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

Voter rights advocates won a big victory in Wisconsin last week when, in a ruling in the case of Frank v. Walker, U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman tossed out the state's strict photo voter ID law. His rationale was that it would cause unreasonable hassles on people of color and low-income citizens. It would also cost them money for documents, travel to the DMV and time off work. Adelman wrote:

"Given the obstacles identified above, it is likely that a substantial number of the 300,000 plus voters who lack a qualifying ID will be deterred from voting. Although not every voter will face all of these obstacles, many voters will face some of them, particularly those who are low income. [...]

[T]he evidence adduced at trial leads to the conclusion that, in Wisconsin, Blacks and Latinos are less likely than whites to possess a qualifying form of photo identification.”

He also wrote that "it is absolutely clear that Act 23 will prevent more legitimate votes from being cast than fraudulent votes."

Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who has made keeping the voter ID law alive a major priority, and Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen made it known almost immediately that the state will appeal.

Latino Decisions, an organization focused on Latino opinion research, pointed out that research it conducted was "critical" to the ruling:

Professors Matt Barreto (UW) and Gabriel Sanchez (UNM) from Latino Decisions conducted research that proved to be pivotal in the case. The report generated by Barreto and Sanchez, on behalf of the ACLU of Wisconsin, was based on a survey conducted to gauge how many eligible voters in Milwaukee County, WI lack the identification required to vote under the new law, and was introduced as an expert report by the plaintiffs and cited extensively in the judge’s opinion.
(See earlier coverage here.)

Please continue reading below the fold for additional briefs about the war on voting.

Alabama has issued more than 1,300 free voter IDs:

Alabama is one of many states that have recently passed laws requiring voters to present a photo ID before being allowed to cast a ballot. But the Alabama law requires that the state give a free ID to anyone who doesn't have one:

According to the Alabama Secretary of State's Office, 1,307 people have been issued the Voter ID cards. That figure doesn't include the number of people who have received new driver's licenses or non-driver ID cards from the Alabama Department of Public Safety.

"I think that we've covered a lot of the bases that maybe some states have not that were in this before we are and we've learned from their mistakes," Secretary of State Jim Bennett said.

• Ohio ACLU sues state over voting law changes: The organization—on behalf of the NAACP, the League of Women Voters, several churches with mostly black congregations and others—seeks to dump a change in the law that eliminated "golden week," a period when voters could cast ballots and register in the same day.
They also want to undo a directive from Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted setting uniform early voting days and hours and eliminating polling on Sundays and evenings in advance of the November general election.

"We are here today to stand up for the rights of all Ohio voters, regardless of their political party, regardless of their income, age or race," said Freda Levenson, managing attorney of the ACLU of Ohio.

Daniel Stid with praise for Pew's Elections Performance Index:
State and local governments are free in many domains to tackle common problems differently, as they might see fit. Superior approaches developed in one state or locality can thus be adopted in places where performance is subpar. If not, the onus is on the underperforming policy-makers and administrators to explain themselves to their underserved citizens.

That onus just got much heavier for state elections officials that are lagging their peers. Last month the Pew Charitable Trusts launched a revamped Elections Performance Index that, on 17 concrete performance measures, identifies states in which election administration is going relatively well, states where it is not, and the trend lines in recent elections. This data will make it harder for officials to preside over abysmal performance; at the same time, it will make it easier for officials who want to improve to identify where and how they can do so.

This idea originated with Yale Law School Professor Heather Gerken, who in 2009 wrote a book proposing just such a “Democracy Index.”

M. Mindy Moretti discusses how cities and counties are boosting voter registration. In Wilson County, Tennessee, the county elections commission works with realtors and title companies to ensure that new homeowners get registration forms. In Madison, Wisconsin, city council members fought with local landlords over a 2012 ordinance to get them to supply registration forms to new tenants. An attempt to get the state legislature to overturn the ordinance failed. East Lansing, Michigan, passed a similar ordinance in 2013.

Complying with all the rules for getting on the ballot in Pennsylvania can be tough for rookies. And that seems to be just the way the party establishments want it to be, according to Joel Mathis at Philly Mag.

Joshua Douglas's op-ed on judicial progress on voter ID:

Voter ID laws have their greatest effect on minorities, poor people, elderly voters and students—who all tend to vote in greater numbers for Democratic candidates. This is why Republicans generally support, and Democrats generally oppose, strict voter ID laws. Unless passed with bipartisan support, there is an inherent partisan tinge to any voter ID debate. But we should not sanction election laws promulgated for partisan reasons.
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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks MB, yeah we have significant problems (16+ / 0-)

    With the SoS & the massively gerrymandered lege & the evil Gov. Kasich.

    Their policies suck & so do they.

    nosotros no somos estúpidos

    by a2nite on Sat May 03, 2014 at 09:20:18 AM PDT

  •  Good news out of Wisconsin here. My question, (12+ / 0-)

    though, is if the appeal will be heard by November. If not, does the appealed law stand until then?

    Them's fightin' words!!!

    by Leo Sagittarius on Sat May 03, 2014 at 09:22:47 AM PDT

  •  A Crucial Statement (12+ / 0-)
    it is absolutely clear that Act 23 will prevent more legitimate votes from being cast than fraudulent votes
    I hope that its presence in a finding statement gives it a portability to other cases of suppression. Everyone fighting these schemes needs to focus on that concept like a laser.

    This after all is the core purpose of all these conservative voting schemes: preventing as many legitimate votes as possible.

    Given your history MB I'm sorry to see you still having to address this nearly half a century along.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat May 03, 2014 at 09:29:09 AM PDT

    •  Fifty years ago (!!!) next month... (10+ / 0-)

      ...I arrived in Jackson, Mississippi, to register African American voters as part of Freedom Summer, showing up just four days after the disappearance of three civil rights workers who, we would learn soon enough, had been murdered by the Klan. I understand, also from personal experience, people's anger at the way the powerful in America have sought to make a mockery of democracy, to make our votes seem like a joke. But I will never understand those who think the right to vote is something to laugh at. People, a lot more than those three men, gave their lives for that right. It's our job to make voting mean something, which, of course, requires a huge range of activism far beyond simple GOTV.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Sat May 03, 2014 at 09:48:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The worst news is that the voter suppression (7+ / 0-)

      of many of the southern states has been newly imported into other states to infect their (our) elections.

      You might need ID to cash a check or board a plane, but neither of those 2 activities are constitutionally guaranteed.

      Voter fraud virtually doesn't exist.  The demand for ID is simply a way to block people from voting.  Even a "free" ID has a cost involved:  the cost of obtaining documents, the cost of time taken off work to obtain the ID, and the cost of transportation to go to the place where the IDs are offered.

      There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

      by Puddytat on Sat May 03, 2014 at 01:27:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good news in Pennsylvania as well (7+ / 0-)

    Commonwealth Court upheld its rejection of the PA Voter ID law.

    Now the vastly unpopular governor Corbett must decide whether to appeal to the PA Supreme Court, which, on balance, appears likely to give deference to  the Commonwealth Court's decision.

    Here is analysis of the possible outcome of an appeal.

  •  The Party of Stupid NEVER Lets Facts, TRUTH, or (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, Eric Nelson, Puddytat, LinSea

    reality stand in their way of getting what they want.

    The non-existent problem of voter fraud was the basis of rethugs' cries for voter ID.  

    Suppressing the votes of minorities, young people, the poor, students, and others typically inclined to vote for Democrats was their intention the entire time.

    Pennsylvania teabaggers, specifically GOP state chairman Rob Gleason was videotaped shamelessly admitting that the state's Voter ID law was intended to suppress the vote.
    The same was true of Pa. House Republican majority leader Mike Turzai who was also videotaped saying the same thing.

    Pa. House Republican caucus legal counsel Brett O. Feese, former Lycoming County Republican "law & order" District Attorney and state assemblyman, stole $10 to 20 Million from the taxpayers to pay a Louisiana computer outfit to gerrymander the state so the rethugs could control the state legislature for a decade through extreme gerrymandering.  He was convicted on all 40 counts of Computergate and sentenced to 4 to 12 years in state prison, fined $50,000.00, ordered to pay only $1 Million in restitution, and ordered to serve 2 years of probation after completing his state prison sentence.  Feese, being a psychopath, megalomaniac, pathological liar, and narcissist, exitted the Dauphin County courthouse after the jury rendered its verdict and shamelessly proclaimed his innocence to the world through the news media but wouldn't take the witness stand and do it under oath because his own e-mails convicted him along with his own co-conspirators sworn testimony -- he is a remorseless criminal who should do all 12 years of his sentence in prison.

    The Party of Stupid & Offensive is desperately doing anything it can to stay in power -- extreme gerrymandering, voter suppression, election fraud, etc. --  real good flag-waving "patriots" resorting to UNAmerican tactics.

  •  Alamama: According to the Alabama Secretary of.. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Puddytat, indres, Meteor Blades, LinSea

    .. State's Office, 1,307 people have been issued the Voter ID cards.

    Sounds good but not as good as it could be; accepting the bad law requiring new hurdles to vote, by bandaging it up with free ID's still sucks. Maybe with the RWNJ's in charge it was what was possible, but it still sucks.

    The first thing is 1,307 only (?) the next thing; the republicans know that they will still successfully shave off points, disenfranchising some number of voters doing this.

    , a woman I work with was triumphant and a bit apologetic at the same time after finally receiving her rebate voucher/coupon credit as promised with a free cell phone but only if she filled out the rebate form exactly as required and sent it in between such and such a date.

    After approx. 2 months she received a credit voucher (much like Paul Ryan's version of Medicare/S.S./ Medicaid).

    A voucher that could be redeemed in limited places.

    She did it though and got her money, but the hoops she had to go through were purposeful.

    I got word of this small triumph as a sort of apology from Jennifer. I had reminded her to make absolutely sure NOT to put off applying for the rebate, but to do it immediately. She was a bit testy about my "nagging" at the time.

    Jennifer later thanked me for explaining how these "friendly" hurdles work. I thanked her right back for the opportunity to tie the rebate issue into a conversation on the voter suppression gambits that the republicans are punishing Dems with.

    It was a win. Politics tied to real life situations. Yeah, I'm patting myself on the back, but it worked. To have a person approach you explaining that they had a sort of mini epiphany.

    There will be some number of people who are busy working full time, and wait too long, maybe even forget or run out of enough time to get their now Required ID.

    It's good that the ID is offered, just wish all these laws were out-lawed as they should be. And that judges would recognize that a "fix" like free ID's is not the same as a ruling against voting suppression of any kind.

    Overall though the cheaters are not winning in the courts and their tactics are firing people up. That is something good, especially with one of the candidates I support; Nina Turner and the excellent work/ activism she has been up to.

    "It is truly unfortunate that voting advocates must again turn to litigation to secure equal access to a basic right," Sen. Nina Turner (D-Cleveland), who hopes to unseat Husted in November, said in a released statement. "Early voting has been working in Ohio, and no compelling reason has been presented to support rolling it back."
    I really want Nina Turner to bury that asshole Husted. No.. I want more. He along with his republican cohorts deserve prison for the violations of civil rights they have laid on the very people they are responsible for serving.

    Thx MB

    •  Those IDs aren't "free" (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      indres, Eric Nelson, a2nite, antirove, LinSea

      There is the cost of needed documents, as well as the cost of the time and transportation to obtain the documents and go to the DMV to obtain the ID.

      If it looks like a poll tax, smells like a poll tax, and acts like a poll tax, it's a poll tax.

      There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

      by Puddytat on Sat May 03, 2014 at 01:29:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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