Supreme Court rulings forced last-minute changes in state voting procedures for the midterm elections across the country, but the battle over voting rules is far from over. Courts are still hearing arguments over voter ID and early voting laws, legal challenges that could reshuffle voting rules again before 2016, when a presidential election will probably increase voter turnout and long lines at polls. “The cases are not over,” says Rick Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California-Irvine and author of the Election Law Blog. “In a number of states, restrictions, which have been on hold or which were scheduled to be phased in, will be in effect. More states will pass new restrictive voting rules. And some states may pass rules making it easier to vote.”
• In Ohio, legislation shortened early voting and eliminated “Golden Week,” a time period in which voters could register and early-vote on the same day. The Supreme Court upheld the changes for the midterm election, but the case challenging the law must go to trial in federal court.
• In North Carolina the state Legislature cut a week of early voting — though it kept the number of hours of early voting the same — and ended voters’ ability to cast ballots elsewhere than their home precincts. A photo ID requirement is set to go into effect in 2016. For the midterms, the voting changes were allowed by the Supreme Court. A trial is set for July.
• Texas’ photo ID law was struck down in September by a federal district court, which ruled that the law was discriminatory. The state, led by Attorney General Greg Abbott, now the governor-elect, has appealed. The Supreme Court granted a stay that kept the ID requirement in place for the midterm election, but the case will go to an appeals court.
“A lot of voters heard that we won, and they’re right. That’s still true. The stay unfortunately caused some confusion,” says Natasha Korgaonkar of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The case may return to the Supreme Court, she says. “My feeling is that yes, this will be resolved in 2016 and that Texas voters will not need to vote under this intentionally discriminatory law in 2016.”
Full Article: Voting rights battles will continue in runup to 2016.