This week, voters in Washington, DC, Maryland, and Wisconsin head to the polls to vote in their primaries. Wisconsin voters, as of today, will not be required to show a photo ID to vote since Wisconsin’s photo ID law has been suspended pending two lawsuits making its way through the courts. The state has appealed the injunctions.
The recent push for Voter ID bills and restrictions on third party voter registration organizations across the country has made clear that some are determined to make it more difficult to vote in 2012 than it was in 2010. Some legislators, such as Florida State Senator Michael Bennett, have said as much when making statements like "[t]his is something people died for.
The Minnesota State Legislature passed a bill yesterday that will place on the November ballot a voter ID referendum that would amend the state constitution and threaten Minnesota’s standing as the top state in the nation for voter turnout. The ballot language deceptively avoids informing voters of key changes to the constitution that will keep many Minnesotans from voting and adds unnecessary costs to the voting system.
The primary season recently brought an onslaught of television commercials to the DC television market. The Maryland and DC primaries allowed those of us in Virginia to view some of the television ads which we had been spared in light of the less than full presidential primary ballots for our own election. One ad that recently aired stood out to me, as it focused on an often overlooked area of election law.
During the 2011-2012 state legislative sessions, a flurry of voter suppression legislation has been introduced and in many cases passed around the country. These laws make it harder for citizens to vote, particularly African Americans, Latinos, low-income voters, young adults, seniors, and people with disabilities.
In the arena of student voting, the Minnesota Public Interest Group proposed an idea this week which would allow students an excused absence on Election Day in order to vote. The proposal was put in the form of an amendment to current University of Minnesota policy and is now up for debate by the University Senate.
Today, the Michigan legislature is holding a hearing on the Safe and Fair Elections Initiative that would restrict community-based voter registration, require photo IDs, and require voters to answer a citizenship question in order to vote.
The issue of strict photo ID laws has been a very contentious one in the past few years. Proponents of these laws claim they are necessary to deter alleged fraud and ensure confidence in the system. However, in-person voter impersonation fraud (the only type that a strict ID law could prevent) is essentially non-existant.
Michigan’s House Redistricting and Elections Committee heard testimony this week on SB 754, a bill that would make it more difficult for community organizations to run voter registration drives. The bill would also require voters to show a photo ID when they vote at the polls.
On Tuesday, FELN along with Common Cause, Demos, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law released the “Got ID? Helping Americans Get Voter Identification” report. The research draws lessons from programs in Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Colorado and details the best strategies that community groups are using to help voters ensure they’ll be able to vote.
This week, Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island hold their presidential primaries. This will be the first statewide election in Rhode Island where voters will be required to show an ID to vote. If they do not have the necessary ID, they can vote a provisional ballot and the vote will be counted if the signature on the ballot matches the signature on file.
With the exit of Pennsylvania native Rick Santorum from the Republican primary, today’s primary election in Pennsylvania has dropped slightly in the headlines. Despite this, today’s election ushers in a major change for Pennsylvania voters.
The Virginia legislature and Governor have had a recent back and forth about what the state’s voter ID law should look like. The basis for introducing the legislation was to protect Virginia’s elections from “fraud.” Yes, there you have it – the F word. Fraud or the perception of fraud is almost always the reason given for enacting strict photo ID laws.
An Ohio House legislative committee sent to the House floor a bill to repeal HB 194. HB 194, which the legislature passed last year, reduced early and absentee voting periods and removed the requirement that poll workers must direct voters to the correct polling place when they show up at the wrong location.