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Tag: NVRA

West Virginia’s Relentless March to Expand Voter Registration

By: Jordan Smith 

West Virginia is undergoing what appears to be a voter registration revolution as the state legislature continues to make strides to simplify access to the ballot box.  The following post aims to discuss these advancements in an effort to summarize the current state of voter registration in the Mountain State. 

In 2013, former-Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, signed into law SB 477, which amended the state constitution to allow for online voter registration (OVR).  The state was not quick to implement the OVR system, as the Secretary of State’s Office did not unveil an official program until the latter half of 2015.  In essence, the now-implemented OVR application requires a registrant to supply the same information required on the paper registration cards: full name, birthdate, location, citizenship status, last four digits of the registrant’s social security number, and the registrant’s driver’s license/state-issued ID number.  If a registrant does not have a state-issued ID or driver’s license, they must instead complete and submit a standard paper form.  As a result,  while OVR streamlines the process for certain registrants, it does so only for those who would likely have already taken advantage of the “motor voter” provisions of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 or the state’s newer electronic voter registration system at the Department of Motor Vehicles.     
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Legal Voter Suppression in New York?: Part I

By: Michael A. Villacrés 

In April 2016, Sen. Bernie Sanders was closely chasing Hillary Clinton in the delegate race to capture the Democratic presidential nomination. The Sanders campaign staged outdoor rallies and made campaign stops across New York City in an ambitious bid to upset Clinton on her home turf.  Sanders was hoping that increased voter turnout from young people across the city, especially in Brooklyn, his former childhood home, would provide enough votes to counter Clinton’s strength among minority voters.  As it turned out, Clinton won handily 57% to 42%. 

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North Carolina’s 2013 Voting Laws Were Struck Down By the 4th Circuit, But The State May Not Be Out of the Legal Fights Yet

By: Blake Willis

When the Fourth Circuit struck down North Carolina HB 589, the notorious law which toughened voter-ID requirements, limited early voting, and limited same-day registration, many who champion voter rights believed that North Carolina’s long-standing history as a state with suppressive voter laws may begin to change. However, that optimism may be short lived as North Carolina is now facing challenges on two other election law provisions.

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The ACRU Targets a Third Texas District for Allegedly Registering More Voters Than Eligible

By Justin D. Davenport

On March 4, 2016, the American Civil Rights Union (ACRU) filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, McAllen Division, alleging that Starr County had violated § 8 of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). The ACRU argues that Starr County “failed to make reasonable efforts to conduct voter list maintenance programs” and, therefore, the county has failed to meet its obligations under § 8. Starr County is the third Texas county whose voter rolls the ACRU has challenged for allegedly listing more registered voters in the district than citizens eligible to vote.

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Potential Lawsuit Surrounding Illinois Districts Wherein More Registered Voters Exist Than Living Residents

By: Patrick Sebastian

There is a self-deprecating, old joke that is told from many an Illinois barstool: “Vote early and vote often.” The joke highlights the historic corruption in the Chicago and overall Illinois electoral process throughout the past centuries, particularly during the era of organized crime. The joke encourages citizens to get up early on Election Day and head to the polls to cast multiple ballots, probably using fraudulent registration. As is occasionally the case, this joke has once again proven to be painfully true in Illinois (and twenty other states), according to the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), which alleges that seventeen Illinois counties have more registered voters than living citizens.

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Bloated Voter Registration Rolls in Colorado Counties Could Support Implementation of Stricter Voting Requirements

By: Eric Speer

In late August 2015, the Public Interest Legal Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving election integrity, found that 10 counties in Colorado have over-inflated voter rolls. Pitkin, Mineral, Hinsdale, San Juan, Ouray, Summit, Dolores, San Miguel, Cheyenne and Boulder Counties were found to have more voters registered than people eligible to vote. This over inflation violates the National Voter Registration Act, which requires “states to keep voter registration lists accurate and current, such as identifying persons who have become ineligible due to having died or moved outside the jurisdiction.”

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In Kansas, 90 Days to Prove Citizenship

Is 90 days enough time to comply with proof-of-citizenship voter registration requirements? In Kansas, at least 31,000 presumably qualified electors who have attempted to complete applications to register to vote will see their applications deleted under new administrative regulations in the state. Most of these applicants failed to submit proof of their U.S. citizenship, to a county election official satisfactory which is required by the 2011 Kansas Safe and Fair Elections Act (“S.A.F.E. Act”). Such suspended voters are generally unable to cast ballots in local, state, or federal elections; however, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Arizona v. Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc., under the National Voter Registration Act (“NVRA”), any Kansan who applies to register to vote using the federal voter registration form is allowed to vote in federal elections, even if he or she does not include proof-of-citizenship. In order to be removed from the list of suspended voters and be added to the state’s voter rolls, applicants must provide proof-of-citizenship to their local county election official. Under the previous system, county election officials worked feverishly to contact all applicants on the suspended list repeatedly in order to help them complete the proof-of-citizenship requirement. Some argue these unending attempts to encourage applicants to comply with registration requirements were too onerous.

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Two Letters, The National Voter Registration Act, and Voter-ID in Nebraska

By: Eric Sutton

On September 22, the Omaha World Herald published a story about two letters sent to seven Nebraska counties threatening lawsuits for voter registration irregularities. In particular, the letters alleged that the Nebraska counties of Wheeler, Loup, Kimball, Thurston, Hooker, Keya Paha, and Thomas have more registered voters than individuals of voting age. While the groups behind the letters argue that the threat of suit is designed to prevent voter fraud through effective maintenance of voter registration records, an examination of the Nebraska Legislature’s most recent session, and the past of the two organizations responsible for the letters, indicates that these letters may provide the foundation for a renewed push for voter-ID in Nebraska.

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David Baugh Lecture: “Lynching, Literacy Tests, & ID Cards, The Suppression of Minority Voters”

By: Caiti Anderson

DBAs an editor of this blog, I keep a constant eye out for election law events to report. Fortunately (for both the blog and myself), I am exposed to brilliant thinkers and passionate advocates. On October 27th, I attended David Baugh’s excellent lecture, “Lynching, Literacy Tests & ID Cards: The Suppression of Minority Voters,” hosted by the Wolf Law Library. Mr. Baugh is a Richmond-based criminal trial lawyer dedicated to protecting and defending the Constitutional rights of all. Some of his career highlights include representing members of al-Qaeda and the Ku Klux Klan in high profile civil rights cases. The American Bar Association, Virginia State Bar, and Old Dominion Bar Association have all recognized Mr. Baugh for his fearless advocacy.  He lives by the maxim he related during the lecture; “Protect the rights of people whom you don’t agree with, because when you do, you defend the rights of America.”

 

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Nevada’s Luck Runs Out: Voting Rights Case Remanded to District Court

By: Kelsey Carpenter

An interesting case has just been remanded back to the United States District Court of Nevada by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals called National Council of La Raza v. Cegavske (2015) regarding the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA). Specifically the plaintiffs challenge Nevada’s following of Section 7 of the NVRA. Section 7 states that voter registration opportunities must be provided by all offices that handle public assistance and services to disabled populations. This provision of the NVRA exists to protect previously disenfranchised low-income voters from being unable to register to vote.

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