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In a ruling last week hailed by voting rights advocates, US District Judge Gregg Costa temporarily enjoined Texas Election Code provisions restricting voter registration, including those implemented by HB 2194, which has ALEC ties in author Larry Taylor and sponsor Mike Jackson.
Citing the Federalist Papers, Judge Costa wrote:
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: New developments continue to shed light on the purge and its far-reaching impact. An article in the Atlantic details the possibility that it could lead to a 2000-style fiasco. A woman who is most certainly alivewas removed from the rolls twice because the state thinks she is dead. The Guardian has profiled several other voters who are battling to preserve their rights. Thankfully, there is some good news, as despite being granted access to the SAVE database, it now looks like county election supervisors won’t be removing more voters from the rolls before the August 14 primary. Officials are being encouraged to proceed cautiously since the state may not be able to settle its ongoing disagreement with the federal government over the purge. In other news, Congresswoman Corrine Brown has filed a lawsuit to try to stop early voting cutbacks.
UPDATE: With the so-called Secure and Fair Elections package facing an uncertain future, confusion is surely looming for Michigan’s August 7 federal primary election. The vetoed citizenship check box remains, but without legislative force behind it, as Secretary of State Ruth Johnson conceded, checking it remains optional. Left is the question of whether voters know their option or if elections officials will enforce the rule. Elsewhere military access to absentee ballots has been called into questionby DOJ.
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.
UPDATE: Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann rebuked the Brennan Center, claiming that its recent report “is purposely inaccurate and is misleading in its statements about Mississippi.” The Brennan Center stands by its research – “[county offices] are still untested as voting ID issuing offices” – reinforcing the fact that the new law warrants close scrutiny.
With voting rights under attack nationwide, we must remember our democracy is only strongest when all citizens have the opportunity to participate – which is exactly why the enforcement of the National Voter Registration Act has grown increasingly paramount ahead of the November election, especially its provision affording public assistance recipients the opportunity to register to vote at public assistance agencies.
A coalition of voting rights advocates is working to hold states accountable. Litigation citing NVRA violations has been brought against nine states – most recently in Nevada against Secretary of State Ross Miller and Department of Health & Human Services Director Michael Willden. Litigation could soon follow in Alabama where Demos has joined the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Project Vote in filing notice against Secretary of State Beth Chapman.
UPDATE: Former congressman, voting rights coalition, Marine speak out on voting problems in Tennessee
7/27/2012: Tennessee election officials announced on June 19 that they would not purge any more inactive voters until after the November election. The decision was made as part of the lawsuit Representative Davis filed against the state. Both sides have requested that Judge Kevin Sharp of the US District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee appoint a third-party investigator to look into the alleged incomplete or missing records of 11,000 voters.
7/27/12: Good news – H Sub SB 17 died in committee on June 1. With the legislature having adjourned, the bill will not return in 2012.