Voting Rights

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National: Protection of Voting Rights for Minorities Has Fallen Sharply, a New Report Finds | The New York Times

Federal actions to enforce voting rights for minorities have declined sharply since the Supreme Court struck down the core of the 1965 Voting Rights Act five years ago, the federal Commission on Civil Rights says in a sweeping new report on voting issues. Even enforcement of the act’s remaining provisions has dropped markedly, the report states. In an interview before the report’s formal release on Wednesday, the head of the commission, Catherine E. Lhamon, called the present state of discrimination against minority voters “enduring and pernicious,” and said it was poorly addressed under federal law. “To be at this point in our history, without either meaningful federal protections in law or in practice from the United States Department of Justice, is a low point” since the passage of the Voting Rights Act, she said. “And that’s dangerous.” Read More

U.S. Territories: U.S. solicitor general: Voting case hinges on state, not federal law | Virgin Islands Daily News

The federal government has rejected any responsibility for a law preventing some territorial residents from voting absentee in federal elections, court documents show. U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco filed a response Wednesday in the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that responsibility for potential harm for territorial residents who wish to vote absentee in other states where they have resided lies instead with an Illinois law. Francisco made the argument in response to a group of residents of the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam who claim they were denied their constitutional right to vote absentee in Illinois because of the tenets of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act. The case, Segovia v. The United States, seeks a declared right to vote absentee for residents of the territories. Read More

U.S. Territories: Presidential voting rights for veterans on Guam, territories sought | Pacific Daily News

Gov. Eddie Calvo seeks President Donald Trump’s support for veterans on Guam and other territories by granting them the right to vote for president. American citizens on Guam, the CNMI, Puerto Rico, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands are not allowed to vote for the American president. The governor said it’s a “tragic irony” that so many from Guam laid down their lives and thousands more fought and bled on foreign shores in the service of America’s most cherished ideal of defending democracy, yet they cannot vote for their commander-in-chief, the American president. “American veterans residing in Guam and other U.S. territories have served tirelessly for generations now, advocating with force of arms to protect our rights. Whose voices are raised for their rights?” Calvo said in an Aug. 8 letter to Trump. Copies of the letter were also addressed to members of Trump’s administration and members of Congress. Read More

California: A Fight Over Voter Rights in California | Wall Street Journal

Santa Monica, Calif., with a “well-being index” to gauge the happiness of its residents and a fleet of city buses powered by natural gas, often lives up to its reputation as a wealthy, liberal enclave on California’s coast. But this month, a trial in a Los Angeles courtroom has put the seaside city on the same side as a conservative legal activist who is challenging the state’s voting-rights law. The fight revolves around the city’s at-large election system for its seven City Council seats. Instead of winning office by capturing the majority in any particular district, council members are elected citywide. Read More

Editorials: The Battle For The Right To Vote Has Never Been Won | Josh Marshall/TPM

There is no democracy without the vote. There is no democratic legitimacy. There is no rule of law. And yet the vote has been contested throughout our country’s almost 250 year history. We think most often of the march toward universal suffrage rights for all adult citizens: the vote for all white men in the 1820s and 1830s, the extension of voting rights to African-American men in 1870 (15th Amendment) and women in 1920 (19th Amendment). But these de jure enactments have never been the whole story. Read More

Editorials: Kavanaugh’s Record Doesn’t Bode Well for Voting Rights | Ari Berman/Mother Jones

Donald Trump’s new Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, could determine how the court rules on cases that shape the future of voting rights in the United States. And if his track record is any indication, many Americans could be disenfranchised as a result. As a judge on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, Kavanaugh voted in 2012 to uphold a South Carolina voter ID law that the Obama administration said would disenfranchise tens of thousands of minority citizens. The Justice Department blocked the law, which required government-issued photo identification to vote, in late 2011 for violating the Voting Rights Act. “The absolute number of minority citizens whose exercise of the franchise could be adversely affected by the proposed requirements runs into the tens of thousands,” wrote Tom Perez, who was then assistant attorney general for civil rights and now leads the Democratic National Committee. The Justice Department found that more than 80,000 minority registered voters in South Carolina did not have DMV-issued identification, with African Americans 20 percent more likely than whites to lack such ID. Read More

Malta: Malta facing renewed calls to end voter disenfranchisement | The Malta Independent

With the European Parliament elections just round the corner, Malta is facing renewed calls to end the disenfranchisement of Maltese nationals who live overseas. The European Commission has repeatedly called on Malta and the five other countries to stop disenfranchising citizens by not allowing them to vote unless they reside in their home countries. The others are: Cyprus, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. In Malta, the issue is a bone of contention each time a general election rolls around, with political parties lodging court cases to have certain people struck from the electoral register under the voter registration rules in place.  Citizens are disenfranchised unless they have resided in Malta for at least six months within the last 18 preceding their registration to vote. Read More

Editorials: This Independence Day, celebrate America by defending voting rights | Alex Padilla/Orange County Register

Flags are mounted, grills are fired up and friends, family and neighbors are gathering to celebrate Independence Day across the country. We celebrate our history, our veterans and our most fundamental values of American democracy, including the right to vote. But this year, recent decisions by an ideologically split U.S. Supreme Court are putting Americans’ right to vote at risk by enabling racial and partisan gerrymandering and upholding voter suppression tactics. We are reminded that we cannot celebrate America without also defending the right to vote. Make no mistake — the Supreme Court’s assault on voting rights impacts everyone — red states, blue states, the elderly and young of any race. But the brunt of such attacks will be felt most profoundly by communities that have been historically disenfranchised — people of color and low income communities. Read More

U.S. Territories: Territories’ voting rights an ‘uphill battle’ | Guam Daily Post

Chief Judge Gustavo Gelpí of the District Court of Puerto Rico spoke with Guam attorneys and law students at the Guam Museum on Monday morning, discussing the nebulous relationship between United States territories and the Constitution, just days before the nation celebrates its 242nd birthday. While Gelpí covered a number of constitutional questions, he repeated several times that territories remain in a “constitutionally scary” situation, in which the territories remain at the mercy of Congress. “What Congress giveth, Congress can taketh away,” he said. Read More

Editorials: A Counterattack on Voting Rights | David Leonhardt/The New York Times

In the suburbs of Salt Lake City, there is a planned community called Suncrest that has turned out to be a good place to study voter turnout. Suncrest feels like one community, full of modern, single-family houses. But it straddles two different counties — Salt Lake and Utah. And in 2016, the two used different voting systems. Salt Lake County switched to mail-based voting, which meant that all registered voters would receive a ballot at their home a few weeks before Election Day. They could then mail it back or drop it off at a county office. In Utah County, by contrast, residents still voted the old-fashioned way. They had to visit their local polling place, Ridgeline Elementary School, on Election Day. Read More