• Wisconsin lawmakers sparring over voter suppression laws: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker wants to see a voter ID law in place “before the next election.” And if the state supreme court zaps the voter ID law that he signed in 2011, he says he will call a special legislative session to pass another.
Walker will also be a candidate for reelection in the next election, so he has a personal stake in whether such a law is in place this November. In 2012, numbers guru Nate Silver estimated that a strict voter ID law could “reduce President Obama’s margin against Mitt Romney by a net of 1.2 percentage points.”But Republicans aren't happy with just the ID law. They have designed proposals that would limit in-person absentee voting solely to weekdays and 45 hours a week, eliminate voting on weekends and prohibit Milwaukee from expanding its absentee voting hours, which it has done previously. Those are the kind of restrictions that make it tougher for many workers and irregular voters to cast a ballot.
Democrats aren't sitting still. State Sen. Jennifer Shilling is introducing a Right to Vote constitutional amendment to protect the voting rights of “every qualified elector of the state.” But her proposal would need to be passed in two consecutive legislative sessions and a statewide referendum before it could be added to the state constitution.
• Iowa Poll: Huge majority says voter access more a concern than voter fraud. In its latest Iowa Poll, The Des Moines Register found that 71 percent of respondents saying it’s more important for every eligible, registered voter to be able to cast a ballot, compared with 25 percent who say it’s more important that no ineligible person “slips through the cracks.”
• In op-ed, Jon Husted says "It’s easy to vote in Ohio." The Ohio secretary of state was widely castigated for voter suppression efforts during the past two election seasons. In an opinion piece in the Cincinnati Enquirer, he fires back:
With absentee voting starting 28 days before the election, Ohio remains above the national average for access to voting. Many of our surrounding states – including Michigan, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and New York – don’t even provide an early voting option. In addition, with the exception of states that vote exclusively by mail, Ohio has been the only state to send absentee ballot applications to all voters ahead of the election. These steps meant that Ohioans did not experience long lines at the polls that other states did in 2012 when approximately one in three Ohio voters chose to vote prior to Election Day. In fact, independent studies said the wait time in Ohio was 11 minutes.• Project Vote's new report: Restoring Voting Rights for Former Felons.
Ohio is the most important swing state in the nation, and I will continue to work to build the best system of elections in the nation where it will continue to be easy to vote and hard to cheat.
In this updated policy paper, Project Vote Legislative Director Estelle Rogers looks at the relevant voting laws in all 50 states, discusses the arguments for felon re-enfranchisement, and makes recommendations for clear and uniform policies that benefit society as a whole.Below the orange butterfly ballot, there are more about voter suppression.
• Lani Guinier and James Blacksher say Supreme Court's overturning of Voting Rights Act has deep ties to Dred Scott decision. The two have posted their draft of a piece for the Harvard Law and Policy Review. Here is the first paragraph of the abstract:
The “equal sovereignty” principle the Supreme Court majority relied on in Shelby County v. Holder to strike down the coverage formula in Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act is rooted in the jurisprudence of slavery. In the infamous 1857 case of Dred Scott v. Sandford, Chief Justice Roger Taney held that black Americans, slave or free, were not members of the sovereign people and could never be “citizens” within the meaning of the Constitution. Otherwise, he said, blacks would be entitled to all the fundamental rights of citizenship guaranteed by the Privileges and Immunities Clause of Article IV, Section 2, including the right to vote, a result that would violate the equal sovereignty of the slave states. Black people, Chief Justice Taney wrote, could only enjoy those rights the sovereign people of each state chose to give them. [...]• South Dakota tests military voter program:
South Dakota is the first state in the nation to utilize the Department of Defense Common Access Card (CAC) for verification and authentication to allow voter registration, absentee request, receive a ballot, and finally mark a ballot in a program called the Innovative Overseas Absentee-Balloting System (iOASIS).• Cantor not delivering yet on new Voting Rights Act: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has made two trips to the Deep South together with Georgia Democrat and civil rights activist John Lewis, which seems to have given him some insight he didn't previously have. He's pledged to put together a new Voting Rights Act in the wake of the Supreme Court's gutting of a key provision of the old one. That personal investment, writes Roll Call's Emma Dumain, could make a difference for the Republican Party, which has a serious deficit among African Americans and other people of color
Using a grant from the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP), South Dakota partnered with Everyone Counts to create the system that streamlines the process that used to take up to 60 days into a process that can now be as quick as five minutes.
The program was tested about 1,000 times by members of the South Dakota National Guard and recently [Secretary of State Jason] Gant traveled to four different military bases throughout Germany to test drive the program with service members not only from South Dakota, but across the country.
But translating participation in the Faith and Politics Institute’s annual pilgrimage into legislative text that can win support from the bulk of the Republican Conference isn’t an easy task.• Jesse Jackson says to put voting guarantee in the Constitution:
And so far, Cantor hasn’t laid out a clear path for a bill nine months after declaring his support for a congressional response to the Supreme Court decision striking down the VRA’s core enforcement mechanisms.
A text out of context is a pretext. What’s the context of America’s voting rights? The context is that we have a “states’ rights” voting system — 50 states (plus D.C.), 3,143 counties, 13,000 election jurisdictions that administer 186,000 precincts, all in “separate and unequal” local voting jurisdictions. But if the legal principle of “separate and unequal” was unacceptable for education in 1954, it’s also unacceptable for voting in 2014, since voting is the foundation of our democracy.
Congressional efforts to “fix” the damage done by Shelby to the Voting Rights Act are essential. But the remedy will inevitably will leave the Voting Rights Act in a weaker state than it was before Shelby. We should not have to protect the “right to vote” piecemeal—state-by-state, county-by-county, voting district-by-voting district, year-after-year.
So I argue that even as we mobilize to end the damage done to the Voting Rights Act, we should be fighting for a constitutional amendment to guarantee the right to vote to all.