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...

Student Voter ID Madness: The Sweet and Not-So-Sweet of 16 Schools’ State Voter ID Laws

This post originally appeared on the Campus Vote Project blog. Campus Vote Project and Fair Elections Legal Network have caught March Madness like the rest of the country. In the spirit of the season, we took a look at the Sweet 16 teams and compared their voter ID laws and whether they accept or don’t accept student ID. CVP has more information on student ID as voter ID on our site. No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 5 Maryland While Kansas allows student voters to use public and private college and university ID cards, the Terps win this game in a blow-out because Maryland has no voter ID law. Better luck next year, Jayhawks. No. 2 Villanova vs. No. 3 Miami Pennsylvania’s voter ID law was struck down on state constitutional grounds a couple years ago. Florida will allow student ID cards at the polls and, even if you forget yours, you can still vote a provisional ballot which will be counted as long as your signature matches the one on your registration form (but if you can help it, show an ID and don’t leave your vote up to signature-matching). We award this game to Nova because no voter ID law is still better than a flexible voter ID law. Sorry, Gators; you kept it close. No. 4 Duke vs. No. 1 Oregon Oregon wins this game in double digits because it has no voter identification law and North Carolina prohibits Duke students from using their student ID cards to vote at the polls. North Carolina’s ID law has been challenged in federal court and a decision is expected...

Save The Date: Super Tuesday is March 1

Twelve states will have primary elections or a caucus on March 1st. Even though Super Tuesday is a week away, now is the perfect time to make an Election Day plan. Before you leave to vote make sure to look up your voter registration, map out where your polling location is, and check the hours when you can cast a ballot on Election Day. If you are voting absentee, make sure you return your ballot in time for it to be counted. For all this information check out FELN’s state voting information pages  or go to your state’s voting website. Alabama – alabamavotes.gov Alaska – www.elections.alaska.gov Arkansas – www.sos.arkansas.gov/elections/Pages/default.aspx Colorado – www.govotecolorado.com Georgia – www.mvp.sos.ga.gov/ Massachusetts – www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/ Minnesota – https://mnvotes.sos.state.mn.us/ Oklahoma – http://www.ok.gov/elections/ Tennessee – www.tn.gov/sos/election/voterInfo.htm Texas – www.votetexas.gov Vermont – http://vermont-elections.org Virginia...

Wisconsin OVR Bill A Trojan Horse for Voter Restrictions

January 9, 2016 Today, the Fair Elections Legal Network and 14 other local and national organizations sent a letter to all Wisconsin Senators opposing Substitute Amendment 1 to Senate Bill 295. This fast-moving online voter registration bill carries a number of restrictive provisions including the elimination of special registration deputies (SRDs).  Wisconsin has the nation’s only across-the-board documentary proof of residency requirement for voter registration and, given that requirement, SRDs keep voter registration drives alive. That is because only a trained SRD can review and verify proof of residency (if the voter happens to have it on his/her person) during a registration drive. If SRDs are eliminated, a registration drive volunteer would need to make a photocopy of the proof of residency document which would require equipment like portable photocopiers. This would drastically reduce, if not entirely eliminate, the possibility of third-party voter registration activity with paper applications in the state.   Wisconsin SB 295 Opposition...
Hey New Hampshire! Ready to vote in Tuesday’s primary?

Hey New Hampshire! Ready to vote in Tuesday’s primary?

by Brittnie Baker With the Iowa caucuses under our belt, the 2016 presidential campaigns’ next stop is New Hampshire on Tuesday, February 9th. As the “first in the nation” primary state, New Hampshire has a long, rich tradition of high voter turnout on Election Day. This is especially true of young voters in the state who consistently show up to the polls in higher than average rates. Young New Hampshire voters have made up between 11-16% of presidential primary voters since 1996. Despite this record, election rules and voting requirements are always changing, as is the case for the upcoming primary. We want to make sure all qualified residents are equipped with everything they need to know about registering to vote and casting a ballot on Election Day. If you are already registered to vote – congratulations! Be sure to look up your polling place in case it moved. Also, bring photo identification in order to vote. Accepted forms of identification include a driver’s license, US passport, armed forces ID card, and certain student IDs, among others (check the NH Secretary of State’s website for more information). If you don’t have ID you can still vote by filling out an affidavit and having your picture taken at your polling location on Election Day. If you vote using the affidavit, in the weeks following the election you will receive a mailer from the Secretary of State asking you to confirm that you voted in the primary election. Don’t forget to mail it back within 30 days. If you have not yet registered to vote, you may have thought that you...
We Stand with President Obama in the Call to Modernize Elections

We Stand with President Obama in the Call to Modernize Elections

by Brittnie Baker, Staff Counsel In President Obama’s final State of the Union address last night, he made a clear and striking statement to the America people with his call to modernize elections.  The President summarized what we at FELN have been pushing for saying, “We’ve got to make it easier to vote, not harder. We need to modernize it for the way we live now.”  His remarks called on Americans to not be quiet, thinking their voices and actions don’t matter, but to speak out, so things like equal rights and voting rights are rolled back by those who have money and power. He insisted that frustration and cynicism can’t get in the way of being active citizens and voting. Modernizing elections can be achieved with some common sense reforms that many states have adopted in recent years. Reforms such as automatic voter registration ensure every eligible American is registered to vote, dramatically increasing the number of registered voters and hopefully, in turn, voter turnout on Election Day.  Automatic voter registration is gaining momentum – 18 states and the District of Columbia have introduced some form of automatic voter registration legislation. Online voter registration, another common sense reform gaining momentum, would allow individuals to submit voter registration applications online.  We already conduct much of our daily lives online – from email to banking and everything in between – so why not allow voters to register quickly, conveniently, and securely from their computer, phone, or tablet.  Online voter registration is clearly a no-brainer, yet many states still refuse to bring voter registration into the 21st century. At the same...