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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.
UPDATE: Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is now asking the state Supreme Court to reinstate Act 23 (aka AB 7) in time for it to apply in November. Along with the state Department of Justice, he will file a Petition to Bypass Court of Appeals and a Motion for Consolidation in both cases. League of Women Voters lawyer Lester Pines called the move a kind of a hail Mary pass by the Attorney General, and seemed confident that the Supreme Court would reject the requests. He pointed out that this is the same court that refused to immediately take up the cases earlier this year. Still, the voting rights supporters who originally brought cases are concerned and will fight the Attorney General’s requests. Meanwhile, two federal challenges to the law are currently pending, with hearings scheduled in October.
LATE-BREAKING: Secretary Husted has officially made the call for statewide early voting hours, 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday to start, then 8 am to 7 pm Monday through Friday for the last two weeks.
UPDATE: Secretary Husted said Monday that he may impose statewide early voting hours following criticism of his actions at the county level. Following an ACLU request, Husted said that it is unclear whether state law gives him such authority, but that he will look at the matter and listen to what feedback I get. He also claimed to CNN that he has been a champion of uniformity. The concern is that uniformity would likely come in the form of across-the-board restrictions on voting hours, rather than the expansion that voting rights supporters want to see. Reverend Tony Minor of the African American Ministers Leadership Council (AAMLC) vowed vigilance, No matter how hard they try to stop us, we will fight back against these restrictions and we will show up at the polls and vote." Click for more from the New York Times and The Nation.
8/6/2012: Voter ID supporters have accused Secretary of State Mark Ritchie of unlawfully altering the ballot measure’s title. In a Senate hearing about Ritchie’s actions, they claimed that the legislature has the exclusive right to draft ballot measures. However, a bipartisan group of law professors pointed out that the state constitution mandates that the Secretary "provide an appropriate title" for ballot questions. The Minnesota Supreme Court reviewed the issue in late July. A ruling is expected later this month.
UPDATE: In her testimony, Pennsylvania Secretary of State Carol Aichele conceded,"I don’t know what the law says," and could not support her claim that 99 percent of voters have an acceptable ID, while plaintiffs demonstrated that they have not been able to get it. Closing arguments were heard this morning. A ruling should come in the next few weeks. Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia – where up to 43 percent of voters may lack valid ID – has harshly criticized the law, calling it "a bad solution looking for a problem." Click here for more from ACLU, Brennan Center, and League of Women Voters.
All eyes are on Pennsylvania now that a lawsuit challenging HB 934, the state’s ALEC-tied voter ID law, has gone to trial. Like other unnecessary voter ID laws, this one is expected to disenfranchise thousands if allowed to go into effect, and even state elections officials admit that it would affect more Pennsylvanians than previously estimated. They also concede that there "have been no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania."
UPDATE: The Elections Committee of the Minneapolis City Council has released a report on the ballot measure. While it does not take a position for or against, it does highlight a lack of clarity and the substantial costs and administrative burdens of implementation. Oral arguments have been heard in the relevant litigation. A decision is expected soon, as state officials have said they need to begin preparing the ballots by late August. Meanwhile, grassroots groups like TakeAction Minnesota are fighting back against this attempt to suppress the vote.
Voting rights advocates in Ohio are outraged as Secretary of State John Husted has decided to end the evening and weekend voting in Cuyahoga County that have benefitted voters there in four of the past five years. He broke a tie vote after county election board members deadlocked along party lines about whether to maintain extended voting hours. Polls will now be open on weekdays only, from 8:30 a.m. until just 4:30 p.m.
UPDATE: Judge David Flanagan made permanent his earlier injunction in the case brought by the Milwaukee NAACP and Voces de la Frontera, joining a permanent injunction issued by Judge Richard Niess in the League of Women Voters case. Now both courts would have to lift their blocking orders in order for Act 23 (aka AB 7) to be reinstated. With appeals pending, and no further rulings expected until after November, it is virtually guaranteed that the ID requirement will not apply in the general election.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota along with the League of Women Voters Minnesota, Common Cause Minnesota, Jewish Community Action, and five Minnesota voters have challenged an amendment to the Minnesota constitution (HF 2738, sponsored by ALEC State Chairwoman Mary Kiffmeyer) because it would confuse some voters into believing that prohibited forms of identification, such as student or company ID, would be accepted. The plaintiffs argue that the amendment is “misleading and false” because the ballot language references “valid photo identification” while the amendment uses the phrase “government-issued.”