU case | Local | yakimaherald.com.

National: Democrats Play Hardball on Voting Laws Ahead of 2016 | TIME

There was a rare détente in the fight over early voting in Ohio last month. The ACLU and the NAACP came to a compromise with the Republican Secretary of State. Early voting days would be reduced from 35 to 28 days, but early voting hours were extended to include Sundays and after work on some weekdays. “We have an incredibly robust system of early voting thanks to this settlement,” said Freda Levenson, executive director of the state’s ACLU chapter. Secretary of State Jon Husted likewise called it a victory for Ohio voters. But for Democrats looking ahead to 2016, that wasn’t enough. Just two weeks after the settlement was reached, a team of Democratic-aligned lawyers filed another lawsuit, claiming that Ohio’s voting laws still make it too difficult blacks, Hispanics and young people to vote. The most prominent attorney behind the new challenge? Marc Elias, the go-to lawyer for Hillary Clinton’s emerging campaign.

Full Article: Democrats Play Hardball on Voting Laws Ahead of 2016 | TIME.

Ohio: Suit challenges Ohio’s voting system; elections chief balks | Associated Press

A new federal lawsuit alleging that Ohio’s voting arrangements disproportionately burden Democratic-leaning voters drew swift criticism from the political battleground state’s Republican elections chief Monday. The top lawyer to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, Marc Elias, is among those representing the Ohio Organizing Collaborative and three individuals in the suit brought Friday _ though Elias also represents the state and national Democratic parties and other Democratic clients.

Full Article: Suit challenges Ohio’s voting system; elections chief balks | Atlanta Daily World.

North Carolina: US Supreme Court won’t review voting rights provisions – for now | News and Observer

With lawsuits pending in federal court on sweeping changes to North Carolina elections law, the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review questions about two specific provisions dealing with same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting. The decision is just a step in a protracted legal process that began in 2013 when the League of Women Voters, the NAACP, registered Democrats and others challenged changes to voting procedures adopted by the Republican-led legislature. Because U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder has set a trial for July 2015 to hear arguments for and against constitutional questions about the 2013 changes, the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Monday has little impact.

Full Article: US Supreme Court won't review NC voting rights provisions - for now | News and Observer News and Observer.