State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Tag: disenfranchisement (page 1 of 2)

Voting Early in Arizona? Make Sure You’re Still on the List First.

By: Mike Arnone

In the wake of the 2020 Election, states across the country have enacted a variety of more restrictive voting laws. Over 400 bills that make voting more difficult have been introduced in 49 states. 30 of these have become law in 18 states. Arizona is no exception to this trend.

In May 2021, Governor Ducey signed SB 1485 into law, making significant changes to the state’s early voting procedures. Effective after the 2024 election, the new law will recast Arizona’s former Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL) as the Active Early Voting List. As the former’s name suggests, voters could indefinitely remain on Arizona’s early voting list and automatically receive a ballot in the mail for any election in which they were eligible to vote. Now, if a voter doesn’t use their early ballot once in two election cycles (once in four years), county election officials are required to purge them from the early voting list if they do not respond  within 90 days to a notice warning them of their impending removal. A voter can still be removed from this list if they have voted in person instead of using their early mail ballot in two election cycles. Voters would still remain registered to vote whether or not they were removed from the early voting list.

Continue reading

In the Midst of Election Chaos, Mississippi Stays Stagnant

By: Theo Weber

2021 has been a year of rapid, substantial change to state election laws throughout the country. Whether acting to restrict voting rights because of unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud, or acting to expand said rights in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, states have been legislating at a feverish clip. The Brennan Center for Justice notes that between January 1, 2021, and July 14, 2021, 18 states have enacted 30 laws restricting voting access, while 25 states have enacted 54 laws that expand it.

However, one state has been notably absent from passing any legislation in 2021. That state is Mississippi.

The lack of change to voting requirements in Mississippi should not come as much of a surprise though; Mississippi already has some of the most restrictive voting requirements in the country. Mississippi was listed as one of the 6 most difficult states to vote early in by the Center for Election Innovation & Research, and a 2018 study published in the Election Law Journal listed Mississippi as the most difficult state to vote in.

Continue reading

North Carolina Voter ID Law Struck Down

By: Emma Postel

Once again, a North Carolina voting law has been found unconstitutional. On September 17, 2021, a Wake County North Carolina Superior Court permanently enjoined SB 824, a law passed in 2018 requiring photo identification for in-person voting. The court struck down SB 824 as a violation of the North Carolina Constitution’s Equal Protections clause, as they found it was adopted with an “unconstitutional intent to target African American voters.” Among its findings of fact, the court noted that North Carolina has a long history of implementing voting laws that discriminated against the African American residents of the state. The General Assembly has indicated they will appeal the Wake County Court decision.

Continue reading

A Perfect Storm: Texas’s Polling Place Closures and COVID-19

By Caitlin Turner-Lafving

On September 7, Judge Jason Pulliam dismissed Mi Familia Vota v. Abbott after determining that the case presented a nonjusticiable political question. The plaintiffs’ complaint argued that Texas’s election laws impose an undue burden on the right to vote in violation of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as applied to elections held during the COVID-19 pandemic: “Because Defendants have closed hundreds of polling places over the last eight years, voters will have to travel further to vote in person and vote in locations that service a higher number of voters, burdening the exercise of the franchise and the risk of person-to-person transmission of the virus.” Part of the relief sought was that the court order Governor Greg Abbott and Secretary of State Ruth Hughs to open additional polling places for the November election. 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

Release from a Political Life Sentence: How Florida Voters Approved the Largest Enfranchisement in 47 Years – Part II

By: Zach McDonnell

This post is the second post of a two-part series. Part One focused on the provisions of the Florida Constitution that disenfranchises ex-felons, how the administration of Governor Rick Scott strictly interpreted those provisions, and the now-moot lawsuit to upend Governor Scott’s felon-disenfranchisement rules.

In late 2014, the PAC Floridians for a Fair Democracy started the long process of putting a rights-restoration amendment in front of Florida voters, with an initial goal of making it to the ballot in 2016; however, the signature threshold required under Florida law (eight percent of votes cast in the previous presidential election—which in 2014 amounted to 766,200 signatures) was far too formidable to be met in such a short amount of time. By October 2016, restoration advocates, led by the non-profit Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC), had garnered only enough signatures to trigger review by the Florida Supreme Court for the ballot initiative’s language—a mere 76,632 (the Florida Supreme Court later approved the language on April 20, 2017).

Continue reading

Recent New Jersey State Election Law Limits Delivery of Mail-In Ballots by Authorized Individuals

By Briana Cornelius

On August 10, 2015, the New Jersey legislature passed a new state election law, Public Law 2015, Chapter 84, which limits the number of “Vote by Mail” ballots that a designated delivery person can pick up and deliver on behalf of other registered voters. Under the New Jersey “Vote by Mail Law,” an “authorized messenger” is an individual who is permitted to obtain mail-in ballots for other qualified voters. Previously, authorized messengers were allowed to obtain up to ten ballots for delivery to other voters, and “bearers” were permitted to return an unlimited number of completed ballots to county election boards on behalf of other voters.  The new law, which took effect immediately, reduces the number of ballots that both an authorized messenger and bearer can deliver to just three. This change in the law (you can see the previous version of the law here) represents the first time there has been any limit on the number of ballots that a bearer can deliver to county election officials.

Continue reading

Take a Note from Nebraska

By: Eleyse D’Andrea

Criminals have been stripped of their rights – including the right to vote – throughout history.  The revocation of voting rights, known as disenfranchisement, can be traced as far back as ancient Greek and Roman civilization. European colonists carried the concept of disenfranchisement to America, and it has prevailed in modern times despite various challenges.  The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the disenfranchisement of convicted felons does not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution in 1974, and several years later found that a disenfranchisement law is unconstitutional only with evidence of purposeful racial discrimination. This decision gave states like Nebraska the right to permanently disenfranchise convicted criminals. Although Nebraska originally had one of the harshest disenfranchisement laws – a lifetime ban for ex-felons – a bill passed in 2005 provides automatic restoration of voting rights to felons two years after completion of felony sentence.

Continue reading

Alaska Natives Afforded Voting Rights

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was one of the single greatest accomplishments of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.  The act bans racial discrimination in voting practices by all levels of government, and was enacted with the specific purpose of enfranchising millions of African-Americans in the South and Latinos in the Southwest, as well as those who had been shut out of the voting process because of their lack of English fluency.  Due to its overwhelming success,  the Voting Rights Act is often considered the “most effective civil rights law ever enacted.” Although a major component of the Voting Rights Act was held to be unconstitutional in the case Shelby County v. Holder in 2013, some states are still experiencing the benefits the Voting Rights Act was meant to provide.

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

Older posts

© 2021 State of Elections

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑