This week in the war on voting is a joint project of Joan McCarter and Meteor Blades.

North Carolina 'ground zero' in fight against voter suppression:

Democrats introduce bill to reform and reauthorize the Election Assistance Commission:

The EAC was created in the aftermath of the disastrous elections of 2000 as part of the Help America Vote Act. The agency is designed to assist state and local election officials to ensure smooth, accurate, and fair elections. Congressional Republicans have undermined the agency by holding up nominations and attempting to abolish the agency. The result of their assault on the EAC was seen in the unreasonably long lines, confusion, and disenfranchisement of thousands in the 2012 election.

“There’s no magic solution when it comes to fixing how our elections are run,” said [Pennsylvania Rep. Robert] Brady. “Improving election administration has to be an ongoing effort, and the EAC is the only Federal agency equipped to assist our overworked and under-appreciated local election officials. We saw what happens when the EAC’s assistance is pulled in the last election. We owe it to the American people to not let that happen again.”

Black voting power grew between 2008 and 2012 and keeps rising:
Not only did 2012 Black voters make the difference in several key swing states, including Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the biggest prize of all, Ohio, but Black voter turnout surpassed the White vote for the first time in history. The Census Bureau found that “About two in three eligible blacks (66.2 percent) voted in the 2012 presidential election, higher than the 64.1 percent of non–Hispanic whites who did so. This marks the first time that blacks have voted at a higher rate than whites since the Census Bureau started publishing statistics on voting by the eligible citizen population in 1996.”

This is how the Associated Press puts it: “The findings represent a tipping point for blacks, who for much of American history were disenfranchised and then effectively barred from voting until the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965.” 

Since 1996 Black voter turnout rates have risen 13 percentage points, and the number of Blacks who voted in 2012 rose by about 1.7 million over 2008. [...]

In North Carolina, a state the President lost this time around, African American registration increased from 71% in 2008 to 85% in 2012 with 80.2% of eligible Black voters going to the polls, up from 68.1% four years ago.

No photo ID needed for Pennsylvania primary Tuesday: Pennsylvanians fought in and out of the courts in 2012 to keep a photo ID law from being implemented. They succeeded partially when a judge ruled that the state hadn't provided enough warning about the change and delayed implementation of the law on the grounds that it might otherwise keep some eligible voters from casting ballots in the November election.
[L]itigants in the lawsuit agreed in February to extend that postponement beyond the May 21 primary election, meaning voters will be asked to show photographic identification, but will not be turned away from the polls if they do not produce an ID.

“It's a continuation of the soft rollout,” said Pennsylvania Department of State spokesman Matthew Keeler. “We're also reminding voters who don't have a form of ID that PennDOT is still giving out free IDs for people who need one.”

Ohio Republicans seek to punish colleges that help students vote:
Republicans in the Ohio Legislature are pushing a plan that could cost the state’s public universities millions of dollars if they provide students with documents to help them register to vote. Backers of the bill describe it as intended to resolve discrepancies between residency requirements for tuition and voter registration, while Democrats and other opponents argue it is a blatant attempt at voter suppression in a crucial swing state.

“What the bill would do is penalize public universities for providing their students with the documents they need to vote,” Daniel Tokaji, a professor and election law expert at Ohio State University told TPM. “It’s a transparent effort at vote suppression—about the most blatant and shameful we’ve seen in this state, which is saying quite a lot.”

Implications of racial polarization in 2012 elections and the Voting Rights Act: Stephen Ansolabehere, Nathaniel Persily and Charles Stewart III have written an article for the Harvard Law Review exploring regional differences in racial polarization and what these should mean for the Voting Rights Act. Section 5, the main enforcement mechanism of the 1965 law, is under review by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Shelby County v. Holder. The bulk of legal observers think the court will rule the law is no longer necessary.

But the authors of the article conclude otherwise.

Indeed, we view our findings more as a response to the notion that the election and reelection of an African American President settles the constitutional question in favor of the VRA’s detractors. If anything, the opposite is true. To be sure, the coverage formula does not capture every racially polarized jurisdiction, nor does every county covered by section 5 outrank every noncovered county on this score. However, the stark race-based differences in voting patterns between the covered and noncovered jurisdictions taken as a whole demonstrate the coverage formula’s continuing relevance.
Indiana will spend $2 million to clean up voter roles
The Indiana Secretary of State’s office will spend more than $2 million to purge the voter registration rolls in each of Indiana’s 92 counties, removing the names of voters who are dead, in prison, or have moved away.

County election officials are responsible for keeping the voter rolls current, but the lack of money has caused some of them to fall behind. The result: In some counties, the number of people listed on the active voter rolls is higher than the number of voting-age people who live there.

“Every duplicate name and every bad address is just an opportunity for vote fraud,” said Secretary of State Connie Lawson [...]

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sat May 18, 2013 at 12:30 PM PDT.

Also republished by Black Kos community.

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