same-day registration

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Ohio: State asks federal judge to delay reinstating ‘Golden Week’ allowing registration, voting | Cleveland Plain Dealer

Ohio has asked a federal judge in Columbus to hold off enforcing an order requiring the state to allow voting during Golden Week, when voters can both register to vote and cast an in-person absentee ballot. U.S. District Judge Michael Watson last week struck down a state law that eliminated Golden Week, ruling that the 2014 law violates both the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. That law shortened early voting from 35 days before an election to 28. Husted said then that the state would appeal the ruling.

Full Article: Ohio asks federal judge to delay reinstating 'Golden Week' allowing registration, voting | cleveland.com.

Illinois: Election officials say true test for same-day registration is in November | Daily Herald

The competitive presidential contests on both the Republican and Democratic tickets drove record turnout in Tuesday’s primary, suburban election officials say. But Cook County Clerk David Orr said that the tens of thousands of residents registering to vote on Election Day was even more surprising than record turnout. “That was shocking, in a good way,” he said In suburban Cook County, 682,022 voters cast ballots, almost 100,000 more than in the last contested presidential primary on both sides in 2008. Around 23,000 of them registered and voted on Election Day. In DuPage County, 267,754 people turned out to vote, 25,580 more than in the 2008 primary. Of that number, around 3,700 participated in grace-period registration on Election Day. Kane and Lake county officials say they also saw record turnout, with nearly 7,500 same-day registrants between them.

Full Article: Election officials say true test for same-day registration is in November.

Kansas: Minority groups push for same-day voter registration | Lawrence Journal World

Minority leaders in Kansas and other voting rights advocates are pushing for passage of a bill this year that they say would dramatically increase voter turnout by allowing people to register to vote on Election Day and still have their vote counted. “Same-day registration” is already allowed in 10 states and the District of Columbia, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and Hawaii will become the 11th state in 2018. “We really believe everybody should have access to voting anytime, not just a few days out of the year. As long as they come with ID, why shouldn’t they be able to vote?” said Rep. Gail Finney, D-Wichita, who recently introduced a same-day registration bill in the House. Rep. Gail Finney, D-Wichita, is sponsoring a same-day voter registration bill that would allow people to register to vote on Election Day. Supporters argue that it would increase voter turnout, especially among young and minority voters. But some skeptics fear it could open the door to widespread voting fraud.

Full Article: Minority groups push for same-day voter registration / LJWorld.com.

North Carolina: Same-day registration, out-of-precinct voting back – for now | Winston-Salem Journal

North Carolina voters again have two options for casting ballots in the March primary that were repealed for 2014 elections — at least for now. The General Assembly had stopped allowing people to register to vote and cast ballots on the same day during the early-voting period. And they also decided that the votes of people who went to the wrong precinct on election day would no longer be counted. But those changes were put on hold until a trial court judge rules on challenges that have been filed against them. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling confirmed that delay last April, but it’s gotten more attention recently as the primary nears. Same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting were used by more than 100,000 people the last time they were permitted in statewide elections, in November 2012.

Full Article: Same-day registration, out-of-precinct voting back - for now - Winston-Salem Journal: State.

Pennsylvania: Groups call for mail-in voting, in-person early voting, and more | WITF

A handful of groups are getting together to push for changes to the state’s voting laws. The organizations – like Common Cause Pennsylvania, the League of Women Voters, and the Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group – say they’re asking for modest changes. They want to create a pre-registration system for teenagers to get on the voting rolls before they turn 18, and allow same-day registration for everyone. Another suggestion is for Pennsylvania to start in-person voting before Election Day — something that 33 states already allow.

Full Article: Groups call for mail-in voting, in-person early voting, and more | News | witf.org.

Kansas: Black leaders in Kansas call for Election Day voter registration | The Wichita Eagle

African-American leaders in Kansas want the state to allow people to register to vote on Election Day. The proposal included in the Kansas Black Leadership Council’s 2016 legislative agenda is a response to the state’s requirement that people provide proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate or passport, in order to register to vote. People who do not do so when they try to register at the DMV, for example, are placed in suspended status until they provide documention.

Full Article: Black leaders in Kansas call for Election Day voter registration | The Wichita Eagle.

Pennsylvania: Coalition pushes for voting reforms to get more to the polls in Pennsylvania | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Bemoaning a 25 percent turnout in this fall’s general election, a nonpartisan coalition wants to make it easier for Pennsylvanians to vote, proposing reforms like same-day registration and optional voting by mail. But it’s unclear whether reforms could have an impact on next year’s presidential election. Keystone Votes is seeking a sweeping overhaul of restrictions on voter registration and access to the polls. Many voters “really struggle to make it to the polls on Election Day,” said Karen Buck, executive director of Philadelphia-based SeniorLAW Center. And all voters, she said, “would welcome more flexibility and choice in deciding when and how to cast a vote.” Other members of the group include the state League of Women Voter Pennsylvania Voice, Common Cause Pennsylvania and the state ACLU.

Full Article: Coalition pushes for voting reforms to get more to the polls in Pennsylvania | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

National: Does same-day registration affect voter turnout in the U.S.? | PBS

Nationally, some experts say policies governing the voting process in the United States prevent eligible voters from getting to the polls on Election Day. After the Supreme Court overturned a key part of the Voting Rights Act, officials in North Carolina grappled with the passage of a new voter ID law and a reversal of many voting procedures civil rights leaders spent years trying to win. “This is our Selma,” Rev. William Barber, a Protestant minister and political leader in the state, told PBS NewsHour. “We’re talking about taking away rights that people have utilized in elections, some since 2000.”

Full Article: Interactive map: Does same-day registration affect voter turnout in the U.S.?.

Editorials: How ‘Equality’ Was Used to Dismantle Voting Rights | Janson Wu/Huffington Post

The Voting Rights Act was signed into law 50 years ago to rectify a “clear and simple wrong.” Throughout the Jim Crow South, African Americans were systematically denied their right to vote through tactics like literacy tests and poll taxes. The Voting Rights Act outlawed these and other targeted voting restrictions. It also sought to prevent future violations in particularly problematic regions of the country through Section 5 of the act, which requires certain jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to submit any proposed changes in voting procedures for “pre-clearance” by the federal government. This pre-clearance safeguard has allowed the Department of Justice to block discriminatory changes to voting laws over 700 times between 1982 and 2006. Unfortunately, this pre-clearance protection was dismantled by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013, just a day before the court also struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). While Section 5 was technically left untouched, with Chief Justice Roberts writing for the majority, the court ruled that Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act, which determined which jurisdictions would be subject to pre-clearance, was unconstitutional because it relied upon formulas that were out of date. The effect of this ruling essentially stripped the federal government of its ability to block discriminatory voting laws in those places until a new formula is established.

Full Article: How 'Equality' Was Used to Dismantle Voting Rights | Janson Wu.

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.

Editorials: Does a voting-rights case threaten experimentation? | Michael McGough/Los Angeles Times

Suppose a state adopts a traditional approach to voting – only one day on which voters can cast their ballots at polling places, with limited opportunities for absentee voting. Yet legislators in this state are intrigued by innovations in other states, such as Oregon’s system of voting by mail or Sunday voting, which allows churches to organize “souls to the polls” programs that shepherd parishioners directly from services to a polling place. If this hypothetical state adopts such alternative methods but then finds them unduly expensive or susceptible to fraud, can it repeal them? On first blush, the answer seems obvious: What the legislature can do it can undo. But what if there is evidence that voting by mail or Sunday voting results in a higher turnout of racial minorities? Would doing away with those methods violate the federal Voting Rights Act?

Full Article: Does a voting-rights case threaten experimentation? - LA Times.

North Carolina: Key Voting Rights Test Now in Federal Judge’s Hands | The New York Times

A federal trial that may help shape voting rights protections across the country in the 2016 elections and beyond came to a close here Friday, with the Department of Justice and civil rights groups charging that North Carolina deliberately sought to suppress black voting with a new election law, while the state defended its right to set election rules and said it treated all races equally. “African-Americans were on the verge of having real influence in the state of North Carolina,” Bert Russ, a lawyer with the Justice Department, said of the expanded voting procedures that were curtailed in a Republican-sponsored 2013 law. “The legislature stepped in and took away” the methods that drove this progress, he said, in “a troubling mixture of race and politics.” But a lawyer for the state argued that North Carolina had the right to set its election policies, and that the black voter turnout in 2014, under the new rules, was actually higher than before. The lawyer, Thomas A. Farr, accused the plaintiffs of trying to protect “practices that their political allies prefer.”

Full Article: Key Voting Rights Test Now in Federal Judge’s Hands - The New York Times.

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.

Editorials: North Carolina’s Messy Voting Laws Restrict Voting and Support Gerrymandering | AllGov

A federal court in North Carolina is now hearing testimony in a case that could have an impact on the rollback of voting rights across the country. At the start of this decade, North Carolina’s voting laws were a model of inclusion. The state allowed 17 days of early voting, teenagers who were approaching voting age could pre-register to vote, there was same-day registration and voters could even cast ballots outside their assigned precinct. The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles was also required to contact drivers about being registered when they reported an address change. Then, three things happened. First, a Republican tide swept through the North Carolina legislature in 2010. Next, after the 2010 Census, the legislature drew a congressional district map that some have called the most gerrymandered in the country. The gerrymandering worked; most of the state’s Democratic voters were packed into a few odd, snake-like districts. Democrats won only four congressional seats in 2012, when the state’s registration and voting numbers indicated they should have won seven.

Full Article: Top Stories - North Carolina’s Messy Voting Laws Restrict Voting and Support Gerrymandering - AllGov - News.

Editorials: Another civil rights struggle in the Carolinas over voting | Ruth Marcus/The Washington Post

For all the understandable attention devoted to removing the Confederate flag from the South Carolina statehouse grounds, a civil rights struggle with far more practical consequences is playing out one state away. In a trial that just began in a federal courthouse in North Carolina last week, lawyers for the Justice Department and civil rights organizations are challenging a state law that limited the days for early voting, ended same-day registration and barred voters who turned up at the wrong precinct. The case presents the stark question: 50 years after its passage, does the Voting Rights Act retain any teeth? Two years ago in Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court gutted a central aspect of the law, the “pre-clearance” provision requiring nine states and political subdivisions, mostly in the South, to submit proposed changes in voting procedures for federal approval.

Full Article: Another civil rights struggle in the Carolinas over voting - The Washington Post.

Editorials: Why North Carolina Is the New Selma | Ari Berman/The Nation

On the first day of the federal trial challenging North Carolina’s new voting restrictions, thousands of voting-rights activists marched through downtown Winston-Salem. They held signs reading, “North Carolina Is Our Selma” and “50 Years After Selma Voting Rights Still Matter.” At first glance, the comparison between the Selma of the 1960s and the North Carolina of today seems absurd. Before the VRA was passed, only 2 percent of African-Americans were registered to vote in Selma, the most segregated city in the South. Today, largely because of the VRA, 68 percent of black North Carolinians are registered to vote and black turnout exceeded white turnout in the past two presidential elections. But there’s a crucial similarity between Selma in 1965 and North Carolina in 2015—both show the lengths conservative white Southerners will go to maintain their political power. The billy clubs and literacy tests of yesteryear have been replaced by subtler and more sophisticated attempts to control who can participate in the political process.

Full Article: Why North Carolina Is the New Selma | The Nation.

North Carolina: Sides Dispute Basis of North Carolina Voting Laws as Trial Contesting Them Opens | The New York Times

A trial over North Carolina’s voting laws opened in a federal courtroom here on Monday, with civil rights groups and the Justice Department arguing that the state had turned back the clock with sweeping changes to its election laws, while the state said the revisions applied equally to all and left its voting rules well within the national mainstream. “The history of North Carolina is not on trial here,” said Butch Bowers, a lawyer representing Gov. Pat McCrory, in an opening statement. “We will show that there is no discrimination, intentional or otherwise.” The plaintiffs in the case said the legislation, enacted in 2013, was deliberately drafted to reduce voting by African-Americans. They say the legacy of past racism in North Carolina, including the social and economic disparities between black and white citizens, is deeply relevant.

Full Article: Sides Dispute Basis of North Carolina Voting Laws as Trial Contesting Them Opens - The New York Times.

North Carolina: Voting rights trial in North Carolina begins: ‘This is our Selma’ | Los Angeles Times

Lawyers in North Carolina sparred over whether the state illegally weakened minorities’ strength at the polls during what is expected to become a significant test of the voting rights laws. The proceedings, which began in a Winston-Salem federal courtroom Monday, are expected to last several weeks. North Carolina argues that the changes were needed to protect the voting process from fraud. Civil rights activists, with the support of the U.S. Department of Justice, maintain that the law was designed to dilute the power of African Americans and Latinos in the GOP-controlled state. The case is one of several coming after a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision invalidated provisions of the federal Voting Rights Act that gave the Department of Justice final say over voting in areas with histories of racial discrimination. The 1965 law was considered a civil rights landmark by helping to ensure minority participation in a political process controlled by the white ruling structure that had evolved from legal segregation in the South.

Full Article: Voting rights trial in North Carolina begins: 'This is our Selma' - LA Times.

North Carolina: Effects of changes on minorities at crux of North Carolina voting trial | Associated Press

Changes to North Carolina’s voting access rules finally go to trial this week, with a judge ultimately determining whether Republican legislators illegally diminished the opportunity for minorities to participate in the political process. The U.S. Justice Department, voting and civil rights groups and individuals sued soon after the General Assembly approved an elections overhaul law in summer 2013. After interim arguments reached the U.S. Supreme Court last fall, the trial begins Monday and expected to last two to three weeks addresses the crux of the allegations. Provisions being argued in a Winston-Salem federal courtroom reduced the number of days of early voting from 17 to 10, eliminated same-day registration during the early-vote period and prohibited the counting of Election Day ballots cast in the wrong precinct.

Full Article: Effects of changes on minorities at crux of NC voting trial - Connecticut Post.

North Carolina: Voting Rights Legacy of the ’60s Heads to Court as North Carolina Law Is Tested | The New York Times

Days after South Carolina confronted its past and lowered the Confederate battle flag, North Carolina will grapple with its present-day rules that determine access to the voting booth. A federal trial opening in Winston-Salem on Monday is meant to determine whether recent, sweeping changes in the state’s election laws discriminate against black voters. These changes were adopted by the Republican-dominated state legislature in 2013, immediately after the United States Supreme Court struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 when it ended a requirement that nine states with histories of discrimination, including North Carolina, get federal approval before altering their election laws. But the case, as well as one involving a Texas law requiring voters to show a photo ID, could have far wider repercussions, legal experts say — helping to define the scope of voting rights protections across the country in the coming presidential election and beyond.

Full Article: Voting Rights Legacy of the ’60s Heads to Court as North Carolina Law Is Tested - The New York Times.