poll tax

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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.

Full Article: Gov. Kasich's far-seeing veto of SB 296 and its virtual poll tax: editorial | cleveland.com.

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.

Full Article: Incarcerated, homeless excluded on Election Day - Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper: News.

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.

Full Article: The Voting Rights Act at 50 - The New York Times.

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.

Full Article: Voter ID Laws Scrutinized for Impact on Midterms - NYTimes.com.

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.

Full Article: The Racist Origins of Felon Disenfranchisement - NYTimes.com.

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.

Full Article: Should the Poor Be Allowed to Vote? - The Atlantic.

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.

Full Article: Voter Identification Laws Hit Roadblocks in Wisconsin and Texas - WSJ.

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.

Full Article: Final arguments begin in voter lawsuit - Winston-Salem Journal: Local News.

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.

Full Article: Our View | Voter ID - Don't change voter ID law; get rid of it.

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.

Full Article: The Right to Vote - NationalJournal.com.

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.

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

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.

Full Article: Voter ID bill raises controversy in North Carolina - CBS News.

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.

Full Article: New Alabama state ID law may pose some problems for Jefferson County (photos, video) | al.com.

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.)

Full Article: The Supreme Court vs. the Voter.

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.

Full Article: Alaska voter ID bill passes final House committee - Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Alaska News.

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.

Full Article: Fee for voter ID might be unconstitutional :: WRAL.com.

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.

Full Article: Arkansas’ GOP-led Legislature passes voter ID law - Nation - The Boston Globe.

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.

Full Article: Voter ID measure clears House committee over objections | Legislature | ADN.com.

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.

Full Article: Despite controversy, voter ID bill takes next step in Alaska Legislature | Alaska Dispatch.

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.”

Full Article: How The Voting Rights Act, Now In Danger, Came To Pass And Shaped History | TPMDC.