State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Tag: ACLU

Kansas 0-3 in Voter ID Lawsuits

By: Norma Volkmer

Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, narrowly avoided contempt charges in September 2016 which would have been the cherry on top for those in opposition to Kansas’s proof-of-citizenship requirement. The requirement, which requires anyone registering to vote in Kansas provide proof of citizenship via one of thirteen documents, was enacted under the Secure and Fair Elections Act of 2011, and was enforced beginning in 2013.

Continue reading

North Carolina’s Stringent Voter I.D. Law Gets a Make-Over

By Laura Wright

Amidst ongoing litigation, North Carolina recently passed a new law that changes its controversial voter I.D. laws. The 2013 voter laws were swept in with other changes to elections and, were considered to be the most stringent in the nation at the time. By North Carolina Board of Election’s estimation, over 300,000 voters, 34% of them African American, lacked the necessary photo I.D. The restrictive voter I.D. law sparked public outrage, leading thousands to protest outside the state capitol building in Raleigh in what have become to be known as ‘Moral Mondays.’ On August 2013, the very same day that North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed the bill into law, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation, and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice filed a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality. That case is still ongoing.

Continue reading

Deciphering Felony Disenfranchisement in Post-Realignment California

In August of 2015, California restored the voting rights to approximately 60,000 former felony offenders who had been improperly disenfranchised as a result of a glitch in the political process. In the whirlwind of California’s recent prison reform acts, these citizens had been inappropriately classified as ineligible to vote in violation of California’s Constitution and election laws. Although the case had already been decided in the voters’ favor by a trial court, it was not until California’s current Secretary of State, Alex Padilla, decided this summer to drop the appeal that these former felony offenders could feel safe registering to vote. But how did such a large number of potential voters end improperly disenfranchised in the first place?

Continue reading

Vilified and Disenfranchised: Indiana’s New Law Blocks Sex Offenders from Common Polling Place

By: Jacob Kipp

The public’s sentiment toward sex offenders has long been overwhelmingly negative, fueling an ever-increasing number of legal restrictions. Perhaps the most reviled of all offenders are child molesters, which  have been the target of national registration programs (though such registries are often over-inclusive). Those registries are widely used to restrict sex offenders from being anywhere near schools, parks, or youth centers. But what happens when sex offenders want to exercise their right to vote and are not allowed into their polling place because it happens to be a school?

Continue reading

Nebraska’s Death Penalty Saga: Referendum on the Plains

By: Eric Sutton

Background and the Referendum Process

            On Wednesday, May 27th, 2015, the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature eliminated capital punishment through LB 268. The bill was approved over a veto by Governor Pete Ricketts, by a no-votes-to-spare 30-19 margin, and marked the end of State Senator Ernie Chambers’ 39-year effort to end the death penalty in Nebraska. The repeal made Nebraska the first conservative state to eliminate capital punishment in more than 40 years. However, immediately after the repeal, State Senator Beau McCoy, a conservative, expressed his frustration over the vote and announced his intent to pursue a ballot initiative to reinstate the death penalty. Less than one week after the repeal and Sen. McCoy’s statements, a group named Nebraskan’s for the Death Penalty (“NFDP”) filed the appropriate paperwork with the Secretary of State to reinstate the death penalty by referendum.

Continue reading

New Hampshire’s Appeal for “Ballot Selfie” Ban Filed with the First Circuit

By: C. Rose Moore

The State of New Hampshire filed an appeal on September 9th with U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit seeking to overturn the New Hampshire District Court’s decision in Rideout v. Gardner, Opinion No. 2015-DNH-154-P.  There, the court struck down RSA § 659:35, I, which prohibited voters from “taking a digital image or photograph of his or her marked ballot and distributing or sharing the image via social media or by any other means.”  The plaintiffs in that case, namely a state representative, Leon Rideout, a disgruntled dog-lover, Andrew Langlois, and a patent-attorney, Brandon Ross, who posted his photo after the investigations started with the tagline “Come at me, bro,” were being prosecuted under the law.

Continue reading

SC (voter id): “We do not have a constitutional right to buy Sudafed or be a frequent flier; we do have a constitutional right to vote.”

by Sheila Dugan

On May 11, 2011, the South Carolina General Assembly passed Act R54.  The new law would require individuals to present photo identification to vote. Governor Nikki Haley signed the bill a week later. The Department of Justice has yet to pre-clear the new law, stating that it needs proof from South Carolina that Act R54 would not disenfranchise voters. Valid forms of identification include a South Carolina driver’s license, a passport, military identification, a voter registration card with a photograph, or another form of photographic identification from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Chris Whitmire, Director of Public Relations and Training at the South Carolina State Election Commission (SCSEC), spoke to me about the preparations taking place if the law is pre-cleared. These preparations include training county election officials, notifying registered voters without proper identification through direct mail, and a social media campaign about the new law. The General Assembly allocated $535,000 to the SCSEC for the voter education campaign and the creation of new voter registration cards that contain a photograph of the voter.

Registered voters would be able to obtain the new voter registration cards with the same documents they now use to register to vote (these include a photo ID or documents like a utility bill or pay stub with their address printed on it.) This makes the new identification easier to obtain than other government-issued forms of identification.  Another unique feature of the new card is that it will not expire. Continue reading

Weekly Wrap Up

–  On June 8th, California voters will weigh in on two election reform measures, Propositions 14 and 15. Proposition 14 would create a single ballot for primary elections. The two candidates who received the most votes would face off in the general election, regardless of their party affiliation. Theoretically, this could result in a general election contest between two members of the same party. Prop 14 also allows candidates to choose to keep their party affiliation off the primary ballot.

Proposition 15, also known as the California Fair Elections Act, would repeal California’s ban on public funding for elections.  Candidates for Secretary of State would be eligible to up to 1,000,000 dollars in public funding for primary elections, and 1,300,000 in public funding for the general election.  Candidates who accepted the funds would be prohibited from raising or spending any money beyond what they receive from the public fund.

–  On May 29th, Florida governor Charlie Crist signed a far-reaching elections bill.  The bill will have a number of effects, including a requirement that any group engaging in political advertising disclose their source of funding. The bill will also make it easier for overseas and military voters to cast their ballots. Interestingly, HB 131 has been criticized by the ACLU for failing to provide adequate voting machines for disabled voters.

– The California State Senate has approved a bill to allow Election Day voter registration.

–  In Ohio, a redistricting reform bill has stalled in the legislature.


© 2018 State of Elections

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑