Voting Rights

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National: Voting Rights, Voter Registration Key For Democrats For 2020 Election | NPR

In her response to President Trump’s State of the Union, Stacey Abrams went through some of the top issues for the Democratic Party. Health care. Climate change. Gun safety. Then she brought up a topic Democrats are planning to spend a lot of time on over next two years: voting. “Let’s be clear. Voter suppression is real,” Abrams said. “From making it harder to register and staying on the rolls, to moving and closing polling places, to rejecting lawful ballots, we can no longer ignore these threats to democracy.” The past two federal elections seem to have been a tipping point.

Full Article: Voting Rights, Voter Registration Key For Democrats For 2020 Election : NPR.

National: House Panel Launches Inquiry Over Voter Rights Roll-Backs | Reuters

The Democratically controlled U.S. House Judiciary Committee launched an inquiry on Friday into the Trump administration’s decision to reverse course on several key voting rights lawsuits and its efforts to add a citizenship question to the upcoming 2020 U.S. census. In a letter to acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker seen by Reuters, the chairman of the committee, Representative Jerrold Nadler, demanded that the Justice Department turn over any internal records on a number of voting rights issues and said he was concerned by a lack of enforcement of voter rights laws in general. The letter seeks records related to the Justice Department’s decision to drop its opposition to a contentious Ohio policy allowing the state to purge infrequent voters from registration rolls and a Texas voter identification law.

Full Article: House Panel Launches Inquiry Over Voter Rights Roll-Backs | Top News | US News.

Kansas: Ford County pays more than $70,000 to firm hired in Kansas voting rights case | Topeka Capital Journal

Ford County has paid more than $70,000 in legal fees to the firm representing County Clerk Debbie Cox, who was sued over voting access in one of the state’s few majority-minority cities. In October and November, the county paid $71,481 to the Hinkle Law Firm, which is based in Wichita, a document obtained through an open records request indicates. The money comes from the county’s general fund, Cox said. The ACLU sued Cox in late October after she moved Dodge City’s sole voting location outside city limits because the original location was to undergo construction. The lawsuit alleged that the move disenfranchised voters and in particular, the Hispanic population, who make up about 60 percent of the town.

Full Article: Ford County pays more than $70,000 to firm hired in Kansas voting rights case.

Europe: Madrid and London drafting deal to preserve voting rights after Brexit | EL PAÍS

Madrid and London are negotiating a bilateral treaty to maintain local voting rights for the 280,000 British nationals living in Spain and the more than 115,000 Spaniards residing in the UK, said diplomatic sources. On March 30, 2019, the UK will exit the European Union and British migrants will lose their right to vote in municipal elections. Whether or not British Prime Minister Theresa May secures parliamentary approval for the Brexit deal, UK nationals will no longer be considered EU citizens after that date. If there is agreement on the transition period, UK citizens in Spain will preserve most of their rights intact until December 2020, but this does not extend to voting in the municipal and European elections of May 26, 2019.

Full Article: UK out of the EU: Madrid and London drafting deal to preserve voting rights after Brexit | In English | EL PAÍS.

National: Remembering Rosanell Eaton, An Outspoken Advocate for Voting Rights | NPR

When the Supreme Court shot down a key provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act — which required that certain places with a history of discriminating against voters get federal approval before making new changes to their voting laws — lawmakers in North Carolina wasted little time in passing sweeping new rules around voting. The state issued requirements for specific kinds of photo identification, cut back on early voting and preregistration. Supporters of the new laws, who were overwhelmingly Republican, insisted that the measures were necessary to prevent voting fraud. But voting rights experts and advocates said that voter fraud was extremely rare and that the rules would make it much harder for younger voters, poorer voters, and black people — groups that were more likely to vote for Democrats and less likely to have official identification — to cast their ballots.

Full Article: Remembering Rosanell Eaton, An Outspoken Advocate for Voting Rights : Code Switch : NPR.

North Carolina: Rosanell Eaton, Fierce Voting Rights Advocate, Dies at 97 | The New York Times

Rosanell Eaton, a resolute African-American woman who was hailed by President Barack Obama as a beacon of civil rights for her role as a lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against a restrictive North Carolina voting law that reached the Supreme Court in 2016, died on Saturday in Louisburg, N.C. She was 97. Ms. Eaton’s daughter, Armenta Eaton, said she died in hospice care at the home they had shared in recent years. Caught up as a witness to history in one of the nation’s major controversies, Ms. Eaton, an obscure civil rights pioneer in her younger years, became a cause célèbre after Mr. Obama cited her courage in his response to a 2015 article in The New York Times Magazine about growing efforts to dismantle the protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. “I was inspired to read about unsung American heroes like Rosanell Eaton in Jim Rutenberg’s ‘A Dream Undone: Inside the 50-year campaign to roll back the Voting Rights Act,’ ” Mr. Obama wrote in a letter to the editor. “I am where I am today only because men and women like Rosanell Eaton refused to accept anything less than a full measure of equality.”

Full Article: Rosanell Eaton, Fierce Voting Rights Advocate, Dies at 97 - The New York Times.

National: Voting rights return as post-campaign issue | ABC

They are questions that are central to democracy: who gets to vote, how accessible is voting and ensuring all ballots are counted fairly. Voting rights and ballot access kept popping up as campaign issues this year. Now they’re post-campaign issues — unavoidable and more urgent than ever. Voter access is and has been central in Georgia, where Tuesday’s run-off for secretary of state will close the books on the 2018 midterms. The race has implications for 2020 and beyond, following a closely contested gubernatorial race where lawsuits still linger. In New Hampshire on Wednesday, the longest-serving secretary of state in the nation could lose his job. Bill Gardner, the Democrat who famously sets the first-in-the-nation primary date every four years, has come under attack because he participated in the now-disbanded voter-fraud commission created by President Donald Trump.

Full Article: The Note: Voting rights return as post-campaign issue - ABC News.

Georgia: U.S. voting rights trampled in Georgia governor’s race: lawsuit | Reuters

Advocates for Democrat Stacey Abrams filed a federal lawsuit on Tuesday alleging far-reaching U.S. voting rights violations during the Georgia governor’s contest she lost this month to a Republican who ran the election as secretary of state. Abrams, who sought to become the nation’s first female African-American governor, pledged to fight for electoral changes after a protracted vote count saw Brian Kemp win the race by little more than 1 percent of nearly 4 million votes cast. Kemp resigned as secretary of state after the Nov. 6 election. The lawsuit filed by Fair Fight Action, a voting advocacy group headed by Abrams’ campaign manager, said state election officials “grossly mismanaged an election that deprived Georgia citizens, and particularly citizens of color, of their fundamental right to vote.”

Full Article: U.S. voting rights trampled in Georgia governor's race: lawsuit | Reuters.

Georgia: Lawsuit seeks broad changes after alleged Georgia election problems | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A sweeping lawsuit filed Tuesday in the wake of Georgia’s fierce race for governor calls for a federal judge to overturn state laws that resulted in purged registrations, canceled ballots and many other obstacles to voting. Backed by former Democratic nominee for governor Stacey Abrams, the lawsuit continues a fight for voting rights that formed the foundation of her campaign. Abrams isn’t trying to change the result of this month’s election that she lost to Republican Brian Kemp, but the upcoming legal battle could decide the rules for elections in 2020 and beyond. The lawsuit, filed by a new group called Fair Fight Action, demands that Georgia use paper ballots to validate the accuracy of elections, stop canceling voter registrations of those who haven’t participated in a recent election and guarantee enough election equipment so voters don’t have to wait in line for three hours or more. It also seeks to weaken the state’s “exact match” law, which stalled voter registrations of some legitimate voters because they had hyphenated or long names.

Full Article: Lawsuit seeks broad changes after alleged Georgia election problems.

Georgia: In defeat, Abrams emerges as leading voting-rights advocate | Associated Press

Stacey Abrams broke the rules of politics until the very end. The Georgia Democrat who came about 60,000 votes shy of becoming America’s first black female governor refused to follow the traditional script for defeated politicians who offer gracious congratulations to their victorious competitor and gently exit the stage. Instead, Abrams took an unapologetically indignant tone that established her as a leading voting rights advocate. “I acknowledge that former Secretary of State Brian Kemp will be certified as the victor in the 2018 gubernatorial election,” Abrams said in a fiery 12-minute address. “But to watch an elected official … baldly pin his hopes for election on the suppression of the people’s democratic right to vote has been truly appalling.” “So let’s be clear,” Abrams concluded, “this is not a speech of concession.”

Full Article: In defeat, Abrams emerges as leading voting-rights advocate - The Washington Post.

Utah: Navajos could tip balance after voting-rights battle | Associated Press

Tammie Nakai lives under a vista of red-rock spires and purple sunrise sky that offers arguably some of the United States’ most breathtaking views. But her home lacks what most of the country considers basic necessities: electric lines and running water. “It’s been that way my whole life, almost 31 years,” she said at the jewelry stand she and her husband run with pride in Monument Valley, a rural community near the Utah-Arizona border where tourists stand in the highway to re-create a famous running scene from “Forest Gump.” As she decides how she’ll cast her ballot, Navajo voters like Nakai could tip the balance of power in their county on Nov. 6. It’s the first general election since a federal judge decided racially gerrymandered districts illegally minimized the voices of Navajo voters who make a slim majority of San Juan County’s population. The county overlaps with the Navajo Nation, where people face huge disparities in health, education and economics. About 40 percent lack running water in their homes.

Full Article: Utah Navajos could tip balance after voting-rights battle | Myrtle Beach Sun News.

Georgia: Judge considers new citizens held up from voting in Georgia | Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A federal judge is considering ordering Georgia election officials to ensure that hundreds of new U.S. citizens can vote in next week’s election. U.S. District Judge Eleanor Ross heard testimony Monday from voting rights groups who say many newly naturalized Americans have registered to vote but are being turned away at early-voting locations because their citizenship status hasn’t been updated in government computers. Ross said she’ll rule quickly before Election Day on Nov. 6. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit asked Ross to order county election workers to put voters who have proved their citizenship on the state’s list of active registered voters. At least 3,667 voter registration applications are on hold in Georgia because their citizenship couldn’t be verified by state driver’s license records. But those records aren’t often updated until Georgians renew their licenses, so those who became citizens after receiving their licenses are being flagged by the state until they show naturalization papers or a U.S. passport.

Full Article: Georgia Election 2018: Judge weighs voting rights of new citizens.

Texas: Students sue Waller County, allege voting rights violations | Associated Press

A group of students from a historically black university have filed a lawsuit alleging a southeast Texas county is suppressing the voting rights of its black residents. In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Houston on Monday, five Prairie View A&M University students allege Waller County election officials are violating the civil rights of black students and residents in Prairie View — which is predominantly African-American — by not providing any early voting locations on campus or anywhere in the city during the first week of early voting, which started Monday. In the second week of early voting, the county is providing five days in Prairie View, but two of them are off-campus and at a site that is not easily accessible to many students who lack transportation, according to the lawsuit.

Full Article: Students sue Texas county, allege voting rights violations | Idaho Statesman.

Afghanistan: Without voting rights, Afghan refugees face political alienation | Deutsche Welle

Afghan refugees living in Iran and Pakistan continue to face an uncertain future, and the upcoming parliamentary election on October 20 doesn’t seem to solve any of their problems. As these refugees are not allowed to vote in the polls, they feel they will have no influence over the legislators in the next parliament. There is little incentive for these people to return to their homeland. A lack of security in Afghanistan and Kabul’s reluctance to support them hinder their return. Authorities in Islamabad and Tehran urge the Afghan government to take back refugees, as they consider them a burden on their economy. But many of these refugees have been living in the neighboring countries for decades and despite various problems in the host nations, Iran and Pakistan are still a better option for them.

Full Article: Without voting rights, Afghan refugees face political alienation | Asia| An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 11.10.2018.

U.S. Territories: US Supreme Court won’t review voting rights lawsuit | Guam Daily Post

The U.S. Supreme Court has denied review of a lawsuit that sought to expand voting rights to Americans in U.S. territories, including Guam. The Supreme Court met privately in conference on Friday, Guam time, to weigh whether it would review the case. The lead plaintiff, Luis Segovia, is a Guam resident and military veteran who served two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. Segovia appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court after the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided that ruling in favor of the Segovia plaintiffs would create so-called “super citizens.”

Full Article: US Supreme Court won't review voting rights lawsuit | Guam News | postguam.com.

Editorials: Ongoing Denial of Voting Rights in U.S. Territories Incompatible With Our Founding Values | Geoffrey Wyatt and Neil Weare/Civil Liberties Law Review

This week, the Supreme Court will consider a question concerning the voting rights of American citizens residing in U.S. territories – one that goes straight to our nation’s founding principles.  Under federal and Illinois overseas voting laws, state citizens who move to a foreign country or to American Samoa or the Northern Mariana Islands are permitted to vote absentee in federal elections in Illinois – but not if they move to Guam, Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands.  In our petition to the Supreme Court in Segovia v. United States, we argue that this disparate treatment – and the arbitrary denial of voting rights based on where you happen to live more generally – is irreconcilable with our most cherished values.

Full Article: Ongoing Denial of Voting Rights in U.S. Territories Incompatible With Our Founding Values – Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review.

U.S. Territories: 2 panels to weigh arguments vs disenfranchisement in US territories | Saipan Tribune

Just weeks after the one-year anniversary of Hurricanes Maria and Irma hitting Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the issue of disenfranchisement in U.S. territories will be considered by both the U.S. Supreme Court and the Organization of American States Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on the same day. “The opportunity to have either the Supreme Court or the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights take up the issue of voting rights in U.S. territories is momentous in its own right. But to have both do it on the same day is something truly special,” said Neil Weare, president and founder of Equally American, a non-profit organization that advocates for equality and civil rights for the nearly 4 million Americans who live in U.S. territories. This comes as the U.S. Senate considers whether to confirm President Trump’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

Full Article: 2 panels to weigh arguments vs disenfranchisement in US territories - Saipan News, Headlines, Events, Ads | Saipan Tribune.

U.S. Territories: Supreme Court to consider review of voter rights in U.S. territories | Virgin Islands Daily News

The U.S. Supreme Court will meet privately in conference Friday to consider whether to grant review of Segovia v. United States, a voting rights lawsuit that seeks to expand voting rights in the U.S. territories. Neil Weare, president and founder of Equally American, a nonprofit that advocates for equality and civil rights for Americans living in the territories, said in a Monday press release that the news is “momentous.” “The federal government’s response to hurricanes Maria and Irma has demonstrated just how important it is that Americans living in U.S. territories enjoy the same right to vote as their fellow citizens,” said Weare in the press release. “We hope the Supreme Court will take the opportunity to consider whether voting rights can be arbitrarily protected or denied based on where one happens to live outside the 50 states.”

Full Article: Supreme Court to consider review of voter rights in U.S. territories | News | virginislandsdailynews.com.

Brazil: Court bars voters who didn’t register fingerprints | Associated Press

Brazil’s highest court ruled Wednesday that 3.4 million people cannot vote in next month’s national elections because they failed to register their fingerprints with authorities, a move that could affect the crowded presidential race. All voting is electronic in Brazil, and since 2016 voters have had to register their fingerprints to cast ballots under a biometric voting system. On a 7-2 vote, the justices found it would be impossible to drop the requirement for biometric identification less than two weeks before the Oct. 7 elections. Two judges abstained. Critics say authorities didn’t properly inform Brazilians of the requirement, so many failed to register their fingerprints.

Full Article: Brazil court bars voters who didn't register fingerprints.

Mississippi: A New Class of Voting Rights Activists Picks Up the Mantle in Mississippi | The New York Times

The first time Howard Kirschenbaum registered voters in Mississippi was during the summer of 1964, when he was arrested and thrown in jail. The second time was on Tuesday, after returning to the Southern state more than a half-century later to support a new generation of voting rights activists. In the quiet of a rainy morning, Mr. Kirschenbaum helped to register students on the campus of the University of Mississippi, and before long, he was in tears. Memories of Freedom Summer 1964, the historic campaign to register African-American voters in Mississippi, came rushing back. “In that moment, there must have been five or six students, all waiting patiently to fill out the registration form,” said Mr. Kirschenbaum, 73, recalling the summer he spent in Moss Point, Miss., 54 years ago. “I am witnessing this moment. They want to vote. They are able to vote. The connection between then and now was so palpable. This is what we worked for all those years ago.”

Full Article: A New Class of Voting Rights Activists Picks Up the Mantle in Mississippi - The New York Times.