This week marks NEA’s 2013 American Education Week. It may seem an unlikely topic for us to be talking about, but one of the most important pillars of American education is, and always has been, civic learning. In fact, preparing children to be engaged members of their communities through things like voting was one of the original purposes of public schools.
Earlier this month, federal Judge Richard Posner rocked the voting rights world when he admitted he made a mistake in affirming the nation’s first ever strict photo ID law. The decision in question, in the case of Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, affirmed the ability of the state of Indiana to require photo ID at polling places.
North Carolina has made a push in recent months to become the worst state for student voters in the country. Following a failed bill to punish in-state students by removing their dependency status for state income taxes, the state legislature omitted student IDs from the list of acceptable voter ID under the new voter ID law set to go into effect in 2016.
Earlier this month, Pennsylvania’s voter ID law was put on trial to determine its constitutionality. After 12 days of testimony and debate, Judge Bernard McGinley imposed a stop-gap measure to prevent enforcement of the law before a final decision is reached. Judge McGinley extended a temporary injunction that blocks the law from being put in place for the state’s November 2013 election and provides some very specific instructions for poll workers.
News broke this morning that the Supreme Court of the United States had released a decision on the second most anticipated voting case of this year’s term, Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona Inc. This decision is a victory for citizens of Arizona who want to register to vote without extra burdens and bureaucratic hurdles being placed in their way.
We spent a bit of time awhile back shaming Wisconsin for its omnibus legislation which threatened to reinstate voter ID, limit early voting hours, and toss out ballots at random. We certainly were not the only ones with qualms about the bill, and it would seem that our collective guilt trip worked!
An opportunity was lost last week when Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval vetoed two bills that would have made voting in the state easier and more efficient. The bills (AB440 and AB441) would have allowed for an extended voter registration deadline, and allowed for vote centers to be used on Election Day.