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Tag: Voting Rights Act (page 1 of 5)

How Much is on the Chopping Block? – Arizona Sends a VRA Section 2 Case to the Supreme Court

By: Megan Kelly

What do ballot harvesting and out-of-precinct votes have in common? Arizona is sending cases about both to the Supreme Court next term. In early October, the Supreme Court granted certiorari on two cases about voting regulations in Arizona. The first is Arizona’s law banning ballot harvesting. The law bans third parties from turning in voter ballots, except in the case of family, members of the household, or caregivers. The second is Arizona’s law requiring that ballots cast at the wrong precinct not be counted.

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Question 4: Constitutionally Codifying Nevada’s Voters’ Bill of Rights

By Elizabeth DePatie

This year, Nevadans will have to answer “yes” or “no” to Question 4—a ballot initiative that seeks to enshrine specific voter protections in Nevada’s state constitution. Collectively, these rights are referred to as the Voters’ Bill of Rights, and they were added to Nevada state law in 2002. The amendment would add these rights to Nevada’s state constitution, thus preventing future legislatures from easily overturning or modifying Nevadans right to vote in the future.

Arguments against the amendment largely rest on the idea that the amendment is unnecessary and could be burdensome as voting technology improves. There are concerns that by codifying these rights in the state constitution, it will be harder to adapt laws going further as voting conditions continue to change. The right to vote in Nevada is protected by statute and by amendments to the United States Constitution; opponents argue this is “a solution in search of a problem.”

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Racial Vote-Dilution Lawsuit Transforms Small Town City Council

By Jeffrey Tyler

A lawsuit brought by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund has finally allowed the Black residents of a small Alabama city to elect their preferred candidates for City Council. Since its incorporation in 1937, Pleasant Grove has not elected a single non-white City Council member – until now. The NAACP’s legal challenge, brought under the Voting Rights Act’s anti-racial-vote-dilution provisions, argued that Pleasant Grove’s “at-large, numbered-place” electoral system violated Section 2 of the Act because Black residents were consistently prevented from electing their preferred candidates.

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Meeting California’s Language Access Needs: Decision in Appeals Case Against California Secretary of State

By: Elizabeth Harte

A California appeals court ruled on November 5, 2019, that California Secretary of State, Alex Padilla, improperly used the federal Voting Rights Act population requirement, instead of state law, to determine which language minorities required language services. His 2017 directive had restricted language assistance for “tens of thousands of California voters.” This ruling will bring language service access to those who speak languages like “Japanese, Hindi, Thai, Burmese, Urdu, Hmong and Punjabi” and will result in the recognition of eleven languages that California has not previously acknowledged. The ruling affects approximately 1,300 California precincts and grants “56,000 limited-English speaking California residents” assistance, like translated voting materials, that helps them participate in the democratic process.

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Open Season on Ballot Harvesting in Arizona? 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Considers a Reversal

By: Kristin Palmason

A controversial piece of election legislation (HB 2023) enacted in Arizona in 2016 made ballot collecting a class 6 felony. Ballot collection, known as “ballot harvesting” is the practice of collecting completed ballots from voters and hand delivering them to be counted. Proponents of the practice say it is a valuable service that benefits voters in need of assistance to ensure that their vote is counted, while critics decry the practice as ripe for fraud. This issue is particularly salient in Arizona, where approximately 80% of voters receive their ballot in the mail (which can then be returned via mail or delivered to the county by hand).

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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

Republicans Remain the Majority Party in Georgia; But all is Not Gloom and Doom for Georgia Democrats

After a highly touted 2018 campaign season which led to historic numbers of early votes in the State of Georgia, it appears that the Republicans will continue to control both the state legislature and executive branch. Additionally, a majority of the state’s Federal House seats went to Republican candidates. But all is not gloom and doom for Georgia Democrats, the Democratic Party did gain eight seats in the State House (six of which were from Republican incumbents), two seats in the State Senate, and one seat in the Federal House.

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The Legacy of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act

By: Yang Cao

Although the Supreme Court has made section 5 of the Voting Rights Act essentially ineffective by declaring section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional, the legacy of section 5 remains. The non-retrogression standard of section 5 is unsuitable to the current political situation of the United States and it has created problems in the past that continue to impact the United States today.

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(Dis)respecting Communities of Interest

By: Elizabeth Brightwell

My fiancé and I just became homeowners in Richmond, Virginia. Our small, Cape Cod is located on Patterson Avenue, a main thoroughfare for Richmonders in the Near West End. Our new neighborhood attracts many young people, some with children and most with dogs. Most of our neighbors lead a Richmond-centric life, sending their children to Richmond’s Mary Munford Elementary and spending weekends in the city. Continue reading

The Story of Texas SB 14: A Legal Lazarus

By: Shawn Syed

“Lazarus” is a name associated with a simple story. A subject dies. The Subject is then restored and is suddenly alive. Lazarus has been explored in songs, movies, and other forms of narrative. The 82nd Texas Legislature’s Senate Bill 14 (SB 14) is the legal world’s example of Lazarus.

Our Lazarus, SB 14, allowed the following to be accepted as voter identification: Texas Driver License, Texas Election Identification Certificate, Texas Personal Identification Card, Texas Concealed Handgun License, United States Military Identification Card, United States Citizenship Certificate, or United States Passport. The most notable form of identification that was not included was a student ID. The first four could only be issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety. The Texas Department of Public Safety has been in the news for other reasons recently. The Texas Department of Public Safety proposed closing 87 driver’s license offices as a solution to cut down wait times. In effect, this would hinder the ability of people trying to get certain forms of acceptable identification under SB 14.

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