Working to remove barriers to voting and improve election administration across the United States.
Voter Suppression Update for May 15, 2013
Since our last update there have been some major steps forward and a few steps back. Colorado passed a major elections reform bill that will help citizens vote. On the other hand, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would have allowed voters to vote early in person.
In addition to our update this week, we hope you take a few minutes review some of FELN’s recent press mentions. ThePlain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio ran an op-ed with our criticism of the partisan attack on colleges and student voters hidden in the state House’s massive two-year budget bill.
Long lines at the polls were again in the news with the release of Professor Charles Stewart III’s report, Waiting to Vote in 2012. This report discovered that patterns seen in 2008 continued for the 2012 general election, including that early voters waited in longer lines than Election Day voters, minority voters waited longer than white voters, and urban voters waited longer than rural voters.
Virginia and Arkansas have led the recent voter suppression news with Governor McDonnell signing another change to Virginia’s voter ID requirements and the Arkansas legislature overriding Governor Beebe’s veto of a photo ID bill. In addition to the summary below, read more about the developments in Virginia in FELN’s blog post on the legislation.
The U.S. Supreme Court took up voting rights issues again this week as they heard arguments on Monday morning in the case of Arizona vs. The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona. The Court will decide whether Arizona violates the National Voter Registration Act, which was designed to help more Americans participate in the political process, when it requires individuals to demonstrate proof of their American citizenship when registering to vote using the federal registration form.
Leading the news this week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Shelby County v. Holder, regarding the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Section 5 requires certain states, counties, and townships with a history of racial discrimination to obtain preclearance of changes to voting laws and procedures from the U.S. Department of Justice. Over 40 briefs were filed in the case, with the Fair Elections Legal Network signing on to a brief with other voting rights groups.
We’re back with our first Voter Suppression Update of the New Year. There’s a lot to report on the voting rights front. Many legislatures are beginning their 2013 sessions with the topic of voter ID. While legislation which would require voter ID was voted down in Wyoming , repressive legislation was introduced in Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, and, yet again, Virginia.
We will continue to track these bills as they move through each state’s legislature and keep you informed on measures to block them.
Yesterday was National Voter Registration Day. Hundreds of organizations across the country joined in the effort to register people to vote in the November election. Voter registration deadlines in many states are fast approaching. October 9 is the deadline in many states to register to vote in the November election.