Guest Post – Stories from the field: SPLC works with immigrant community to repeal discriminatory voting law

This post was written by the Southern Poverty Law Center. by Jenna Finkle, SPLC August 29, 2016 This was the question Norma Flores asked me in February. The frustration and anger in her voice was palpable. Norma, a native of Honduras, has lived in the United States since 1993. After becoming a citizen in 2008, she voted for several years in Pennsylvania. But that changed when she moved to Louisiana’s Jefferson Parish and was unable to register. It wasn’t for lack of trying: Norma submitted a voter registration form three times. An antiquated law dating to 1874 stood between her and the ballot box. The law required all naturalized citizens to provide citizenship documents after completing a voter registration form – a requirement that was not asked of U.S.-born voters, who simply had to swear that they are U.S. citizens. In other words, Louisiana was discriminating against every naturalized citizen in the state by asking for this additional proof of citizenship. Norma learned about the requirement when she attempted to register for the third time. She received a letter from the Jefferson Parish Registrar of Voters office that was confusing and intimidating. It said her application would be rejected unless she showed her U.S. passport or naturalization certificate within 10 days. Remarkably, she didn’t even receive the letter – or any notification about the requirement – during her first two attempts. Across the greater New Orleans area, community groups operating voter registration drives and programs in immigrant communities witnessed the toll the law was taking. Dozens of their members were being kept off the voter rolls. Norma, a proud...

Voting in the News – August 5, 2016

***Fair Elections Legal Network will be suspending its clips service effective Monday, August 8th. For daily coverage of voting rights news, visit electionline.org***   New York Times – “Another Defeat for G.O.P Voting Schemes” The scurrilous campaign by Republican lawmakers in a number of states to disenfranchise qualified voters suffered another setback this week, when a federal judge ordered North Dakota to halt voter identification restrictions he said were blocking thousands of Native Americans from exercising their right to vote.   Washington Post – “Donald Trump is wrong. Rigging an election is almost impossible.” In a span of two weeks, federal courts have struck down Republican-backed voting restrictions in six states, including laws that required strict forms of government-issued ID in order to cast a ballot, cut back on early-voting days and made it harder to register. The rulings found that the laws — in Texas, North Carolina, Michigan, North Dakota, Kansas and Wisconsin — violated the Voting Rights Act by discriminating against people of color, sometimes “with almost surgical precision.”   Newsweek – “COULD THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION BE STOLEN?” America’s election is at risk of being stolen: That, in essence, is what some news reports, as well as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his allies, have been suggesting lately.   Wall Street Journal – “Could Pokémon Go Swing the November Election?” What effect will Pokémon Go have on the November elections? Could the Pokémon craze—an estimated 50 million-plus downloads in the U.S. alone—tip the House of Representatives in the Democrats’ direction? Does the Supreme Court’s makeup for the next 25 years depend on whether young people will...

Voting in the News – August 4, 2016

***Fair Elections Legal Network will be suspending its clips service effective Monday, August 8th. For daily coverage of voting rights news, visit electionline.org***   New York Times – “Questions and Answers on Voter Fraud” When Donald J. Trump suggested this week that recent court rulings against voter identification laws could contribute to a “rigged” election this fall, his comments ran counter to the findings of many judges and researchers, who say such statutes aim at a form of fraud that is rare and typically isolated.   Think Progress – “The Inexplicable ‘Courtesy’ That Could Elect Donald Trump” On its surface, Gloucester County School Board v. G.G. has very little to do with voting rights. It’s a case about the right of transgender students to use a bathroom that aligns with their gender identity, wrapped up in an equally important question of whether conservatives will succeed in weakening the executive branch’s power to shape policy during an age of congressional dysfunction.   Center for American Progress – “Race and Beyond: Voting Rights Victories Are Pyrrhic but Worth Celebrating” Over the past month, a set of state-level voter suppressions laws have fallen like shaky dominoes on a tilted floor.   Wall Street Journal – “Movement for Stricter Voting Rules Hit by Wave of Skeptical Court Rulings” A movement to set stricter rules at the ballot box has run up against wave of skeptical court rulings, dealing a setback to a Republican-backed initiative to tighten identification requirements and other voting procedures.   New York Times – “U.S. Seeks to Protect Voting System From Cyberattacks” The Obama administration is weighing new steps to...

Voting in the News – August 3, 2016

***Fair Elections Legal Network will be suspending its clips service effective Monday, August 8th. For daily coverage of voting rights news, visit electionline.org***     Bloomberg – “Judges Use Common Sense to Reject Voter ID Laws” Are the federal courts revolting against the U.S. Supreme Court by striking down voter identification laws? In 2008, the justices upheld Indiana’s voter ID law, and, in 2013, the court gutted the Voting Rights Act. Together these decisions signaled to the states that they could enact laws that superficially seem like reasonable protections of the voting process but actually make it harder for minorities to vote.   Roll Call – “Election Law Ground Wars Underway in Federal Courts” With the conventions over and Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton locked in a close contest, a ground-level fight for an edge in the presidential race will unfold this summer in the nation’s courts.   Bloomberg – “Texas Agrees to Looser Voter ID Rules for November Election” Texas has agreed to let registered voters without proper photo identification vote in the November presidential election if they can provide voter registration cards, certified birth certificates, utility bills, government checks, pay stubs or bank statements with their names and addresses on them.   Christian Science Monitor – “Homeland Security chief weighs plan to protect voting from hackers” On the heels of the Democratic National Convention hack and the political fallout that is ensuing months before the presidential election, the country’s Homeland Security chief said he’s considering measures that would strengthen cybersecurity protections for voting.   The Hill – “Kaine: North Carolina ID ruling could bring another...

Voting in the News – August 2, 2016

  The Hill – “Judge blocks North Dakota voter ID law” A U.S. District Court judge has blocked a North Dakota law requiring voters to show identification when they go to the polls — the fifth ruling knocking down or delaying similar laws in the last two weeks.   USA Today – “Raw racism revealed in GOP voter law: Jill Lawrence” The time for denial is over. If you want to quantify the distance Republicans have traveled since its “party of Lincoln” days, look away from Donald Trump long enough to read the federal court ruling that struck down a North Carolina voting law. It’s as damning a document as you will ever encounter.   Slate – “Federal Judge Blocks North Dakota Voter ID Law, Calling Voter Fraud “Virtually Non-Existent”” On Monday, United States District Judge Daniel Hovland blocked North Dakota’s strict 2013 voter ID law from taking effect, holding that the measure violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment by placing “substantial and disproportionate burdens” on Native American voters. Hovland’s decision marks the seventh judicial victory for voting rights in just over two weeks, a sudden winning streak for a longtime lost cause. The ruling further demonstrates that judges—and federal courts in particular—will no longer accept conservative legislatures’ transparently mendacious justifications for restricting minorities’ voting rights.   Wall Street Journal – “Opinion Journal: Ruling Against Voter ID Laws” Heritage Foundation Senior Fellow Hans von Spakovsky on judicial overreach in North Carolina, Wisconsin and Texas.   Think Progress – “This Is How The Supreme Court Could Stop Future Voter Suppression Laws” Last week, a federal appeals court...