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Dakota Drama: Could Controversial North Dakota Voter ID Law Migrate South?

By: Daniel Long

This past summer, the Eighth Circuit held that a controversial North Dakota law requiring very specific forms of voter identification could go into effect, vacating a district court’s injunction. The law in question, N.D. Cent. Code § 16.1-01-04.1, requires prospective voters to present identification that includes a North Dakota residential street address. If the prospective voter’s identification does not have a current residential street address, the voter may present other supplemental forms as well, such as a utility bill, provided that these forms contain a current residential address. North Dakota’s voter ID law received fierce backlash from Native Americans, whose IDs typically contain P.O. boxes rather than residential street addresses. The Eighth Circuit’s ruling begs the question, could North Dakota’s voter ID law migrate south to South Dakota? Continue reading

Implementation of Nevada’s “Motor Voter” Initiative Races Toward the Finish Line

By: Laura Misch

During the November 2018 mid-term elections, Nevada voters had the opportunity to vote “yes” or “no” on Question 5—a ballot measure that would establish an automatic voter registration system in the state. The voters’ answer was a resounding yes, with approximately sixty percent voting in favor of the initiative. This enactment of an automatic voter registration system follows a larger trend that is quickly sweeping the nation. Prior to the 2018 elections, a total of eleven states, plus the District of Columbia, passed automatic voter registration. In 2018, Nevada became one of the six newest states to enact such a system. However, passing the ballot measure has proven to be only half the battle. Continue reading

Reconsidering the Recall in the Rockies

By: Helen L. Brewer

Colorado is one of 19 states in which voters can recall elected officials from office at any time. Generally, recall elections occur when a certain percentage of a state’s population (determined by state law) signs a petition demanding a recall election be held. In some states, two elections are held: one in which voters must vote “Yes” or “No” on whether to recall the official against whom the petitions were directed, and a second election (if a majority of voters votes “Yes” in the first election) in which the recalled official’s successor is elected. In other states, including Colorado, these questions are placed on the same ballot – the recall process culminates in a single election. Continue reading

Jim Crow on Life Support? Florida’s Voting Rights Restoration Amendment and The State’s Effort to Mitigate its Impact

By: James Lomonosoff

On November 6, 2018, an overwhelming majority of Florida voters voted to pass Florida Amendment 4, also known as the Voting Rights Restoration for Felons Initiative. Prior to the Amendment’s passing, some 1.5 million Floridians were barred from participating in elections on account of past felony convictions. The objective behind the Amendment, as articulated by its primary sponsor, the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, was simple enough: “to end[] the disenfranchisement and discrimination against people with convictions.” The language of the amendment, at least as viewed by its advocates, seemed equally clear: “any disqualification from voting arising from a felony conviction shall terminate and voting rights shall be restored upon completion of all terms of sentence including parole or probation.” Notably, the amendment did not restore voting rights to those convicted of homicide or felony sexual offenses. Continue reading

Can State Laws Fill the Gap Left by Shelby County v. Holder?

By: Trevor Bernardo

Following the Supreme Court’s landmark decision to invalidate the coverage formula of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder, many wondered what impact the decision would have on minority voting access. The Brennan Center has found that formerly covered jurisdictions, like Texas and North Carolina, have passed restrictive voting laws (think voter ID) and purged voters from voter rolls at higher rates than non-covered jurisdictions. Continue reading

Wyoming’s Irony: The LLC Loophole

Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs) are now commonplace in the American economy. In fact, they are being formed three or four to one in comparison to corporations. While these pass-through tax entities are often good for local businesses, the regulation of LLCs differs by state and this can create interesting challenges within state lines. This is currently true in Wyoming, where the loose regulation of LLCs is meant to favor incoming business, but also creates an “LLC Loophole” in the regulation of campaign finance. This dichotomy in regulation becomes ironic when you recall that Wyoming created the first LLC in 1977. Continue reading

Voting Rights Groups can Breathe a Sigh of Relief After Federal Court Blocks Strict Voter Registration Law in Tennessee

By Joshua Wagner

By almost any metric, Tennessee’s record when it comes to participation in elections is among the most dismal in the country. According to MIT’s Election Performance Indicators, Tennessee was ranked 48th in voter turnout and 44th in voter registration in 2016, a systematic problem which pervades local, state, and federal elections. This is in no small part thanks to the state’s relatively restrictive voting laws. It seemed like Tennessee’s registration numbers would take another hit earlier this year when the state legislature passed HB1079, which would have seriously hindered the work of groups encouraging voter registration. However, voting rights interests and organizers of registration drives dodged a bullet when a federal court granted a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the law. Continue reading

Judicial Check on Crosscheck?

Few Kansas politicians—or any politicians, for that matter—make headlines as often as former Kansas Secretary of State and 2018 gubernatorial candidate, Kris Kobach. His 2020 campaign for Senator Pat Roberts’ seat continues to generate news coverage across the state, and a development in a case involving his tenure as Secretary of State recently rose to the forefront of election-related news from Kansas. Continue reading

Opinion: Preventing Election Fraud, At What Cost?

Until recently, North Dakota was viewed as the easiest state for citizens to exercise their voting rights. This was due to the fact that North Dakota, unlike every other state, does not require voter registration. Such a sharp deviation in policy from every other state in the nation is justified by the uniqueness of North Dakota. The state is comprised of mostly rural communities and native reservations, most of which are close-knit communities where people know one another. While voter registration may be essential in more populous states, it makes little sense for North Dakota where, in many precincts, election officials are likely to personally know each individual who casts a ballot. Continue reading

Rage Against the (Voting) Machines: Pennsylvania’s Ongoing Battle for Secure Ballots

By: Kira Simon

“Green Party’s Jill Stein threatens legal challenge to Philly’s new, $29M voting machines.” At first glance, this may sound like a headline from the 2016 election. In fact, it’s a headline from October 2, 2019. Readers of this blog likely remember that Stein settled a lawsuit with Pennsylvania stemming from a state recount of the 2016 election. Why this is still in the news? Let’s run through Pennsylvania’s recent history of voting machine troubles. Continue reading

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