Editorials: Ohio Governor Kasich’s far-seeing veto of SB 296 and its virtual poll tax | Cleveland Plain Dealer

Secretary of State Jon Husted on Friday rightly applauded fellow Republican Gov. John Kasich’s wise veto of Senate Bill 296 – which had the potential to become a punitive poll tax on those Ohioans who sought to preserve their constitutional voting rights by appealing to a judge to keep polls open late. Ohio Gov. John Kasich vetoed a controversial elections bill that would have required voters seeking a county court order keeping the polls open to post bond. The bill would have required a potentially crushing bond to be posted by anyone asking a judge to keep polls open after hours for any reason. One example: problems with electronic poll books that plagued Hamilton County voters last November, prompting a (Republican) Common Pleas judge to order polls kept open until 9 p.m. Our editorial board condemned SB 296, sponsored by state Sen. William Seitz, a Republican from Hamilton County, and called for such a veto. And Kasich agreed, saying Friday in his veto statement that “prohibiting state court judges from exercising their discretion to waive [a bond] in only these types of cases is inequitable” and might deter citizens from seeking a court ruling to allow after-hours voting even “when there may be a valid reason for doing so.” Kasich’s right – so right, that it’s unlikely GOP lawmakers will vote to overturn his veto, even though they have the votes to do so.

Indiana: Incarcerated, homeless excluded on Election Day | Indianapolis Recorder

The days of blatant and direct disenfranchisement — literacy tests, poll taxes, etc. — might be in the past, but there are still countless Americans who struggle to have their voices heard on Election Day. Indiana’s prison population, which was near 28,000 people as of July 1, 2015, according to the Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC), is one group unable to cast a ballot. Indiana could be considered moderate compared to the rest of the country in terms of voting rights for felons. According to ProCon.org, Indiana is among 13 states (and Washington, D.C.) that restore a felon’s voting rights after the offender has served their full prison term.

Editorials: The Voting Rights Act at 50 | The New York Times

For the first 48 years of its existence,the Voting Rights Act — signed by President Lyndon Johnson 50 years ago this week — was one of the most popular and effective civil rights laws in American history. Centuries of slavery, segregation and officially sanctioned discrimination had kept African-Americans from having any real voice in the nation’s politics. Under the aggressive new law, black voter registration and turnout soared, as did the number of black elected officials. Recognizing its success, Congress repeatedly reaffirmed the act and expanded its protections. The last time, in 2006, overwhelming majorities in both houses extended the law for another 25 years. But only seven years later, in 2013, five Supreme Court justices elbowed in andconcluded, on scant evidence, that there was no longer a need for the law’s most powerful tool; the Voting Rights Act, they claimed, had done its job

National: Voter ID Laws Scrutinized for Impact on Midterms | New York Times

In North Carolina, early voting was cut by seven days. In Kansas, 22,000 people were stopped from registering to vote because they lacked proof of citizenship. And in Texas, Democrats say the country’s toughest voter ID law contributed to a one-term congressman’s losing a tight race to his Republican rival. After an Election Day that featured a wave of new voting restrictions across the country, data and details about who cast a ballot are being picked over to see if tighter rules swayed the outcomes of any races or contributed to the lowest voter turnout in 72 years. Since 2011, a dozen Republican-led states have passed strict voter ID requirements, some blocked by courts, measures that Republicans describe as needed to increase confidence in elections and critics call the modern equivalent of a poll tax, intended to suppress turnout by Democratic voters. Few are arguing that the laws drastically affected the overall results in a year that produced sweeping Republican victories, or that they were the dominant factor in voter participation. Although some Democrats claim the new laws may have swung close elections this month, voting experts caution that it is too soon to tell.

Editorials: The Racist Origins of Felon Disenfranchisement | Brent Staples/New York Times

The state laws that barred nearly six million people with felony convictions from voting in the midterm elections this month date from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when Southern lawmakers were working feverishly to neutralize the black electorate. Poll taxes, literacy tests, grandfather clauses and cross burnings were effective weapons in this campaign. But statutes that allowed correctional systems to arbitrarily and permanently strip large numbers of people of the right to vote were a particularly potent tool in the campaign to undercut African-American political power. This racially freighted system has normalized disenfranchisement in the United States — at a time when our peers in the democratic world rightly see it as an aberration. It has also stripped one in every 13 black persons of the right to vote — a rate four times that of nonblacks nationally. At the same time, it has allowed disenfranchisement to move beyond that black population — which makes up 38 percent of those denied the vote — into the body politic as a whole. One lesson here is that punishments designed for one pariah group can be easily expanded to include others as well. The history of disenfranchisement was laid out in a fascinating 2003 study by Angela Behrens, Christopher Uggen and Jeff Manza. They found that state felony bans exploded in number during the late 1860s and 1870s, particularly in the wake of the Fifteenth Amendment, which ostensibly guaranteed black Americans the right to vote. They also found that the larger the state’s black population, the more likely the state was to pass the most stringent laws that permanently denied people convicted of crimes the right to vote. These bans were subsequently strengthened as the Jim Crow era began to take hold.

Editorials: Should the Poor Be Allowed to Vote? | Peter Reinert/The Atlantic

If Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters succeed in booting C.Y. Leung from power, the city’s unelected chief executive should consider coming to the United States. He might fit in well in the Republican Party. In an interview Monday with The New York Times and other foreign newspapers, Leung explained that Beijing cannot permit the direct election of Hong Kong’s leaders because doing so would empower “the people in Hong Kong who earn less than $1,800 a month.” Leung instead defended the current plan to have a committee of roughly 1,200 eminent citizens vet potential contenders because doing so, in the Times’ words, “would insulate candidates from popular pressure to create a welfare state, and would allow the city government to follow more business-friendly policies.” If that sounds vaguely familiar, it should. Leung’s views about the proper relationship between democracy and economic policy represent a more extreme version of the views supported by many in today’s GOP.

National: Voter Identification Laws Hit Roadblocks in Wisconsin and Texas | Wall Street Journal

Voter identification laws suffered setbacks in two states on Thursday, with the U.S. Supreme Court blocking Wisconsin from imposing its voter-identification measure during the midterm elections and a federal judge in Texas striking down that state’s ID law. The Supreme Court’s action in Wisconsin marked its third recent intervention in a high-profile election case, and the first before the high court in which advocates for minority voters prevailed. The justices in the two other cases allowed Ohio to cut back on early voting and cleared North Carolina to impose new, tighter voting rules. The high court in each case effectively put the brakes on lower court rulings that would have prompted late changes in election procedures in the run-up to the Nov. 4 election.

North Carolina: Final arguments begin in voter lawsuit | Winston-Salem Journal

After three days of testimony, a hearing in federal court is wrapping up on whether to block certain provisions of North Carolina’s new voting law, such as eliminating same-day voter registration, for November’s election. U.S. District Judge Thomas D. Schroeder on Wednesday began listening to final arguments from plaintiffs’ attorneys. The U.S. Department of Justice, the state NAACP, the League of Women Voters and other groups have filed lawsuits challenging the law and are seeking a preliminary injunction to prevent many of the provisions from going into effect during the Nov. 4 general election. Among the many provisions, the law reduces the number of days of early voting from 17 to 10, eliminates same-day voter registration and prohibits county election officials from counting ballots cast by voters in the correct county but wrong precinct. It also gets rid of pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds and would require voters to show a photo ID, beginning in 2016.

Editorials: Don’t change voter ID law; get rid of it | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Some Republicans in the state Legislature want to tweak the state’s voter ID law to address objections that are now being debated in federal court. This law doesn’t need to be tweaked. It needs to be rescinded. The changes being proposed and that might be voted on next week would allow people to vote without a photo ID if they signed affidavits stating that they were poor and could not obtain an ID without paying a fee; they had a religious objection to being photographed; or they could not obtain the documentation needed to get an ID. Right. That’s exactly what’s not needed at the polls: different standards for different voters. Democrats who raised objections Wednesday were right. Ballots cast by people without an ID could be subject to more scrutiny than other ballots; people who voted without an ID could be embarrassed by being labeled poor; and they could face investigations for false swearing if someone accused them of signing affidavits if they weren’t qualified to vote without an ID. “It will intimidate (poor people) and then make them even less likely to go to the polls on election day,” said Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa (D-Milwaukee). Of course, that could be the aim of Republican legislators.

Editorials: The Right to Vote | Norm Ornstein/National Journal

It is becoming increasingly obvious that the Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which eviscerated the Voting Rights Act, is leading to a new era of voter suppression that parallels the pre-1960s era—this time affecting not just African-Americans but also Hispanic-Americans, women, and students, among others. The reasoning employed by Chief Justice John Roberts in Shelby County—that Section 5 of the act was such a spectacular success that it is no longer necessary—was the equivalent of taking down speed cameras and traffic lights and removing speed limits from a dangerous intersection because they had combined to reduce accidents and traffic deaths. In North Carolina, a post-Shelby County law not only includes one of the most restrictive and punitive vote-ID laws anywhere but also restricts early voting, eliminates same-day voting registration, ends pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, and bans many provisional ballots. Whatever flimsy voter-fraud excuse exists for requiring voter ID disappears when it comes to these other obstacles to voting. In Texas, the law could require voters to travel as much as 250 miles to obtain an acceptable voter ID—and it allows a concealed-weapon permit, but not a student ID, as proof of identity for voting. Moreover, the law and the regulations to implement it, we are now learning, will create huge impediments for women who have married or divorced and have voter IDs and driver’s licenses that reflect maiden or married names that do not exactly match. It raises similar problems for Mexican-Americans who use combinations of mothers’ and fathers’ names.

North Carolina: Justice Department to sue North Carolina over voter law | Fox News

The Justice Department will announce Monday that it is suing the state of North Carolina for alleged racial discrimination over tough new voting rules. A person briefed on the department’s plans told Fox News that the suit would claim that the North Carolina statute violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and would seek to have the state subject to federal pre-clearance before making “future voting-related changes.” The person also said the suit would be filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Nashville, Tenn. In asking for pre-clearance, the Justice Department will ask a federal judge to place the four provisions in North Carolina’s new law under federal scrutiny for an indeterminate period. The suit is the latest effort by the Obama administration to fight back against a Supreme Court decision that struck down the most powerful part of the landmark Voting Rights Act and freed southern states from strict federal oversight of their elections.

North Carolina: Voter ID bill raises controversy in North Carolina | CBS News

Molly McDonough was among the hundreds of North Carolinians jailed this year for demonstrating inside the statehouse against legislation she fears may prevent her from voting. “Voting is a right, and these laws are encroaching on that right,” said McDonough in an interview on the N.C. State campus where she’ll begin her sophomore year this fall. McDonough, 18, doesn’t have a driver’s license or a passport, and her college ID won’t be accepted under the voting reform bill passed Thursday along party lines by both houses of the Republican-majority state legislature. McDonough says obtaining documents required to get a state-issued photo ID — birth certificate, Social Security card, university transcript — and missing hours at her bookstore job to wait in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles is unfairly expensive, she figures, about $120 in all.

Alabama: New voter ID law may pose some problems for Jefferson County | al.com

Alabama’s new law requiring people to show a government-issued photo identification to vote is raising some concerns for Jefferson County officials. The law — to get around accusations that it’s a modern poll tax to make people buy ID — requires that the state have an option for a free ID. Jefferson County, which has more voters than any other county in the state, may be forced to come up with money to cover personnel and labor costs associated with producing new voter IDs, said Barry Stephenson, chairman of the Board of Registrars. “I want to do everything possible to help the voters and to have fair and honest elections,” Stephenson said. “However, I only have so many resources in my budget and the state has made no mention of reimbursing the counties for any personnel or labor costs associated with producing the new free identification cards.” The state is going to provide the equipment for the ID cards, “but that’s it,” Stephenson said.

Editorials: The Supreme Court vs. the Voter | Leon Friedman/National Law Journal

In the old days, the U.S. Supreme Court took strong steps to protect the right of ordinary citizens to vote. But culminating in the recent Shelby County, Ala. v. Holder decision that struck down the preclearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act, the Supreme Court in the past decade has turned its back on protecting the franchise, especially for the poor and minority groups. In 1915, the court struck down the notorious grandfather clause established in many Southern states, which allowed persons to vote only if their grandfathers could. That was a crude device to disenfranchise the descendants of black slaves, who, of course, could never vote. In the 1940s and 1950s, the court held that the Democratic Party in the Southern states could not treat its primaries as a private affair, open only to white voters. In 1964, the court established the one-person, one-vote rule, so that states could not apportion districts in a manner that allowed rural voters to have 50 times the voting strength of their urban counterparts. In 1966, the court first upheld the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act, which established federal control over states and other political entities that had used one or another blatantly discriminatory devices to prevent African-Americans and other minority voters from casting ballots. In the same year, it struck down a Virginia poll tax law that required state residents to pay $1.50 a year for the right to vote in state elections. (The 24th Amendment, adopted in 1964, prohibited poll taxes for federal elections.)

Alaska: Voter ID bill passes final House committee | Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

A bill that would require Alaska’s voters to present photo identification at the polls has been moved out of its final committee of referral in the House of Representatives. HB3, by Rep. Bob Lynn, R-Anchorage, was advanced from the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. The measure now moves to the House Rules Committee, which could schedule it for a vote. It would then go to the Senate if it passes. The bill would stipulate that voters present a form of photo ID or two forms of non-photo identification to election officials. If two officials know the voter, the identification requirement can be waived. Voters who do not meet any of those requirements could still submit a questioned ballot and prove their identity later.

North Carolina: Fee for voter ID might be unconstitutional | WRAL

Some legal experts say charging people for photo identification cards in order to vote in North Carolina might violate the state constitution. House Republican leaders unveiled their proposal Thursday for a voter ID law, and they plan to hold a public hearing on the legislation next Wednesday before beginning debate on it. House Bill 589 would be one of the strictest voter ID laws in the country. Unlike other states, those who need IDs would be expected to pay for them if they can. “This amounts to a poll tax, and it must be challenged,” said Bob Hall, executive director of voting rights group Democracy North Carolina. Charging someone money to vote is a poll tax, which is outlawed by the 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Other states with voter ID laws offer free IDs to anyone, regardless of their ability to pay.

Arkansas: Legislators pass voter ID law, overriding veto | The Boston Globe

Arkansas legislators passed a law Monday requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls, overriding Governor Mike Beebe’s veto of the bill, which he called an expensive solution to a nonexistent problem. The Republican-led state House voted 52 to 45, largely along party lines, to complete an override that started in the GOP-controlled Senate on a 21-to-12 vote last week. Only a simple majority was needed in each chamber. ‘‘We are trying to protect the integrity of one of the most fundamental rights we have here in America,’’ said state Represent Stephen Meeks, a Republican from Greenbrier and the bill’s House sponsor. House Speaker Davy Carter, a Cabot Republican who did not vote for the bill when it passed the House last month, supported the override.

Alaska: Voter ID measure clears House committee over objections | Anchorage Daily News

A controversial bill that critics say will make it harder for Alaskans to vote by imposing new identification requirements cleared its first committee Thursday despite objections from the AARP, the Alaska Federation of Natives, the Alaska Association of Municipal Clerks and the American Civil Liberties Union. One of the sponsors, Anchorage Republican Rep. Bob Lynn, said House Bill 3 won’t stop a single person from voting and that some of the critics have misconstrued what he aims to do. “I want to emphasize that the only purpose of HB 3 is simply to help ensure that the person who shows up at the polling place is actually the person who they say they are. And I think that’s basically a pretty good idea,” said Lynn, who chairs the State Affairs Committee that passed the bill out with lukewarm support.

Alaska: Does Alaska have a voter fraud problem? – Despite controversy, voter ID bill takes next step in Alaska Legislature | Alaska Dispatch

A voter ID bill that drew sharp criticism from U.S. Sen. Mark Begich on his recent visit to the Alaska Legislature is moving forward, with its sponsor denying the senator’s claims about the bill. Rep. Bob Lynn, R-Anchorage, said his House Bill 3 was the victim of “misinformation” spread by Begich, D-Alaska. “Nothing whatsoever in House Bill 3 prevents anyone from voting if they are registered and motivated to vote,” he said Thursday, while chairing the House State Affairs Committee hearing his bill. Those who don’t have photo ID can present other forms of identification or cast questioned ballots, he said. Stricter voter ID requirements was the focus of Begich’s remarks – and his criticisms were reinforced at a hearing Thursday by Jeffrey Mittman of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska and Joy Huntington of the Tanana Chiefs Conference.

National: How The Voting Rights Act, Now In Danger, Came To Pass And Shaped History | TPM

On March 15, 1965, a week after Alabama state troopers brutally attacked civil rights protesters in Selma, President Lyndon Johnson delivered a stirring speech to a joint session of Congress introducing a bill to end voter discrimination against blacks. The law that it gave birth to, the Voting Rights Act, now hangs in the balance, with oral arguments next week before the Supreme Court. Five conservative justices are skeptical that a centerpiece of the nearly-half-century-old law is constitutional. “I speak tonight for the dignity of man and the destiny of democracy,” Johnson said that night, nearly half a century ago. “A century has passed, more than a hundred years, since equality was promised. And yet the Negro is not equal. A century has passed since the day of promise. And the promise is unkept. The time of justice has now come.” Days later, he submitted legislation to Congress aimed at taking stringent, unprecedented steps to end voter discrimination and disenfranchisement. As Congress took it up, opponents rebelled. “I said it was worse than the Thaddeus Stevens legislation during Reconstruction, sir, and it is,” said Leander Perez, a pro-segregation Louisianan, at a subsequent Senate hearing. “It is the most nefarious — it is inconceivable that Americans would do that to Americans.”

Arkansas: Senate approves voter ID legislation | SFGate

The Arkansas Senate voted Wednesday to require voters to show photo identification before they can cast a ballot, a requirement that one Democratic lawmaker compared to poll taxes and other past efforts to disenfranchise voters. The Republican-led Senate approved the requirement on a mostly partly-line 23-12 vote, with two Democrats joining the chamber’s 21 Republicans. Past efforts at voter ID legislation have failed in the Legislature under Democratic control, but the idea is expected to have an easier path to Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe’s desk now that Republicans control both chambers. Beebe has questioned the need for such a requirement, but has not said whether he opposes the bill. Arkansas law currently requires poll workers to ask for identification, but voters are not required to show it.

Virginia: Photo ID voting mandate passes in Virginia, heads to governor | WJLA.com

General Assembly Republicans muscled the most far-reaching of their polling place identification and voter vetting bills to final passage Wednesday with almost party-line House votes on Wednesday over the outcries of Democrats who likened the measures to Jim Crow-era poll taxes. On a 65-34 vote, the House completed legislative action on a strict photo identification bill that would require all voters to present identification such as a drivers license or passport bearing a photo of the holder to cast a regular ballot. Those without it would have to vote a provisional ballot that would count only if the voter could provide local election officials with the required identification by noon on the Friday after the election. Only one Democrat supported the measure. If Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell signs it into law, it would take effect in 2014 unless the U.S. Justice Department determines it violates the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Missouri: Missouri’s voter ID bill inspires pushback over ‘voter suppression’ | KansasCity.com

Republican lawmakers are taking another swing at insisting Missouri voters show a government-issued photo ID at the polls. And they’re meeting fierce resistance. Leaders of the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus said Tuesday the Republican push aims to “disenfranchise and suppress” certain voters — the disabled, the young and minorities. “This is nothing more than a modern-day poll tax,” said Rep. Brandon Ellington, a Kansas City Democrat, referring to the tax implemented in some states in the late 19th century to shut out black voters. “Voting is a right. It’s not a privilege. They’re trying to turn it into a privilege.” Republicans reject the accusations, instead arguing a need to combat voter fraud.

Pennsylvania: Voter ID law sends non-drivers on a bureaucratic journey | The Washington Post

Cheryl Ann Moore stepped into the state’s busiest driver’s licensing center, got a ticket with the number C809 on it and a clipboard with a pen attached by rubber band, and began her long wait Thursday to become a properly documented voter. Six blocks away, inside an ornate and crowded City Hall courtroom, a lawyer was arguing before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that the state’s controversial new voter ID law would strip citizens of their rights and should be enjoined. Just outside, on Thomas Paine Plaza, the NAACP president was inveighing against a modern-day poll tax at a boisterous rally of a few hundred opponents. Moore bent over a folding table and carefully filled out the form a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation worker had given her, in the first line she would stand in that day. Her ticket was time-stamped 11:38 a.m. and gave an estimated wait time of 63 minutes, which, said Moore, didn’t seem so bad. She had been registered to vote since she was 19, and now she was 54.

Texas: Voter ID law responds to what threat, exactly? | Star-Telegram

Attorney General Greg Abbott’s decision to appeal the federal court ruling that the Texas voter ID law is discriminatory generated a lively conversation with my wife. We both believed that it was bad legislation, but the forcefulness of her convictions at first startled me and upon reflection, impressed me and made me think. At the birth of our nation, rights were not equally shared, and throughout our history the right to vote has been bitterly contested and begrudgingly granted. It took nearly 150 years to go from a state where only free male property owners could vote to one where any citizen 21 or older could vote. Even after the 13th and 19th Amendments were passed, legal hurdles like the poll tax and white primaries were set up to deny some people the right to vote. Court rulings and laws like the 1965 Voting Rights Act moved our country forward by making such practices illegal. The right to vote along with the one-person-one-vote concept is the cornerstone of democracy. People fight and die for this right. Denial of one’s right to vote is a denial of democracy, so any change to voting law demands cautious deliberation. With that in mind, I thought about Texas’ voided voter ID law and my grandmother.

Editorials: Voting Rights Act anniversary celebrated, yet threats rising | Chicago Sun-Times

When President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law on Aug. 6, 1965, and when President George W. Bush renewed it in 2006, they were trying to prevent barriers to voting. It is tragic that efforts to bar millions of Americans from casting ballots have instead accelerated in recent years. Observers should not underestimate this threat — the very future of our democracy is at stake. Voter suppression efforts have only grown since 2000, when our worries were about the accuracy of voting equipment and Supreme Court bias. Even if the outcome was uncertain, however, most voters were rarely barred from participating in elections. Since then, broad swaths of our population have been targeted for attack. A national legislative campaign coordinated by the American Legislative Exchange Council has passed laws that could inordinately lock students, senior citizens, African-Americans and Hispanics out of their polling places. ALEC’s list of backers reads like a corporate Who’s Who: Koch Enterprises, Peabody Energy, UPS and Exxon Mobil, to name a few. These companies have millions to gain from legislatures favoring wealthy over low-income Americans.

National: U.S. voting rights under siege | CNN.com

Viviette Applewhite, a 93-year-old African-American woman from Philadelphia, suddenly cannot vote. Although she once marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. for the right to do so, and has dutifully cast a ballot for five decades, in this election year she may be denied this basic right. Under Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law, Applewhite is no longer considered eligible. The Pennsylvania law requires that citizens present a state-issued photo ID card before voting, which, in Applewhite’s case, required that she first produce a birth certificate. After much trying, and with the help of a pro bono attorney, she was finally able to obtain her birth certificate — but on it, she is identified by her birth name Brooks, while her other forms of identification have her as Applewhite, the name she took after adoption. Because her 1950s adoption papers are lost in an office in Mississippi, and the state is unable to track them down, Applewhite still can’t get a Pennsylvania photo ID. She is therefore barred from voting in the November elections. Such stringent obstacles, particularly for African-Americans, were not so long ago the accepted rule. Despite the 15th and 19th amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which extended the vote to black men and all women, respectively, election officials used poll taxes, literacy tests and other methods to deny this legal right. Then came the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Editorials: Why voter ID laws are like a poll tax | Charles Postel/Politico.com

When is a voter restriction law like a poll tax? This is the question posed by a wave of laws passed in 11 states that require voters to show state-issued photo IDs. Attorney General Eric Holder has argued that such laws are not aimed at preventing voter fraud, as supporters claim, but to make it more difficult for minorities to exercise their right to vote. The new Texas photo ID law is like the poll taxes, Holder charges, used to disfranchise generations of African-American and Mexican-American citizens. Texas Gov. Rick Perry denies this. He claims that using “poll tax” language is “designed to inflame passions and incite racial tension.” Perry is now demanding an apology from President Barack Obama for “Holder’s imprudent remarks.” But no apology needs to be issued. For these laws function very much like a poll tax.

Voting Blogs: Viviette Applewhite Voter ID Case: Bring on the Poll Taxes and Literacy Tests | Politics 365

The trial over Pistolvania’s voter identification law (a law someone brilliantly described as “a bad solution looking for a problem”) continues in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  I would say that it’s not going to end up well for the state, but you never know with these Commonwealth Court Judges. This is what Judge Simpson said: “This is a high-profile case. There’s a lot of anxiety here,” he said. “There will be a lot of people very unhappy with my decision no matter what I do.” But, he said, “take heart,” because the case will likely go to higher courts before it is over. Oh ohh. Anyway, I don’t want to get into a lot of legalese, but the state has to show a compelling state interest if this law is to be upheld. This is the type of scrutiny that is applied to laws such as this that deals with voting rights.

Editorials: Reporters Know What the ‘Voter ID’ Push Is Really About. Why Don’t They Just Say So? | Dan Froomkin/Huffington Post

Does any journalist who is not an overt shill for the right actually believe that Republicans are pushing voter ID laws because they’re concerned about voter fraud? No, of course not. And for good reason. Voter fraud simply isn’t a problem in this country. Studies have definitively debunked the voter fraud myth time and again. In Pennsyvlania, which just adopted a tremendously restrictive photo-ID law that could disenfranchise 1 in 10 votersstate officials conceded they have no evidence of voter fraud, nor any reason to believe it could become a problem. By contrast, there is ample evidence that voter ID laws inhibit voting, particularly among minorities and the poor — two major demographic segments that tend to vote Democratic. And that’s hardly a coincidence. Consider the recent bragging by the Pennsylvania House Republican leader that his state’s voter ID bill “is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”