Project Vote, a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit that has spent recent years focusing its attention on improving voter registration, especially the enforcement of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) will officially close its doors on May 31. Michael Slater, executive director since 2003, cited the lack of funding as the reason for the closure. “[F]unding for voter registration programs declined precipitously after 2008, and the number of funders supporting voting rights advocacy and litigation slowly decreased as well,” Slater said. “At the same time, more organizations created voting rights programs, which resulted in more competition.” Slater also pointed to the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision to strike down the pre-clearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act which resulted in the donor community focusing available voting rights resources on VRA enforcement, which had the effect of reducing funds for other work, such as Project Vote’s work enforcing the NVRA.
Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan said Wednesday her office is looking to update the state’s voter registration systems, but it has little to do with last year’s hack. “We’re updating, yes, and it’s not actually due to anything that happened last year,” she said. “It’s something that, by law, we’re required to go out to bid for this in 2017.” Arizona was one of the first states to introduce online voter registration and, 15 years later, it’s time to upgrade from the VRAZ-II, an aging platform that reached its peak use in the late 1990s. Reagan has issued a request for proposal for the development of the Access Voter Information Database. Bids should begin coming in during the next few weeks.
Georgia: Watchdog: 6th District runoff latest skirmish in voting rights war | Atlanta Journal Constitution
These past two weeks have been great for shareholders in the clipboard industry as an army of volunteers canvassed Georgia’s 6th Congressional District registering voters ahead of the June 20 runoff between Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff. The last-minute push for new voters came as a result of a federal lawsuit brought against the state by a coalition of civil rights groups claiming the state violated federal law by closing down registration for the special election too early. The constitutionality of Georgia’s voter registration law is still undecided, but a federal judge issued an order reopening registration for the race for two weeks while the case grinds forward. The lawsuit is another salvo in the endless back-and-forth over voting rights in the state, a battle that has its roots in Georgia’s darkest history.
Georgia: Voter registration backlog ahead of Georgia’s 6th District runoff | Atlanta Journal Constitution
Local counties under order to reopen voter registration in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District face a backlog of tens of thousands of applications and have already begun working overtime to process them all in time for the June 20 runoff election. Still, despite concerns that a federal judge’s order would back them into a corner, no problems have been reported so far as the counties themselves appear to have hit the ground running. “Everything has been going very smoothly,” said Candice Broce, a spokeswoman for Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the state’s top elections official. All three counties that have areas in the 6th District — Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton — had contingency plans in place in anticipation of Thursday’s ruling. The first of tens of thousands of backlogged registration applications have already begun to be processed, although officials said it is impossible to know how many of them involve residents in each county who actually reside in the district itself. That’s because it’s not readily apparent on the applications themselves.
California: Voting rights groups file a new DMV lawsuit, saying it’s still too hard for Californians to register to vote | Los Angeles Times
A two-year dispute over California’s Department of Motor Vehicles voter registration procedures has again landed the agency in court. On Tuesday, a coalition of voting rights groups filed a federal lawsuit alleging DMV officials still require drivers renewing their registration by mail to fill out a separate card if they also want to register to vote. That separate step, the lawsuit said, violates the 1993 “Motor Voter” law passed by Congress. “It’s an embarrassment that in 2017, more than 20 years after the law was enacted, California DMV is still violating the law by making millions of people jump through hoops to become voters,” said Kathay Feng, executive director of California Common Cause.
Karen Handel, the Republican nominee in Georgia’s closely watched 6th District special election, is accusing Democrats of a “trick” by convincing a federal judge to extend voter registration in the district. Handel, who faces Democrat Jon Ossoff in a runoff next month, lampooned Thursday’s federal court decision to reopen voter registration in a Monday fundraising email signed by the candidate. … Democrats fell just short of flipping the historically Republican seat in April when Ossoff fell short of the 50 percent threshold needed to win the jungle primary outright. While the outcome is giving Republicans a chance to reorganize and coalesce behind one candidate, Ossoff’s strong performance gave his party hope that he could flip the seat and send a chill through Republicans ahead of the 2018 midterms.
A federal court in Kansas has advanced an ongoing battle over voter registration to trial, striking down motions for summary judgment by both the American Civil Liberties Union and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. The ACLU sued Kobach in February 2016, claiming that Kansas law violates the National Voter Registration Act by requiring proof of citizenship to register. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson disagreed that the registration requirement hinders voters’ right to travel under the 14th Amendment’s Privileges and Immunities Clause, which prohibits states from discriminating against citizens from other states.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Wednesday vetoed a bill that would require registrars to deny applications by people who leave out certain details, such as whether they are 18 years old. McAuliffe also vetoed the House version of legislation to extend coal tax credits, terming the credits ineffective. House Bill 298, sponsored by Del. Terry G. Kilgore, R-Scott, was identical to Senate Bill 44, which McAuliffe vetoed March 11, the last day of the General Assembly session. Del. Mark L. Cole, R-Spotsylvania, sponsored House Bill 9, which sought to specify in greater detail information applicants are required to provide on the voter registration form.
Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes is spoiling for a fight over voter-registration procedures meant to keep undocumented immigrants from voting. The newly elected Democrat says the restrictions may have denied as many as 58,000 U.S. citizens in Maricopa County the right to vote, a fear critics of the law argued at the U.S. Supreme Court. So Fontes is changing the process immediately. “We are not in the business of creating obstacles to citizens to exercise their constitutional rights,” Fontes told The Arizona Republic. But experts say his new process could break the law.
Georgia: 6th district runoff: Judge orders Georgia to reopen voter registration | Atlanta Journal Constitution
A federal judge on Thursday ordered Georgia to temporarily reopen voter registration ahead of a hotly contested congressional runoff in the 6th District. U.S. District Judge Timothy Batten made the ruling as part of a broader lawsuit by a Washington-based advocacy group, which last month accused Georgia of violating federal law by reducing the amount of time residents have to register to vote. Voter registration shut down March 20 ahead of the deciding runoff June 20 for the 6th District election, which is being held in the northern suburbs of metro Atlanta. Batten, however, ordered registration immediately reopened until May 21.