Is the Voting Rights Amendment Act dead
The expectation was that a compromise bill to fix the Voting Rights Act after the Supreme Court's decision to eviscerate a key provision would clear both houses of Congress before the election. But that doesn't appear to be the case any longer. The Voting Rights Act Amendment is stalled both in the House and Senate "because of distrust and disagreement between and within political parties," according to William Douglas and Greg Gordon at McClatchy.
The amendment emerged after the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision in Shelby County v. Holder, ruled that nine states and selected jurisdictions in six other states would no longer have to "pre-clear" any new voter laws with the Department of Justice under the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Those states, seven of them in the Old Confederacy, had a long record of suppressing the votes of African Americans, Indians, Native Alaskans and Latinos.
Under the VRAA, only states that have incurred five voting rights violations over the previous 15 years would come under federal oversight. This would also apply to local jurisdictions that had incurred three violations within the past 15 years and to jurisdictions with one violation and a “persistent, extremely low minority turnout.” Under those provisions, if the act were passed tomorrow, only Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas would be covered.
Many Republicans want the law to apply to all 50 states while some Democrats don't like it that the act would embed voter ID laws as acceptable, something they oppose because of potential for reducing turnout among people of color, young people, poor people and the elderly.
However, House Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn
calls photo ID laws “an arsenic-laced solution put in a Coca-Cola can,” though he doesn’t think that will dampen overall Democratic support for the bill.Below the orange butterfly ballot is more news in the war on voting.
Study finds evidence of discriminatory intent among lawmakers favoring voter ID laws
Demonstrating racial bias is not easy—I've discussed before, nobody actually calls themselves racists, because much racial bias happens at the subconscious level—so the USC researchers developed a novel real-world field experiment to test bias among state legislators. In the two weeks prior to the 2012 election, they sent e-mail correspondence to a total of 1,871 state legislators in 14 states. [The e-mails read greeted each representative formally and then stated:]Results? The representatives could have responded with a simple "yes." In none of the states where the emails were sent is a driver's license required to vote. Representatives who had supported voter ID laws responded to emails from "Jacob Smith" 44 percent of the time, but only 28 percent of the time to "Santiago Rodriguez." Representatives who opposed voter ID laws responded to "Jacob Smith" 50 percent of the time, and 42 percent of the time to "Santiago Rodriguez."
My name is (voter NAME) and I have heard a lot in the news lately about identification being required at the polls. I do not have a driver’s license. Can I still vote in November? Thank you for your help.The key to the experiment lies in that voter name field. One group of legislators received e-mail from a voter who identified himself as "Jacob Smith." The other received email from "Santiago Rodriguez." Moreover, half of the legislators in each of these two groups received e-mails written in Spanish, while half received English-language e-mails.
As Ingraham notes, a single instance of non-responsiveness under these circumstances does not prove bias:
But the significant difference between ID supporters and opponents in the extent of their Anglophone preference provides solid evidence of underlying bias, according to the researchers.• Seven Democratic leaders in the House join lawsuit over court-imposed change in federal voting registration form:
The case, Kris W. Kobach et al. v. United States Election Assistance Commission, centers on a request from Kansas and Arizona to add proof-of-citizenship requirements to the federal voter registration form that matches their state laws.• Progressive Caucus seeks voter registration help from HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell:
The House Democrats, led by Committee on House Administration Ranking Member Robert Brady of Pennsylvania, argue in an amicus brief released on Wednesday that providing that proof would limit voting rights. [...]
“For much of our nation’s history, state law was used to diminish or deny qualified citizens the right to vote. The Constitution was amended to correct that wrong and to empower Congress to take appropriate steps to ensure that history does not repeat itself ... Congress’s authority to override state law in matters of election procedures for federal elections is beyond doubt,” the signers wrote in the brief.
The co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus—Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona and Keith Ellison of Minnesota—and CPC member Mike Honda of California sent a letter Thursday to Sylvia Burwell, the nation's new Health and Human Services secretary, seeking a meeting to enlist her in the effort to bring the federally facilitated Health Benefits Exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act into compliance with voter registration law.
Under the 1993 National Voter Registration Act (colloquially known as the Motor Voter law) the federal and state governments are required to provide opportunities to register to vote when a person obtains a driver's license or seeks public assistance.
• Voter ID battle continues, but some states have passed laws expanding ballot access. The Brennan Center for Justice has updated its state round-up of happenings in voter policies. Not all of them are bad. For instance, Illinois has initiated a pilot program of same-day registration, making it the 12th state plus the District of Columbia to institute this technique for improving voter turnout.
Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Nebraska recently passed several of their own laws to expand ballot access. On the other hand, Alabama has proposed rules that would require voters who arrive at the polls without ID cards to prove by a "voucher" of mostly white election officials that they are who they say they are. The update looks also at laws and bills in Arizona, Kansas, Ohio and Virginia.
[W]e know that the voters who do turn out for primaries are much more partisan and ideological than the vast majority who don’t, giving rise to the reasonable conjecture that congressional primary dynamics are linked to polarization. For those of us concerned about the health of Congress, you can see how congressional primaries are a problem.• Federal judge overrules Alaska officials on translating election material into Native languages: U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason ruled that the constitutional right to vote requires the state to translate election pamphlets, instructions, registration materials and ballots into Yup'ik, Cup'ik and Gwich'in and other Native languages for any voters with limited English skills.
The dynamics around California’s new “top two” primary election, which was held Tuesday, may help move questions about congressional primaries—how they are structured, which candidates run in them, how they run, and, not least, how voters participate in them—more onto the center stage of American politics.
Democrats are rolling out a new program [called the Arbor Project] that uses sophisticated data analysis to identify the neighborhoods that are ripest for registering new voters—potentially making the party’s registration drives far more effective. The effort underlines Democrats’ growing focus on bringing new voters into the process, with the party’s chances for electoral success increasingly hinging on boosting turnout. [...]
Through the project, campaigns and state parties will have access to data showing them not just the number of currently unregistered potential Democrats in a given precinct, but also the expected vote gain that a registration drive in that precinct would provide. They could also look at a “density index” that rates the neighborhood’s suitability for door-to-door canvassing operations, so as to avoid wasting resources by sending volunteers into difficult-to-canvass areas where houses are far apart.