For the Whole Article: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/2016_election_lawsuit_tracker_20160814
August 15, 2016
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By Elliot D. Cohen
The New Election Laws and the Suits Challenging Them
Posted on Aug 14, 2016
By Sarah Smith / ProPublica
Fifteen states will have laws in place this Election Day that have never before been tested in a presidential election. (Map: Sarah Smith and Al Shaw/ProPublica, Source: Brennan Center)
There are 15 states with new voting laws that have never before been used during a presidential election, according to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice. These laws include restrictions like voter ID requirements and limits on early voting. Many are making their way through the courts, which have already called a halt to two laws in the past month — one in North Carolina and one in North Dakota.
“All the sides were pushing for opinions over the summer so that nobody would run into the concern that it was all of a sudden too late to shift what the state had been planning to do,” said Jennifer Clark, counsel for the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program.
We’re tracking the new laws and the suits against them in the run-up to Election Day. We’ll keep this updated as decisions roll in.
Status: A voting law passed in 2009, but only now in force, will be in place on Election Day. Litigation pending.
The GOP-dominated legislature passed a law back in 2009 that required voters to show proof of citizenship when registering. But the state couldn’t implement it until received the go-ahead in January from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. The EAC is a federal government agency that was created by the Help America Vote Act in the wake of the 2000 Florida election fiasco. It develops election-administration guidelines and serves as the election administration clearinghouse. The League of Women Voters filed suit a month later over Georgia’s proof-of-citizenship requirement, as well as similar ones in Alabama and Kansas, and lost. Another lawsuit is pending alleging that the state illegally purged voters from the rolls.
Status: New voting law will be in place on Election Day.
Indiana has long had a photo-ID law. In fact, the Supreme Court case that ultimately found voter-ID laws to be constitutional, Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, originated from a 2005 Indiana law. A 2013 add-on allows partisan election officers to ask for anyone’s proof of identification.
In 2015, a judge ruled in favor of an ACLU lawsuit challenging a law that made it a felony to take a photo of your own ballot.
Status: Voting law overturned
A federal judge struck down Michigan’s ban on straight-ticket voting in July, ruling that it would unfairly burden black voters. In straight-ticket voting, a voter can select all candidates from the same party with one stroke. African-American voters are more likely to vote Democrat, and lawyers opposing the ban found that 70 percent of ballots in Detroit and Flint – cities with high percentages of African Americans – were cast with straight-ticket voting.
Status: New voting law will be in place on Election Day, with a fail-safe.
New Hampshire’s photo-ID law was first passed in 2012, when a Republican-controlled legislature overrode a veto by a Democratic governor. In September 2015, the state added a safety net for people without ID: They’ll have their picture taken at the polls and get cards sent to their home address to confirm their identities. In July 2015, Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, vetoed a bill that would have required a 30-day residency to vote.
Status: Voting law overturned. State intends to appeal.
An appeals court struck down North Carolina’s voting restrictions — which were introduced the day after the Supreme Court decision in 2013 that limited enforcement of federal Voting Rights Act. The North Carolina law added a strict photo-ID requirement, shaved a week off of early voting, and cut same-day registration, preregistration and out-of-precinct voting. The Circuit Court found that the law’s provisions “target African Americans with almost surgical precision.” The state legislature, the ruling said, had specifically requested data on which racial groups benefited from certain voting mechanisms. The legislature then created laws which targeted the tactics most likely to make it easier for African-Americans to vote. In a rare move, the appeals court reversed the fact-finding of the district court, writing that it “fundamentally erred”.
“We can only conclude that the North Carolina General Assembly enacted the challenged provisions of the law with discriminatory intent,” the circuit court found.
While the state’s attorney general, Democrat Roy Cooper, said his office would not appeal the ruling, North Carolina’s Republican governor, Pat McCrory, says he’ll appeal and suggested that Cooper should stop taking his salary until he does. Cooper and McCrory are running against each other for governor.
Status: New voting law will be in place on Election Day
On May 24, a federal court threw out measures in this swing state that cut early voting from 35 to 28 days. The measures had also eliminated “Golden Week,” which let residents register and cast absentee ballots simultaneously. On June 7, a federal judge blocked other restrictions on absentee ballots as discriminatory. The law had required that absentee ballots be rejected if a voter made an error such as writing their address incorrectly, and shortened the time a voter had to fix such mistakes.
Ohio had also prohibited poll workers from helping voters fill out the absentee ballot unless voters were disabled or illiterate. A June 7 decision blocked that restriction.
The state is appealing all of the rulings.
A separate lawsuit challenged restrictions on absentee ballots that prohibited unsolicited absentee ballot mailers and prepaid postage on absentee ballots. The plaintiffs lost and the case is being appealed.
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