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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: 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: 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: 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.
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.
Although HB 934, Pennsylvania’s ALEC-tied voter ID law, has been tested since its passage earlier this year, it remains alive and well (for now, that is) after Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson refused to grant a temporary injunction. He was stunningly unconvinced that “disenfranchisement was immediate or inevitable” – even with state officials admitting that it would affect more Pennsylvanians than previously estimated. And, he wasn’t at all bothered by the fact that the purported rationale for the law was a pretext for taking away the right to vote: Pennsylvania conceded that there “have been no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania,” and House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, a one-time ALEC member, even championed its overtly political implications.
Voting rights supporters are by no means backing down.
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.
As the Right ramps up its efforts to put up barriers to voting, from voter ID requirements to restrictions on third-party voter registration, it is becoming more urgent to empower students and defend their voting rights. That’s why People For the American Way Foundation’s Young People For (YP4) program wants to empower young progressives with tools to get out the vote among people their age in their communities. With the help of YP4, they will coordinate activities on their campuses, including rallies, phone banks, shuttles to the polls, and student housing canvassing. They will lead the charge to combat political attacks on student voting.
We are among many great organizations working to mobilize and protect the student vote.