Election Protection: Our Broken Voting System and How to Repair It

Desiline Victor, you are not alone.

A report released on February 12, 2013 by the Election Protection coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, pledges to address the “endemic yet solvable problems [that] continue to plague our system of elections and prevent too many eligible voters from fully participating in our democracy.”

Restrictions in Early Voting and Voter Registration Used for Partisan Gain

The past two years saw a dramatic rise in states attempting to enact voter suppression, the impact of which was certainly felt on Election Day. Under the guise of combating voter fraud and saving money, we saw strong pushes for ID and early voting and voter registration restrictions.

Florida was among the worst offenders.

UPDATE: Reported Voting Troubles

UPDATE: Shortly after the election, several voting rights advocacy groups released reports or statements detailing problems voters encountered at the polls. Demos put out a report describing how all the various voter suppression tactics affected the 2012 election. The American Civil Liberties Union issued a statement addressing the problems voters faced and the steps that should be taken to prevent future problems. Project Vote also released a statement praising diligent voters for overcoming adverse voting circumstances.

Reported Voting Troubles

Despite the concerted efforts by conservative legislators to suppress voters’ rights throughout 2011 and 2012 using a number of tactics in the supposed interest to combat voter fraud, millions of Americans took time last week to cast their vote on Election Day. However, a number of problems for voters still occurred, shedding light on some obvious inadequacies within our voting process.

UPDATE: Termination of evening and weekend voting sparks outrage in Ohio

LATE-BREAKING: Secretary Husted has officially made the call for statewide early voting hours, 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday to start, then 8 am to 7 pm Monday through Friday for the last two weeks.

UPDATE: Secretary Husted said Monday that he may impose statewide early voting hours following criticism of his actions at the county level. Following an ACLU request, Husted said that it is unclear whether state law gives him such authority, but that he will look at the matter and listen to what feedback I get. He also claimed to CNN that he has been a champion of uniformity. The concern is that uniformity would likely come in the form of across-the-board restrictions on voting hours, rather than the expansion that voting rights supporters want to see. Reverend Tony Minor of the African American Ministers Leadership Council (AAMLC) vowed vigilance, No matter how hard they try to stop us, we will fight back against these restrictions and we will show up at the polls and vote." Click for more from the New York Times and The Nation.

Termination of evening and weekend voting sparks outrage in Ohio

Voting rights advocates in Ohio are outraged as Secretary of State John Husted has decided to end the evening and weekend voting in Cuyahoga County that have benefitted voters there in four of the past five years. He broke a tie vote after county election board members deadlocked along party lines about whether to maintain extended voting hours. Polls will now be open on weekdays only, from 8:30 a.m. until just 4:30 p.m.

Broun introduces anti-VRA amendment. Lewis says not so fast, seeks to empower voters.

On May 9, Representative Paul Broun tried to prohibit the use of Department of Justice (DOJ) funds for enforcing Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

You heard me right.

Representative Broun, a Republican whose home state of Georgia is covered by Section 5 of the VRA, tried to stop DOJ from enforcing the requirement that jurisdictions with a history of discrimination have their voting laws and regulations precleared by the federal government or a federal court before they may be changed. It is widely known that the deterrent effect of Section 5 continues to prove significant in protecting minorities against potentially discriminatory electoral changes.

It started at 9:58 pm with the offering of Amendment 1095 during debate on the FY13 Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill.

The Right to Vote under Attack: Latest News from the States

Think you can help people register to vote? Tell that to Florida and South Carolina.

Last year Florida passed HB 1355, or what’s commonly referred to by voting rights advocates as the “Voter Suppression Act” for its disenfranchising impacts, including its reduction of early voting hours and its harsh new restrictions on community groups seeking to help register voters – restrictions that caused the Florida League of Women Voters to drop its registration efforts. DOJ concerns have been filed as part of ongoing litigation. (Click here for more from the Brennan Center.)

Stephen Colbert shed light on the part of the Florida law that mandates community groups turn in voter registration forms within 48 hours of completion, instead of the previous 10 days, and attaches a fine for non-compliance. The Colbert piece features Representative Rich Glorioso, who attended last year’s ALEC meeting. Representative Dennis Baxley, the bill’s lead sponsor, also has ties to ALEC.