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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.
UPDATE: Former congressman, voting rights coalition, Marine speak out on voting problems in Tennessee
7/27/2012: Tennessee election officials announced on June 19 that they would not purge any more inactive voters until after the November election. The decision was made as part of the lawsuit Representative Davis filed against the state. Both sides have requested that Judge Kevin Sharp of the US District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee appoint a third-party investigator to look into the alleged incomplete or missing records of 11,000 voters.
7/27/12: Good news – H Sub SB 17 died in committee on June 1. With the legislature having adjourned, the bill will not return in 2012.
All eyes are on Pennsylvania now that a lawsuit challenging HB 934, the state’s ALEC-tied voter ID law, has gone to trial. Like other unnecessary voter ID laws, this one is expected to disenfranchise thousands if allowed to go into effect, and even state elections officials admit that it would affect more Pennsylvanians than previously estimated. They also concede that there "have been no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania."
UPDATE: The Elections Committee of the Minneapolis City Council has released a report on the ballot measure. While it does not take a position for or against, it does highlight a lack of clarity and the substantial costs and administrative burdens of implementation. Oral arguments have been heard in the relevant litigation. A decision is expected soon, as state officials have said they need to begin preparing the ballots by late August. Meanwhile, grassroots groups like TakeAction Minnesota are fighting back against this attempt to suppress the vote.
UPDATE: Despite hopeful signs from Governor Rick Snyder’s office, the fight against voter suppression is far from over in Michigan. Senators Darwin Booher and David Robertson have introduced SB 1219, identical to the vetoed SB 803. The ballot coaching provision in HB 5061 was referred back to the House Committee on Redistricting and Elections. SB 754 is also likely to return.
On June 29, the Department of Justice for the second time declined to approve South Carolina’s voter ID law, HB 3003, originally sponsored by ALEC member Alan Clemmons. State Attorney General Alan Wilson sued the federal government after DOJ first rejected the law last year. The trial has been set for September 24. With that late date, the law is unlikely to be in effect by November.
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.