Missouri is heading toward a slow-motion pile-up in about six weeks, when the state’s new voter ID law kicks in. State officials, including Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, must speed up efforts to educate Missourians about coming changes to their fundamental right to vote. After June 1, barring legal intervention, Missouri law will require voters to present an acceptable form of photographic identification to cast a ballot. Alternatively, those without a photo ID will be required to sign a statement, under penalty of perjury, attesting to their name and address. Election authorities will be allowed to take a picture of the voter. Those provisions are onerous enough in a state where turnout is typically, and depressingly, low. But it will scare some voters, particularly the poor and elderly, who may be reluctant to sign a legal document they don’t fully understand in order to cast a ballot.
Nebraska: Resolution to require voter ID at Nebraska’s polls advances but is expected to stir debate among lawmakers | Omaha World-Herald
A skirmish over voter identification flared Thursday in the Nebraska Legislature, portending the battle that’s about to come. The Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee voted 6-2 to advance to the floor Legislative Resolution 1CA, which asks Nebraskans whether they want to put a photo ID requirement in the state constitution. If adopted by the full Legislature, ballot language on the constitutional amendment would appear before voters in November 2018. If voters approve the amendment it will be left to state lawmakers to pass legislation spelling out what constitutes an acceptable ID and whether the state will pay for IDs for those who cannot afford them.
A proposed constitutional amendment that would set the stage for voter photo ID requirements in Nebraska was dispatched Thursday to the floor of the Legislature where it will trigger a certain filibuster. Sen. John Murante of Gretna, sponsor of the proposal (LR1CA), said he’s not sure whether he can muster the 33 votes required to break a filibuster. “I think it will be close,” he said moments after the measure cleared the Government, Military and Affairs Committee.
Editorials: Voter ID bills across the nation undermine faith in our democracy | Danielle Lang/The Hill
The Iowa legislature sent a strict voter ID bill to the governor’s desk last week. If the governor signs the bill, which he is widely expected to do, Iowa will be the first state in 2017 to pass a new law that burdens the right to vote. But it likely won’t be the last. Thus far, 29 states have introduced 87 bills that would restrict access to the ballot. These bills align with a troubling trend toward state laws that make it harder rather than easier to vote. But while the restrictions are familiar, the rationale employed is new and startlingly cynical. Lawmakers for years have tried and failed to prove in court that these laws can be justified by the need to prevent nearly non-existent in-person impersonation voter fraud. Now, they argue that this strict voter ID law is necessary to address the “perception” of fraud. Iowa state representative Ken Rizer told the New York Times, “It is true that there isn’t widespread voter fraud … but there is a perception that the system can be cheated. That’s one of the reasons for doing this.”
Iowa: Minutemen’s support for Voter ID bill reinforces voter-suppression concerns | Des Moines Register
Of the 54 groups that registered a lobbyist’s opinion on a bill tightening voting requirements in Iowa, only one expressed support: the Iowa Minutemen Civil Defense Corps. The national Minutemen corps has a storied history for its anti-immigrant, and in the view of civil right groups, white-supremacist positions. In earlier times, it took a vigilante approach to patrolling the border and nabbing undocumented immigrants. Lately it has focused on rhetoric and advocacy, and tipping off law enforcement on where to look for the undocumented. Though individual chapters remain, the national corps seems to have disbanded after its president in 2010 called on members to “return to the border locked, loaded and ready to stop each and every individual we encounter along the frontier,” and then she thought better of it.
North Dakota: Lawmakers pass voter ID bill, but attorney says it doesn’t follow court ruling | West Fargo Pioneer
A bill adjusting North Dakota’s voter ID law awaits action from Gov. Doug Burgum after the Legislature approved it this week. The Senate passed House Bill 1369 in a 35-10 vote Tuesday, April 18, after the House approved it Monday. Although proponents said it will help protect the integrity of the state’s elections, an attorney challenging North Dakota’s voter ID laws said the bill doesn’t comply with a federal judge’s 2016 ruling. For those who don’t bring a valid ID to the polls, the bill allows voters to cast a ballot that’s set aside until they produce an ID. If an ID doesn’t include required information or is out of date, a voter could use a current utility bill, bank statement, government-issued check, paycheck or government document to supplement the ID.
The Legislature has passed and sent to Governor Bugrum a new voter ID bill. It replaces the law that was declared unconstitutional by a federal judge in North Dakota. The law – passed in 2013 – got rid of the “voter affidavit.” A person who wanted to vote but did not have proper ID could sign that affidavit – and would be allowed to vote. But Judge Daniel Hovland ruled that because the affidavit was discontinued, there was no “fail safe” mechanism for voters without an ID. Hovland said that would put an undue burden on the Native American population.
The House Elections Committee on Monday approved a bill that would make court-ordered changes to the state’s controversial voter identification law, moving the proposal to the House floor under the looming specter of federal action.
Senate Bill 5, written by Rep. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, would give more leeway to people who show up to the polls without one of seven state-approved photo IDs. They would be allowed to use other documents that carry their name and address as proof of identity, such as a utility bill, if they sign a “declaration of impediment” stating why they don’t have an approved ID. The bill would make lying on the document a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison. It would also create a voter registration program that sends mobile units to events to issue election identification certificates.
After altering voter identification laws in previous legislative sessions, North Dakota’s Republican-led Legislature now is attempting to fix them after a group of American Indians sued in federal court, alleging the state requirements are unconstitutional and disenfranchised tribal members. The House passed a bill Monday that allows those who don’t have proper ID to cast a ballot that’s set aside until the voter’s eligibility is confirmed. The Senate still must agree to the measure before it goes to GOP Gov. Doug Burgum for his signature. Before 2013, a voter could sign an affidavit attesting to his or her eligibility to vote in the precinct but the Legislature removed that provision. Some members of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa sued last year, alleging the reworked state requirements are unconstitutional and robbed tribal members of their right to vote.
The Iowa Senate gave final approval Thursday to contentious legislation that will require voters to show government-issued identification at the polls and will reduce the time period for early voting. House File 516 passed on a 28-21 vote with Republicans casting all the yes votes. Democrats and one independent all voted no. The bill now heads to Gov. Terry Branstad, who is expected to sign it. The measure had previously passed the Senate, but a second vote was needed on Thursday because of several amendments approved by the House. There was only brief debate Thursday, but Sen. Tony Bisignano, D-Des Moines, strongly objected to one amended provision. The change pushes back the date for allowing 17-year-old Iowans to vote in primary elections if they will turn 18 by the date of the general election. The change will now take effect on Jan. 1, 2019, instead of being available for the 2018 election. “This change goes hand in hand with a voter suppression bill,” Bisignano said.