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Tag: Voter Identification (page 1 of 3)

Are Rhode Island’s Mail-In Ballots a “Gigantic, Illegal Loophole?”

By: Eric Lynch

Ken Block, a two-time former gubernatorial candidate, made headlines in early October 2017 over a provocative tweet regarding voter identification (“voter-ID”) and mail-in ballots. Mr. Block claimed that mail-in ballots violated Rhode Island’s voter-ID law and are effectively a “gigantic, illegal loophole” to performing widespread voter fraud. Block implored the Rhode Island legislature to attend to this matter immediately. In response, Mr. Stephen Erickson, a Rhode Island State Board of Elections member, considered such a measure as “another effort to limit people’s ability to vote.” Mr. Erickson asserted that the Board “regularly rejects mail[-in] ballots where there is a substantial difference between the two signatures or if the witnesses does not provide enough information so that they can be identified and questioned.”

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Same Day Voter Registration in Hawaii

By: Avery Dobbs

The Hawaii legislature took an important step towards reducing barriers to voting rights in 2014 by voting to allow same day voter registration at the polls. This is a significant change from the state’s previous rule, which required voters to register at least thirty days before an election to be allowed to vote. The state sought this measure in hopes of addressing its chronically low voter participation rates and to make voting rights more accessible for all Hawaiian citizens. Hawaii’s Chief Elections Officer, Scott Nago, spoke in support of the bill at the time by saying, “any qualified person who wants to vote should be able to register and vote”. The state will soon start to see the benefits of this law as it takes full effect in 2018.

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Texas Takes Steps to End Mail-In Voter Fraud

Amid the passage of controversial voter ID laws, this session Texas lawmakers also tackled a different form of voter fraud in a significantly less controversial manner. The Texas Legislature took steps to end voter fraud stemming from mail-in ballots. Senate Bill 5 passed the legislature and was signed into law on June 15. The law becomes effective on January 1, 2018. This law expands the definition of mail-in voter fraud and increases the penalties for the crime. Several voter fraud cases were prosecuted in recent years, and there have been concerns from individuals who received mail-in ballots they never requested.

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Show-Me Your Voter ID

By: Victoria Conrad

The phrase “I am from Missouri. You have got to show me” struck a new chord to voters this June.

June brought a new era for elections in Missouri: voters are now required to show identification to fill out a ballot. After decades of battling over a voter identification law, Republicans in the state legislature finally got their way. Continue reading

Why Go to Wisconsin?

By: George Nwanze

While Gil v. Whitford, the Wisconsin gerrymandering case presently before the Supreme Court, may be absorbing all the legal intrigue, one previously litigated issue involving Wisconsin’s elections has gone unnoticed. Particularly, the state’s voter identification laws and the suppressive effects it has had on voter turnout.

In the aftermath of the 2016 election, perhaps the most common retort of the electoral upset was, “Wisconsin should have gone to Hillary Clinton.” Wisconsin was typically viewed as a reliable Democratic state in presidential elections, as the last time Wisconsin went for a Republican for president was in 1984. However, this assertion was more of a visceral reaction to what many view as a poor political decision, rather than something that the data actual bears out. Fortunately, a recently released study by the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UWM), sheds some light on whether it actually mattered if “she went to Wisconsin.”

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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.

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Wisconsin: One Wisconsin Institute v. Nichol

By: Lisa Zhang

One Wisconsin institute, Citizen Action of Wisconsin Education Fund, and six Wisconsin residents filed a complaint against a series of provisions that Wisconsin has made since 2011 to its voting and election laws.

Interestingly, Wisconsin’s election laws just withstood a challenge that had lasted for four years. On March 23, 2015, the Supreme Court denied the petition for certiorari of Frank v. Walker. In Frank, plaintiffs challenged 2011 Wisconsin Act 23, which specifies limited acceptable forms of photo IDs, under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and the district court found it in violation of both the 14th Amendment and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). The 7th Circuit reversed the judgement on the ground that Wisconsin’s Voter ID law does not differ in ways that matter under the analysis in Crawford v. Marion.

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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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Oregon’s New Hyper Motor Voter Law

By: Matthew Hubbard

Voter identification laws of various forms, which are currently enforced in 32 states, continue to garner significant national media attention and spark contentious debate. Proponents argue that the laws prevent voter fraud and preserve the legitimacy of the electoral process while opponents claim that in-person voter fraud is a phantom problem and that these claims are merely pretext for partisan vote suppression. As the public attention and debate surrounding these voting restrictions increases, however, one state has managed to quietly pass legislation that moves as far as possible in the opposite direction.

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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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