Voting Rights

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Arizona: Voting rights groups say state is in violation of National Voter Registration Act | Arizona Daily Sun

A coalition of voting rights groups is charging that state agencies are violating federal laws designed to provide opportunities for people to register. In a 15-page complaint Tuesday to Secretary of State Michele Reagan, attorneys for the groups detailed what they say are flaws in both state statutes and the processes used by state agencies in getting people signed up to vote. The lawyers say if the problems are not corrected within 90 days they will sue. Attorney Darrell Hill of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona defended the 90 day deadline. “The state has been aware of some of these problems for quite some time,” he told Capitol Media Services. Hill said groups have filed similar complaints in the past. Read More

Editorials: Voting Rights Could Be the Biggest Winner in Tuesday’s Democratic Victories | Ari Berman/Mother Jones

Brianna Ross of Richmond, Virginia, lost her right to vote at 19 when she received a felony conviction for stealing diapers for her newborn son. Now 53, she voted for the first time in her life in Virginia’s statewide elections yesterday. “I remember way back in 1993, when the judge told me, ‘You can’t ever vote,’” she told Sam Levine of the Huffington Post. “I didn’t know what that meant, but it made me feel empty, it made me feel unimportant. But I voted today.” …  Virginia was one of four states that blocked ex-felons from voting—disenfranchising 1 in 5 black Virginians—until Gov. Terry McAuliffe restored voting rights to 168,000 ex-felons over the past year and a half. Ross was among them. Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie sharply criticized McAuliffe and his lieutenant governor, Ralph Northam, for this policy. But Northam’s victory in the governor’s race on Tuesday means that Virginia will continue to restore voting rights to ex-offenders. It’s just one way that Democratic victories in Virginia, New Jersey, and Washington yesterday could lead to an expansion of access to the ballot. Read More

Nepal: Court seeks amici curiae in petition seeking voting rights for public servants and security personnel | Republica

The Supreme Court on Sunday asked the Nepal Bar Association (NBA) and the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) to send amici curiae to plead in the apex court Monday in relation to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) that demands voting rights for public servants and security personnel deployed on election duty. Following Sunday’s hearing on the petition, a division bench of justices Deepak Raj Joshee and Dambar Bahadur Shahi asked the bar bodies to send one representative each to plead as amicus curiae. Stating that this issue was sensitive as it is associated with the fundamental rights of citizens, the bench asked the two bodies to send their representatives.  Read More

Editorials: The Right to Vote Is Never Safe | Jon Grinspan/The New York Times

One hundred and fifty years ago this month, ex-slaves lined up across the South, clutching their ballots, joining the first elections in which large numbers of black Southerners participated. One year ago, on Nov. 8, Americans voted in another historic election. Donald Trump lost the popular vote, but won the Electoral College. On the strength of this mandate, he began an inquiry into alleged voter fraud, raising the very real specter of voter suppression. These two anniversaries are part of the same story of voting rights. It cannot be told as a succession of amendments and laws protecting ever greater freedoms. But neither is it simply a tale of dreams deferred and disenfranchisement. Rather, the vote has expanded and contracted, through law and custom. Read More

Massachusetts: Trial Likely in Lawsuit Over Massachusetts City’s Election System | VoA News

When residents of Lowell, Massachusetts, vote Tuesday, they’ll be exercising their civic responsibility against the backdrop of a lawsuit that will pit the city against its minority citizens. In a city notable for its diversity — taken together, ethnic minorities almost form a majority — Tuesday’s contests for City Council and school committee are playing out against a voting rights lawsuit 13 Asian-American and Hispanic residents filed against the city in May, an action that echoes others elsewhere in the United States. On Oct. 17, at the first public hearing on Huot v. City of Lowell in U.S. District Court, Judge William Young denied the city’s motion to dismiss. The suit alleges the city’s at-large electoral “winner-take-all” system dilutes the minority vote and discriminates against candidates from minority communities. Read More

Editorials: Florida should help protect Puerto Ricans’ voting rights | Katherine Culliton-González/Miami Herald

Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico 2 weeks ago, creating devastating damage and a humanitarian crisis for 3.5 million U.S. citizens. Today, 88 percent of Puerto Rico’s residents lack electricity, 43 percent lack water, the health care and school systems are in shambles, and over 58 citizens have died, while the president has been throwing paper towels at people and tweeting racist diatribes. All this is exacerbated by 100 percent of Puerto Ricans lacking equal access to voting rights. Under the 1917 Jones Act, Puerto Rico’s 3.5 million U.S. citizens do not have voting representatives in Congress, and cannot cast votes for president. The Jones Act was in the news recently, as it restricted non-U.S. ships from docking in Puerto Rico. After being temporarily lifted, the Act’s colonialist shipping restrictions are back in place, limiting access to life-saving supplies. Read More

India: In a first, Tibetans to vote in Himachal Pradesh polls | Times of India

Some 1,000 Tibetan in India have registered themselves with the Election Commission ahead of the assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh. This has left many in the Tibetan community apprehensive about how this will affect their ongoing struggle for a free Tibet.
Information accessed by TOI from Tibetan settlements in McLeodganj, which is the capital of Tibetan government-in-exile, the Nanchen Tibetan division, Bir Tibetan division and Dege division in Bir Billing area of the state has seen most of the Tibetan voters registered for the upcoming polls. The total population of Tibetan refugees in this area is around 22,000, which is second highest in India after Karnataka’s Bylakuppe town. “Our only aim is to struggle for regaining our country. If we mingle with local political systems, there are chances that our people may be diverted from the main aim. There is no doubt that India has done more than enough for us but we can’t afford to deviate from our purpose”, says Sonam, head of Nangchen division of Tibetan settlement in Bir Billing. Read More

Nepal: Petition seeks voting rights for civil servants | The Kathmandu Post

The Election Commission’s decision not to allow civil servants and security forces deployed in the elections to vote have raised serious concerns from various organisations of the civil servants have raised serious over their constitutional rights. In his writ, civil servant Bharat Kumar Mainali has demanded a mandamus order with certiorari from the apex court to ensure the voting rights of the civil servants regardless of their deployment for the proportional representation election system. Mainali has demanded that the SC annul any provision that bars the civil servants from voting and issue a mandamus order to ensure the voting rights by including their names in the temporary voting list of the Election Commission. Read More

Editorials: Voting Rights: The Struggle of Our Lifetime | Eric Holder/Harvard Law Review

When our nation was founded, only a minority of the new country’s people enjoyed the right to vote. Guided by the belief that more Americans participating in our democracy would make our union stronger and more just, our foremothers and fathers fought to expand voting rights to the poor, to women, and to people of color. Those who came before us gave their lives fighting for an America where race, gender, and economic status would not keep future generations from the ballot box. Despite setbacks along the way, we made significant progress advancing voting rights. But our struggle is not over. Today, voting rights face renewed attacks that threaten to reverse our hard-won progress and ultimately hijack our democracy. Read More

Editorials: Puerto Ricans get short shrift as U.S. citizens | Orlando Sentinel

Puerto Rico faces an imminent humanitarian crisis. President Trump and Vice President Pence’s recent visits hopefully will result in additional federal resources and attention to address the human suffering happening on the ground. But their visits also highlight a democratic crisis that can no longer be ignored — one that Trump and other American leaders would be wise to address. As a Puerto Rican who relocated to Virginia shortly after Hurricane Irma, these issues are deeply personal. Puerto Ricans are American citizens by birth, although nearly half of Americans do not know this. However, residents of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands — whose population of nearly 4 million is greater than the smallest five states combined — cannot vote for president and are denied any voting representatives in the U.S. House or Senate. Read More