News

2/27/2015

At issue in the Wake County courtroom Friday was whether requiring IDs at the poll should be considered a "qualification" for voting or an extension of the registration process, which lawmakers have the authority to tweak.

Millen [a plaintiff's attorney] argued that if North Carolina is going to have a requirement that distinguishes which IDs are acceptable, then such a change to election law must be approved by voters as an amendment to the state constitution. ...

The case in Wake County Superior Court is not the only legal challenge to the elections law overhaul in 2013.

The NAACP and others who have filed lawsuits in federal court contend that the 2013 overhaul discriminates against African-Americans, Latinos and voters younger than 25. They're seeking to block provisions that end same-day registration, curb the number of days on which people can vote early, do away with a popular teen preregistration program and prohibit people from casting ballots out of their assigned precinct.

They also listed the voter ID requirement as a provision that would hit African-Americans, Latinos and college-age voters the hardest. They have argued in federal and state court that many voters, often poor and minorities, don't have the necessary documents or money to get photo IDs.

2/24/2015

This case is the only vehicle that guarantees the Court an opportunity to address the constitutional and statutory questions surrounding restrictive voter ID laws before the 2016 presidential election. Wisconsin admits that this case is “procedurally far ahead of the cases from Texas and North Carolina.” Opp. 10. In Texas, Fifth Circuit briefing will continue through mid-March, followed by oral argument, a panel decision, and possibly a petition for rehearing. Id. North Carolina is even farther behind; trial is not scheduled to begin until July. Opp. 12. There is no guarantee that this Court could consider either case before the end of the October 2015 Term.

Postponing consideration of these issues also would tangibly harm hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites and millions of other Americans. On issues of profound national importance affecting large numbers of citizens in multiple states, this Court need not wait for issues to percolate, especially when, as here, lower court decisions already reflect significant disagreement. See, e.g., King v. Burwell, 135 S. Ct. 475 (2014); Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003). Wisconsin is wrong that the Texas case—which is still being briefed in the Fifth Circuit—is a “superior candidate for review.” Opp. 10. It is irrelevant that Texas has enforced its law “since November 2013.” Id. Whenever possible, courts should resolve challenges to discriminatory election laws before states enforce those laws in elections. Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533, 585 (1964). Moreover, the record already reflects Act 23’s “impact, if any, on voter turnout.” Opp. 11. Wisconsin’s own expert agreed at trial that Act 23 “is likely to suppress voter turnout in the State of Wisconsin.” Trial Tr. 1477. This conclusion is confirmed by Plaintiffs’ expert, numerous studies concerning other states’ voter ID laws, and a recent report by the Government Accountability Office. Pet. 26.

Certworthiness does not depend on which state’s voter ID law is “stricter.” Opp. 11. In some ways, Texas’s voter ID law, SB 14, is stricter than Act 23: Wisconsin accepts two forms of photo ID that Texas rejects. See id. But in other key ways, Act 23 is the stricter law: in Texas, “those over 65 or disabled can vote by mail” without photo ID. Veasey v. Perry, No. 13-cv-193, 2014 WL 5090258, at *34 (S.D. Tex. Oct. 9, 2014). Anyway, Act 23 is a prototypical restrictive voter ID law that provides a perfect vehicle to guide lower courts’ review of similar laws. ColorofChange.org Amicus Br. 6–9.

2/18/2015

Voter identification laws are cropping up around the country: 31 states had a voter identification requirement in the 2014 midterms, up from 14 states in 2000. These laws vary widely in the types of identification they accept, even in whether identification is required or merely requested. And many people don’t know whether they need identification to vote, or what type of identification to bring.

Opponents argue that these laws disproportionately impact minority voters, who are less likely to have required identification. Our new research in this month’s American Political Science Review shows that minorities face another hurdle: bias in the bureaucracy that implements these laws.

Roughly 8,000 local officials – county or municipal clerks and election boards – manage the nation’s election system. These officials train local poll workers, provide information, and interact with constituents with little immediate oversight from state officials.

Here is the problem: election officials themselves also appear to be biased against minority voters, and Latinos in particular. For example, poll workers are more likely to ask minority voters to show identification, including in states without voter identification laws.

2/11/2015

The Voter Integrity Project of North Carolina called for the emergency repeal of a "loophole" in last year's voter ID law....

"Voters are exempt . . . who use curbside voting because of their age or physical disability." Instead of a photo,ID the loophole allows voters to show pieces of paper with their name and address on it. Examples include documents such as utility bills, bank statements, paycheck stubs or library cards.

According to experienced curbside voting assistants interviewed for this story, there is no actual "proof" of disability required for people wishing to use this convenience.

2/10/2015

House Bill 1333, sponsored by Rep. Randy Boehning, R-Fargo, would allow those without an updated identification to use a bill, bank statement or U.S. Postal Service change of address form dated 30 days before the election to vote. The bill also does away with the student identification certificates that were used in the most recent election.

The bill passed the House by a vote of 66-24.

The bill is one of several introduced this session dealing with the state's voter identification laws after an election that saw more people turned away from the polls than normal, according to a North Dakota Association of Counties official. Student groups testified against House Bill 1333 because it eliminated the student certificate option.

2/10/2015

A broad alliance of civil rights and legal groups representing the communities most impacted by Wisconsin’s restrictive voter ID law, as well as all 46 members of the Congressional Black Caucus, filed amici briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court this week urging justices to hear a case against the state’s law. ...

The briefs filed on Monday came from:
• Congressional Black Caucus
• Latino Justice PRLDEF
• National Council of La Raza
• Hispanic National Bar Association
• Hispanic Federation
• National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO)
• League of Women Voters
• The National Council on Independent Living
• OurTime.org
• Rock the Vote
• Color of Change
• The Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice
• The Cyber Privacy Project
• The Civil Rights Clinic at Howard Law School
• One Wisconsin

...The Supreme Court blocked Wisconsin’s law from taking hold in the last election, after Advancement Project, the law firm of Arnold & Porter and ACLU showed that the state could not implement the law and get IDs to hundreds of thousands of voters in time for Election Day. ...The law will be in effect for future elections, however, unless the Supreme Court accepts the case.

2/8/2015

A separate bill would require anyone wanting to cast a mail-in absentee ballot to provide their voter identification number on the application submitted to county election officials.

Bill sponsor Sen. Mike Young, R-Indianapolis, said that ID number would be available to any voter through the state’s online voter registration system or by calling state election officials.

Young said the proposal was prompted by absentee-ballot fraud cases in recent years in southern Indiana’s Jennings and Clark counties. He said it would only apply to those requesting ballots by mail, since anyone voting early in person must show photo identification. ...

It could cost the secretary of state’s office up to $1.3 million to mail information about the voter ID number requirement to all Indiana voters, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency.

2/6/2015

Increased single-party control in state capitals has accompanied a renewed push for voting restrictions. There are strong pushes for strict photo ID requirements in some Republican-led states, including in places where laws were struck down by state courts. This year, the courts — including the U.S. Supreme Court — are again poised to rule on voter ID and other election laws. Courts failed to block a number of restrictive laws last year, and without clear limits, states appear ready to move forward with harsh new measures. ...

Voter ID laws. At least 13 states have introduced bills requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls, making existing voter ID laws more restrictive, or making voters face additional demands in demonstrating their identity.[7]
Proof of citizenship laws. At least 3 states have introduced bills requiring proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate, to register or vote.[8] ...

[7] Alaska, Connecticut, Indiana, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico (makes voter ID requirement more demanding for voters without photo ID), North Dakota, Oregon, Texas (makes alternative identification process more difficult for voters not found on poll book), Virginia, Washington, West Virginia. As of February 3, 2015, bills are active in North Dakota, Virginia, and Washington.

[8] Maryland, Virginia, Washington.

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