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This week in the war on voting is a joint project of Joan McCarter and Meteor Blades
  • Sen. Rand Paul tells Urban League he's one of the good guys: At a speech of the National Urban League’s conference in Cincinnati Friday, the Kentucky Republican said: “Not only do I support the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, I’m a Republican who wants to restore a federal role for the government in the Voting Rights Act.”

    That sounds almost like a retraction from his previous claims that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a case of federal over-reach. But then why isn't he signed on as a co-sponsor of the Voting Rights Amendment Act that would partially repair the damage the Supreme Court did when it gutted Section 4 (and consequently Section 5) of the Voting Rights Act? And then there is the fact that he has said he thinks some of the new requirements that voters have a photo ID to cast a ballot are too strict. But he hasn't actually renounced the laws.

    Could it be that, in laying the groundwork for a possible presidential run, he's deep into pretending he supports things he hasn't?

  • Title I of Civil Rights Act could be used in voter litigation: Franita Tolson, Betty T. Ferguson Professor of Voting Rights at Florida State University College of Law, writes:
    Recent cases illustrate that the time has come to revisit Title I of the Civil Rights Act.  In Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court invalidated section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act which, together with section 5, required certain jurisdictions to preclear all changes to their electoral laws with the federal government before the changes could go into effect. The preclearance regime was a type of federal receivership for jurisdictions, mostly in the south, that had pervasively discriminated against African Americans in order to ensure that any new laws would not undermine minority voting rights. In the year since Shelby County, the loss of the preclearance regime has forced advocates to be more aggressive in using creative legal arguments in voting rights litigation. For example, in Frank v. Walker, a federal district court judge invalidated Wisconsin’s voter identification law, the first successful challenge to these restrictions using section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Section 2 prohibits states from abridging the right to vote on the basis of race and applies nationwide.

    Like section 2, Title I of the Civil Rights Act stands as a possible litigation alternative to the preclearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act. In addition to its general requirement of nondiscriminatory access to the ballot, section 2(A) of Title I provides that, “No person acting under color of law shall in determining whether any individual is qualified under State law or laws to vote in any election, apply any standard, practice, or procedure different from the standards, practices, or procedures applied under such law or laws to other individuals within the same county, parish, or similar political subdivision who have been found by State officials to be qualified to vote.” This provision prevents states from applying voter qualification standards differently to similarly situated individuals.

  • Report: Mid-term turnout not looking good. Via email from Curtis Gans at the Center for the Study of the American Electorate:
    If the first 25 statewide primaries (for U.S. Senate and/or state governor) are any guide, the nation is likely to witness the lowest midterm primary turnout in history. It is also likely to witness the greatest number of states setting records for low voter turnout.

    National turnout for the 25 states which held statewide primaries for both major parties reported a decline of 3.5 percentage points or 18 percent from the turnout in 2010. The national percentage of eligible citizens who voted in these primaries was 14.8 percent, down from 18.3 percent in 2010. Only 18,201,718 out of 122,751,000 age-eligible citizens voted for governor and/or U.S. Senator in these primaries.

    Turnout in fifteen of the twenty-five states which held statewide primaries reached historic lows. Only three of those 25 states had higher turnout in 2014 than in 2010.

  • Liz Kennedy and Sean McElwee say SEC should spotlight dark money.
  • Joe Biden says voter photo ID laws are "an attempt to repress minority voting."
  • Florida no longer allows people to be paid to collect absentee ballots.
  • Bruce F. Freed and Karl J. Sandstrom write that corporations' voluntary disclosures may solve "dark money" problem.
  • Libertarians fight new N.H. law:
    The New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union is suing the state over a new law that it says will stack the deck against third parties trying to gain ballot access.

    The lawsuit, filed July 22 on behalf of the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire, challenges a requirement that nomination papers for a political organization “be signed and dated in the year of the election.”

  • Trevor Potter: Is McCain-Feingold to blame for much of our campaign finance mess?

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