Restrictions in Early Voting and Voter Registration Used for Partisan Gain

The past two years saw a dramatic rise in states attempting to enact voter suppression, the impact of which was certainly felt on Election Day. Under the guise of combating voter fraud and saving money, we saw strong pushes for ID and early voting and voter registration restrictions.

Florida was among the worst offenders.

UPDATE: Reported Voting Troubles

UPDATE: Shortly after the election, several voting rights advocacy groups released reports or statements detailing problems voters encountered at the polls. Demos put out a report describing how all the various voter suppression tactics affected the 2012 election. The American Civil Liberties Union issued a statement addressing the problems voters faced and the steps that should be taken to prevent future problems. Project Vote also released a statement praising diligent voters for overcoming adverse voting circumstances.

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Supports LGBT-Inclusive Immigration Reform

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) today released their framework for immigration reform. One Nation: Principles on Immigration Reform and Our Commitment to the American Dream addresses a number of key principles and constituencies. Section 2 explicitly covers bi-national, same-sex couples, stating that the CHC will:

Reported Voting Troubles

Despite the concerted efforts by conservative legislators to suppress voters’ rights throughout 2011 and 2012 using a number of tactics in the supposed interest to combat voter fraud, millions of Americans took time last week to cast their vote on Election Day. However, a number of problems for voters still occurred, shedding light on some obvious inadequacies within our voting process.

Minnesotans Reject Voter ID

Earlier this year, the Minnesota state legislature passed SF 509, requiring photo ID at the polls. Governor Mark Dayton vetoed the bill, but proponents led by ALEC State Chairwoman Mary Kiffmeyer managed to bypass him by pushing through a constitutional amendment version (HF 2738) and sending the voter ID question to voters. Efforts went forth to remove it from the ballot but the MN Supreme Court denied the challenge.

“A right for one is a right for another and a responsibility for all.”

In 1988, as Founding Chairman of People For the American Way, Norman Lear was among the cosigners of the Williamsburg Charter, “written and published expressly to address the dilemmas, challenges, and opportunities posed by religious liberty in American public life.”

Lear and others, including Presidents Carter and Ford and Chief Justices Rehnquist and Burger, agreed that “a right for one is a right for another and a responsibility for all.”

That is the spirit in which faith leaders and religious liberty advocates, including PFAW Foundation and the African American Ministers Leadership Council, led by the First Amendment Center and Interfaith Alliance, have come together in 2012 to answer the question, “What is the truth about American Muslims?”

Voter ID Blocked in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s ALEC-linked voter ID law, known as HB 934, has been fought several times since its passage earlier this year. Defenders of the strict photo ID law state that the law prevents voter fraud – even though there haven’t been any investigations or evidence regarding the presence of voter fraud. Furthermore, many Pennsylvanians lack appropriate ID and are likely to be disenfranchised as a result of the law.

However, as of October 2, HB 934 will not be fully enforced come November.

UPDATE: State legislation shines national spotlight on voter ID

UPDATE: Back in March, we turned our attention to the 47th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. In the months since, we’ve crisscrossed the nation and detailed how the fights of 50 years ago are being resurrected today. The Atlantic’s Andrew Cohen yesterday offered his own telling, invoking Dr. King’s famous quote, “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice,” to break down the dangerous myths and machinations of voter suppression, concluding that “[t]hese new laws seek to bend the arc backward again, to take away from people their effective right to vote.” It’s important that we remain vigilant over the next nine weeks, so that on November 6 eligible Americans are able to cast a vote and have it count. In the words of LBJ, “Then with his vote and his voice he is equipped with a very potent weapon to guarantee his own dignity.” Click here and here for more from Andrew Cohen.

UPDATE: Election Day Registration takes center stage in California

UPDATE: The California legislature has passed AB 1436 and sent the bill to Governor Jerry Brown for his signature. Governor Brown has not publicly stated his position, but he has been supportive of voting rights in the past. Kathay Feng, California Common Cause: "Politicians in other states have been pushing new restrictive laws and campaigns to manipulate election results for their political gain. Governor Brown can take a stand for free and fair elections by signing Election Day Voter Registration into law." Assuming it becomes law, it will not take effect until 2015 when the state’s new voter registration database is expected to be certified.

UPDATE: Minnesota fighting the voting rights battle on multiple fronts

UPDATE: Federal District Judge Donovan Frank dismissed the lawsuit against Election Day voter registration brought by the Minnesota Voters Alliance, affirming its constitutionality. Secretary Ritchie praised the decision, saying Minnesota’s same-day voter registration serves as a model for our nation and, in part, accounts for our consistent top ranking in voter participation among all states. This ruling is a victory for voting rights, but the fate of Election Day registration is now in the hands of Minnesotans, who will vote on a constitutional amendment this November that would effectively eliminate it. For updates on all aspects of the fight over voter ID in Minnesota, click here.