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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 federal government has granted Governor Rick Scott and Secretary of State Ken Detzner access to the Department of Homeland Security’s Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) database, further fanning the flame under their voter suppression fire. The move followed last month's ruling that the purge did not violate the National Voter Registration Act.
UPDATE: Attorneys for both sides gave closing arguments last Friday after a weeklong trial. Experts expect the ruling, which could come before November, will hinge on whether the defendants have successfully shown that the law has a disparate impact on minorities. Representative Fischer highlighted the hurdles that many Texans would have to clear in order to acquire valid ID, pointing out that some "would have a 200-mile round-trip drive." Attorney General Eric Holder described the ID requirement as a "poll tax." As the New York Times editorialized, "People died to achieve [the Voting Rights Act], but 47 years later, the discrimination has not disappeared."
Back in April, instead of signing the voter ID bill, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell sent it back to the legislature for several amendments, with mixed results. He ultimately decided to sign it into law, but issued an executive order mandating that the State Board of Elections conduct voter education and provide all registered voters with free ID.
The politics, however, remain a concern. ALEC Exposed reports that the lead sponsor of the original Senate version, Stephen Martin (R-11), is ALEC’s Virginia Chair and the lead sponsor of its House companion, Mark Cole (R-88), is also affiliated with ALEC. So is Governor McDonnell, who voting rights advocates say continues to ignore another source of disenfranchisement in his state.
On June 26, 2012 the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act (S. 1994). Sponsored by Senators Charles Schumer and Ben Cardin, the bill would amend federal criminal law to prohibit deceiving voters about when to vote and the qualifications for voting. It would also prescribe federal criminal penalties for doing so.
Earlier this year, Pennsylvania lawmakers passed HB 934, a voter ID law whose original sponsor, Daryl Metcalfe, is an ALEC member. Voting rights advocates filed a lawsuit in May, and in June, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald announced that he, too, plans to challenge the law in court. Fitzgerald and local officials cite the legislation as being too expensive and too difficult to implement by November, among other major flaws. We’ve since written about the practical impacts and political implications– now there’s new information on both fronts.