Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett announced Thursday that he won't be appealing a January court ruling that declared the state's strict voter ID law unconstitutional. The law, requiring a photo ID, was passed two years ago, with unanimous Democratic opposition in the legislature. They said the law was unnecessary and would harm primarily older voters, younger voters, people of color and the poor.
"We commend the governor for not continuing to push this unnecessary and dangerous law that would have disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of eligible voters," said Vic Walczak, the ACLU of Pennsylvania legal director, who worked on the case.
House Majority Leader Mike Turzai created a stir two years ago when he revealed the partisan nature of the law, telling the Republican State Committee, "Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”
Corbett plans to work with the legislature to make changes in the law that will allow it to pass constitutional muster.
• 10th Circuit Appeals Court stays decision on voter citizenship: On Thursday, the court temporarily stayed the ruling of a district court judge ordering the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to change its voter registration form to include special instructions for residents of Arizona and Kansas, where state law requires proof-of-citizenship for people registering to vote.
• Iowa’s Republican Secretary of State Just Proved That Voter ID Laws Are Unnecessary. Josh Israel writes:
Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz (R), one of the nation’s most enthusiastic voter suppressors, released a report on Thursday outlining the results a two-year investigation into possible voter fraud, conducted by the Iowa Department of Public Safety’s Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) at his request. But while Schultz has frequently scared Iowa voters with allegations of thousands of possible non-citizens voting in the state and living people showing up at the polls to cast ballots in the name of dead voters, the investigation revealed found an infinitesimal number of illegal votes cast and zero cases of impersonation at the polls.• Chicago Democracy Week Found to Increase Voter Turnout of 17, 18-Year Olds: The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Inc., together with a coalition of voting rights groups, announced that more than 6,000 Chicago public school students and more 3,500 17-year-olds in suburban Cook County were registered as part of Chicago Democracy Week this February. That, in turn, generated record turnout in the March primary among young voters.
More on the war on voting can be found below the orange gerrymander.
• A condensed look at new voter ID laws: Wendy Weiser, director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, says, "We haven’t seen a legislative movement like this since Reconstruction."
• Outside Spending Enters Arena of Judicial Races. Erik Eckholm writes:
The ad first appeared on television the Friday before last, a black-and-white spot charging that Justice Robin Hudson coddled child molesters and “sided with the predators” in a North Carolina Supreme Court dissent. It has run constantly since.• Texas ordered to produce legislative documents in voting case: A federal court judge ordered the state to turn over the documents in the case of Perez v. Perry. The lawsuit contends that the executive and legislative branches of state government violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, intent on denying the right to vote on racial grounds or membership in a language-minority group.
As notable as the ad’s content and frequency, though, is its source. It was created and aired not by one of Justice Hudson’s two opponents in Tuesday’s primary election, but by a group that had just received $650,000 from the Republican State Leadership Committee in Washington, which pools donations from corporations and individuals to promote conservatives in state politics and is now broadening its scope to target judicial races.
• Measuring Motor Voter: Room for Improvement, an Issues Brief by the Pew Charitable Trusts:
In 2012, The Pew Charitable Trusts commissioned comprehensive research to measure how efficiently and effectively state motor vehicle agencies are providing voter registration services as required by the National Voter Registration Act.• Ohio GOP’s secret voting scheme deliberations. Spencer Woodman writes:
The analysis found that insufficient data exist to determine whether citizens are successfully and regularly offered these voter registration opportunities. This brief recommends how motor vehicle agencies may improve this process by increased coordination with state election officials as well as better reporting of Motor Voter registration transactions.
Salon has obtained email correspondences of officials working for [Ohio Secretary of State Jon] Husted. Covering more than three months leading up to his controversial changes to early voting, the records show no interest among three top officials, including the Secretary of State, in how eliminating Sunday voting might affect the state’s African-American communities, which had long placed particular emphasis on after-church voting.• Republican registration in Los Angeles falls nearly 6,000 in 35 days: The Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters keeps a running daily tally or voter registrations. Between April 4 and May 9, the Republican Party lost 5,978 registrants in the county. Most of the state’s qualified parties gained in Los Angeles County during that period: Democrats gained 858, Peace & Freedom gained 243, Libertarians gained 236, and Americans Elect gained one. The Green Party lost 53, and the American Independents lost 67.
The records also show that, in exercising its power to send information about the recent voting changes to organizations throughout the state, Husted’s office appears to express a strong preference for providing information to Republican-aligned groups, and even specifically addresses the possibility of excluding non-Republican legislators.
• Liberal donors eye new long-term investments in states and new voters to boost Democrats. Matea Gold explains:
A group of wealthy liberal donors who helped bankroll the Center for American Progress and other major advocacy groups on the left is developing a new big-money strategy that could boost state-level Democratic candidates and mobilize core party voters.Opinion Pieces
The plan, being crafted in private by a group of about 100 donors that includes billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros and San Francisco venture capitalist Rob McKay, seeks to give Democrats a stronger hand in the redrawing of district lines for state legislatures and the U.S. House.
• Top-two primary system is eliminating diverse political expression, by Michael Feinstein, writing on how California's new system is crushing smaller parties.
• Voting Rights Act fixes should get a vote in the House and Senate, says The Washington Post editorial board in its argument for fixes to the Voting Rights Act hollowed out by the Supreme Court last year.
• Got a Voter ID? by Jessica A. Levinson, Loyola law professor: "Partisanship has a place in politics. Partisan politics have no place in shaping laws detailing the prerequisites for voting."