Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Major GOP Voting Restrictions Have Been Blocked in 10 Days

In the past 10 days, Courts have issued six major decisions against GOP-backed Voting Restrictions in Five different States.

On Friday, an array of new Voting Restrictions were struck down in North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Kansas. This followed rulings the previous week softening Voter ID laws in Texas, Wisconsin, and striking down Michigan’s ban on straight-ticket voting. Yesterday North Dakota's restrictive ID's was struck down. When you include a Court decision in Ohio from May reinstating a week of early voting and same-day registration, anti-voting laws in eight states have been blocked so far in 2016.

Here are the recent decisions:

Kansas - A Federal District Court ruled that the State’s burdensome proof of Citizenship law for Voter Registration couldn’t prevent 17,500 people from voting in Federal Elections.

North Carolina - The US Appeals Court for the Fourth Circuit struck down the state’s Voter-ID law and reinstated a week of Early Voting, Same-Day Voter Registration, Out-of-Precinct Voting, and Pre-Registration for 16- and 17-year-olds. The Court said that Republicans targeted black voters “with almost surgical precision” and that the evidence was “as close to a smoking gun as we are likely to see in modern times.”

North Dakota - A Federal Judge on Monday called North Dakota’s strict Voter-ID law unfair to Native Americans and blocked its use in the coming election. U.S. District Judge Daniel L. Hovland said North Dakota for years had provided a safety net for those unable to provide the specific kinds of ID required, and that eliminating it in 2013 would mean eligible voters are disenfranchised.

Texas - The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled against the State’s strict Voter-ID law, which it said had a “discriminatory effect on minorities’ Voting Rights.” Like in Wisconsin, the court said those without Strict ID needed to be able to Vote.

Wisconsin - A Federal District Court overturned harsh residency requirements and restrictions on Early Voting and casting Absentee ballots, and said the State must accept Student IDs to vote. A week earlier, another Federal Court said that those who are unable to obtain a Voter ID could instead Vote by signing an Affidavit. A Court also wrote the State eliminated Early-Voting hours on nights and weekends to “suppress the reliably Democratic vote of Milwaukee’s African Americans.” Judge James Peterson said, “The Wisconsin experience demonstrates that a preoccupation with mostly phantom election fraud leads to real incidents of disenfranchisement, which undermine rather than enhance confidence in elections, particularly in minority communities.”

Here are decisions that remain the law:

Georgia - Are purging eligible voters from the rolls. Black voters are being “systematically” targeted by police and GOP election officials.

Iowa - Felon disenfranchisement laws have been upheld.

Michigan - A Federal Court overturned the State’s ban on Straight-Ticket Voting, which it said would lead to longer lines at the polls and disproportionately harm African-American voters. I disagree with this decision. Straight-Ticket Voting should be banded everywhere.

Ohio - Are purging eligible voters from the rolls.

Virginia - Felon disenfranchisement laws have been upheld. New Voter-ID laws have been upheld, softened, but not eliminated.

The New York Times reported, Polling-place Closures and Restrictions on Absentee ballots are being challenged in Arizona.

In 2012, 10 major Voting Restrictions were blocked in Court before the election, eliminating major impediments to the ballot box that millions of voters faced. We could be seeing a similar trend in 2016. “The recent decisions show that courts understand that these laws are designed to and have the effect of suppressing minority participation,” says Dale Ho, Director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project. “It feels like momentum is still on our side.”

However, seventeen states still have new Voting Restrictions in place for the first time this year and this is the first Presidential Election since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, making it the first Election in 50 years without the full protections of the law.

“I’m still very worried,” Dale Ho says. “There are still a lot of very suppressive laws on the books.”

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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