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

Pulaski County Judge Timothy Fox of the Arkansas Sixth Circuit Court shot down the state's strict voter ID law as unconstitutional Thursday. The state attorney general plans to appeal.

The law, which the Republican-dominated legislature passed last year over Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe's veto, was "void and unenforceable," Fox ruled in his eight-page decision. The lawsuit filed by the Pulaski County Election Commission only sought to overturn a provision mandating how absentee ballots were to be handled. But Fox ruled the entire law void because it added requirements citizens must meet before going to the polls.

As written, the law required citizens without a photo ID to cast a provisional vote. But it would only have been counted if they later showed an ID or proved they couldn't afford one. Among several ridiculous provisions, student IDs from out-of-state schools would not be considered acceptable but a voter could cast a ballot if s/he provided officials with a concealed handgun carry license:

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas and the Arkansas Law Center filed a separate lawsuit earlier this month alleging that Act 595, which took effect Jan. 1, is unconstitutional, but Fox issued his ruling in the lawsuit over absentee ballots.

State Sen. Bryan King, R-Green Forest, who sponsored the legislation that became Act 595, said the ruling was “pretty shocking.”

“This seems to me out of bounds,” he said. “I don’t know why he’s ruling today on this on the whole act. I thought it was just supposed to be the rulemaking (on absentee ballots). It seems like there’s something odd going on.”

The American Civil Liberties Union and Arkansas Law Center had filed their own suit against the law, Act 595. On Wednesday, Fox had scheduled a May 2 hearing for that suit.

Early voting for the May 20 Arkansas primary begins May 5.

There's more on the war on voting below the fold.

Online voter registration spreads: So far, 18 states have active online registration. Four others are in the process of setting it up. Ten other states have bills pending that would establish online registration.

on-line registration April 2014
Arizona launched the first online registration in 2002 and it has spread quickly—when compared with the speed of most voter reforms.
This month, Georgia unleashed its online voter registration system complete with a pair of digital apps so that any resident with a mobile device and signature on file with a state agency can swipe and tap his or her way towards acceptance onto a voter registration list.

Illinois is racing to launch its system ahead of a July 1, 2014 deadline mandated by legislation passed last year. Hawaii is collecting vendor proposals so it can launch online voter registration by next spring while West Virginia has plans to begin work on its own system later this year.

Brennan Center for Justice urges Obama to protect voting with executive orders: Under the 1993 National Voter Registration Act known colloquially as the "motor voter" act, departments of motor vehicles and other state agencies are used to register voters. Federal agencies are also authorized to assist, but most don't.

Brennan Center President Michael Waldman wrote at the Daily Beast:

“Hundreds of thousands could be registered by the Veterans Administration, United States Citizenship and Immigration Service, Department of Defense, and other units if they are designated as voter registration agencies.”
That's just one possibility noted in a new paper from the center—15 Executive Actions that Waldman and Inimai Chettiar, director of the center's Justice Program, are proposing. Most don't relate to voting, but three others do:
• Convening Cabinet heads to develop plans to promote voter participation and streamline election systems.
• Enlisting the private sector to assure free and fair elections.
• Appointing Republicans and Democrats to the Election Assistance Commission.
John Paul Stevens wants amendment to fix gerrymandering: Now 94, the former U.S. Supreme Court justice is writing up a storm these days and generally behaving like a much younger man. His latest book, Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution, focuses on issues he thinks the Court wrongly decided or has avoided. In addition to an amendment adding the death penalty to prohibitions of cruel and unusual punishments, he wants one that would mandate congressional and state legislative districts be "compact and composed of contiguous territory," thus preventing the creation of safe seats.  

The American Spectator takes Rand Paul to task for downplaying voter fraud:

For Paul the consideration is: “Who's a bigger demographic?” If he wants young libertarians and minorities, backing away from social issues like abortion while also ignoring voter ID laws could make him a more palatable candidate.
Moulton Advertiser Editorial Board worries about absentee ID. Alabama now requires a photo ID be presented for voting. These are free, but the Advertiser board voices concern about this being another hoop to jump through when "voting should be a simple process:
For people with limited means of travel getting into town to a courthouse or Board of Registrars to get the ID is a problem.

What is worrisome is how the law makes absentee voting more difficult. If we understand the law, a copy of the voter ID is supposed to accompany the ballot. Since the voter ID must be shown to get the ballot, why does a copy of it have to be sent in with the ballot? The process becomes too complicated to really be practical.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Our democracy is weak (10+ / 0-)

    not only from the corrosive effect of the SCOTUS support of the 1% but because ONLY 18 states have online voting and even fewer (Oregon being the only one I am aware of) have vote by mail. I live in Oregon and vote by mail is secure and convenient. The sooner more states have vote by mail the sooner we get a robust democracy.

    •  at least we DO have vote by mail, absentee (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      enhydra lutris, TofG, Eric Nelson

      voting in FL...that is very helpful.

      “The only way evil flourishes is for good people to do nothing.” Edmund Burke

      by soaglow on Sat Apr 26, 2014 at 09:34:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What I and thousands of others (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TofG, Eric Nelson

        started doing  a few years before we passed vote by mail was registering as absentee. I think so many Oregonians started doing the same that converting to vote by mail was inevitable. Progressives in states with absentee ballots (most I would think) should start campaigns to get people to register as such.

        •  yup, I'm a part of that ongoing campaign here (0+ / 0-)

          in FL.  Interestingly enough, we had some trouble going into the high schools in more conservative areas to talk to classes about registering. Perhaps if registration at 18 was 'automatic' that might encourage public educators--no matter where they are, to include education for voting, pre-registration.

          “The only way evil flourishes is for good people to do nothing.” Edmund Burke

          by soaglow on Sat Apr 26, 2014 at 10:08:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Unfortunately in Florida (0+ / 0-)

        absentee voting is a proving to be more risky year by year, especially after the legislature passed new 'signature restrictions' in 2011.

        The rates of absentee ballots thrown in 2012 in Orange County, Florida (a reliably blue county)  tripled compared to 2008.

        http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/...

    •  Washington state also has vote by mail. (5+ / 0-)

      Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you. Gabby Giffords.

      by Leftleaner on Sat Apr 26, 2014 at 09:37:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Admittedly, I'm off on something of a tangent... (0+ / 0-)

        ...so if you'll forgive me:

        As a seven-year resident of Washington, I've become protective of my adopted home, and it grates on me that the word "state" is commonly appended to its name.

        We're "Washington." That other place is "Washington, D.C." I'm on a crusade - a one-man one, as far as I can tell - to get people to call us "Washington," and that other place, "D.C."

        Saves an extra syllable either way.

        I'm aware the state of New York has a similar problem, but unfortunately, I've no solution for them that's equally economical.

        I'm finished with the soapbox for now.

        •  I just want to be understood. Little story (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          StevenWells

          My SIL  grew up in NC. He joined the Navy at age 19 and went through boot camp. He was given his orders for his first assignment, Washington. He thought, cool, I'll be close to home. He was much surprised when he wound up in Seattle.

          If I'm talking to a left coasts I'll say Washington, but an east coasts is much more likely to assume I'm referring to D.C.  

          Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you. Gabby Giffords.

          by Leftleaner on Sat Apr 26, 2014 at 01:27:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks for the story. (0+ / 0-)

            I love personal anecdotes. I hope your SIL didn't experience climate shock* in addition to that of winding up clear across country.

            There's logic in your rule of thumb, but I've observed it's one that even our local print and broadcast media don't observe: they, too, routinely append with "state." Probably a lost cause, then, but I keep at it just the same.

            *I still get concerned queries from friends back home in Southern CA about "all the rain up there." "If only," I tell them (for the sake of my poor lawn, if nothing else); we're over on the dry side, next door to Idaho. Since I've been here, I haven't used an umbrella even once. When it does rain here in Spokane, it rarely lasts more than five minutes, and you can pretty much walk between the drops.

            •  Well,it makes up for it with snow. (0+ / 0-)

              I grew up near there and there were years when we were buried for months.

              Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you. Gabby Giffords.

              by Leftleaner on Sun Apr 27, 2014 at 12:56:15 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Small world (pardon the cliche). (0+ / 0-)

                One of the things that's surprised us most is finding those snowier winters to be among our favorite aspects of the region.

                Our first one here recorded the heaviest snows in a half-century, and the second the heaviest in the city's history, and we loved every minute. Since then, we feel deprived when we get one of the drier, drearier ones.

                Our next door neighbor thinks we're a bit screwy in that regard, but then, she's a native and has had 55 more years of it than we have.  

    •  In CA, one can elect "Permanent Absentee (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      neuroguy, Meteor Blades, Eric Nelson

      Voter" status, which has the effect of making one a vote by mail voter. My wife and I are such, but we always carry ours to the local precinct voting location and drop it into the ballot box due to some bad experiences we have had with our local branch of the Post Office.

      That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

      by enhydra lutris on Sat Apr 26, 2014 at 09:45:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Vote by mail (0+ / 0-)

      sooooo . . . how can this be accomplished, especially in RED states?

  •  Would love to see 'automatic registration' at age (9+ / 0-)

    18 passed in every state...preparation for voting can be included in public school curriculum civics courses...it's a notion that gets tossed around in the FL legislature, but never goes anywhere in our tea party dominated state (thanks to the 2010 election). Registering to vote should be as easy as getting a driver's license or social security card.

    “The only way evil flourishes is for good people to do nothing.” Edmund Burke

    by soaglow on Sat Apr 26, 2014 at 09:32:49 AM PDT

    •  I have voter registration cards (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TofG, rcass, Eric Nelson

      in my office. Folks can fill them out while they wait. I just called the Secretary of State and they sent them to me free of charge.

    •  Easier than getting a license (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      4mygirls, soaglow, Eric Nelson

      In most democracies is automatic once you get to enfranchisement age. Why does there need to be a step to enroll in voting? Also we should be issuing a federal FREE ID document. Any idea that this will violate any privacy in the age of internet, cell phones and credit cards is ludicrous.

      •  No. (0+ / 0-)
        we should be issuing a federal FREE ID document. Any idea that this will violate any privacy in the age of internet, cell phones and credit cards is ludicrous.
        So the logic goes: "Well, we've already had to surrender so much of our liberty & privacy, so we shouldn't object to having to surrender a little more. For our own good, of course."

        There are many valid objections to a national ID card, on grounds of civil liberties. Even if it were ostensibly voluntary, it would quickly become the reality that such ID would be essential to function as an adult in society. And it's easy to envision a scenario by which such ID would become mandatory, an internal passport of sorts, whereby one would be required, on penalty of arrest, to have this ID on his person at all times in public, & to render it to any authority who demands it. Considering the direction in which our country is going with regard to police behavior & eroding court protections for civil liberty, this isn't at all far-fetched a possibility.

  •  Registration not online, but easy in IA (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades, Eric Nelson

    Voter registration forms can be downloaded, completed, and mailed to the voter's county auditor. Registration forms are available at driver's license stations, county auditors, public libraries, and other places. Political canvassers also carry registration forms, and will return them to their county auditor.

  •  I just updated my voter registration. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    soaglow, TofG, Eric Nelson

    Moved recently into a different county.  Online registration made it really easy, and reading this post reminded me to do it.

    Primaries are coming up.  If you're able to, make sure your information is up to date so some jackass Republican poll worker doesn't have the ability to disenfranchise you.

    Everyday Magic

    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    -- Clarke's Third Law

    by The Technomancer on Sat Apr 26, 2014 at 09:56:27 AM PDT

  •  For the most part these are good ideas. But . . . (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson

    More vigorous application of Motor Voter. On-line registration or automatic registration upon turning 18. Voting by mail. Nobody here would be against these things. Anything that makes it easier & simpler to vote is good for participatory democracy.

    But it's important to remember that none of these things are likely to be enacted in places where the intent is to curtail voter participation, especially that of certain disfavored groups. Particularly, they stand no chance so long as one party benefits & the other party loses from lower voter participation. Vote-suppression has spread like a wildfire through red-state legislatures, & clearly they intend to take this as far as they can. So far, they've scored some significant, & alarming, victories - Shelby County, Ala. v. Holder, which effectively gutted the Voting Rights Act; & Crawford v. Marion County Election Board & Indiana Democratic Party v. Rokita, which broadly upheld voter ID.

    It doesn't stop there. Several Southern states have effectively criminalized paid voter registration drives & have subjected people who do this work to legal harassment & exposure to criminal prosecution.

    Seriously, if we get a Republican president & another conservative appointment to the Supreme Court, outrage will pile atop outrage & we'll be basically powerless to stop it. Liberals thought they had this battle won in 1868, & we all know where things went after that.

    So there's one thing that must be added to the list - vigorous action on the part of the U.S. Justice Department against states' attempts at vote-suppression. Fortunately for now, it appears that AG Holder understands the threat that this movement poses to minority participation in government.

    And another thing to add - loud & persistent agitation in minority, immigrant & urban communities, about the importance of voting in every election & the ongoing threat to people's rights. People rightly get outraged when they see their right to vote being attacked, so by all means let's constantly remind people of what's going on & use it to motivate people to the polls. It worked in Florida in 2012.

  •  Former Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens.. (0+ / 0-)

    ..solutions with my guess/hope of what wrongs will/could be reversed  

    Among the amendments Stevens suggests:

    •Changing the Second Amendment to make clear that only a state's militia, not its citizens, has a constitutional right to bear arms.

    End NRA's stranglehold on the 2nd amendment interpretation & implementation/legislation - Stand your Ground revoked completely - (and all other NRA/Alec written laws would be nice too)
    •Changing the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against "cruel and unusual punishments" by specifically including the death penalty
    End premeditated killing as a "deterrent" to murder- death penalty gone
    •Removing from First Amendment protection any "reasonable limits" on campaign spending enacted by Congress or the states.
    Reverse the RWNJ Scotus interpretation that extends any civil rights to a legal fiction - (most especially the 1st amendment 'money equals speech' that resulted)
    •Requiring that congressional and state legislative districts be "compact and composed of contiguous territory" to stop both parties from carving out safe seats.
    End gerrymandering, and hopefully what Justice Ginburg warned of - 'at large electoral system' in her dissent on gutting of the VRA - (and for other purposes that enhance Federal control  limiting GOP Jim Crow laws)
    •Eliminating states' sovereign immunity from liability for violating the Constitution or an act of Congress, which he calls a "manifest injustice."
    Reverse  SCCJ Roberts states rights campaign - the Roberts Project
    •Allowing Congress to require states to perform federal duties in emergencies, in order to reduce "the risk of a national catastrophe."
    Limit republican governor power.  Not another Katrina failure. Maybe even reverse Roberts ruling on Medicaid expansion allowing GOP governors to deny health care (?)
    Among the issues to watch for, he said, are a constitutional right to same-sex marriage ("Sooner or later, they'll have to address the question"), gun control (Scalia's 2008 opinion protecting handguns in the home won't be the final word), and government surveillance programs, which Stevens defends as constitutional.
    [...]
     Even at 94, he said, "it's amazing how many interesting things there are to learn about the world."
    Sounds like Justice Stevens is way ahead of todays majority SCOTUS members. And Justice Stevens is not unfair, he has kind words for its members too.

    Thx MB

  •  "It seems like there's something odd going on" (0+ / 0-)

    This line from the State Senator that wrote the law in Arkansas just jumped out at me.  Yes, Senator, there is something odd going on here, its called the US Constitution, check it out sometime.  Our right to vote can't be taken away from us.  This right wing hard-on to  make it hard to vote is so classist and racist.  These guys are laser focused on a problem that doesn't even exist.  There is little or no voter fraud anywhere.  The only instance of fraud that I ever saw was when the US Supreme Court decided to have their own private presidential election in 2000.  They certainly didn't throw that case back to the states.

  •  One Step Closer (0+ / 0-)

    *

    FREE AMERICA

    DIRECT DEMOCRACY

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