Voting Law Proposals and Voting Rights Efforts (1 Viewer)

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    MT15

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    This is, IMO, going to be a big topic in the coming year. Republicans have stated their aim to make voting more restrictive in just about every state where they have the means to do so. Democrats would like to pass the Voting Rights Bill named after John Lewis. I’m going to go look up the map of all the states which have pending legislation to restrict voting. Now that we have the election in the rear view, I thought we could try to make this a general discussion thread, where people who have concerns about voting abuses can post as well and we can discuss it from both sides. Please keep memes out of this thread and put them in the boards where we go to talk about the other side, lol.
     
    Virginia Democrats are concerned that non-white voters in the state are getting their mail-in ballots flagged for possible rejection at much higher rates than their white counterparts ahead of a closely watched election day on Tuesday.

    Virginia, like all states, requires voters to fill out certain information on the envelope in which they return their ballot. In Virginia that includes their name, address, birth year and last four digits of their social security number. If any of that information is missing, voters have until 13 November to provide it. If they don’t provide it by the deadline, the ballot is rejected.

    An internal analysis by the Democratic Party of Virginia, shared with the Guardian, found election officials have flagged 6,216 mail-in ballots for possible rejection as of Friday – 2.89% of the total mail-in ballots cast. Voters have fixed issues with more than half of those ballots, the party said, so there are 2,783 ballots that could be rejected.

    Black voters were much more likely than white voters to have their ballots flagged for potential rejection, the party’s analysis showed. Statewide, 4.82% of ballots submitted by Black voters have been flagged for rejection as of Friday, compared with 2.79% for white voters, the party’s analysis showed.

    “This is unacceptable, and raises the stakes for election officials to get this right. Every Virginian has a constitutional right to vote and have that ballot counted. That means taking the ballot cure process seriously,” Aaron Mukerjee, who is leading the state party’s voter protection efforts said in a statement.

    The Virginia department of elections did not return a request for comment.

    Even if the majority of voters are able to cure their ballots, it’s still alarming to see racial disparities in the ballots being flagged, Mukerjee said.

    “This is just an additional burden, especially for voters of color, who are now having to go through a multi-stage process in order to have their vote counted with no discernible benefit to the security of elections,” he said in an interview.

    In some localities, the disparity was clear, according to the Democratic party’s analysis. In Richmond, the state capital, more than 11% of ballots returned by Black voters were flagged for possible rejection, compared with about 5.5% for white voters. In Henrico county, more than 6.5% of ballots returned by Black voters were flagged for rejection, compared with about 3% for white voters.

    And even after significant numbers of voters have cured their ballots in both counties, the potential rejection rate for Black voters remained more than twice as high as their white counterparts.…….

     
    Ohio’s Republican secretary of state quietly canceled the voter registrations of more than 26,000 voters in late September, less than two weeks before the deadline to register to vote in next week’s hotly contested abortion referendum in the state.

    Voting rights advocates say the process lacked transparency and departed from Frank LaRose’s usual practice of alerting groups before removing registrations from the rolls. And it comes as LaRose campaigns hard against the 7 November constitutional amendment vote – when Ohio voters will decide whether to enshrine the right to abortion in the state constitution – as well as a vote on a separate measure to legalize marijuana.

    We are disappointed in the secretary of state’s office’s authorization of the voter purge while voting for the November election was already (and still is) under way,” Kayla Griffin, of the voting rights group All Voting is Local, said.

    Voter list maintenance is a standard, legally required part of the election process, and many if not most of these registrations are for people who have moved away, died or long since stopped voting. The state issues alerts by mail to voters whose registration is flagged for removal, leaving the chance to update or confirm their registration before being kicked off the rolls.

    But it’s unusual to remove voter registrations this close to an election given the risk of disenfranchising people who intend to vote but simply missed the memo that they had been flagged for removal. In fact, if this was a national election rather than a state-level contest, what LaRose’s office has done would have been illegal. The National Voter Registration Act prohibits elections offices from systematically removing voters from the rolls within 90 days of a federal election.

    Typically, voter removals in Ohio are scheduled in the summer to afford voters who are affected plenty of time to re-register. This time, the deadline to remove voters from the rolls came on 28 September, nearly a week after military and overseas absentee voting began on 22 September. LaRose had postponed the process before an 8 August special election to change the constitution. But the new date landed smack-dab in the middle of this current election fight.…….

     
    In Shasta county, California, voters will decide this week on a school board race, the formation of a new fire department and a local tax. What observers in California and across the US are watching most is not what they will choose – but how their votes will be counted.

    In the past months, Shasta has come to play an outsize role nationally as officials in this rural region of northern California have taken center stage in the election denial movement, which proposes “fixes” like the sole use of manual tallies to enhance “election integrity” based on the lie that the presidency was stolen from Donald Trump.

    For much of the year, the far-right majority of the Shasta board of supervisors, the county’s five-person governing body, has focused its governing efforts on throwing out voting machinesand instituting a hand-count system.

    The board pushed ahead with the project despite strong concerns from the county registrar of voters.

    A new state law, written in response to the developments in Shasta, barred elections offices from using manual tallies on an established election date in contests with more than 1,000 voters and, in the event of a special election, in contests with more than 5,000 voters.

    With the election just a few days away, Shasta’s far-right supervisors have fostered confusion about how votes will be tallied, insisting they can use the hand-count system regardless of the new law. The board chair, Patrick Jones, has said the county will sue if the state interferes.

    A nonpartisan group of voting-rights organizations has expressed “grave concerns” about the county’s plans and requested in a letterto California’s top voting official that her office conduct in-person monitoring of elections in November and the presidential primary in 2024. The letter prompted a warning from the secretary of state, Shirley Weber, to the county’s board of supervisors.

    “I expect that you will uphold your obligation to comply with the law,” Weber wrote in a letter to the county. “Failing that, my office stands ready to take any actions necessary to ensure that Shasta county conducts all elections in accordance with state law.”…….

     
    Attorneys for Arizona’s most prominent election deniers have been dealt tens of thousands of dollars in sanctions – monetary punishments – for flouting facts.

    Michigan lawyers got hit with some for filing a baseless lawsuit. Colorado attorneys relied on inflammatory language instead of investigating, resulting in sanctions.

    In courtrooms across the country, lawyers who have brought cases alleging election fraud since the 2020 election without evidence or based on lies have received financial sanctions, one way the courts and democracy-defending attorneys hope to clamp down on frivolous lawsuits from those who won’t accept election losses.

    The tactic is one way defendants, under attack from broad and baseless claims of widespread fraud, have sought to hold people accountable for spreading such claims, which have become increasingly common since former president Donald Trump lost in 2020.

    The sanctions join other forms of accountability, like defamation cases and criminal charges. Some attorneys have even faced disbarment or investigations by their state’s bar organization because of their claims in election-fraud lawsuits.

    “You can’t lie brazenly to the courts,” said Wendy Weiser, who directs the democracy program at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice.

    Weiser said the wave of bad-faith lawsuits required a response from the judicial system to let attorneys and their clients know that “the law can’t be used just as a political tool”.

    A court sanction – typically an award of coverage of attorneys’ fees to the government entity that defended against the lawsuit – can send a message not just to the attorneys and political actors bringing a case, but to those who would consider filing similar lawsuits in the future.

    In most instances, the sanctions are against the attorneys who bring the cases, not their clients, because attorneys are bound by ethical rules that should prevent them from making false statements.

    The sanctions also show the courts’ role in accountability for anti-democratic actions, as standard-bearers of the law and the legal profession.…….

     
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    Attorneys for Arizona’s most prominent election deniers have been dealt tens of thousands of dollars in sanctions – monetary punishments – for flouting facts.

    Michigan lawyers got hit with some for filing a baseless lawsuit. Colorado attorneys relied on inflammatory language instead of investigating, resulting in sanctions.

    In courtrooms across the country, lawyers who have brought cases alleging election fraud since the 2020 election without evidence or based on lies have received financial sanctions, one way the courts and democracy-defending attorneys hope to clamp down on frivolous lawsuits from those who won’t accept election losses.

    The tactic is one way defendants, under attack from broad and baseless claims of widespread fraud, have sought to hold people accountable for spreading such claims, which have become increasingly common since former president Donald Trump lost in 2020.

    The sanctions join other forms of accountability, like defamation cases and criminal charges. Some attorneys have even faced disbarment or investigations by their state’s bar organization because of their claims in election-fraud lawsuits.

    “You can’t lie brazenly to the courts,” said Wendy Weiser, who directs the democracy program at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice.

    Weiser said the wave of bad-faith lawsuits required a response from the judicial system to let attorneys and their clients know that “the law can’t be used just as a political tool”.

    A court sanction – typically an award of coverage of attorneys’ fees to the government entity that defended against the lawsuit – can send a message not just to the attorneys and political actors bringing a case, but to those who would consider filing similar lawsuits in the future.

    In most instances, the sanctions are against the attorneys who bring the cases, not their clients, because attorneys are bound by ethical rules that should prevent them from making false statements.

    The sanctions also show the courts’ role in accountability for anti-democratic actions, as standard-bearers of the law and the legal profession.…….

    If they really want to put a stop to all that nonsense, they need to start threatening prison time in addition to monetary penalties for what amounts to outright contempt of the courts and the law.
     
    A federal appeals court has struck down a key path for enforcing the Voting Rights Act.

    The new ruling in an Arkansas redistricting lawsuit may set up the next U.S. Supreme Court fight that could further limit the reach of the Voting Rights Act's protections for people of color.

    The legal dispute is focused on who is allowed to sue to try to enforce key provisions under Section 2 of the landmark civil rights law, which was first passed in 1965.

    Private individuals and groups, who did not represent the U.S. government, have for decades brought the majority of Section 2 cases to court. Those cases have challenged the redrawing of voting maps and other steps in the elections process with claims that the voting power of people of color has been minimized.

    U.S. District Judge Lee Rudofsky, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, ruled in February 2022, however, that only the head of the Justice Department, the U.S. attorney general, can bring Section 2 lawsuits and dismissed an Arkansas redistricting case brought by advocacy groups representing Black voters in the state.

    On Monday, that lower court ruling was upheld in a 2-1 vote by a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

    "For much of the last half-century, courts have assumed that [Section 2] is privately enforceable. A deeper look has revealed that this assumption rests on flimsy footing," wrote Circuit Judge David Stras, a Trump appointee, in the majority opinion joined by Judge Raymond Gruender, an appointee of former President George W. Bush……


     
    A federal appeals court issued a ruling Monday that could gut the Voting Rights Act, saying only the federal government — not private citizens or civil rights groups — is allowed to sue under a key section of the landmark civil rights law.

    The decision out of the 8th Circuit will almost certainly be appealed and is likely headed to the Supreme Court. Should it stand, it would mark a dramatic rollback of the enforcement of the law that led to increased minority power and representation in American politics.

    The appellate court ruled that there is no “private right of action” for Section 2 of the law — which prohibits voting practices that discriminate on the basis of race.

    That, in practice, would severely limit the scope of the protections of Section 2. On paper, those protections are themselves unchanged by the ruling. But for decades, private parties — including civil rights groups, individual voters and political parties — have brought Section 2 challenges on everything from redistricting to voter ID requirements.

    “After reviewing the text, history, and structure of the Voting Rights Act, the district court concluded that private parties cannot enforce Section 2,” the judges wrote. “The enforcement power belonged solely to the Attorney General of the United States.”

    The majority opinion from the three-judge panel of the St. Louis-based 8th Circuit was authored by Judge David Stras — an appointee of Donald Trump — and joined by Judge Raymond Gruender, a George W. Bush appointee. Chief Judge Lavenski Smith, another Bush appointee, dissented.

    “The ruling has put the Voting Rights Act in jeopardy, and is very cavalierly tossing aside critical protections that voters have very much fought and died for,” said Sophia Lin Lakin, the director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, who argued the case in front of the appellate court.……


     
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    More of that rampant voter fraud and election rigging we hear so much about
    ========================

    The wife of a north-western Iowa county supervisor was convicted on Tuesday of a scheme to stuff the ballot box in her husband’s unsuccessful race for a Republican nomination to run for Congress in 2020.

    The Sioux City Journal reports that jurors deliberated six hours before finding Kim Taylor guilty of 26 counts of providing false information in registering and voting, three counts of fraudulent registration and 23 counts of fraudulent voting.

    Prosecutors said Taylor, a Vietnam native, approached numerous voters of Vietnamese heritage with limited English comprehension and filled out and signed election forms and ballots on behalf of them and their English-speaking children.

    They said the scheme was designed to help her husband, Jeremy Taylor, a former Iowa house member, who finished a distant third in the race for the Republican nomination to run for Iowa’s fourth district congressional seat. Despite that loss, he ultimately won election to the Woodbury county board of supervisors that fall.

    No one testified to seeing Kim Taylor personally sign any of the documents, but her presence in each voter’s home when the forms were filled out was the common thread through the case.

    Jeremy Taylor, who met his wife while teaching in Vietnam, has not been charged, but has been named as an unindicted co-conspirator. The case remains under investigation. The assistant US attorney Ron Timmons, one of three prosecutors who presented the federal government’s case, said he couldn’t comment on any potential future indictments.

    Kim Taylor, who remains free pending sentencing, faces up to five years in prison on each charge.……

     
    Ohio GOP is very, very corrupt. They aren’t even trying to hide it.

     
    LAST WEEK IN Wisconsin, the state Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that could invalidate the state’s comically, ludicrously, preposterously gerrymandered maps. If the court strikes those maps down, it will likely mean the end of the GOP’s decadeslong domination of the statehouse — and it will be because of what happened in Dane County in April.

    Almost a quarter million voters turned out in Dane, home of University of Wisconsin, for a spring special election — several thousand more voters than turned out in Milwaukee, a county with almost double Dane’s population. A staggering 82 percent of Dane voters cast ballots to elevate liberal Judge Janet Protasiewicz to the state Supreme Court. Protasiewicz — whose vote could decide the gerrymandering case — ended up winning by 11 points.

    Coming on the heels of the 2022 midterms — when Wisconsin led the nation in youth turnout in the country — the GOP judicial candidate’s April humiliation stunned the party. Former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker put it plainly: “Young people are the issue.”

    “We’ve got to turn it around if we’re going to win again,” Walker, now the president of a conservative youth organization called Young America’s Foundation, told Fox News. The power that young voters wield was not exactly a revelation to Walker; as governor 12 years earlier, he signed a law making it harder to use a student ID to vote, prompting universities in Wisconsin to offer IDs that met the state’s new standards for free.

    Student engagement has only soared in Wisconsin in the years since, but that hasn’t stopped the GOP from pulling pages from the same playbook. Across the country this year, targeted efforts to disenfranchise student voters have ramped up as election after election proved just how critical the bloc is to guarantee Democratic victories. With encouragement from influential GOP operatives, those efforts — which met with middling success in ‘23 — are poised to escalate in 2024. And they speak to a growing fear with which Republican officials and strategists regard young voters.

    In Wisconsin, the GOP-controlled legislature has seized every opportunity to try and block students from voting. “We’ve seen really strong student engagement in our last couple of elections,” Morgan Hess, executive director of the Wisconsin Assembly Democrats, tells Rolling Stone. “And suddenly, we’re seeing new legislation that would prohibit student’s ability to vote.”

    Hess points to GOP efforts over the past several years to make it harder to register, eliminate drop boxes, shorten early voting, increase residency requirements, and reduce polling locations — mostly in Madison and Milwaukee. “These are very targeted operations that serve to further entrench the power that they already have,” says Hess.

    Months after their April routing, party functionaries at the Wisconsin GOP’s convention mulled a resolution demanding college students to vote absentee in their hometowns; one supporter of the resolution declared students had “hijacked” his city. The resolution failed to advance after another official raised the possibility that attacking students’ right to vote could backfire — an argument that seems prophetic in retrospect, as a growing number of polls show Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, outpolling Joe Biden with young voters.

    Nevertheless, Republicans in state legislatures across the country this year have proposed laws targeting the student vote. In New Hampshire, House Republicans introduced a bill that would have prohibited any college students who pay out-of-state tuition from voting, and require the state’s colleges to provide the secretary of state with a list of eligible voters. Lawmakers “want the elections to be the reflection of those who reside in New Hampshire towns and who ultimately bear the consequences of the election results,” said Republican Rep. Sandra Panek, who introduced the measure in committee. (The bill was eventually killed.)

    The same month, a GOP lawmaker in Texas introduced a bill that would ban polling places at colleges and universities. (That bill has not advanced out of committee.) In Virginia, there was a failed effort to repeal a law that allows anyone 16 or older to register to vote if they will be 18 by the next major election. And, according to the Voting Rights Lab, legislation seeking to change the rules around student IDs was introduced or enacted in at least 15 states this year...........



     

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