A federal lawsuit filed Wednesday claims a new Indiana law forcing small precinct consolidation in Lake County is a violation of voters’ rights. The Indiana State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and a group of Lake County residents said, in the lawsuit, the forced consolidation of voting precincts with fewer than 600 voters “places severe, undue burdens on one of the most fundamental rights guaranteed to citizens in our representative democracy: the right to vote.” “Plaintiffs bring the instant lawsuit to protect the right to vote and to prevent the disenfranchisement of and unjustified burdens on voters in Lake County, Indiana – including in particular, the disparate burdens placed on Lake County’s African American, Hispanic, poor and disabled voters,” the lawsuit read.
Editorials: We face greatest threat to voting rights of past half-century | Alex Padilla/The Fresno Bee
Two years ago, President Barack Obama marked the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act with a White House summit on protecting and expanding the right to vote. As California’s chief elections officer, I was invited to this significant event. It was an inspiring day, meeting in the Oval Office with the president and Georgia Rep. John Lewis, the civil rights icon, and joining voting rights advocates from across the country in a series of panels. Sunday marked the 52nd anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act. The contrast in the White House could not be more stark. Our current president believes, without evidence, that millions of “illegal votes” cost him the popular vote. He has created a sham “Election Integrity Commission” headed by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the nation’s foremost vote suppressor, to place barriers between American citizens and their right to vote. Make no mistake: We are facing the greatest threat to voting rights in the past half-century.
Voting Blogs: The Case for Courage: Fight for voting rights, not just for yourself but for your neighbor, too | Andrew Cohen/Brennan Center for Justice
Speakers at a programme here stressed for a provision wherein the Nepali migrant workers abroad could cast their ballots back home by any means. At an interaction programme themed on the voting rights of the migrant workers and organized by People Forum in the capital city, they also suggested the concerned authorities to consider the ways for the Nepali migrant workers off-shore to help them exercise their franchise in the next local level election to be held after five years. There are a total of 115 countries in the world having provisions for their fellow citizens in the foreign soil to vote, they shared recommending a system wherein the Nepali migrant workers could cast vote at Nepali diplomatic missions from the respective countries they work in.
Texas: Will Federal Judges Be Able to Fix Texas Voting Rights Before 2018 Elections? | The San Antonio Current
While Texas lawmakers dive into an encore legislative session at the capitol this month, a few high-ranking federal judges are quietly weighing whether or not the legislature intentionally passed laws that discriminate against minorities. These decisions are based on two separate, long-brewing cases, both rooted in Texas election laws, both rushing to wrap up before the looming 2018 election cycle, and both guaranteed to significantly shake up national politics. The first legal battle began in 2011, when the Texas Legislature drafted new state and congressional districts to keep up with the quickly-expanding population. Most of those new Texans were Latino and African American — a shift that eventually made white Texans a minority population in the state. According to voting rights advocates and federal judges, conservative lawmakers weren’t eager about their new black and brown (and predominantly Democrat) neighbors. So, they claim, the GOP-led legislature redrew district lines to dilute the votes of new black and brown Texans.
Illinois: State lawmaker concerned about proposed tweak to nursing home voter registration | Illinois News Network
A state representative has some questions about a proposed change to Illinois election law that would allow for more grace-period voter registration at nursing homes. Senate Bill 1479 passed both chambers in May and was sent to the governor last month. It would enhance grace-period voter registration and changes of address for eligible residents at nursing homes. State Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, was the only lawmaker in the House to raise questions before it passed in May. “You can easily have [nursing home residents] double registered and anytime you have somebody double registered you have the propensity for possible fraud to occur,” Ives said. “They should have the same voting rights as everybody else, but they should have no more voting rights than anybody else either.”
Texas: Voting rights battle in Pasadena could have Texas-wide legal ramifications | The Texas Tribune
Cody Ray Wheeler has a cowboy’s name. It’s a product, he says, of being born the son of a North Texas refinery worker. In some ways it’s emblematic of a changing Texas: Wheeler, who is Hispanic, represents a city council district with a majority-white voting constituency in this Houston suburb. It’s also a name that has put him at the center of a voting rights battle over whether city leaders here pushed changes to the council map to undercut the electoral power of a booming Hispanic majority. “A Hispanic wasn’t supposed to win that seat,” Wheeler said over barbecue on a recent steamy afternoon. He’s convinced his non-Hispanic last name made the difference in his narrow 33-vote margin of victory in 2013. “I could not run as a Hispanic candidate,” he said. “I would’ve lost.”
Lost in the uproar last week over a written request by a White House commission for state voter registration lists was another letter sent that same day. It came from the civil rights division of the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ), and asked states for details on how they’re complying with a requirement in the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) — also known as the motor-voter law — that election officials keep their voting lists accurate and up to date. The timing and focus of the two letters — one from the commission and the other from DOJ — has made some voter advocacy groups nervous about what the Trump administration is up to, and whether its ultimate goal is to weaken or revamp the motor voter law. “It’s very concerning,” said Brenda Wright, vice president of policy and legal strategies at Demos, a liberal advocacy group that’s been fighting state efforts to purge voters from the rolls. Wright notes that the main purpose of the motor voter law is to expand opportunities to register to vote, but that millions of eligible Americans are still unregistered.
The U.S. Supreme Court Monday declined to take up a voting rights case on a technical challenge to the state’s right to reject a voter registration application on the basis of an error or omission unrelated to the voter’s qualifications. The justices refused to hear an appeal by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, which challenged Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted about whether private parties can appeal an Ohio voter-roll purge under the Voting Rights Act. The provisions effectively keep voters from registering if they have made a small error in their registration or voter forms, such as writing a name in legible cursive rather than in print, omitting a zip code, or missing a digit from a Social Security number, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, which supported the claimants in this case.
Though voting should be a simple process, it’s undeniable that some people face more obstacles at the polls than others.
When English is not your first language, the voting process can be especially difficult. Though a controversial voter ID law here has grabbed national headlines, fewer Texans know about the state’s more obscure voting rights battle that’s threatening the right to vote for U.S. citizens who don’t speak English. Several years ago, Mallika Das of Williamson County brought her son Saurabh to the polls to help her interpret her ballot. When they arrived, Saurabh was told that he couldn’t help his mom because he was registered to vote in a neighboring district. Mallika Das was a U.S. citizen and eligible voter who wanted to exercise her constitutional right — but that day, she couldn’t properly cast a ballot. They wouldn’t let her son help her.