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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.
UPDATE: While H 4139 has not moved since it got to the Senate, there is some good news on another front: a short-term agreement has been reached in a lawsuit alleging that Massachusetts violated the National Voter Registration Act. 478,000 public assistance recipients will now receive voter registration forms. Should the state and plaintiffs fail to reach a long-term solution, litigation will resume on December 31, 2012.
Update: On August 15, the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) will release two new resources to help transgender Americans overcome barriers to voting. Voting While Trans: Preparing for the New Voter Suppression Laws will focus on ID requirements. Voting While Trans Check List will educate poll workers and election officials on the voting rights of transgender people. You can sign up here to be among the first to get these resources. NCTE encourages everyone to distribute them among LGBT friends and allies.