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.Full Article: Judge refuses to dismiss NC voter ID challenge | News & Observer.
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.Full Article: North Carolina’s voter ID challenge is getting a status hearing | News & Observer.
Of the 239 million American people who are of voting age, a little more than half—only about 142 million—were registered to vote in 2014. For people in the state of Kansas, their voter registration process is a bit more difficult in the lead up to this election season, thanks in part to the Secure and Fair Elections Act, also known as the SAFE Act. The law, sponsored by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, requires potential voters to provide proof of U.S. citizenship when registering. In all states, voting in federal elections is limited to U.S. citizens, but requirements for voting vary state by state. In the least restrictive states, like New Jersey, for instance, a signature verification is the only requirement for registration. Other states are stricter—Texas requires a government-issued photo ID like a driver’s license.Full Article: Kansas May Be The Toughest Place to Vote in America - The Takeaway.
Editorials: When it comes to election law, red America and blue America are not at all alike | Richard Hasen/Los Angeles Times
We already know that Americans’ access to abortion services, healthcare and firearms varies according to where they live. In California, it’s relatively simple for women to obtain an abortion, and in Texas, it’s quite hard; the reverse is true for guns. Some states accepted Medicaid expansion as part of the Affordable Care Act, helping the poor obtain health coverage, and others did not. Increasingly, location also affects how difficult it is to cast a vote. When it comes to election law, red America and blue America are not at all alike. Since 2000, and especially in the last few years, states dominated by Democrats have tended to pass laws that make it easier to register and vote, while states dominated by Republicans have done the opposite. This month, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill making voter registration automatic for eligible Californians who request a driver’s license or state ID from the Department of Motor Vehicles. California joins liberal Oregon in this endeavor. A number of other blue states are also looking to remove barriers to registration. Where you live should not affect your ability to register and vote in a federal election.Full Article: When it comes to election law, red America and blue America are not at all alike - LA Times.
Gov. Robert Bentley’s plan to reopen rural driver’s license offices won’t take effect until November, state officials said Tuesday. The schedule for those reopened offices — which would offer driver’s license tests one day per month in the state’s most sparsely-populated counties — still hasn’t been set. “We are still working out a schedule and we do not have a cost yet,” wrote Anna Morris, a spokeswoman for the Alabama Law Enforcement agency, in an email Tuesday. The agency, also known as ALEA, landed in the middle of a nationwide voting rights controversy this month when it announced the closure of 31 driver’s license offices in rural counties, a response to the state’s pared-down 2016 budget.Full Article: Driver’s license reopenings won’t happen until November - The Anniston Star: Business.
Kansas is unique among U.S. states in recently granting its top elections official the power to prosecute alleged voting irregularities himself, and Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach is looking to move a contentious national debate past tough voter identification laws. Kobach’s office earlier this month filed three election fraud cases in two counties, accusing the defendants of illegally voting in Kansas while casting ballots in the same elections in other states. The law allowing his office to do so — instead of forwarding evidence to prosecutors — took effect in July, and Kobach has promised to pursue more cases in the next two months. It’s not yet clear whether other states will follow Kansas’ example, though Alabama’s secretary of state broached the subject with top lawmakers in his state earlier this year. The Republican-dominated Kansas Legislature, which heeded Kobach’s call to give the state some of the nation’s toughest voter identification laws, took four years to expand the power of his office.Full Article: Kansas unusual in giving elections chief power to prosecute / LJWorld.com.
A federal judge on Monday denied a civil rights group’s request that voters be allowed to use more forms of photo identification at Wisconsin’s polls, marking another chapter in a string of legal decisions surrounding the politically-charged voter ID requirement. The American Civil Liberties Union asked U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman in March to declare that people can use technical college IDs, out-of-state driver licenses and veteran photo IDs to vote. The ACLU argued that the voter ID law allows four-year college IDs at the polls but it is unclear whether technical college IDs are acceptable. The group also argued that Wisconsin voters with out-of-state driver licenses must surrender the licenses, forfeiting the ability to drive, so they can get Wisconsin IDs, amounting to an unconstitutional poll tax. Finally, the group contended the law arbitrarily excludes the use of Veterans Administration IDs even though U.S. military IDs are acceptable. Adelman rejected all three arguments.Full Article: Judge declines to expand acceptable forms of voter ID - TwinCities.com.
The voter ID provision of North Carolina’s controversial Voter Information Verification Act (VIVA) will be the subject of a hearing in federal court next week. Lawyers for both sides will return to court on October 23 to update U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Schroeder on negotiations meant to settle legal challenges to VIVA’s voter ID provision out of court, the Winston-Salem Journal reports. The photo ID requirement is one of the most controversial provisions of VIVA, a comprehensive overhaul of North Carolina voting law signed into law by Governor Pat McCrory on August 12, 2013. In its original form, the ID provision required voters to present one of eight state-approved photo IDs before casting a ballot, starting in 2016. Critics of the law have argued the photo ID requirement unfairly burdens poor, elderly, minority and student voters who are more likely to lack one of the eight approved IDs.Full Article: Voter ID law goes back to court in North Carolina.
A state with Alabama’s ugly racial history and vote suppression legacy should try hard to act like it’s better than that now. But our state government has made Alabama appear to the world as if we aren’t even trying. Looking at the implications of closing driver’s license offices in the Black Belt, we don’t buy the promises to mitigate the ill effects with other governmental remedy. We don’t buy the claims that race and poverty have nothing to do with this. But even if they were valid, the damage to Alabama’s image and reputation is as undeniable as it was foreseeable and avoidable. What’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong, and this is wrong on the facts. It’s also wrong because the economic damage done to Alabama — tourists who will bypass us, investors and job creators who will go elsewhere to avoid the taint — more than offsets the claimed benefit, the dubious economic argument that lies behind these decisions.Full Article: No matter its reasons, state should reverse course on voter ID moves | AL.com.
Alabama: For Alabama’s Poor, the Budget Cuts Trickle Down, Limiting Access to Driver’s Licenses | The New York Times
It is about an hour and 10 minutes to Tuscaloosa, the nearest big city to this little knot of houses and churches in the Alabama pines. For the hundreds in this poor county who do not have a car or a friend with the spare time, someone can usually be found who is willing to give a ride. For a fee, of course. “You want to get to T-town, it’s at least $50,” said William Bankhead, 56, sitting in front of a boarded-up building that was once Panola’s general store. “We’re a long ways from a place.” As of last week, Tuscaloosa is the nearest location where a person here can get a driver’s license, after the state decided to stop providing services at 31 satellite locations around the state. The fallout from this decision has been widespread: national politicians and civil rights advocates have condemned Alabama for shuttering the locations, many of them in the state’s majority black counties, just a year after requiring that people show photo identification at the polling locations.Full Article: For Alabama’s Poor, the Budget Cuts Trickle Down, Limiting Access to Driver’s Licenses - The New York Times.
North Carolina: Author says North Carolina leads in national trend to roll back voting rights | Winston-Salem Journal
North Carolina is emerging as ground-zero for the modern-day voting rights movement, an author of a book about the history of voting rights said in an interview Friday. “North Carolina is a case study in the voting rights fight,” said Ari Berman, author of “Give Us The Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America” and a writer for The Nation, a left-leaning magazine. Berman spoke Friday during the 72nd annual convention of the N.C. NAACP, which has the theme, “Pursuing Liberty in the Face of Injustice.” The convention started Thursday and ends Sunday. The Rev. William Barber, president of the state NAACP, said he expects 800 to 1,000 people to attend.Full Article: North Carolina leads in national trend to roll back voting rights, author says - Winston-Salem Journal: Elections.
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.Full Article: State wants federal judge to rule on Voter ID before March primaries - Winston-Salem Journal: Elections.
Lawrence attorney and former Democratic Rep. Paul Davis on Tuesday dismissed suggestions by Republicans that he should recuse himself from a federal lawsuit challenging a controversial state voting law. “These guys either need a good lawyer or they’re trying to mislead you,” Davis said in response to a statement from Kansas GOP Chairman Kelly Arnold. Davis is representing two clients who are challenging a law enacted in 2011 that requires voters to show proof of U.S. citizenship to register. Since that law took effect, more than 30,000 would-be voters have had their registrations placed “in suspense” because they have not provided the required documentation. Davis is also challenging a new administrative regulation that requires county election officers to cancel those applications after 90 days. That new regulation took effect Oct. 2.Full Article: Davis rejects GOP call to step aside from voting rights case | Statehouse Live / LJWorld.com.
Alabama: Democrats say Alabama’s closure of driver’s-license offices could make it harder for black residents to vote | The Washington Post
Hillary Rodham Clinton joined Democratic officials in Alabama in criticizing a decision by state officials to shutter 31 satellite driver’s-license offices, mostly in areas heavily populated by African Americans, a move that could make it harder for those residents to get photo IDs needed to vote. Alabama’s voter-identification law went into effect last year, requiring voters to present a government-issued photo ID at the polls. A state-issued driver’s license is the most popular form of identification, and critics say the closure of offices that issue them is yet another barrier for poor and minority voters. “It’s a blast from the Jim Crow past,” Clinton said in a statement Friday criticizing the move and calling on state officials to reverse the decision. The head of the Alabama Democratic Party said she is in touch with voting rights advocates about asking the Justice Department to look into the closures.Full Article: Democrats say Alabama’s closure of driver’s-license offices could make it harder for black residents to vote - The Washington Post.
I still remember when the lady in the uniform giving me my driver’s test asked me to do a three-point turn. Instead, I gave her a blank stare. I had no idea what a three-point turn was. It was a couple of days after my sixteenth birthday, and I knew right then that I wouldn’t be getting a license that day, but the lady was nice about it. Politely, she explained what I was supposed to do. Next we drove back to the Clarke County courthouse, and she failed me. A couple weeks later, I took the test again. That time, I passed, but my parents weren’t all that happy that we had to make a second trip. And that trip was only 10 miles, each way. When you live in a rural area, 10 miles seems a lot farther there. However, today a lot of folks will have to drive a lot farther just to be able to drive.Full Article: Voter ID and driver's license office closures black-out Alabama's Black Belt | AL.com.
Republicans used their majority in 2011 to muscle through the Legislature a controversial voter ID law and new redistricting maps – and ever since Texas taxpayers have been picking up the bill for the state to defend those measures in courts. Texas’ total legal tab to date: more than $8 million, according to data obtained under the state’s Public Information Act. And there’s no immediate end in sight to the court action, which means the price tag is only set to climb for Texas’ efforts to preserve its redrawing of political boundaries and its strict law to require photo identification to vote. Critics of the Republican-championed plans say state leaders have essentially thrown taxpayer money down the drain to defend what they argue are policies intended to discriminate against minorities.Full Article: State defense of voting laws costs $8 million and counting - Houston Chronicle.
Despite the uproar over the Conservative government’s new election law, the country’s chief electoral officer said Monday he’s confident those who want to vote on Oct. 19 will get a chance to do so. Marc Mayrand said his agency is going to great lengths to inform people, particularly online and in aboriginal communities. New, legislative requirements for identification should not cause problems, as long as voters prepare themselves, he said. “I think we’ll see a good election,” he said. “We have taken various measures to ensure no one is denied the right to vote.” Mayrand downplayed opposition party warnings, which resounded during the divisive debate over Bill C-23, that thousands will be unable to vote because of the new rules. However, he placed the burden of exercising democratic rights on the shoulders of electors. “If anybody is turned away from the polls, or anybody stays home because of concerns, I think there should be no concerns there,” he said. “I think there is a way (to vote). If you’re concerned about your ability to establish your ID and address, please contact us.”Full Article: Elections Canada chief hopeful voters won't be turned away because of new ID rules | CTV News.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach squared off Thursday in a debate with a Kansas University law professor over the pros and cons of restrictive voter identification laws. Kobach, who was the architect of Kansas’ 2011 law requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls and to show proof of U.S. citizenship to register, argued that such laws are needed to prevent voter fraud and protect the integrity of Kansas elections. The two men debated before about 100 people, most of them law students, in a lecture auditorium at the KU School of Law in Green Hall. The debate was sponsored by the KU Federalist Society and the Hispanic-American Law Students Association. “Election fraud occurs,” Kobach said. And while the number of such cases may be tiny compared to the total number of ballots cast in any given election, he said it only takes a small number of votes to “steal” an otherwise close election. … But KU law professor Mark Johnson, who teaches courses in elections and campaign finance, argued that the small number of allegedly fraudulent votes does not justify denying other people the right to vote simply because they cannot produce a photo ID or proof of citizenship.Full Article: Kobach debates voter ID laws with KU law professor / LJWorld.com.
Two pivotal court cases in North Carolina will determine the balance of political power in the state for years to come, and may signal the future of voting rights nationwide. In the wake of the United States Supreme Court decision in Shelby County vs. Holder that gutted Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, North Carolina legislators passed H.B. 589, which shortened early voting by a week, eliminated same day registration during the early voting period, prohibited voters from casting out-of-precinct provisional ballots, expanded the ability to challenge voters at the polls, removed the pre-registration program for 16- and 17-year-olds and implemented a strict photo ID requirement. Lawmakers eased the photo ID requirement leading up to N.C. NAACP vs. McCrory. In that case, lawyers for the plaintiffs argued that H.B. 589 discriminates against black and other minority voters.Full Article: North Carolina a pivotal battleground on fate of voting rights.