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UPDATE: While H 4139 has not moved since it got to the Senate, there is some good news on another front: a short-term agreement has been reached in a lawsuit alleging that Massachusetts violated the National Voter Registration Act. 478,000 public assistance recipients will now receive voter registration forms. Should the state and plaintiffs fail to reach a long-term solution, litigation will resume on December 31, 2012.
In a ruling last week hailed by voting rights advocates, US District Judge Gregg Costa temporarily enjoined Texas Election Code provisions restricting voter registration, including those implemented by HB 2194, which has ALEC ties in author Larry Taylor and sponsor Mike Jackson.
Citing the Federalist Papers, Judge Costa wrote:
UPDATE: New developments continue to shed light on the purge and its far-reaching impact. An article in the Atlantic details the possibility that it could lead to a 2000-style fiasco. A woman who is most certainly alivewas removed from the rolls twice because the state thinks she is dead. The Guardian has profiled several other voters who are battling to preserve their rights. Thankfully, there is some good news, as despite being granted access to the SAVE database, it now looks like county election supervisors won’t be removing more voters from the rolls before the August 14 primary. Officials are being encouraged to proceed cautiously since the state may not be able to settle its ongoing disagreement with the federal government over the purge. In other news, Congresswoman Corrine Brown has filed a lawsuit to try to stop early voting cutbacks.
With voting rights under attack nationwide, we must remember our democracy is only strongest when all citizens have the opportunity to participate – which is exactly why the enforcement of the National Voter Registration Act has grown increasingly paramount ahead of the November election, especially its provision affording public assistance recipients the opportunity to register to vote at public assistance agencies.
A coalition of voting rights advocates is working to hold states accountable. Litigation citing NVRA violations has been brought against nine states – most recently in Nevada against Secretary of State Ross Miller and Department of Health & Human Services Director Michael Willden. Litigation could soon follow in Alabama where Demos has joined the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Project Vote in filing notice against Secretary of State Beth Chapman.
The federal government has granted Governor Rick Scott and Secretary of State Ken Detzner access to the Department of Homeland Security’s Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) database, further fanning the flame under their voter suppression fire. The move followed last month's ruling that the purge did not violate the National Voter Registration Act.
Back in 2004, Arizona voters passed Proposition 200, which required people in the state to produce proof of citizenship in order to vote and use public services. Two years later, PFAW Foundation joined voting rights supporters in filing suit against its voting-related provisions. In 2010, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit struck down the law’s requirement that voters provide proof of citizenship, but upheld its voter ID provisions. In April of this year, the full Ninth Circuit ruled the same.
Last week, the US Supreme Court refused to continue a stay of the Ninth Circuit’s decision, which had previously been granted by Justice Kennedy at the request of Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne. Horne had sought to keep the citizenship provisions in place pending appeal.
Since Florida Governor Rick Scott and Secretary of State Ken Detzner refused to comply with a Department of Justice warning to stop their sweeping effort to purge voters from the rolls, the DOJ has filed a suit against the state, contending the purge violates the 1965 Voting Rights Act.