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June 9, 2015

"Fraudulent claims of voter fraud"

The Anniston Star opines: In the latter half of the past century, Alabama, like most states, struck a workable balance between encouraging participation at the polls and fighting against voter fraud.

Voters were asked to provide a form of identity, which might include a utility bill, a student ID or a simple voter registration card. It was a measure of accountability against in-person voter fraud yet not too much for something that is extremely rare and grossly ineffective in swaying most elections.

About five years ago, things started to change in states dominated by Republicans. Despite no more than a few convictions for in-person voter fraud nationwide, these states erected fresh barriers to the ballot box. Alabama joined many others in requiring a picture ID before a registered voter could cast a ballot.

Others, including this editorial board, wondered why stricter rules were necessary when evidence of fraud that would require tightened rules was absent. -- Editorial: Fraudulent claims of voter fraud - The Anniston Star: Opinion

June 2, 2015

Alabama bill to require more voter-ID for absentee ballots is dead reports: A bill that would require voters to submit a copy of their photo ID when requesting an absentee ballot in the state of Alabama is dead, Rep. Reed Ingram said.

Ingram, R-Montgomery, who served as the bill's sponsor, said there is too much confusion over the legislation that Republicans say is an extra measure to prevent voter fraud.

Ingram likely had enough Republican votes to get the bill passed, but not without a fight from Democrats on the House floor.

The bill didn't have a third reading in the House of Representatives per Ingram's request.

Currently, Alabama is one of only three states that require a photo ID to submit an absentee ballot. The new rule would have required absentee voters to submit a copy of their photo ID on the frontend as well. -- Absentee voter ID bill dead in Alabama Legislature, lawmakers say |

December 6, 2014

Alabama Voter ID Successful in Vote Suppression reports: A report today by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and two other groups today says 119 absentee ballots were not counted in Jefferson County in the Nov. 4 election because voters did not submit the required photo ID.

The report says 21 absentee ballots in Choctaw County were not counted for lack of photo ID. ...

Ross said the new law can suppress the vote because it's hard for some to get the proper ID, some don't know about the requirements and some are discouraged from trying.

While it might seem easy to the average working person to have a valid ID, Ross say it's not easy for the poor, elderly and people who don't drive. -- Report says 119 Jefferson County absentee ballots not counted because of Alabama's photo ID law |

November 4, 2014

"In Last Minute Decision, Alabama Says Voters Can't Use Public Housing ID At The Polls"

ThinkProgress reports: Alabama, which is testing out its new voter ID law for the first time this year, will not accept public housing ID at the polls.

Bernard Simelton of the Alabama NAACP State Conference told ThinkProgress that he learned Friday that voters will not be able to use their public housing ID under the Attorney General’s interpretation of the new law. -- In Last Minute Decision, Alabama Says Voters Can't Use Public Housing ID At The Polls » ThinkProgress

October 11, 2014

ALGOP sez drop in voter turnout means Voter ID is working

Alabama Political Reporter reports: Thursday, October 9, the Alabama Republican Party responded to the release of a report on Wednesday by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) indicating the voter ID laws in Tennessee and Kansas may have suppressed voter turnout and affected minorities and young people disproportionately.

Alabama Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead said in a written statement in support of Alabama's voter ID law: "Alabama's voter ID law is designed to ensure that only legal votes are cast and counted. We believe one person should receive one vote. The state has promoted the law on television, radio, on billboards and in print ads to make sure every Alabama citizen is ready for implementation. The state even offers free IDs to those who do not have a valid photo ID." ...

The report claimed that voter ID laws have nothing to do with voter fraud and everything to do with lowering election turnout. The report compared the changes in voter turnouts from 2008 elections (before voter ID laws were in place) to 2012 elections (after voter ID laws were in place) in Kansas and Tennessee. Both states experienced a two percent drop in turnout from 2008 to 2012. Their results pointed towards the cost of getting a driver's license, in order to comply with voter ID laws, as a deterrent to citizens.

Chairman Armistead said, "If voter turnout dropped in Kansas and Tennessee after implementing a voter ID law, then that may be a good indication that the law is working and has curtailed fraudulent votes. The intended purpose of voter ID laws is to prevent fraud and hopefully that is what is happening." -- ALGOP Responds to GAO Report Questioning Photo ID Laws

September 18, 2014

"Why did feds sue Texas over voter ID law but not Alabama?" reports: The U.S. Justice Department last year pounced on a Texas law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls, but the agency chose not to challenge a similar statute in Alabama,


Holly Wiseman, the civil rights enforcement coordinator for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Mobile, told the local League of Women Voters chapter at a Wednesday luncheon that she is not privy to those decisions. But she contrasted the two laws.

She said Texas has stricter requirements for the types of identification that a voter can produce, and when documentation is needed to obtain an ID, the state charges for it. In addition, she said, residents in some cases have to drive hundreds of miles to get to the registrar's office to obtain an ID.

Wiseman said Alabama's law, on the other hand, provides a photo ID for free to voters who do not have one. The state also issues copies of documents like marriage and birth certificates to voters who need them to obtain IDs. -- Why did feds sue Texas over voter ID law but not Alabama? Government lawyer explains |

July 31, 2014

GOP chairman says Sharpton is "race-baiting" reports: Alabama Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead today blasted the Rev. Al Sharpton's plans to operate a headquarters in Birmingham to fight back against what Sharpton calls voter suppression in Alabama and other southern states.

Armistead accused Sharpton of race-baiting and misleading the public in an effort to divide people and boost Democratic turnout in November.

"Alabama and several other states have passed Voter ID laws to ensure that the voter is who they say they are," Armistead said in a statement. "However, Sharpton claims the basis for these new voter ID laws is to 'disenfranchise black and minority voters, the elderly, the poor and young people'. Sharpton knows better, and he should be ashamed for making such absurd comments." ...

Sharpton, president of the New York-based National Action Network, today cut the ribbon on his downtown Birmingham headquarters which will focus protecting voting rights across eight southern states, he said.

"We will, out of this office, coordinate our work throughout the South against those new measures that have been designed to suppress the vote," Sharpton said. "Make no mistake about it, these are designed to suppress the vote and we are here to fight against voter suppression." -- GOP Chairman Bill Armistead says Rev. Al Sharpton is 'race-baiting' with claims of Alabama voter suppression |

June 3, 2014

"Alabama Republicans offer $1,000 for information that leads to a felony voter-fraud conviction" reports: The Alabama Republican Party isn't just hoping that the state's first use of photo identifications will cut down on fraud at the polls on Tuesday.

They are going one step further and offering $1,000 for information that leads to a conviction for felony voter fraud, according to their Chairman's Corner newsletter.

The use of photo IDs is the first test at the polls tomorrow.

But many Republicans still suspect fraud could occur.

In fact, the Alabama Republican Party has set up a phone number to report fraud. It's 844-AL-FRAUD (844-253-7283). -- Alabama Republicans offer $1,000 for information that leads to a felony voter-fraud conviction |

May 16, 2014

Wayne Flynt on photo voter ID has a video interview with Wayne Flynt: On the photo ID law that goes into effect with the 2014 election cycle, which Flynt said is the "replacement for the poll tax":

"We now have a legal system, to the degree we can, of marginalizing black voters and Hispanic voters - by challenging citizenship, by challenging residence, by challenging who they are. To white voters, the argument is, why should anybody be offended by having to have a photo ID. Everyone has a photo ID. Everyone who is in their class has a photo ID. My dad, a sharecropper's son, he didn't have a birth certificate. To get a driver's license, he had to go back and get someone to certify he was in fact who he said he was. If you're white, that's one thing. If you're black, and you think the whole system is targeted against you and any visibility within that system requires you get a photo ID is not unlike the Tuskegee syphilis experiment or a hundred other ways in which they feel the government that is white is trying to do something to them. -- 6 opinions from Wayne Flynt on Alabama politics, the Democratic Party, Mike Hubbard, Parker Griffith and Robert Bentley |

July 18, 2013

Voter ID program an 'unfunded mandate' to county registrars reports: Alabama's new law requiring people to show a government-issued photo identification to vote is raising some concerns for Jefferson County officials.

The law -- to get around accusations that it's a modern poll tax to make people buy ID -- requires that the state have an option for a free ID.

Jefferson County, which has more voters than any other county in the state, may be forced to come up with money to cover personnel and labor costs associated with producing new voter IDs, said Barry Stephenson, chairman of the Board of Registrars.

"I want to do everything possible to help the voters and to have fair and honest elections," Stephenson said. "However, I only have so many resources in my budget and the state has made no mention of reimbursing the counties for any personnel or labor costs associated with producing the new free identification cards." -- Read the whole story --> New Alabama state ID law may pose some problems for Jefferson County (photos, video) |

July 1, 2013

Voter photo IDs for old folks, disabled, et al

A press release from Gov. Bentley: Governor Robert Bentley on Friday tasked Neal Morrison, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Senior Services, with developing a plan to help all citizens have access to a photo ID that will comply with the state’s photo voter ID law.

“The right to vote is fundamental to democracy,” Governor Bentley said. “I want to remove any obstacle that could keep any eligible voter from exercising their constitutional right to vote.”

The plan to be developed by Commissioner Morrison will compliment [sic] a photo voter ID plan outlined by Secretary of State Beth Chapman. Under the proposed regulations announced by Secretary of State Chapman, citizens without acceptable forms of photo voter ID can receive a free ID by visiting Department of Public Safety offices, Board of Registrars offices or the Secretary of State’s office.

Governor Bentley is tasking Commissioner Morrison to develop this additional plan to specifically help the disabled, the homebound and others who may not have access to those offices so they can receive this free service as well. The plan will be designed to provide assistance to citizens of any voting age who are in need of this service.

June 29, 2013

Voter photo ID to be used in 2014; plans announced reports: Voters without photo identification will have two options for getting a free ID from the state before the state's new photo voter ID law kicks in next year, Secretary of State Beth Chapman announced today.

Alabama's new law requiring people to show photo ID to vote is scheduled to go into effect with the party primaries in June of 2014. The law -- to get around accusations that it's a modern poll tax to make people buy ID -- also requires that the state have an option for a free ID.

Chapman today announced a proposal for complying with the free ID requirement.

She said voters can go to the Department of Public Safety office in their county and get a free non-drivers identification card. The secretary of state will reimburse Public Safety for the cost. Voters can also go to their local Board of Registrars office and get a free photo voter ID there. -- Read the whole story --> State announces plan for free IDs under new photo voter ID law |

June 26, 2013

Voter photo ID to be used in 2014 reports: Today's U.S. Supreme Court decision clears the way for Alabama's new photo voter ID law to be used in the 2014 elections without the need for federal preclearance, state officials said.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange and Secretary of State Beth Chapman said they believed the voting requirement, which is scheduled to take effect with the June 2014 primaries, can simply move forward. ...

Alabama lawmakers in 2011 approved a law to require Alabamians ? beginning with the party primaries in June of 2014 -- to show photo identification in order to vote. -- Read the whole story --> Alabama photo voter ID law to be used in 2014, state officials say |

October 28, 2012

"How 24 000 nursing home residents would be affected by voter ID rules in 2014 is unclear"

The Anniston Star reports: The polls are already open, more or less, at Beckwood Manor.

Last week, workers at the 85-bed nursing home on Leighton Avenue finished helping residents with their absentee ballot applications. It's a lengthy process, staff say, because every voter has to produce documentation to prove his or her identity.

"We have residents who have no Social Security card, and we have residents who have no birth certificate," said Clayton Cox, an administrator at Beckwood. "Eventually we find something - but very few of them have photo ID."

Cox said he'll be "very interested" to see what happens in 2014, when Alabama's voter ID laws get even tighter. Right now, it's not entirely clear how the state?s thousands of nursing home residents - most of them non-drivers - would get a photo ID for the next election season, or if they would really even need it. -- Read the whole story --> Anniston Star - How 24 000 nursing home residents would be affected by voter ID rules in 2014 is unclear

October 16, 2012

"After hoaxes and misinformation, Probate Judge McKinney joins Montgomery Democratic and Republican party leaders to clarify voter ID laws" reports: Montgomery Probate Judge Reese McKinney -- along with Democrat and Republican party chairs and county officials -- held a joint press conference this morning at the Montgomery Election Center to dispel misinformation being circulated regarding the kinds of identification voters are required to show at the polls in the General Election on Nov. 6.

With states throughout the country adopting new voter ID laws that allow only photo IDs, misinformation about Alabama's voting laws has been rampant.

"Alabama does not have a photo identification requirement to vote," McKinney stressed. "Let me say that again and be very clear, while you must present one of the 27 forms of voter identification to vote in Alabama, photo identification is not required."

McKinney stressed that even though both political parties have conflicting opinions on the issue of photo ID cards at the polls, today's conference was a bi-partisan effort. -- Read the whole article --> After hoaxes and misinformation, Probate Judge McKinney joins Montgomery Democratic and Republican party leaders to clarify voter ID laws |

September 23, 2012

Alabama voter ID law still has two years before it gets stricter

The Anniston Star reports: As Election Day nears, debate about new laws requiring photo ID at the polls is raging across the country.

But in Alabama, where a photo ID law won't go into effect until 2014, voters without a photo ID still have two years to get one -- and the state has yet to design a voter-only ID for voters who don't have a driver's license, or a system for distributing those IDs.

"There's time to get that in place," said state Rep. Kerry Rich, R-Albertville, the sponsor of Alabama's voter ID bill.

In 2011, Alabama joined a string of other states in passing a bill that would require people to present photo identification, such as a driver's license, at the polls. In swing states such as Pennsylvania, those laws face heated court battles in the run-up to the presidential election. With two years left until it's implemented, Alabama's law hasn't faced quite as much opposition. -- Read the whole story --> Anniston Star - There s plenty of time to debate merits of Alabama s photo voter ID law

March 29, 2012

"Craigslist Founder Craig Newmark Jumps Into Voting Rights Fight"

TPMMuckraker reports: Craigslist founder Craig Newmark is jumping into the voting rights fight, with his group craigconnects publishing an infographic that illustrates the surge of voting restrictions that have been enacted in states around the country in recent years. ...

"I think all Americans should be concerned about these new voter restrictions," Newmark said. "Voting is our fundamental right. If the states continue to restrict who can vote, who knows where they will stop?" -- Read the whole story --> Craigslist Founder Craig Newmark Jumps Into Voting Rights Fight | TPMMuckraker

The infographic is here

March 21, 2012

Birmingham News ignored ALEC's influence in our latest voter ID bill

Media Matters for America reports: Dozens of voter ID laws have been introduced in state legislatures over the past two years, including particularly strict measures passed in seven states in 2011 -- Alabama, Kansas, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee and Wisconsin. There is widespread evidence that this surge of voter ID laws stems from model legislation crafted in 2009 by a conservative group called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). But a Media Matters analysis has found that the largest newspapers in the seven states that enacted voter ID laws in 2011 have largely ignored ALEC's influence. Indeed, of the newspapers examined, only Rhode Island's Providence Journal mentioned any connection between the state's voter ID bill and ALEC. ...

The Birmingham News Has Not Mentioned ALEC In News Coverage Since At Least 2009. Since January 1, 2009 (based on a LexisNexis search for "American Legislative Exchange Council"), ALEC is mentioned in Alabama's largest newspaper only twice -- in two op-eds amplifying ALEC studies on education and tax policy. Since January 1, 2009, no mentions of ALEC in the Birmingham News relate to voter ID laws. [LexisNexis, 1/1/09-3/16/12] -- Read the whole report --> How State Media Turned A Blind Eye To ALEC's Influence On The Voter ID Debate | Media Matters for America

March 13, 2012

Adventures in voting

I went to vote in the primary this morning. I showed my Medicare card to the polling official. She said, "We need something with your address on it."

Me: "No, ma'am, you don't. This is an acceptable form of identification under the law." [Ala. Code § 17-9-30.]

She: "Let me go check this on the computer."

In the meantime, the other polling official has found my name on the poll book.

The first polling official can't find whatever it is she is looking for "on the computer" and walks to a sign by the entrance. The sign lists all the acceptable forms of ID. Finally, she returns with my ID and says, "If he is on the book, let him vote."

The justification usually given by Republican legislators pushing voter-ID laws is the prevention of impersonation of the voter. The theory has been that a Social Security card, a Medicare card, etc. are so valuable that I will not let it out of my possession. Those government ID do not have my address on them, nor does my passport -- the gold standard of government-issued picture IDs. So, why did the poll worker ask for an "address ID"? Perhaps she had been told that in training.

Being a poll official is a tough job. I know because I have served as one. But it is made tougher by training that tells poll workers that the purpose of an ID is to check my address.

January 17, 2012

Sharpton announces Selma-Montgomery march in support of voting rights

News One reports: This morning at National Action Network?s (NAN) annual King Day Breakfast in Washington, D.C., NAN Founder and President Rev. Al Sharpton made key announcements in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther, King, Jr.

First, Rev. Sharpton announced that during the remembrance of Bloody Sunday beginning March 4th he will lead a 5-day March commemorating the historic 1965 Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March. The march will begin at the Edmund Pettus Bridge ending with a rally at the Alabama State Capitol on Friday, March 9. The March is in support of Voting Rights and to highlight the continuing efforts against Voter Suppression.

This includes the efforts to defeat Voter Identification Laws and reverse anti-Immigration laws in the state of Alabama. Secondly, Rev. Sharpton announced that National Action Network will lead a rally on March 27th in Washington, DC, at the United States Supreme Court as arguments are heard on Obama Care. -- Read the whole story --> Al Sharpton Announces Voting Rights March At King Day Breakfast | News One

December 18, 2011

"Civil rights groups seek action against voter ID laws"

The Montgomery Advertiser reports: Nation­al and local civil rights groups are asking federal of­ficials to aggressively chal­lenge new election laws in Alabama, Mississippi and other states, saying the laws threaten to reverse decades-old efforts to expand voting rights to all Americans. ...

Holder's speech sent a "good shot over the bow," said Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., who led the 2006 effort to reauthorize the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Earlier this week, the Ad­vancement Project and other groups delivered a petition to Holder urging him to chal­lenge the new laws. A coali­tion of state and national groups also called on him to "vigilantly" protect the rights Latino voters and oth­er minorities.

In the same spirit, two U.S. senators introduced a bill this week that would toughen penalties for fraudulent vot­ing practices.

The new state voting laws generally toughen the ID re­quirements for casting a bal­lot. More than a dozen states have adopted such laws this year. -- Read the whole story --> Civil rights groups seek action against voter ID laws | The Montgomery Advertiser |

October 31, 2011

Bama Fact Check gives Artur Davis claim on Voter ID a 2 of 5 rating

Bama Fact Check analysis: THE CLAIM: In an Oct. 17 guest column in The Montgomery Advertiser, former congressman and gubernatorial candidate Artur Davis explained why he now supports Alabama?s voter ID law.

?Voting the names of the dead, and the nonexistent, and the too-mentally-impaired to function, cancels out the votes of citizens who are exercising their rights ?- that's suppression by any light,? he said. ?If you doubt it exists, I don't; I've heard the peddlers of these ballots brag about it, I've been asked to provide the funds for it, and I am confident it has changed at least a few close local election results.?

SUMMARY: Voter fraud allegations emerge with almost every election cycle in Alabama, and some have led to convictions. But when it comes to the things Davis said he witnessed ? people bragging about voter fraud and soliciting participation ?- the allegations are impossible to prove. Davis won?t name names. Nor will he talk about whether he reported the alleged voter fraud to the proper authorities. -- Read the whole report --> Bama Fact Check - Did someone brag to Artur Davis about committing voter fraud Truth Rating 2 out of 5

September 23, 2011

Rep. Sewell opposes Ala. voter ID law

The Birmingham News reports: The lone Democrat in Alabama's congressional delegation said Thursday that the state's new law requiring a voter to carry photo identification was a tactic to discourage people from voting and should be challenged in court. ...

The Alabama Legislature this year, under new Republican control, took Alabama's voter ID law one step further by requiring people to show not just documentation but also photographic proof of their identity before being allowed to vote. The new law takes effect in 2014 and was promoted by Republicans as a tool to ensure honest elections.

Sewell said it would be a burden on people who for whatever reason don't have a government-issued photo ID. Her father, for example, has been in a wheelchair for years, doesn't drive and doesn't have a driver's license. Her family will take him to get a photo ID as provided under the law, but not everyone will have the resources to do so, she said. ...

The Alabama Secretary of State's Office and the Alabama Attorney General's Office said there are no legal challenges to the law so far. The law has not yet been submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice, which must certify that it does not discriminate against black voters before it can take effect. -- Read the whole story --> US Rep. Terri Sewell opposes Alabama photo voter ID law |

June 12, 2011

"Shrinking the vote"

Daily Kos has a national roundup of trends that include Alabama: As the U.S population grows and the number of eligible voters continues to climb with each election cycle, a disturbing trend of limiting voter access to the polls is taking place. With 2012 on the horizon, states are already gearing up to ensure that barriers are installed across the voting process, from restrictions on voter registration to strict requirements at the polls. It's been called ?the largest legislative effort to scale back voting rights in a century.?

Legislators justify the vast majority of this legislation by claiming they are merely attempting to prevent widespread voter fraud. The Brennan Center for Justice conducted the most extensive analysis of voter fraud allegations and concluded that proponents of voter ID laws could not find "a proven example of a single vote cast at the polls in someone else?s name that could be stopped by a pollsite photo ID rule."

Combating "voter fraud" is a red herring. It doesn't take more than a passing glance at the 2008 results map to understand why Republicans have been working so diligently to decrease the vote, especially in states where President Obama won by a slim margin. -- Read the whole post --> Daily Kos: Shrinking The Vote: Using Election Reform To Decrease Turnout

November 15, 2009

Alabama: Packard proposes amendments to election laws

Ed Packard, supervisor of voter registration for the State of Alabama, suggests several amendments to the State's election laws regarding emergency balloting procedures, changed voter ID procedures for absentee voters, and confidentiality of voter information. -- Read the whole piece --> It's time to amend voting laws | Birmingham News Commentary -

February 12, 2009

Alabama: stricter voter I.D. bill delayed in committee ... till the 'Second Coming'

The Birmingham News reports: A legislative panel voted along party lines Wednesday to delay a proposed law that would require people to show government-issued photo identification to vote at the polls.

People unable to show a photo ID could vote by provisional ballot, a process that Rep. Joseph Mitchell, D-Mobile, said was "extremely time-consuming."

After about a half-hour debate by the Constitution and Elections Committee of the state House of Representatives, seven Democrats voted to delay a final vote on the bill. Four Republicans voted against delay.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Gerald Allen, R-Cottondale, said he would try to fine-tune the plan in a bid to get more support, and said he hoped the committee would reconsider the bill.

But the committee chairman, Rep. Jimmy Martin, D-Clanton, set no timetable for the panel to review the bill again. Rep. Jack Page, D-Gadsden, suggested that he reschedule it for "the second coming" of Jesus. -- Alabama House panel votes on party lines to delay plan requiring voters to show photo ID -

Note: The bill may be downloaded here.

January 26, 2009

Alabama: voter I.D. bill might have hard time in the legislature

AP reports: A bill pushed by Attorney General Troy King to require Alabama voters to show photo identification at the polls has modest support but enough foes to make it difficult to pass, according to an Associated Press survey of legislators.

The survey found 45 percent of House members who responded and 47 percent of senators saying they support legislation requiring voters to show government-issued identification that includes a photo, like a driver's license, a non-driver's identification card or a military ID card.

But 38 percent of House members responding and 37 percent of senators said they oppose the measure, a degree of opposition that could make it difficult for the bill to come up for a vote or to stop debate in the House or Senate. ...

Supporters believe this is the right time to push the legislation because of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year that upheld an Indiana law photo ID law. That law requires voters to present a state or federal photo ID card at the ballot box.

But opponents, mostly members of the Legislature's black caucus, say the law would make it harder for some people to participate in democracy, particularly elderly and rural voters, who may not have a photo identification card and little means to get one. -- AP Survey: Ala. voter photo ID no lock for passage - NewsFlash -

June 20, 2008

Indiana: LWV challenges voter I.D. under state constitution

The Indiana Lawyer Daily reports: The League of Women Voters of Indiana filed a lawsuit today in Marion County challenging the state s three-year-old voter identification statute recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

At 2 p.m. today, the organization filed the suit with the Marion Superior Court against Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita, arguing that it has the standing to sue on behalf of its members because the state statute burdens potential voters and would cause the league to have to spend precious resources assisting voters without the required ID.

This lawsuit comes following the April 28 ruling from the nation s highest court in William Crawford, et al. v. Marion County Election Board, 128 S. Ct. 1610 2008 , which upheld the state law that is considered the strictest in the nation. That ruling rejected the facial challenge, but left the door open for as-applied challenges in federal court and those involving state constitutional claims. -- New voter ID lawsuit filed

Thanks to Mike Pitts for the link.

And thanks to William Groth, attorney for the plaintiffs, for a copy of the complaint.

June 12, 2008

"The Ptifalls of Voter Identification Laws in a Post-Crawford World"

ACSblog reports: Today, ACS released an issue brief by Carrie Apfel of Jenner & Block entitled “The Pitfalls of Voter Identification Laws in a Post-Crawford World.” She writes that even in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s upholding of Indiana’s restrictive voter photo identification against a facial challenge, states should “resist the urge to pass restrictive photo identification regulations” for several reasons.

She first argues that the status of voter-ID laws remain in flux, with the High Court’s decision “practically invit[ing] voters to attack these laws as they are applied,” and noting that the decision “did not rule out the possibility of . . . facial challenges” as well. Apfel then argues that the laws will neither address real threats of fraud nor instill voter confidence. Finally, she explains that the laws will disproportionately affect elderly, disabled, poor and minority voters, with several less restrictive alternatives available to states. -- American Constitution Society : ACS Blog : The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy ACS

June 3, 2008

Alabama: my personal experience with voter I.D.

When I went to vote this morning in Alabama's primary, the poll workers looked as lonely as Maytag repairmen. To liven things up a bit, when asked for identification, I pulled out my Alabama Gas Company bill. I pointed out that the name on the bill does not match my name on the voter list because I go by my middle name. The poll worker checked the address on the bill, found it matched that of the "official" name I gave her, and let me vote.

One anecdote does not make a trend. I wonder how many people in Alabama used a utility bill this morning and how many had problems with a mismatching name.

May 30, 2008

Georgia: Dems sue over voter I.D. law

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports: Despite a recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the constitutionality of requiring voters to produce state-issued picture IDs at the polls, the Democratic Party of Georgia has filed a new lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state's voter ID law.

The Supreme Court ruled in an Indiana case on April 28 and the decision was cheered by Georgia Republicans because it seemed to protect the state's 2006 Photo ID Act.

Emmet Bondurant, attorney for the state Democratic Party, said that Indiana case actually opened the door to get the Georgia law declared unconstitutional by the Georgia Supreme Court. ...

The Georgia law already was declared unconstitutional once by Superior Court Judge T. Jackson Bedford, but the Georgia Supreme Court dismissed the case last year because it said the plaintiff, Rosalind L. Lake of Atlanta, had no standing to sue.

The court said Lake could have voted without the ID when she filed the lawsuit and as a result could not challenge the law's constitutionality.

In the Indiana case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the state Democratic Party had standing to bring the lawsuit. Bondurant said that should help the new Georgia case clear the hurdle that derailed the last one. The new case will also be heard by Bedford. ...

But Bondurant said the case will be decided under the Georgia Constitution, which he said permits any 18-year-old citizen the right to vote as long as he or she meets minimum residency requirements, has registered to vote and hasn't been convicted of a felony or been found mentally incompetent. -- Voter ID law disputed again

Note: The case is Democratic Party of Georgia, Inc., v. Perdue et al., Case No. 2008CV151081, Fulton Co. Superior Court. If anyone has a copy of the complaint, please send it to me.

May 28, 2008

Mississippi: 5th Circuit vacates party registration and voter I.D. case

AP reports: The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a ruling that would have forced Mississippians to register by political party and to show photo identification at the polls to be able to vote.

The Mississippi Democratic Party sued in 2006 to keep non-Democrats from voting in its primaries. -- WLOX-TV and - Building South Mississippi Together |This Hour: Latest Mississippi news, sports, business and entertainment:

Thanks to Steve Rankin for sending me the opinion. Here are the first two paragraphs of the opinion:

Plaintiffs Mississippi Democratic Party and Mississippi Democratic Executive Committee filed a declaratory judgment action seeking to overturn as unconstitutional Mississippi’s semi-closed primary1 statute, Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-575. They succeeded beyond their expectations when the district court declared the statute unconstitutional and fashioned a sweeping injunction. that required not only party registration but also photo identification in order to vote in a party’s primary. The court’s ruling spawned a free-for-all on appeal. Plaintiffs themselves cross-appeal the mandatory photo ID requirement. Intervenors NAACP and the Mississippi Republican Executive Committee also challenge separate portions of the decree. The state is divided: defendant Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood argues that plaintiffs’ claims are not justiciable, while governor Haley Barbour and the Secretary of State have filed a brief supporting photo IDs for voters. In the meantime, the state legislature has been debating changes in the primary law. We will put the parties out of their litigation misery.

Because plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that their claims involve an actual case or controversy, the claims were not justiciable and should not have been addressed by the district court. The judgment is REVERSED and the injunction VACATED.

May 27, 2008

Arizona: state asks for dismissal of voter I.D. challenge

AP reports: State officials say a challenge to Arizona requirements for voter identification and proof of citizenship should be thrown out in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding Indiana s voter ID law.

The ruling on Indiana s law leaves no room for doubt that Arizona s voting identification requirement is constitutional and also backs up the requirement that people registering to vote prove their citizenship, Attorney General Terry Goddard and four assistants said in a brief filed in U.S. District Court.

Most but not all of the voting activists, tribes and other challengers to Arizona s law want to push ahead with their combined 2006 lawsuits, arguing that the Supreme Court s April 28 ruling in the Indiana case does not resolve all the issues at stake in Arizona. -- AZ seeks dismissal of voter ID challenge

May 22, 2008

Information needed from my readers on Voter I.D.

If you have access to one of the following, please leave a comment telling me whether the document has (1) the name and address of the holder, (2) a photo, and (3) a date showing its period of validity.

Alabama-specific documents:
hunting license
fishing license
pistol permit
public or private college, university, or post-grad school [identify the school, please]
employer I.D.

Federal or other
ID card issued by any state or federal government agency
pilot's license
military identification card
Social Security Card
Naturalization certificate

May 17, 2008

Missouri: voter I.D. proposal dies at end of session

The New York Times reports: Missouri lawmakers ended their legislative session on Friday without completing action on a proposed constitutional amendment that would have enabled election officials to require proof of citizenship from people registering to vote.

The bill failed to go to the Senate floor for a vote in part because of pressure by the secretary of state and grass-roots groups, said a Republican lobbyist who worked for the measure.

The lobbyist asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak for the backers. Sponsors of the amendment, which would have required voter approval to go into effect, say it is part of an effort to prevent illegal immigrants from affecting the political process. Critics say it could lead to disenfranchising tens of thousands of legal residents who would find it difficult to prove their citizenship. -- Missouri Legislature Ends Session With Voter ID Amendment Still on Agenda - New York Times

May 12, 2008

Missouri: new voter I.D. proposal will require proof of citizenship

The New York Times reports: The battle over voting rights will expand this week as lawmakers in Missouri are expected to support a proposed constitutional amendment to enable election officials to require proof of citizenship from anyone registering to vote.

The measure would allow far more rigorous demands than the voter ID requirement recently upheld by the Supreme Court, in which voters had to prove their identity with a government-issued card.

Sponsors of the amendment — which requires the approval of voters to go into effect, possibly in an August referendum — say it is part of an effort to prevent illegal immigrants from affecting the political process. Critics say the measure could lead to the disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of legal residents who would find it difficult to prove their citizenship.

Voting experts say the Missouri amendment represents the next logical step for those who have supported stronger voter ID requirements and the next battleground in how elections are conducted. Similar measures requiring proof of citizenship are being considered in at least 19 state legislatures. Bills in Florida, Kansas, Oklahoma and South Carolina have strong support. But only in Missouri does the requirement have a chance of taking effect before the presidential election. -- Voter ID Battle Shifts to Proof of Citizenship - New York Times

May 8, 2008

Kansas: legislature passes voter I.D. bill

The Kansas City Star reports: Lawmakers have passed a bill requiring Kansans to provide photo identification when they vote — starting in 2010 — but some Democrats expect a veto from Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

The governor’s office was noncommittal about House Bill 2019, but Rep. Tom Sawyer of Wichita said he expected Sebelius to veto voter ID as she has in the past.

The bill sailed through the Senate 27-3, but the House vote was 67-56, far short of a veto-proof majority. The legislation exempts people with disabilities, voters 65 and older and active-duty military personnel and their families. -- | 05/07/2008 | Voter ID bill sent to Kansas governor

Missouri: House approves constitutional amendment for voter I.D.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports: Voters could decide whether to enact a photo ID requirement for voting under a proposed constitutional amendment given first-round approval Wednesday by the Missouri House.

Legislators approved a photo ID law in 2006, but it was struck down by the state Supreme Court as a violation of the state constitution. The proposal approved Wednesday would present the idea to voters as a constitutional amendment either in November or in a special election.

House members gave the resolution first-round approval on a party-line vote, 89-67.

Republicans brought up the proposal after the U.S. Supreme Court said an Indiana photo ID law was constitutional. -- STLtoday - Mo. voters may decide on photo ID requirement

April 30, 2008

Alabama: GOP sees green light to pass tough voter I.D. law

AP reports: Republicans in Alabama say they will push for a stronger law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polling place during next year’s regular session or possibly during a special session later this year.

The renewed push for a photo ID law comes after Monday’s 6-3 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court upholding a strict Indiana law.

Republican Attorney General Troy King says he plans to push voter identification legislation in next year’s regular session or possibly in a special session. After Tuesday, the five days remaining in the Legislature’s current session likely won’t be enough time to pass voter photo ID legislation that is expected to be hotly debated. ...

State Rep. Gerald Allen, R-Cottondale, introduced a bill requiring photo voter identification earlier this year, but it has been held up in a House committee. He also said he expects to try to revive voter ID legislation, saying that his bill would offer citizens who do not have a photo ID a chance to get one. -- GOP to push for stronger voter ID law in Alabama

April 29, 2008

Indiana: Supreme Court OKs voter I.D. law

The New York Times reports: The Supreme Court upheld Indiana’s voter identification law on Monday, concluding in a splintered decision that the challengers failed to prove that the law’s photo ID requirement placed an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote.

The 6-to-3 ruling kept the door open to future lawsuits that provided more evidence. But this theoretical possibility was small comfort to the dissenters or to critics of voter ID laws, who predicted that a more likely outcome than successful lawsuits would be the spread of measures that would keep some legitimate would-be voters from the polls.

Voting experts said the ruling was likely to complicate election administration, leading to both more litigation and more legislation, at least in states with Republican legislative majorities, but would probably have a limited impact on this year’s presidential voting.

The issue has been intensely partisan, with Republicans supporting increased identification requirements for voters and Democrats opposing them. In what the court described as the “lead opinion,” which was written by Justice John Paul Stevens and joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the court acknowledged that the record of the case contained “no evidence” of the type of voter fraud the law was ostensibly devised to detect and deter, the effort by a voter to cast a ballot in another person’s name. ...

The three others who made up the majority, Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel A. Alito Jr., said in an opinion by Justice Scalia that the law was so obviously justified as “a generally applicable, nondiscriminatory voting regulation” that there was no basis for scrutinizing the record to assess the impact on any individual voters. “This is an area where the dos and don’ts need to be known in advance of the election,” Justice Scalia said. -- In a 6-to-3 Vote, Justices Uphold a Voter ID Law

Nina Totenberg on NPR has a good roundup of interviews with Rick Hasen, Pam Karlan, and others.

The Washington Post had a live discussion with Roy Schotland yesterday. The Post has an article today.

Joan Biskupic has an article in USA Today.

April 28, 2008

United Kingdom: report calls for photo I.D. and safeguards on postal voting

The Guardian reports: UK elections fall short of international standards and are vulnerable to fraud, a report published today claims.

Measures introduced to improve choice for voters, such as postal and electronic voting, increase the risk of fraud, according to the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust study.

The trust is calling for the use of photo ID at polling booths and a cap on campaign spending at constituency levels as way of keeping elections fair.

The report, entitled Purity of Elections in the UK: Causes for Concern, comes ahead of Thursday s local elections in England and Wales.

There have been at least 42 convictions for electoral fraud in the UK in the last seven years. -- Electoral system vulnerable to fraud, report finds | Politics |

April 3, 2008

Kansas: Voter I.D. bill in conference committee

Harris News Service reports: Democratic and Republican negotiators clashed Wednesday over how strict to make legislation requiring most voters under age 65 to show photo identification to cast a ballot.

A conference committee of six lawmakers, three from each the House and Senate, have started discussing what elements to include in a compromise bill designed to pass both legislative chambers.

Each body has passed its own legislation enacting a photo ID requirement but the Senate s proposal is more stringent than the House-backed measure that passed last week.

The two Democrats on the panel, though, suggested that Gov. Kathleen Sebelius was likely to veto either measure. They urged Republican negotiators to proceed with what they say are less onerous ID requirements that have a better chance of becoming law. -- Hutchinson News Online

March 12, 2008

EAC's Inspector General clears commission of "politics" on the Voter I.D. study

The Election Assistance Commission's Inspector General has issued his report on the allegations of improper handling of the report on voter fraud. The PDF of the document is locked so that I cannot easily copy the synopsis. So, here is my synopsis of the synopsis: the report was poorly planned (by EAC, it appears) without enough guidance to the consultants. The editing of the report was done by EAC officials because they felt the report was poorly written. Because voter fraud is a highly charged issue, the EAC should have included the consultants in the editing process to avoid charges that political pressures had been applied to the EAC.

I await the responses of Tova Wang and Job Serebrov, the consultants.

March 7, 2008

Panel discusses voter I.D.

The Daily Free Press reports: A panel of professors and lawyers hosted by the Harvard Journal on Legislation analyzed the implications of voter identification laws and their potential impact on the presidential election this year, at the Harvard Law School yesterday.

The panel, Voices on Voting: Election Law in 2008, said though voter identification laws would alleviate public fears of voter fraud, they would not actually solve the issue and have contributed to contested election results in the past.

Columbia Law School professor Nate Persily said the rules on photo identification vary immensely from state to state, but in general, voters without an ID can only cast a provisional ballot.

When voters have their IDs, they must go to the state elections office to have their votes counted, he said. However, Persily said, few people do this and so their votes go uncounted. -- Panel: Elections need reform - News

March 3, 2008

Alberta, Canada: Liberal leader calls for voter I.D.

The Edmonton Journal reports: Alberta needs to overhaul its electoral system because votes conducted in the province almost have the feel of a banana republic, says Liberal Leader Kevin Taft.

Taft made the call as Albertans prepare to go to the polls Monday to elect a new government.

The leader of Alberta s official opposition cited a number of long-standing concerns his party has with the electoral process after visiting several temples and seniors residences for some last-minute campaigning in Edmonton on Sunday. ...

He suggested some of the problems being raised by his candidates Sunday, like concerns about controls to prevent people from voting both in the advance polls and on election day, could be addressed by requiring voters to produce photo identification.

Taft has complained about abuses of the electoral process in his book Democracy Derailed, which outlined a situation where special ballots were cast on behalf of people who weren't even in the country. -- Alberta s electoral system in need of major overhaul, Liberals Taft says

February 22, 2008

Mississippi: Senate passes voter I.D. bill

The Hattiesburg American reports: The annual legislative fight over voter identification moved to the Senate floor on Thursday as lawmakers debated for more than two hours about the need to require ID at the polls.

The legislation, which passed on a 34-18 vote, comes in a year when pending legal action could influence how swiftly Mississippi adopts an ID requirement.


The bill is separate from a more comprehensive election package promoted by Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. Hosemann s proposal also has a voter ID provision.

The bill passed Thursday would require voters to show a valid photo ID, a government document with their name and address on it or a Social Security card. Acceptable photo ID includes driver s licenses, passports, student and employee cards. -- Hattiesburg American - - Hattiesburg, Miss.

January 29, 2008

Texas: film on voter I.D. fight

Gerry Hebert emails: The Lone Star Project in DC has produced this 12 and a half minute video on the fight over the voter ID bill in Texas during the 2007 legislative session. It is a tribute to the courage shown by Senator Mario Gallegos, who risked serious health issues to stay in Austin and fight the bill. It’s well worth watching. Full disclosure: I make a cameo appearance.

It is available here on Google Video.

January 24, 2008

Florida: DOJ approves 3 laws tightening voter I.D. requirements

The St. Petersburg Times reports: Six days before Florida's statewide presidential preference primary, the U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday approved three recent changes to state election laws and took no action on a fourth because it is the subject of a federal lawsuit.

Despite the federal approval that the state sought, the changes will not be put into effect at the polls because the decision came so close to the Jan. 29 primary.

In a letter to state officials, the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division approved legislative changes excluding employer IDs or buyer club IDs as acceptable forms of identification at the polls; reducing from three days to two the period a voter who casts a provisional ballot can provide supporting documentation; and increasing penalties for third-party groups that violate the law in conducting voter registration drives. -- State: Feds approve state election law changes

January 8, 2008

"Voter ID Laws Are Set to Face a Crucial Test"

The New York Times reports: In April 2006, a federal judge upheld Indiana’s law on voter identification, the strictest in the nation, saying there was no evidence that it would prevent any voter from having his ballot counted.

But on Election Day last November, Valerie Williams became that evidence, according to lawyers in a case that will be argued before the Supreme Court on Wednesday. After Ms. Williams grabbed her cane that day and walked into the polling station in the lobby of her retirement home to vote, as she has done in at least the last two elections, she was barred from doing so.

The election officials at the polling place, whom she had known for years, told her she could not cast a regular ballot. They said the forms of identification she had always used — a telephone bill, a Social Security letter with her address on it and an expired Indiana driver’s license — were no longer valid under the voter ID law, which required a current state-issued photo identification card.

“Of course I threw a fit,” said Ms. Williams, 61, who was made to cast a provisional ballot instead, which, according to voting records, was never counted. Ms. Williams — who has difficulty walking — said she was not able to get a ride to the voting office to prove her identity within 10 days as required under the law, and her ballot was discarded.

The incident is at the heart of the highly anticipated case, which challenges the constitutionality of the Indiana law and, according to Daniel P. Tokaji, a professor of law at Ohio State University, is “the most important case involving the mechanics of election administration in decades.” -- Voter ID Laws Are Set to Face a Crucial Test

November 28, 2007

Canada: masked voters [fill in your own joke]

The Ottawa Citizen reports: Elections Canada has informed the government there were 70 instances in the September federal byelections in Quebec of voters showing up at the polls wearing face masks, Government House leader Peter Van Loan disclosed yesterday.

The masked voters -- whose covers included at least one pumpkin -- were likely protesting Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand's decision that Elections Canada could not force Muslim women to take off religious veils to prove their identity, Mr. Van Loan said.

He made the disclosure after appearing at the Commons procedure and House affairs committee to defend a government bill amending the Canada Elections Act to require all voters to show their faces even if they have no photo ID. -- 70 masked voters cast ballots, Elections Canada reports

November 13, 2007

Indiana: Brennan Center (et al) amicus brief filed in voter I.D. case

The Brennan Center's headline says it all: New Study Finds African Americans, Low-Income Voters, Students and Seniors Least Likely to Have Valid Voter ID at Issue Before Supreme Court -- Press Releases

Also, look at this page which has links to many amicus briefs.

November 12, 2007

Indiana: NAACP LDF files amicus brief in Crawford v. Marion Co. Election Bd.

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund has filed its amicus brief in the voter I.D. case soon to be heard by the Supreme Court. Here is the Summary of the Argument:

Although the Court of Appeals seems to trivialize the value of the right to vote, describing “the benefits of voting to the individual” as “elusive,” Crawford v. Marion County Election Bd., 472 F.3d 949, 951 (7th Cir. 2007), that characterization is plainly contrary to the Constitution and this Court’s jurisprudence. Instead, “the right to exercise the franchise in a free and unimpaired manner is preservative of other basic civic and political rights.” Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533, 562 (1964). The Indiana statute at issue in these cases demands, therefore, not only a searching review of the burden imposed on individuals, but also consideration of the disproportionate burdens faced by voters who have enjoyed unfettered access to the vote as a result of this Court’s precedents.

We agree with petitioners that the impact on some individuals — effective vote denial — is significant and requires Indiana’s law to be invalidated. See Burdick v. Takushi, 504 U.S. 428,
434 (1992). We urge the Court to consider the likelihood that laws like Indiana’s photo identification requirement will disfranchise some of the most vulnerable communities in our nation, whose access to the ballot is critical to the integrity of our participatory democracy.

Millions of Americans do not possess the form of government-issued photo identification required under Indiana’s law, and that group is disproportionately poor and minority. Accordingly, the impact of laws like Indiana’s, which conditions the right to vote on the presentation of identification, will effectively fence out of the electorate significant numbers of African Americans, and will have a particularly burdensome impact in the places where impoverished African Americans are concentrated. Significantly, Indiana’s law stands as a barrier not only to voters who have previously participated under state voting standards that afforded greater access, as also to the political mobilization of eligible, but yet unregistered citizens whose right to participate is of no less constitutional import. The demographic profile of Indiana bears this out. Although Indiana’s law requiring the presentation of government-issued photo identification may not, at first glance, appear to have a pernicious impact, poor African Americans will bear the burden of the restriction more than any other group.

Moreover, because there can be no question that areas of concentrated poverty include a disproportionately high number of citizens who lack the type of identification that would meet the demands of Indiana’s law, there is significant reason for concern that the adoption of similar photo identification requirements would have an extraordinary impact at the local level in many places. Such statutes would threaten to disfranchise significant portions of the electorate in many cities and counties.

Taken together, the primacy of voting in our democracy, the stringency of the Indiana law, and the reality that the franchise has long provided our nation’s socio-economically disadvantaged racial minorities with the only tangible means of accessing the political process and asserting their interests, should lead this Court to employ its strictest review and invalidate the statute.

Download the file here

November 6, 2007

Canada: group challenges voter I.D. law

The Globe and Mail reports: Changes to Canada s election laws over identification could shut out hundreds of thousands of voters says a coalition that has launched a constitutional challenge in B.C. Supreme Court.

The lawyer behind the legal petition is hoping for a quick decision. ...

The court petition states changes to the Canada Elections Act deprive otherwise-eligible citizens of their right to vote. It claims this year s amendments mean that even if people are on the voters list they still must have government-issued photo ID with a current address usually a driver s licence.

Mr. Quail, a lawyer with the B.C. Public Interest Advocacy Centre, said that cuts out students who don't have identification with their current address, seniors who don't drive or have picture identification, the homeless, disabled and aboriginals whose status cards don't show an address.

Before the changes, people on the voters list could arrive at the polling station with the voter card they received in the mail or apply to get one. -- Law may deny many right to vote: group

November 2, 2007

Georgia: who is without I.D?

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports: More than 160,000 registered voters could cast ballots in Tuesday's election only to have them not counted under Georgia's law requiring photo identification at the polls.

Voters without acceptable identification will be allowed to cast provisional ballots in next week's county and municipal elections, but those ballots will be counted only if the voters show appropriate photo identification to their county registrars within 48 hours of the polls closing.

Nearly 75,000 of the voters live in the five-county metro Atlanta area, but rural counties in south Georgia have a higher percentage of voters without IDs, according to an analysis of a state database by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

In August, Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel directed her staff to compare voter rolls with records from the Department of Driver Services to identify voters who may not have driver's licenses or state IDs. That effort yielded a database of 198,000 names. ...

African Americans make up 28 percent of all Georgia voters. The newspaper's analysis found that blacks represent 46 percent of those identified as not having proper identification. In DeKalb County, for example, African-Americans make up 54 percent of registered voters, but they make up 64 percent of voters there who may not have an ID. -- No ID? Votes cast can become castoffs |

October 31, 2007

John Tanner faces the Judiciary Committee

The Washington Post reports: House Democrats sharply criticized the head of the Justice Department's voting section yesterday for making a series of racially charged statements, including his suggestion that black voters are not hurt as much as whites by voter identification laws because "they die first."

In a tense appearance before a House Judiciary subcommittee, John K. Tanner apologized for the "tone" of his comments about elderly voters earlier this month and said they "do not in any way accurately reflect my career of devotion" to upholding federal voting rights laws. ...

But Tanner, a 31-year Justice Department career employee, also stuck by his assertion that demographic differences between racial groups temper the impact on minorities of laws requiring that voters present detailed identification, prompting several Democrats to question his fitness to be a senior official in the department's Civil Rights Division.

"You're saying you're right but your tone was wrong," said Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.). "I don't know what you're apologizing for."

Toby Moore, a former political geographer in the voting section, told the committee that Tanner regularly engaged in "broad generalizations, deliberate misuse of statistics and casual supposition" in making decisions, including overruling Moore and other career employees in approving a 2005 Georgia voter identification law. -- Justice Dept. Voting Chief Apologizes But Persists -

October 25, 2007

Voter ID paper from Tova Wang

High Court to Ponder Question Plaguing Voters: "Got ID?" by Tova Andrea Wang, The Century Foundation, 10/24/2007 The United States Supreme Court recently agreed to hear a case regarding the constitutionality of Indiana’s strictest-in-the-nation voter identification law. Indiana currently requires every voter to present government-issued photo identification at the polls or be barred from voting. One of the main arguments made by the defenders of the law, in this case and in other identification litigation, is that there is a lack of data showing that voter identification requirements suppress voting or disproportionately impact particular groups. --

October 24, 2007

ACS Panel on Voter ID

The American Constitution Society (ACS) hosted a panel discussion yesterday entitled, "Voter ID Laws: Preventing Fraud or Suppressing the Vote?" Video from that discussion is available here.

The panel featured:

* Julie Fernandes, Senior Policy Analyst and Special Counsel, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
* Deborah Goldberg, Democracy Program Director, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law
* Robert Kelner, Partner and Chair of Election and Political Law Practice, Covington & Burling LLP
* Spencer Overton, Professor of Law, George Washington University Law School
* Moderator, Tova Wang, Democracy Fellow, The Century Foundation

A transcript of the discussion is forthcoming. -- ACSBlog: The Blog of the American Constitution Society: Voter ID Laws: Preventing Fraud or Suppressing the Vote: Panel Discussion

October 21, 2007

Obama jumps on Tanner

It's officially mainstream now -- in the New York Times: Senator Barack Obama said the leader of the civil rights division of the Justice Department should step down after suggesting that minority voters were not widely disenfranchised by laws requiring photo identification because many members of minorities died before reaching old age.

“This administration has shown very little interest in making sure that all people have equal access to the ballot box,” Mr. Obama said in a telephone interview. “It’s important for all of us to embrace the basic notion that we should try to make voting easier, not harder.”

Mr. Obama, an Illinois Democrat who is seeking his party’s presidential nomination, was responding to a remark made by John Tanner, the chief of the Justice Department’s civil rights division. In a speech to a Latino group earlier this month in Los Angeles, Mr. Tanner said that a disproportionate share of elderly minority voters did not have identification, but added that it was not a widespread problem because of their life expectancy. ...

On Friday, Mr. Obama sent a letter to the Justice Department, urging acting Attorney General Peter D. Keisler to replace Mr. Tanner for making comments that were “patently erroneous, offensive and dangerous.” -- Obama Calls for Ouster of Official After Remark - New York Times

October 13, 2007

Georgia: Secretary of State sends letters to the non-I.D.'ed reports: Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel has begun Phase Two of her office’s Photo ID outreach and education campaign in preparation for municipal elections to be held in 90 counties - including Hall - on November 6. The campaign is aimed at reminding voters they must present photo identification for in-person voting. Photo identification is not required to vote with an absentee ballot.

The Secretary of State’s Office is sending letters to over 166,000 active and inactive registered voters in the 90 counties who may not have a Georgia driver’s license or state identification card. The voters receiving this letter were identified through a database match of active and inactive registered voters and Georgia Department of Drivers Services (DDS) records.

“We encourage every registered voter who does not yet have photo identification to contact their county registrar’s office or DDS center. We want to ensure that every citizen who needs a free photo ID card knows where to obtain it,” said Handel.

Registered voters in the 90 counties believed to not have a driver’s license or other photo identification will also receive an informational brochure and postcard in the weeks leading up to the November 6 election date. -- Secretary of State begins Phase 2 of photo ID outreach

October 11, 2007

ACS briefing on Voter ID laws

The American Constitution Society Announces Briefing on Voter ID Laws: In light of lawsuits challenging the constitutional of voter identification laws, including an upcoming Supreme Court cases on that subject, ACS will host a briefing on how voter ID laws affect our democracy. A panel of experts, including Julie Fernandes, Deborah Goldberg, Robert Kelner, Spencer Overton, and Tova Wang, will discuss how voter photo-ID laws impact our democracy on October 23, 2007, at the National Press Club's Holeman Lounge (Washington DC), from 12 to 2:30 pm. Lunch will be served. For information and to register, please visit the ACS website.

October 5, 2007

Georgia: Tanner defends DOJ's voter I.D. decision

AP reports: The head of the Justice Department's voting rights division told members of the NAACP that when he cleared Georgia's voter ID law he didn't look at whether it violated the Constitution.

"All we can look at is racial discrimination, we can't look at anything else," John Tanner told the annual meeting of Georgia's NAACP.

"You can't look at whether it's a poll tax, you can't look at whether it violates the Equal Protection Clause (of the Constitution)."

Tanner said that Justice Department lawyers are very limited in what they can consider when they "pre-clear" state laws under the Voting Rights Act. The voting chief faced criticism after a memo revealed that he signed off on the Georgia law in 2005 over the objections of four of the five career employees who concluded it ran afoul of the voting rights law.

Tanner said Thursday that Georgia statistics examined by Justice Department lawyers showed that minorities are "slightly more likely" than non-minorities to have a photo ID. -- Voting chief defends approval of Georgia's voter ID law

September 26, 2007

Indiana: Supreme Court to hear voter I.D. case

The Washington Post reports: The Supreme Court said yesterday that it will consider whether state laws requiring voters to present photo identification at polling places unfairly discriminate against the poor and minorities, injecting the justices into a fiercely partisan battle just before the 2008 elections. ...

At a time when polarization on the court -- many of its most recent high-profile decisions have been decided 5 to 4 -- has turned it into a target for political partisans, the justices are stepping into a political battle by accepting the voter-ID case.

Proponents of the laws, which have been passed since the contested 2000 presidential election, say the measures combat fraud. Opponents say poor people and minorities, who often do not have driver's licenses, passports or other government-issued identification, would be excluded from the polls.

Seven states require a photo ID to vote and another 17 states require identification without photos, according to the National Association of State Legislatures. The battle has usually broken down along partisan lines, with Republicans favoring laws they said would combat voter fraud and with Democrats pushing proposals they said would encourage voter participation. -- Supreme Court to Consider Use of Voter ID -

September 20, 2007

Georgia: "no glitches" in voter I.D. on Tuesday

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports: Georgia's first test of its much-debated photo voter ID system passed Tuesday's elections with no reported glitches, state officials and some critics of the new law said Wednesday.

Secretary of State Karen Handel, who oversees Georgia's elections, said she heard of no complaints in the 22 counties where elections were held Tuesday.

Some who opposed the ID system say there were few complaints because many people without the proper ID didn't vote.

Kevin Thomas, Clayton County's Democratic Party chairman, said he received a telephone call from someone Tuesday wondering if the caller's grandmother could vote if she didn't have identification.

"I know for a fact [the ID requirement] did discourage people from coming out," Thomas said. -- Voter ID system passes first test, officials say |

July 19, 2007

Michigan: state supreme court approves voter I.D. law

The Grand Rapids Press reports: A law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls is sparking mixed reaction from local officials.

The Michigan Supreme Court's decision Wednesday upholds a 1996 state law, renewed in 2005, which requires voters to show photo ID to get a ballot. If voters don't have ID, they can sign an affidavit swearing to their identity and then vote.

The law never took effect, however, because former Democratic Attorney General Frank Kelley said it violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, which guarantees the right to vote. Republicans in the state House last year asked the Supreme Court for an opinion on the law's constitutionality. ...

The Supreme Court vote followed party lines. -- Renewed voter ID law spurs mixed reaction -

July 3, 2007

Indiana: Dems and ACLU file cert petitions on voter I.D.

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reports: The Supreme Court will decide whether Indiana’s voter ID law is too much of a burden for some people, as the state’s Democratic Party argues, or is a prudent way to prevent voter fraud, as Republican lawmakers contend.

The Democratic Party and the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana will file a request Monday asking the court to review the legal fight over the law. Voter ID has operated in two primaries and a fall election since the state legislature adopted a requirement that voters must produce photo identification at polling places.

The court will either agree to hear the case – ultimately choosing between the Indiana Democratic Party’s view and the state law – or refuse to consider it, which would be a victory for backers of the law. -- High court may review voter ID legal fight

Note: Rick Hasen has uploaded the Indiana Democratic Party's petition. The Indiana ACLU's petition is here. (Thanks to Bill Groth for sending the IDP petition to me.)

July 2, 2007

Mississippi: Dem leaders claim Turnage filed motion without talking to clients

The Jackson Clarion Ledger reports: State Democratic Party leaders said Saturday they have not heard from their attorney since a federal judge ruled lawmakers must revamp party primaries and pass a voter ID policy.

Cleveland attorney Ellis Turnage filed a motion June 15 asking the judge to reconsider the voter ID provision without speaking with his clien, the Mississippi Democratic Party. ...

Committee members on Saturday questioned whether they should keep Turnage, file an appeal or let the judge's decision stand. The party executive committee lacked a quorum and could not take any action.

Some members want the voter ID provision removed from the judge's order. Others said they should start talking to legislators. -- Miss. Dems question attorney's work -The Clarion-Ledger- Real Mississippi

June 25, 2007

Georgia: voter ID cards being used for ... identification

Morris News Service reports: The state's efforts to implement voter identification rules has taken an odd twist in Augusta where election officials say free IDs are being used for more than just entering the polls. ...

Although the cards have the words "for voting only" printed on them, state and local election officials suspect that they are being used by people who need to show a photo ID when cashing checks.

Lynn Bailey, executive director of the Richmond County Board of Elections, said her office has fielded calls from banks asking about the cards. ...

[State Election Board Vice Chairman Tex McIver] asked Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel to look into the issue to see if anything can be done to curb the unintended use.

That could be tough since the point of the cards was to make receiving the voting IDs as easy as possible for people without any other identification because of a controversial rule limiting what voters can use on Election Day. -- | News | Augusta residents using free voter IDs to cash checks 06/23/07

June 14, 2007

Georgia: election board wants to use voter I.D. "as soon as the law allows"

AP reports: Days after the Georgia's top court tossed out a challenge to the voter ID law, the state election board on Wednesday said the state should move forward in its effort to require voters to show photo identification at the ballot box.

After a lengthy closed session to discuss the ongoing litigation in the case, board members with a 3-1 vote approved a motion expressing their desire that the state implement the voter ID law "as soon as the law allows."

The board's lone Democrat David Worley voted against the measure.

A spokeswoman for Secretary of State Karen Handel said the law would not be in effect for the upcoming special election June 19 in the 10th congressional district, where voters will pick a successor for the late Rep. Charles Norwood.

It's expected the law would be used in September local elections. -- Ga. election board says move forward with voter ID

von Spakovsky defends his record

The Washington Times reports: Hans von Spakovsky, an embattled Republican nominee to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), yesterday told a Senate panel that his support of laws requiring voters to show photo identification and other election safeguards are being misconstrued as plots to disenfranchise black Democratic voters.

"I think voter ID is a good idea," he said at a Rules and Administration Committee hearing on his and three other nominations to the FEC. "I also believe very strongly that every eligible voter needs to be able to access the ballot box."

Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, a member of the rules panel, praised Mr. von Spakovsky's sentiment but said it was "inconsistent" with his actions as counsel at the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division from 2003 through 2005.

Mr. von Spakovsky, 48, who has been serving on the FEC board for 18 months as a recess appointment by President Bush, said he did not make final decisions on civil rights issues, such as the much-maligned decision supporting a Georgia photo-ID law that was criticized as disenfranchising black voters. -- FEC nominee defends support for voter IDs

June 12, 2007

Mississippi: be careful what you wish for

The Jackson Clarion-Ledger reports: Mississippi Democrats may have paid a high price for winning the court fight to close primaries to registered party voters: a voter ID mandate they've fought for years to block.

The party filed suit last year against the three-member Mississippi Election Commission seeking to close primaries and allow only registered Democrats to cast ballots.

U.S District Judge Allen Pepper granted their request Friday but added a twist: Legislators need to require voter identification by April 1.

He threw in added pressure by declaring no 2008 party primaries will be held until the system is revamped, meaning the Democratic and Republican presidential primaries in March could be impacted.

Both sides of the case may ask Pepper to reconsider his decision to require voter identification - an issue Democrats have steadfastly opposed. -- Primary ruling a mixed bag for Dems

June 11, 2007

Georgia: supreme court avoids ruling on the merits of voter I.D. case

AP reports: The Georgia Supreme Court threw out a challenge Monday to the state's voter ID law, but sidestepped a decision on the law's validity by ruling that the plaintiff didn't have the legal standing to challenge the law.

The court's unanimous opinion reversed a decision in September by Fulton County Superior Court Judge T. Jackson Bedford, who ruled the law was unconstitutional and an undue burden on voters. After that ruling, the State Election Board decided not to require voters to show a photo ID card to cast a ballot in the November elections. -- Ga. Court Tosses Voter ID Challenge

The opinion is available from the Georgia Supreme Court site.

May 31, 2007

Minnesota: US attorney may have been targeted because of Indian voting rights

The Los Angeles Times reports: For more than 15 years, clean-cut, square-jawed Tom Heffelfinger was the embodiment of a tough Republican prosecutor. Named U.S. attorney for Minnesota in 1991, he won a series of high-profile white-collar crime and gun and explosives cases. By the time Heffelfinger resigned last year, his office had collected a string of awards and commendations from the Justice Department.

So it came as a surprise — and something of a mystery — when he turned up on a list of U.S. attorneys who had been targeted for firing.

Part of the reason, government documents and other evidence suggest, is that he tried to protect voting rights for Native Americans.

At a time when GOP activists wanted U.S. attorneys to concentrate on pursuing voter fraud cases, Heffelfinger's office was expressing deep concern about the effect of a state directive that could have the effect of discouraging Indians in Minnesota from casting ballots. -- Minnesota case fits pattern in U.S. attorneys flap

May 28, 2007

Alabama: "undocument citizens" are disproportionately black

The Birmingham News reports: A new federal law designed to prevent illegal immigrants from signing up for Medicaid has kicked more than 5,000 people off the rolls in Alabama, but only 115 of them are Hispanic, according to state data.

Advocates for the poor argue that the new rule is hitting the wrong people - poor Americans.

More than 5,000 people have been terminated from Medicaid for failing to provide a birth certificate or other proof of citizenship, according to data from the Alabama Medicaid Agency. ...

Hispanics comprised 6 percent of the Medicaid rolls affected by the new rule, but they accounted for 2 percent of the patients dropped from Medicaid. Black Alabamians comprised 48 percent of the affected group and accounted for nearly 60 percent of the 527,400 who dropped. -- Medicaid rule hits citizens hardest-

Comment: About 24% of Alabama's population is black, so among a group that is already disproportionately black, blacks are hit even harder by this "show me your papers" rule.

May 24, 2007

Texas: voter I.D. bill dead for the session; Sen. Gallegos still alive

The Dallas Morning News reports: Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst declared a much-debated voter identification bill dead Wednesday night as the Senate faced a midnight deadline for passage of all bills in this year's legislative session.

His declaration prompted Democratic Sen. Mario Gallegos of Houston, who has been recovering from a liver transplant but has stayed in Austin to prevent a vote on the bill, to thank the lieutenant governor and all of his colleagues before departing the Capitol. ...

Mr. Gallegos returned to the Capitol on Monday against his doctors' wishes to preserve a Democratic blockade of the GOP-backed legislation, which would have required Texans to show a photo ID or two other pieces of identification to vote. The Senate's 11 Democrats blocked action on the proposal under the chamber's long-standing rule that requires a two-thirds vote of the 31-member chamber to take up any bill.

The measure passed the House earlier this year but has been stalled in the Senate. Republicans say it's an important piece of legislation to fight voter fraud, especially illegal immigrants voting. Democrats contend that's a problem that doesn't exist and say the measure will harm minorities and the elderly. -- Ailing senator helps quash voter ID bill

May 22, 2007

Von Spakovsky's dual role under scrutiny

McClatchy Newspapers reports: During four years as a Justice Department civil rights lawyer, Hans von Spakovsky went so far in a crusade against voter fraud as to warn of its dangers under a pseudonym in a law journal article.

Writing as ''Publius,'' von Spakovsky contended that every voter should be required to produce a photo identification card and that there was ''no evidence'' that such restrictions burden minority voters disproportionately.

Now, amid a scandal over politicization of the Justice Department, Congress is beginning to examine allegations that von Spakovsky was a key player in a Republican campaign to hang onto power in Washington by suppressing the votes of minority voters.

''Mr. von Spakovsky was central to the administration's pursuit of strategies that had the effect of suppressing the minority vote,'' charged Joseph Rich, a former Justice Department voting rights chief who worked under him. -- Anti-voter fraud effort's politics under scrutiny

Texas: Gallegos risks his life to stop voter I.D. bill

AP reports: Against his doctor's advice, a stooped and feeble Sen. Mario Gallegos arrives at the state Capitol each day, just to make sure the Senate does not take up a bill that would require voters to produce ID at the polls.

And when the rigors of the job start to wear on the Houston Democrat, whose body is trying to reject a liver transplanted four months ago, he retires to a hospital-style bed — donated by a Republican colleague — in a room next to the Senate chamber.

From there, he can be summoned at a moment's notice should his vote be needed to keep the bill from reaching the floor.

In a life-and-death drama playing out under the Capitol dome, Gallegos is putting his health at risk to block a measure he and others say could prevent many minorities and the elderly from taking part in elections in Texas. -- Ailing lawmaker makes bed at Capitol to block bill

May 15, 2007

Canada: Date of birth on voter rolls resisted by Senate

CanWest News Service reported last Friday: A bill proposing to put the birth dates of all federal electors on copies of the permanent voter registry given to political parties could cause an explosion of identity theft and invasion of privacy, Liberal and Conservative senators warned Thursday.

In a rare departure from the wrangling that has enveloped the Senate, members of the upper chamber from both sides questioned Government House leader Peter Van Loan over the proposal to release vital personal information so broadly.

"With the passage of this bill, everybody's date of birth is going to be known to everybody in Canada," said Liberal Senator George Baker, noting Elections Canada gives the political parties electronic copies of the permanent voters list three times a year as it is updated with new information on citizens.

Baker, who cited a series of court rulings saying compulsory release of birth information violates the Charter of Rights in certain circumstances, found support from Conservative Senator Pierre-Claude Nolin, who also raised concerns about violations of the charter. -- Birth dates on voter list could aid identity theft, senators fear

April 25, 2007

Texas: House approves voter I.D. bill

AP reports: Texans would be required to show more identification at the voting booth to prove they are who they say they are under a measure that won preliminary approval in the state House on Monday.

Existing state law allows voters to simply show their voter registration card or, if they don't have it, show identification to have their name matched to voter registry rolls.

The proposal by Rep. Betty Brown, R-Terrell, would require voters to produce photo identification or two other forms of non-photo identification at a polling place. Brown said she wants to prevent voter impersonation and to keep "illegal aliens, non-citizens" and other ineligible residents from voting.

"Voting is the most basic building block of our system of representative democracy," Brown said. "Voter impersonation is a serious crime."

After six hours of tense debate, the House voted 76-68 to tentatively approve Brown's proposal. It would still need a final House vote and Senate approval before it could be enacted into law. -- Times Record News: Local News

April 10, 2007

Canada: voter I.D. bill seen to affect Muslim women

24 Hours Vancouver reports: Veiled Muslim women might be forced to show their face at the voting booth if a government bill quietly making its way through the Senate becomes law, says new chief federal electoral officer Marc Mayrand.

Bill C-31 would require voters to show government-issued photo identification at the polling booth during federal elections. It has passed through the House of Commons and is currently being studied by a Senate committee. ...

The Muslim Canadian Congress sees no problem with the bill. -- 24 Hours Vancouver - News: Controversial voter ID bill likely to pass

April 5, 2007

Indiana: 7th Circuit refuses rehearing

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has refused to rehear the Indiana Democratic Party's challenge to the voter I.D. law. The short denial following by a 5 page dissent by 4 judges is here.

Thanks to Ballot Access News for the tip.

April 3, 2007

Texas: papers to prove who you are

John Kelso actually reads legislative bills in the Austin American Statesman: The same Texas legislator who got Athens, Texas, declared the birthplace of the hamburger is trying to make your sex change paperwork one of the papers you can use to identify yourself when you go to vote.

Who says Texas isn't progressive?

"I don't remember reading that in the bill," said John Gibbs, chief of staff for Rep. Betty Brown, R-Athens. These people at the Capitol ought to read these bills before they pump 'em out. That way they could get a few laughs.

Is this sex change provision really necessary to identify the voter? Hey, if you're in Athens and you've had a sex change operation, everybody in town knows who you are already, Patsy.

House Bill 218 is designed to cut down on voter fraud in Texas by making you bring along ID in addition to your voter registration card. I'm guessing the concern here is that undocumented workers will rush across our borders and try to vote. Like that happens a lot, right? -- Bill lets you vote if you bring your what to the polls?

April 1, 2007

Kansas: governor still thinking about vetoing the voter I.D. bill

Harris News Service reports: Gov. Kathleen Sebelius won't say yet whether she'll veto a measure requiring Kansans younger than age 65 to show photo identification to vote.

The Senate voted 26-14 Thursday to send the House a bill that requires voter ID's. The action gives the full House a second chance to vote on a measure that had stalled in committee.

The proposal, backed by Sen. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, also requires that citizens prove their citizenship with a birth certificate, passport or other federal document in order to register to vote.

However, Huelskamp said the requirements would only affect people who register to vote for the first time in the state on or after July 1, 2007. Once done, a voter wouldn't have to provide proof-of-citizenship again unless they moved outside the state. -- The Hutchinson News, Hutchinson, Kan., | Regional News

March 21, 2007

Kansas: voter I.D. bill stalls in House

The Wichita Eagle reports: A bill that Democrats claim would make Kansas one of the hardest places to register to vote faces an uncertain future in the House.

The bill, which has already passed the Senate, would require people to show a birth certificate or passport to register.

Voters younger than 65 would also have to show photo identification at the polls. ...

Senate Bill 169 passed the Senate 28-12.

However, late Tuesday a House committee on elections decided not to act on the bill, raising doubt about whether it would pass this session. -- Wichita Eagle | 03/21/2007 | Bill making it harder to register to vote stalls

March 14, 2007

Missouri: legislature tries to patch up voter I.D.

Missourinet reports: Legislation filling the gaps in the voter photo identification law passed last year by the General Assembly and tossed out by the courts has been heard before a House committee. Representative Bill Deeken (R-Jefferson City) sponsors HB 1044 that allow currently accepted voter ID to remain in effect through September 1st of this year. After that date, photo identification would be required. ...

The legislation addresses one of the key concerns raised by those who objected to the voter photo ID concept: It would require the Secretary of State to pay for all forms of identification necessary to vote. This would benefit anyone without a driver's license who claims he or she cannot afford a non-driver's license photo ID. -- Missourinet: House Committee Considers New Voter Photo ID Bill

March 13, 2007

Georgia: state supreme court hears arguments in voter I.D. case

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports: After two years of heated public debate, Georgia's highest court will decide whether a law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls is constitutional.

The Georgia Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday about the state's 2006 law mandating voters to show one of six forms of government-issued photo ID at the polls.

The issue has pitted Republicans against Democrats, black lawmakers against their white colleagues, and liberal advocates for the poor and disabled against conservatives who championed the sanctity of the ballot box. It has also created a new battleground for former campaign rivals Gov. Sonny Perdue and former Gov. Roy Barnes.

Barnes, a Democrat, filed the lawsuit against Perdue, the Republican who beat him, and the state on behalf of Rosalind Lake, a disabled Atlanta woman who does not have a state-issued photo ID. In a booming voice, Barnes told the court Monday that the law violates the state constitution because it imposes an unnecessary condition on the act of voting in person. -- Justices weigh voter ID lawsuit |

March 12, 2007

Georgia: arguments today in state supreme court on voter I.D.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports: The drawn-out fight over whether Georgians should be required to show photo identification when voting resumes today when the state Supreme Court takes up the issue.

The heated debate over photo voter ID has been on hold since September, when a Fulton County Superior Court judge ruled the requirement violated the state constitution.

Former Gov. Roy Barnes, now a lawyer in private practice, argued successfully that requiring voters to produce a government-issued photo ID at the polls placed a condition on voting above what is called for in the Georgia Constitution. Judge T. Jackson Bedford Jr. agreed, calling it an unlawful "prerequisite" to voting. -- Debate over voters' photo ID goes to state Supreme Court |

March 9, 2007

Arkansas: legislative committee fails to pass voter I.D. bill

The Morning News reports: A bill requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls stalled Wednesday in a House committee.

House Bill 2120 by Rep. Jon Woods, R-Springdale, failed in a voice vote in the House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Woods' bill required voters to show photo identification issued by the Arkansas or U.S. government at the polls. The bill was amended Wednesday to add a provision that voters who do not show identification would be asked to sign a form attesting to their identity, and would then be allowed to vote on a provisional ballot.

Rep. Dan Greenberg, R-Little Rock, who presented the bill to the committee, said the legislation would aid prosecutors in investigating and prosecuting voter fraud. -- The Morning News: Topics : Voter identification bill stalls in committee

March 2, 2007

Wisconsin: voter I.D. bill may be dead for the year

AP reports: Republicans tried again Thursday to require Wisconsin voters to show photo identification, but the measure looks doomed.

The GOP-controlled Assembly gave preliminary approval on a voice vote to a constitutional amendment that would require the identification. But Democrats objected to moving to a final vote on passage.

Republicans fell 15 votes short of the two-thirds majority they needed to override the objection. That means the amendment will be back for a final vote on the next Assembly calendar, likely on March 13.

If the body approves it then, it goes to the state Senate, which is controlled by Democrats. Senate Majority Leader Judy Robson, D-Beloit, said the amendment will die there. -- AP Wire | 03/01/2007 | Voter ID requirement likely dead in Wis. Legislature

February 20, 2007

"Lower Voter Turnout Is Seen in States That Require ID"

The New York Times reports: States that imposed identification requirements on voters reduced turnout at the polls in the 2004 presidential election by about 3 percent, and by two to three times as much for minorities, new research suggests.

The study, prepared by scholars at Rutgers and Ohio State Universities for the federal Election Assistance Commission, supports concerns among voting-rights advocates that blacks and Hispanics could be disproportionately affected by ID requirements. But federal officials say more research is needed to draw firmer conclusions about the effects on future elections.

Tim Vercellotti, a professor at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University who helped conduct the study, said that in the states where voters were required to sign their names or present identifying documents like utility bills, blacks were 5.7 percent less likely to vote than in states where voters simply had to say their names.

Dr. Vercellotti said Hispanics appeared to be 10 percent less likely to vote under those requirements, while the combined rate for people of all races was 2.7 percent. -- Lower Voter Turnout Is Seen in States That Require ID - New York Times

Thanks to TChris at for the link.

February 16, 2007

Kansas: senate passes voter I.D. bill

AP reports: Senators approved a bill late Thursday that would require all first-time voters to show photo identification to vote and proof of citizenship to register to vote.

However, Democrats said the bill amounted to a "poll tax" because residents would be required to produce a copy of their birth certificate, passport or proof of citizenship to register. A birth certificate costs $12 in Kansas, while a passport is $97.

"This is the 21st century version of the poll tax," said Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka. "I frankly don't know what problem we're trying to fix."

The Senate's 28-12 vote sends the bill to the House.

Republicans supporting the bill said it was a necessary measure to protect the integrity of the election process, noting that residents are required to show identification to cash a check, purchase cigarettes or buy alcohol. -- AP Wire | 02/15/2007 | Senate passes election ID bill over claims of 'poll tax'

Canada: voter I.D. bill passes Commons

Nunatsiaq News reports: When residents of Nunavut and Nunavik next head to the polls to cast ballots in a federal election, they will have to produce photo identification.

That’s a change brought in by Bill C-31, An Act to Amend the Canada Elections Act and the Public Service Employment Act, which passed in the House of Commons on Feb. 6.

Only members of the NDP caucus voted against the bill.

If residents don’t have photo ID, they will still be able to vote if they swear an oath, and have another resident, with photo ID, vouch for them as well.

Dennis Bevington, MP for the Western Arctic, warned in a press release that the bill may discourage residents across Canada’s North, who often don’t possess photo ID, from voting. -- Nunatsiaq News

February 8, 2007

Canada: Parliament considers voter I.D. bill

CBC reports: Proposed changes to Canada's Elections Act that would require voters to present identification at the polling station are "wrong-headed," Western Arctic MP Dennis Bevington says.

Bevington says the new rules would be hard on northerners in remote communities and may, in fact, discourage voting.

"I just think this is wrong-headed," the NDP MP said Wednesday. "It's kind of Big Brother. I don't like it on that front as well." ...

Under Bill C-31, voters would be required to show one piece of government-issued photo ID or two pieces without a photo before being allowed to vote.

The bill, introduced by the Conservatives and under debate this week, is aimed at reducing election fraud and maintaining the integrity of the national voters list.

However, Nunavut's Liberal MP, Nancy Karetak-Lindell, is in favour of the new rules, saying it will help deal with election fraud. -- Proposed voter ID rules rankle Western Arctic MP

Oklahoma: voter I.D. bill passes house committee

AP reports: Legislation that would require voters to provide proof of identity before voting was passed by a state House committee Wednesday.

The bill, passed by the House Rules Committee, would require voters to present a document containing their photograph issued by the state, the federal government, a county, a municipality or a federally recognized American Indian tribe before they are allowed to vote.

Voters without a photo ID would be allowed to vote after they sign a statement swearing they are the person who is registered to vote. -- Examiner-Enterprise

MIssissippi: voter I.D. bill passes senate

The Memphis Commercial Appeal reports: After a lengthy and emotional debate that highlighted Mississippi's tumultuous racial history, state senators today passed a bill to require voters to show government-issued identification before casting ballots.

The bill was seen by several African-American members as a partisan attempt in an election year to intimidate black voters. -- Memphis Commercial Appeal - Memphis' Source for News and Information: Local

January 19, 2007

Kansas: proposal for voter I.D.

The Basehor Sentinel reports: The chairman of a committee that deals with election law has proposed a measure that would require voters to provide photo identification before their ballot would count.

"I am certain these integrity measures will enhance the confidence of the citizens of Kansas in our election process," state Sen. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, said.

Huelskamp said he has heard from dozens of Kansans who are concerned that people who aren't allowed to vote, including illegal immigrants, are casting ballots. ...

Huelskamp's measure has a list of acceptable photo identification including driver's license, employment badge, credit card, neighborhood association, retirement center, school, military, buyer's club, passport, public assistance or from the state revenue department. -- Basehor Sentinel: Proposal would require photo I.D. to vote

Indiana: plaintiffs ask for en banc rehearing on voter I.D. case

The Indianapolis Star reports: Plaintiffs challenging Indiana's voter identification law filed a motion Thursday seeking a rehearing, saying they think a federal appeals court erred when it upheld the law earlier this month. ...

But the plaintiffs, who include Democrats and civil liberties activists, want the entire 12-judge court to weigh in. They argue there is plenty of evidence showing the law has caused voting problems. -- Plaintiffs seek rehearing on state's voter ID law |

January 7, 2007

Georgia: legislature may try for voter I.D. a 3rd time

The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reports: The 2007 session of the General Assembly begins Monday, and with it comes a consolidation of Republican power that began with Gov. Sonny Perdue's first election in 2002. Four years later, Perdue has returned to office, Republican Casey Cagle is the new lieutenant governor and some old legislation pushed by the GOP last year has again appeared on the horizon. ...

Legislation that would require photo identification at the polls could make a return. Republicans got a photo ID law passed, but a federal judge stopped its enforcement. The state currently requires voters to show one of 17 acceptable forms of identification.

"Apparently, it's going to be a big issue again," said Sen. Ed Harbison, D-Columbus. "I think you're going to get the same reaction. I've been quoted widely that it was voter constriction. It's obvious that would be a restriction."

Rep. Vance Smith, R-Pine Mountain, said the meetings he's attended on the issue lead him to believe federal requirements affecting a photo ID law would cost millions. "I don't know if we have the money to do that," he said. "We need a program, but we don't need to invade people's privacy. I want to slow it down a little bit." -- Ledger-Enquirer | 01/07/2007 | Health care, voter IDs top of list for new year

January 5, 2007

Indiana: 7th Circuit upholds voter I.D. law

AP reports: Republicans hailed a federal court ruling upholding Indiana’s voter ID law as a victory for voting reforms, while opponents of the law planned their next move.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled 2-1 Thursday that Indiana’s law, which requires voters to show a photo ID at the polls, has the potential to do more good than harm.

The Republican-controlled Legislature approved the law in 2005, saying it would help prevent voter fraud. But the Indiana Democratic Party and the American Civil Liberties Union say the law unfairly affects people who may struggle to obtain a photo ID.

Ken Falk, legal director of the ACLU of Indiana, said he was disappointed with the ruling by the three-judge panel.

“I have not spoken with my clients yet, but I’m going to recommend a rehearing before the entire 7th Circuit,” he said Thursday.

The three-judge panel questioned arguments that Indiana’s rule is unfair to poor, elderly, minority and disabled voters, and pointed out that opponents could not find anyone unable to cast a ballot under the new law. -- News-Sentinel | 01/05/2007 | Voter ID law upheld by federal court

December 13, 2006

Colorado: suit challenges two-document rule for getting I.D.

The Rocky Mountain reports: A motion filed Tuesday on behalf of Colorado's poor accuses the state Revenue Department of putting up roadblocks that prevent legal residents from getting state IDs and driver's licenses.

The motion filed in Denver District Court asks that the department be stopped from using the so-called two document rule, which plaintiffs claim often requires ID applicants to produce more than two documents. ...

The motion comes weeks after a coalition of attorneys filed a class-action lawsuit, charging that the DMV has implemented illegal and arbitrary rules without warning and public input, as required by Colorado law. According to the suit, the rules prevent the homeless and hundreds of other U.S citizens from obtaining the identification needed to access housing, employment, public assistance, health care and the right to vote and travel. -- Rocky Mountain News - Denver and Colorado's reliable source for breaking news, sports and entertainment: Local

November 26, 2006

"the country is still far from able to ensure that every vote counts"

The New York Times reports: After six years of technological research, more than $4 billion spent by Washington on new machinery and a widespread overhaul of the nation’s voting system, this month’s midterm election revealed that the country is still far from able to ensure that every vote counts.

Tens of thousands of voters, scattered across more than 25 states, encountered serious problems at the polls, including failures in sophisticated new voting machines and confusion over new identification rules, according to interviews with election experts and officials.

In many places, the difficulties led to shortages of substitute paper ballots and long lines that caused many voters to leave without casting ballots. Still, an association of top state election officials concluded that for the most part, voting went as smoothly as expected.

Over the last three weeks, attention has been focused on a few close races affected by voting problems, including those in Florida and Ohio where counting dragged on for days. But because most of this year’s races were not close, election experts say voting problems may actually have been wider than initially estimated, with many malfunctions simply overlooked. -- Experts Concerned as Ballot Problems Persist - New York Times

November 16, 2006

Missouri: documents in the voter I.D. suit

The Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse has documents from Weinschenk v. State of Missouri, the suit challenging the voter I.D. law.

I found this wonderful site through beSpacific.

November 13, 2006

Indiana: SOS says no voter I.D. problems

The Gary Post-Tribune reports: While the Indiana Secretary of State's office declared the Indiana's new voter ID law a success, at least one local lawmaker said he found problems.

Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, said he was initially stopped when he produced his House of Representatives photo ID at the polls Tuesday. Poll workers at his home precinct in Gary eventually allowed him to use the state ID card, but asked him to give the last four digits of his Social Security number.

"It's outrageous. The law says any government-issued ID," Brown said.

The 2005 Indiana law was recently appealed to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Similar laws requiring voters to present ID have been overturned in Georgia and Missouri. Secretary of State Todd Rokita has been on record as saying Indiana's law was implemented without incident in the general election Tuesday. -- POST-TRIBUNE :: News :: State ID law passes voter test

November 11, 2006

Arizona: SOS says "no complaints" about voter I.D.

AP reports: Arizona's new voter ID law is receiving high marks after its first major test in the general election.
Secretary of State Jan Brewer says she's heard no complaints about people turned away at the polls because of improper identification.
Critics of the ID law also say they've encountered relatively few problems during the election.

The 2004 law says voters must bring a government-issued picture ID or two other approved IDs to the polls. -- Arizonans had few problems with voter ID law | ®

November 9, 2006

Missouri: Carnahan says St. Louis Co. improperly asked voters for I.D.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports: The Missouri secretary of state says St. Louis County election officials may have confused voters — even intimidated them — by asking for identification that went beyond what is required.

Secretary of State Robin Carnahan's office notified the county as early as last week about her concerns and alerted the U.S. attorney's office, which handles voter obstruction cases.

The state Supreme Court last month threw out a law stating that a voter needed a photo identification to cast a ballot. But some county election workers still were asking voters on Tuesday whether they had a photo or signature ID.

County Election Board Chairman John Diehl Jr. says asking voters for identification is a standard county practice. It's something the board has been doing since Carnahan's father, Mel Carnahan, was elected governor more than 10 years ago, Diehl said. -- STLtoday - News - Story

November 6, 2006

Missouri: despite state supreme court ruling, polling officials asking for voter I.D.

AP reports: Secretary of State Robin Carnahan raised concerns about potential voter confusion in Tuesday's elections, citing her own experience casting an absentee ballot as an indication that some poll workers may wrongly be asking voters for a photo identification.

Carnahan told The Associated Press on Monday that a worker at the St. Louis Election Board asked her three times to show a photo identification when she voted absentee last Friday - despite a Missouri Supreme Court ruling striking down the photo requirement.

The poll worker apparently did not recognize that Carnahan was Missouri's chief elections official when Carnahan showed a paper voter card mailed out by the local election authority. The card does not have a picture but is an acceptable form of identification under Missouri law.

Carnahan said she tried to explain a photo ID was not necessary, but the election worker replied that she was instructed to ask for one anyway. Carnahan said she eventually was allowed to vote without displaying a photo identification. -- AP Wire | 11/06/2006 | AP Exclusive: Election chief concerned about voter confusion

November 3, 2006

To get a photo I.D., you must have a birth certificate, which you can only get with a photo I.D.

At the end of a typical round-up article in the Washington Post (Democrats Predict Voter ID Problems - are these two paragraphs:

Jowana Peterson, 51, of Indianapolis lost her wallet with her license inside a few weeks ago. When she went to replace it, she brought a copy of her birth certificate from Chicago, her Social Security card, her ID card from her job as a financial planner and four utility bills. "They turned me out cold," she said, telling her she needed a new birth certificate from Cook County. She has applied, but it has not yet arrived. Because she had signed up to work at the polls on Election Day, she was eligible to get an absentee ballot, but she worries about other would-be voters who cannot get one -- or do not know to ask.

Even so, she says, "I feel pretty cheated. I am an American citizen. I've paid my taxes. I feel the system kind of let me down. It shouldn't be that hard."

Just to see what I would have to do if I lost my license and could not find the sole copy of my birth certificate (kept safely in the safe deposit box), I went to the National Center for Health Statistics website for information on obtaining a Georgia birth certificate. After telling me where to write, how much money to send, etc., was this line: "The requestor must provide a photocopy of a valid photo ID."

Someday, one of us is going to end up like Charlie who must ride forever 'neath the streets of Boston because we don't have the proper I.D. to get the proper I.D.

November 2, 2006

Arizona: federal judge requires count of non-voters, but denies poll-watcher request

AP reports: A federal judge on Wednesday refused to let critics of Arizona's voter identification law station observers inside polling stations during the Nov. 7 general election but ordered election officials to count how many people without identification walk away without voting.

U.S. District Judge Roslyn Silver said the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona and other challengers to the 2004 law have a legitimate pretrial interest in learning how many people are affected by the requirement that people casting ballots at polling places produce specified types of identification.

The judge ordered election officials to count instances where people who do not have required identification and leave a polling place without casting a conditional provisional ballot.

Silver said she denied the challengers' request to be allowed to station their own observers in polling places because state law permits only certain people in polling places in order to prevent interference, intimidation and harassment. -- Mohave Daily News: Top Story

Ohio: consent decree suspends voter I.D. requirement for absentee ballots

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports: Poverty and labor groups scored a partial victory Wednesday with a federal court settlement that clarifies and expands Ohio's new voter-identification standards for Election Day, and suspends ID requirements altogether for absentee ballots.

The consent decree signed late Wednesday in U.S. District Court clears up confusion in key areas and allows more citizens to vote, said Cleveland attorney Subodh Chandra, one of the lawyers challenged the law.

The lawsuit, on behalf of the Service Employees International Union and the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, had argued that counties were violating constitutional equal protection guarantees by inconsistently applying the law. ...

The settlement expands the number of provisional ballots that will be counted and widens some of the law's definitions. It allows voters who don't have identification to use their Social Security number, a scenario which had been omitted from the law.

Under the settlement, the definition of government documents that can be used as proof of ID has been expanded to specifically include those from local and county governments, as well as state universities and public community colleges. -- The Enquirer - Voter ID dispute settled

October 31, 2006

"Voting Problems Crop Up Ahead of Elections"

NPR : Voting Problems Crop Up Ahead of Elections
NPR's Morning Edition reports: Signs of possible voting trouble are popping up ahead of midterm elections. The reports range from hackers getting into an official registration database to ballots being printed incorrectly. Pam Fessler reports.

Note: Audio for this story will be available at approx. 10:00 a.m. ET.

October 27, 2006

Ohio: federal court enjoins voter I.D. rule for absentee voters

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports: Don't want to show ID? Vote absentee.

A federal judge Thursday evening blocked enforcement of new identification requirements for absentee voters, agreeing that the state's voter ID law is vague, confusing and unevenly applied by Ohio election boards since early voting began this month.

"Absentee voters are suffering irreparable harm right now," said U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley in announcing his decision.

Marbley ordered Secretary of State Ken Blackwell's office to notify the state's 88 county election boards of the ruling by noon today.

The emergency order will be in effect until Nov. 1 when Marbley will hold a full hearing that will also address whether the ID requirements should be suspended at the polls on Nov. 7. -- Judge blocks ID rule for absentee voters Don't need ID for absentee, judge rules in voting suit Judge blocks new state law on absentee voter ID rules

October 21, 2006

MIssouri: GOP trying to figure out another way to do voter I.D.

AP reports: The state spent more than $680,000 implementing a photo ID requirement for voters that the Missouri Supreme Court overwhelmingly threw out, and now Republican lawmakers are pondering how to pass one that courts will allow. ...

While the law made the ID cards free, a separate state law requires people to meet several criteria, including showing they’re lawfully in the country, to obtain the identification card. Most people meet the lawful presence requirement with a birth certificate or passport, both documents that cost money.

So lawmakers are looking at a mechanism to cover those costs, though they say it’s too early to know how it would work. The legislature reconvenes in January.

"I’m confident that we’ll take another stab at it early next session and do it again," said Rep. Bryan Stevenson, R-Webb City, who handled the measure in the House this year. "We’ll have to come up with some way to reimburse them for any and all costs of getting documentation they should have to get anyway."

Stevenson said options could be creating a tax deduction or allowing people to reimbursed by having them submit their costs to the Department of Revenue with their ID application. -- State weighs next step on voter ID

Arizona: reactions to the reinstatement of voter I.D.

The Arizona Republic reports: Arizona voters will have to present identification at the polls on Nov. 7 after all.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday that the state's new voter-ID requirements, passed as part of 2004's Proposition 200, can be enforced for the general election. ...

Proponents of the voter-ID requirement hailed Friday's decision in Gonzalez vs. Arizona as a victory.

"Every once in a while you live to see justice," said Kathy McKee, author of Proposition 200. She said the ruling sends a message to "activist judges" and allows the state to take important steps to protect the integrity of its elections. ...

Linda Weedon, deputy director of the Maricopa County Elections Office, said they will now go forward with public-service announcements and commercials that were canceled after the 9th Circuit's injunction.

Opponents are warning that they expect there will be a sizable number of legal voters turned away Nov. 7. ...

Linda Brown, executive director of the Arizona Advocacy Network, whose organization is among those challenging the law, said many other voters were turned away by poll workers and not offered the chance to cast a provisional ballot. She said that although supporters of the law make it sound like an easy requirement, disabled voters, elderly voters and the poor often don't have up-to-date drivers licenses, utility bills or vehicle registration cards to prove who they are.

But her organization is gearing up to document what happens at the polls on Nov. 7 to meet the challenge presented in a concurring opinion Friday by Justice John Paul Stevens. Stevens said by allowing the law to be enforced on Nov. 7, it gives opponents the chance to prove people are disenfranchised and supporters to substantiate the kind of fraud they are trying to prevent. -- Voters, bring your ID to polls

October 20, 2006

Arizona: SCOTUS allows election to proceed with state's new voter I.D. rule in place

Nina Perales emails: Today, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated an injunction ordered by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Gonzalez v. Arizona, the challenge to voting restrictions in Arizona.

The Ninth Circuit had enjoined the operation of Proposition 200's voting restrictions pending consideration of the appeal of the district court's denial of a preliminary injunction.

The Supreme Court's decision means that the November 7, 2006 election will go forward with onerous proof of identity requirements for voters at the polls and also that people who seek to register to vote will have to provide documentary proof of citizenship.

MALDEF represents Maria Gonzalez, the lead plaintiff in the case, as well as other Latino individuals and organizations challenging the law.

October 19, 2006

Georgia: plaintiffs will drop contempt motion over voter I.D letters

AP reports: A legal team opposing Georgia's voter-photo ID law said Wednesday it will drop a contempt charge against the state after the approval of a mass mailing of more than 300,000 letters to inform voters they will not have to bring a photo ID to the polls in November.

A contempt hearing was scheduled for Friday, where lawyers planned to ask a judge to force the state to send voters a letter similar to the one approved Tuesday at a special meeting of the State Election Board.

"They have basically done everything that we were asking for in our motion for contempt," said Jennifer Auer Jordan of the Barnes Law Group, headed by former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes. -- AP Wire | 10/18/2006 | Lawyers to drop contempt claim against Georgia over voter letters

Indiana: 7th Circuit hears arguments over voter I.D. law

AP reports: A federal judge Wednesday sharply questioned arguments that Indiana’s voter identification rule is unfair to poor, elderly, minority voters and those with disabilities, saying opponents have failed to find a single person unable to cast a ballot under the new law.

“By not even having found one of these people, that does not convey substantial disenfranchisement,” Judge Richard Posner told attorney Ken Falk of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana during oral arguments before the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Republican-controlled legislature approved the law last year, saying it would help prevent voter fraud. The law requires voters to show a government-issued identification, with some exceptions for absentee ballots, the indigent and those with a religious objection to being photographed.

The Indiana Democratic Party and the ACLU contend the law unfairly affects people who may struggle to obtain a photo ID. Democrats estimate that nearly 1 million registered voters in the state do not possess a required ID. -- Journal Gazette | 10/19/2006 | Skeptical court hears ID appeal

October 16, 2006

Georgia: lawyers ask for contempt citation against state for mailing misleading letters about voter I.D.

AP reports: Lawyers opposing Georgia's photo ID law asked a judge Monday to hold the state in contempt for misinforming more than 200,000 voters in a mass mailing that was sent after a court order blocked the law's enforcement for the November general election.

Attorneys are also asking the judge to force the state to send new letters to those voters.

In all, the State election board mailed more than 300,000 letters to registered voters, telling them they may need to show either a free Georgia voter identification card or one of six forms of photo ID to vote in person. The letter also reminded voters they could vote absentee without a photo ID.

Originally, State Election Board Vice Chair Claud "Tex" McIver said the agency mailed 20,000 of those letters after the Sept. 19 ruling which struck down the photo ID requirement. It later turned out that the number was closer to 200,000. ...

A contempt hearing has been scheduled for Friday in Fulton County Superior Court. The state has appealed Judge T. Jackson Bedford's decision to the Georgia Supreme Court, and the law is also being opposed in federal court. -- AP Wire | 10/16/2006 | Lawyers ask judge for new letters on photo ID to 200,000 voters

Missouri: state supreme court upholds injunction against voter I.D. law

AP reports: The Missouri Supreme Court on Monday struck down a new law requiring voters to show a photo ID at the polls, upholding a lower judge's decision.

A lower judge ruled last month that the ID requirement was an unconstitutional infringement on the fundamental right to vote. The Supreme Court agreed in a 6-1 unsigned opinion.

The law required voters to present a photo identification card issued by Missouri or the federal government to cast a ballot starting with the November election. ...

The court found the requirement violated several provisions in the state constitution. The court said requiring otherwise legitimate voters to obtain an appropriate ID imposed too big a burden on their voting rights. -- AP Wire | 10/16/2006 | Supreme Court tosses voter ID law

Note: The opinion for Weinschenk v. State of Missouri is here on the court's website.

October 4, 2006

Missouri: Supreme court hears arguments on voter I.D. law

AP reports: Missouri Supreme Court judges raised many questions Wednesday as they considered the constitutionality of a new state law requiring people to show photo identification to vote.

A lower judge threw out the law last month, saying it infringes on the fundamental right to vote.

On Wednesday, judges honed in on the cost to obtain a birth certificate, one of the documents that can be used to get a state identification card or driver's license. In Missouri, a certified copy costs $15. A passport also can work to get a license or ID card, or to cast a ballot under the challenged law, but those cost more.

"They all cost money," said Judge Richard Teitelman. -- AP Wire | 10/04/2006 | Missouri Supreme Court considers voter ID law

October 3, 2006

Ohio: group to challenge voter I.D. law; secretary of state distributes inaccurate information on I.D.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports: A new state law requiring Ohioans to show identification before they can vote Nov. 7 is to be challenged today in a federal lawsuit.

Columbus attorney Clifford Arnebeck said he will ask U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley for a stay of the ID requirement passed by the state legislature in January. ...

lackwell, as Ohio’s chief elections officer, distributed to the county boards of elections a brochure titled: “Ohio Votes – Three Simple Steps.”

However, the informational brochure inaccurately describes two of seven forms of acceptable voter ID:

The first form of approved ID reads: “Your current and valid photo identification card."

Yet a student’s UC ID card won’t be accepted on Election Day, according to state and county officials. That despite the fact the University of Cincinnati ID is a valid form of photo identification, and is issued by a government agency – a state university.

Valid photo IDs the state legislature envisioned are issued by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles: a driver’s license or state-issued ID for those who don’t drive.

The second “proof of identity” in the secretary’s brochure and advisory to the county boards of election reads: “Military identification.”

State Sen. Steve Stivers, R-Columbus, an Ohio National Guardsman and a veteran of the war in Iraq, says he made a mistake while lobbying to include military identification, because it does not include an address.

All proof of identity required for voting purposes must have an address, according to the bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Kevin DeWine, R-Fairborn. -- The Enquirer - Court may get voter ID law

October 1, 2006

Missouri: federal-court suit against voter I.D. put on hold while state supreme court hears challenge

AP reports: Attorneys for both sides in a federal lawsuit challenging the state's new requirement that voters present a photo ID have agreed to put that case on hold while a separate appeal is heard by the Missouri Supreme Court.

Lawmakers this year passed legislation requiring all voters to provide photo identification issued by Missouri or the federal government starting with the November election.

But opponents challenged the law in both state and federal court. A Cole County judge struck down the photo ID requirement Sept. 14, saying it's an unconstitutional infringement on the right to vote.

The Supreme Court is to hear an appeal in that case Wednesday. -- | Local News

September 26, 2006

Georgia: state appeals voter I.D. case to state supreme court

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports: The state has filed a notice that it intends to appeal to a Superior Court judge's ruling that declared Georgia's photo ID law unconstitutional, blocking enforcement of the law in this fall's general election.

The notice was filed Monday in Fulton County Superior Court by Attorney General Thurbert Baker on behalf of Gov. Sonny Perdue and the state Board of Elections. Superior Court Judge T. Jackson Bedford Jr. last week rejected the state's latest attempt to require voters to present a government-issued photo ID at the polls.

The notice puts the state on record that it will at some point file the appeal, raising specific points. -- State appeals rejection of photo ID law |

Stricter voting I.D. law cause a partisan split

The New York Times reports: Eva Charlene Steele, a recent transplant from Missouri, has no driver’s license or other form of state identification. So after voting all her adult life, Mrs. Steele will not be voting in November because of an Arizona law that requires proof of citizenship to register. ...

Russell K. Pearce, a leading proponent of the new requirement, offers no apologies. ...

Mrs. Steele and Mr. Pearce are two players in a spreading partisan brawl over new and proposed voting requirements around the country. Republicans say the laws are needed to combat fraud, especially among illegal immigrants. Democrats say there is minimal fraud, if any, and accuse Republicans of suppressing the votes of those least likely to have the required documentation — minorities, the poor and the elderly — who tend to vote for Democrats.

In tight races, Democrats say, the loss of votes could matter in November.

In Maricopa County, Arizona’s largest in population, election officials said that 35 percent of new registrations were rejected for insufficient proof of citizenship last year and that 17 percent had been rejected so far this year. It is not known how many of the rejected registrants were not citizens or were unable to prove their citizenship because they had lost or could not locate birth certificates and other documents. -- Stricter Voting Laws Carve Latest Partisan Divide - New York Times

September 23, 2006

Missouri: state supreme court will hear voter I.D. appeal quickly

AP reports: The Missouri Supreme Court agreed yesterday to quickly consider an appeal of a judge’s ruling throwing out a new law requiring voters to show a photo identification before casting a ballot.

A Cole County judge last week ruled the identification requirement is an unconstitutional infringement on the fundamental right to vote.

The offices of the attorney general and secretary of state asked the Supreme Court to consider the matter quickly so the issue is resolved before Election Day. The court agreed and set a hearing for Oct. 4, when it is meeting to consider an appeal of a decision placing a tobacco tax increase on the Nov. 7 ballot. -- Supreme Court plans to expedite voter ID appeal

Georgia: elections board votes to appeal voter I.D. ruling, but not seek stay

AP reports: After two years of battles at both the courthouse and the state Capitol, a law requiring photo ID at the polls will not be enforced when Georgians vote for governor, lieutenant governor and other state races in November.

A judge's rebuff this week of the Republican-backed plan, which would have pared down the forms of identification a voter can show from 17 to 6, was the latest in a two-year series of legal setbacks for the effort.

While the state's election board said Friday that it would not ask a higher court to rule on their appeal before the Nov. 7 election, top Georgia Republicans were saying that it may take a constitutional amendment to finally get the law enforced. ...

Friday's election board vote directs state lawyers to appeal the ruling, but not to ask a judge to speed up a decision. -- Macon Telegraph | 09/23/2006 | Election board vote means no photo ID required in November

September 21, 2006

House passes voter I.D. bill

NPR has an audio report: The House has approved a bill that requires all people voting in federal elections to show a photo ID in 2008 and proof of citizenship by 2010. Supporters say it's the only way to fight election fraud. Opponents say the bill would put hurdles in the way of some voters. -- NPR : Congress Debates Imposing Voter ID Rules

September 20, 2006

U.S. House to vote on voter I.D. bill

The Baltimore Sun reports: A measure requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls is expected to pass the House today, the latest example of the push toward stricter scrutiny of citizenship status in the United States.

The legislation is one of a series of tightly focused bills crafted by House Republican leaders who want to strengthen border security and crack down on illegal immigration. It is described by its sponsor, Rep. Henry J. Hyde, an Illinois Republican, as a safeguard against voter fraud.

The proposed Federal Election Integrity Act follows a spate of state-level laws passed this year that require ID or proof of citizenship to vote. One such law was declared unconstitutional yesterday by a Georgia judge, who said the state's new photo ID requirements infringed on voter rights.

Democrats say that the move to impose a national photo ID requirement is part of a larger Republican effort to discourage participation by low-income and minority voters likely to back Democratic candidates - a charge GOP lawmakers strongly deny. -- Bill requiring photo ID to vote is before House -

Georgia: state judge voids voter I.D. law as violation of state constitution

AP reports: A state judge has thrown out the latest version of Georgia's law requiring voters to show photo ID, ruling that it violates the constitutional rights of the state's voters.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge T. Jackson Bedford Jr. issued the ruling Tuesday, nearly three weeks after lawyers argued both sides of the issue, which is likely headed for the Georgia Supreme Court before the Nov. 7 general elections.

Bedford said the photo ID requirement disenfranchises otherwise qualified voters and adds a new condition to voting that violates the state constitution.

In his 17-page ruling, Bedford took issue with the burden placed on voters to prove who they are using photo ID. Even if voters are allowed to cast ballots without the required identification, they must return within 48 hours with one of the six necessary photo IDs or their vote is forfeited.

"This cannot be," Bedford wrote, pointing out that photo ID are not even required to register to vote in Georgia.

"Any attempt by the Legislature to require more than what is required by the express language of our Constitution cannot withstand judicial scrutiny," Bedford wrote. -- Judge voids voter photo ID law |

September 15, 2006

House committee considers national voter I.D. bill reports: Rep. John Doolittle, a California Republican, was mad as hell and he wasn't going to take it anymore.

"It's outrageous to hear my colleagues sit there and say that the Republican Party is embarking on a move to suppress the vote of ethnic minorities throughout the country," he shouted Thursday at a meeting of the House Administration Committee. "That is blatantly false. I am not going to sit here and by my silence give any credence to that assertion. That's ridiculous."

The outburst was so remarkable that the ranking Democrat on the committee, a fellow Californian, couldn't resist prodding Doolittle a bit more. "Who is presenting the legislation here?" asked Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald, who was speaking out of order.

That was, of course, a rhetorical question. For about an hour, the committee had been debating a GOP-sponsored bill that would require every voter in the nation to produce a government-issued photo I.D. to cast a ballot in federal elections. Most major civil rights organizations, from the NAACP to the National Council of La Raza, have said that the proposal will disproportionately prevent poor and minority citizens from voting. AARP, a nonpartisan lobby for the elderly, has cautioned that "many persons who are qualified to vote but do not have ready access to documents -- such as birth certificates, driver's licenses and passports -- that never have been deemed necessary in the past may lose the fundamental right to vote." Democrats have charged that Republicans are just trying to keep liberal voters from the polls. -- The GOP wants to see your I.D. | Salon News

Georgia: federal judge blocks voter I.D. for next week's local elections

AP reports: For the third time in nearly a year, the same federal judge has blocked Georgia from requiring voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot - this time during 30-plus local special elections next week. ...

While Murphy on Thursday again blocked enforcement of the new voter ID law for another round of elections, he didn't prevent the state from moving forward with educating the public about the law in time for the Nov. 7 elections.

In fact, Murphy commended the state for its efforts to inform voters that under the new law they must present at the polls a valid form of government-issued photo ID, such as a driver's license or U.S. passport. ...

Murphy said he will hear arguments later on whether or not the law should be in effect in November. -- Macon Telegraph | 09/15/2006 | Judge blocks Georgia voter ID law

September 14, 2006

Missouri: judge voids voter I.D. law

AP reports: A judge struck down Missouri's new voter identification law Thursday as an unconstitutional infringement on the right to vote.

The law required voters to show a federal or Missouri-issued photo ID at the polls, which Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan said was an unconstitutional burden on voters because the paperwork required to get those IDs is not free.

The right to vote is "a right and not a license," the judge wrote.

Callahan said the requirement is a particular burden to women, the poor, the undereducated and the elderly. Missouri law requires those getting or renewing a driver's license to show they are lawfully in the country, generally with a birth certificate or passport.

Those whose name has changed, such as some married women, also must provide documents showing those changes. And some people may not have the knowledge of how to navigate bureaucracy to obtain a license, he said. -- Judge strikes down Mo. voter ID law - Yahoo! News

Georgia: hearing today in voter I.D. challenge

The Rome News-Tribune reports: U.S. District Judge Harold L. Murphy, Rome, will hear arguments today on a motion to halt enforcement of a state law requiring the use of photo identification at the polls.

Murphy granted a temporary injunction that expired after the Aug. 8 primary runoff but about 20 counties, including Gordon and Walker, are holding special elections Sept. 19.

Advance voting started Monday with the 2006 Photo ID Act in place. ...

In Murphy’s Sept. 6 order, he said the brief hearing today at 1:30 p.m. will focus only on the state’s educational efforts for voters, the number of Georgia registered voters who potentially lack photo ID and the number of Voter ID cards issued.

In July, Murphy cited concerns with the law’s constitutionality and the state’s hasty voter education efforts, adding he would later address whether the law could be applied to the Nov. 7 general election. -- Rome News - Tribune

Note: The story has links to the briefs of the parties filed for the hearing.

September 13, 2006

The nationwide battle over voter I.D. laws

The Los Angeles Times reports: Little noticed by U.S. voters, a nationwide melee has broken out pitting liberal and conservative groups in a duel over restrictive new voting laws that could determine who wins close elections in November and beyond.

The dispute, which is being fought in disparate and often half-empty courtrooms in as many as nine states, concerns new state laws and rules backed primarily by Republicans that require people to show photo identification to vote and, in some cases, proof of citizenship and identification when registering to vote.

One measure prompted the League of Women Voters to halt its voter registration drives in Florida out of fear of facing criminal penalties. That law, and a similar provision in Ohio that threatened voter registration drives by other groups, were blocked in recent weeks by federal courts. ...

The legal battle reflects a deep partisan divide, with Republicans arguing that the new requirements are needed to prevent voting fraud and to boost confidence in election results, and Democrats charging that they disenfranchise senior citizens, minorities, students and others who tend to vote with the party. -- Journal Gazette | 09/13/2006 | Challenges to voter ID laws casting doubt on fall ballots

September 12, 2006

Arizona: federal judge refuses to stop voter I.D. for today primary

AP reports: A federal judge on Monday refused to block implementation of a 2004 state law that requires Arizona voters to present specified types of identification when casting ballots at polling places and to submit proof of citizenship when registering to vote. ...

While refusing to grant the preliminary injunction requested by groups challenging portions of the law approved by voters in November 2004, Silver ordered additional legal briefs to be submitted on several issues in the case. She scheduled an Oct. 19 hearing to consider those issues. -- Judge refuses to block Ariz. voter ID requirement

September 7, 2006

Missouri: state court considers voter I.D.; new suit filed in federal court

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports: A state judge said Wednesday that Missouri's photo identification law would impose extra costs on some voters, particularly women who have changed their names and must prove their identities.

But the judge, Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan, also declared that he was "just not convinced" that the Legislature purposefully discriminated against certain groups such as African-Americans by requiring the IDs to vote.

Callahan's comments came as he grappled with points raised by attorneys challenging and defending the law. The judge promised to issue a ruling no later than Sept. 15.

Whatever he decides is likely to be appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court. But even that court's decision won't be the final word.

Another attack on the law emerged Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Jefferson City. The NAACP and several groups that help people with disabilities filed a federal suit on behalf of people who say they will be disenfranchised by the voting requirements. -- STLtoday - News - Story

Georgia: federal and state judges asked to block used of voter I.D. in more elections

Online Athens reports: Days before dozens of local governments open polls in Georgia, a federal judge will hear arguments once again about whether voters should have to show photo identification to cast a ballot.

U.S. District Court Judge Harold Murphy on Wednesday scheduled a hearing for next Thursday in Rome that will determine if the law will be in effect for county and city special elections Sept. 19.

Opponents of Georgia's voter ID law asked for the hearing so they can argue to extend an injunction that was in place for this summer's statewide primary and runoff elections. ...

A separate injunction request will be heard Friday in State Court in Fulton County. As part of that lawsuit, former Gov. Roy Barnes will argue for the law to be suspended during both the Sept. 19 special election and Nov. 7 general election. -- | News | Judge again asked to block photo IDs 09/07/06

August 31, 2006

Arizona: federal court hearing evidence in suit against voter I.D. act

AP reports: A federal judge on Wednesday began hearing a broad-based legal assault on a 2004 state law that requires Arizonans to produce specific forms of identification to register to vote or cast a ballot at a polling station.

The case finds one Arizona county at odds with the other 14 as the challengers, including numerous civil rights and minority groups, contend that the voter-approved 2004 law would deny many Arizonans their voting rights. ...

The challengers argued that the requirements disenfranchise minorities and other voters who lack the required identification and for whom acquiring the required identification would be burdensome in time, money and effort. They also contend it hinders voter registration drives.
State lawyers said the challenge is merely an attempt by opponents of the 2004 law, which appeared on that year's ballot as Proposition 200, to do what they couldn't do at the polls. -- Judge hears challenge to state's voter ID requirement | ®

August 29, 2006

Missouri: judge allows one intervention, denies another in voter I.D. case

AP reports: The legislator who handled the new law requiring voters to show a photo ID at the polls was allowed to step into the court battle Monday.

Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan permitted Sen. Delbert Scott, R-Lowry City, to intervene in defending the law against various city officials and potential voters who are challenging its constitutionality.

But the judge again denied a request by the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners to get involved.

Another hearing in the case is set for Friday. -- AP Wire | 08/28/2006 | Judge allows sponsor of law into voter ID case

August 28, 2006

Missouri: effects of the voter I.D. law

On NPR: Missouri's new voter identification law is now in effect. It requires citizens to show a state-issued photo ID before voting. The law faces legal challenges. A Federal judge in Georgia threw out a similar law, while a judge in Indiana upheld one. Frank Morris of member station KCUR reports. -- NPR : Missouri Voter ID Law Faces Legal Challenges

August 23, 2006

Illinois: legislator to introduce voter I.D. bill

The Madison Record reports: Making voters produce a picture ID before they can cast a vote is not designed to pick on minorities, according to a veteran Illinois legislator.

State Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Greenville) will introduce a proposal requiring state-issued identification cards be presented by voters at the polls. He is holding a press conference at 2 p.m. today at the St. Clair County Courthouse in Belleville.

The proposal, which would require voters have a driver's license or Secretary of State-issued identification card, is not meant to "make it difficult for the poor to vote," he said.

"How many people don't have an ID?" he said. -- Madison County Record | Voter ID law to be introduced in Illinois

Comment: I wonder if Mr. Stephens is so out of touch that he does not realize that many people don't have ID. Or perhaps he knows exactly what he is doing.

August 21, 2006

Missouri: federal court considers voter I.D. law

AP reports: Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan is hearing arguments on a challenge to a new Missouri law requiring voters to show photo identification to cast ballots. The law is among the first nationally in a still relatively young movement - one intended to prevent voter fraud, as supporters tell it; or to suppress certain voters, as opponents claim.

A federal judge in Indiana upheld that state's voter photo ID law in April. But in Georgia last month, a state and federal judge each issued orders blocking that state's law. ...

Depending on which lawyer you consult, Missouri's photo ID requirement is either more stringent or more lenient than the others - making it either more likely to get struck down or upheld.

The basic thrust of Missouri's law is the same as those in Indiana and Georgia: To vote, people must show a government-issued photo identification like a driver's license or passport. If they don't have one, they can get a state photo ID card for free. And if they still don't have a photo ID on Election Day, they may cast a provisional ballot that can be counted later if their identifies are verified. -- AP Wire | 08/20/2006 | Missouri voter ID law latest in national test cases

August 5, 2006

Georgia: GOP criticizes list of those with no driver's license

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: A massive list of voters in Georgia who possibly lack photo ID was assaulted Friday by Republican members of the State Election Board who claim it's misleading and riddled with errors.

The election board voted, along party lines, to request several state agencies to work together to come up with a more accurate list. ...

In June, the secretary of state's office made public a list of 676,000 registered voters who lacked either a driver's license or state identification card issed by the Department of Driver Services. Election board Chairwoman and Secretary of State Cathy Cox, and others, warned that the large number of people lacking the most common form of ID shown when voting — a driver's license — was evidence that the new law could disenfranchise many voters.

Subsequently, Republican proponents of the law found numerous people on the list who held driver's licenses, in some cases because the names listed on their driver's licenses differed slightly from those on voter registration rolls. Among those who Republicans contend are incorrectly on the list: Election board member David Worley, board member Randy Evans' father and board member Tex McIver's wife. During testimony in federal court last month, McIver told U.S. District Judge Harold Murphy that the judge's name was on the list. -- No-photo voter list criticized by GOP |

August 4, 2006

Wisconsin: have a picture I.D. at the polls or show up tomorrow

AP reports: Voters without a driver's license will be able to cast a ballot on Election Day under a state rule that received federal approval.

The U.S. Department of Justice gave its OK in a letter dated Thursday to the rule that the state Elections Board passed last month.

It allows voters without a driver's license to cast a provisional ballot that would only count if the voters can produce their license by 4 p.m. the following day. To cast a provisional ballot they would have to give the last four digits of their Social Security number or present a state identification card.

People who wanted to register to vote at the polls would have to have their driver's license. -- AP Wire | 08/04/2006 | Federal Department of Justice approves Wisconsin voter rule

Missouri: another suit against the voter I.D. law

The Kansas City Star reports:
A second lawsuit was filed Thursday challenging Missouri's new law requiring voters to show government-issued photo identification at the polls starting with the Nov. 7 election.

The plaintiffs are five voters who say they don't have acceptable ID cards and a group called Give Missourians a Raise Inc., which is supporting an issue on the November ballot that would raise the minimum wage. The group is concerned that many voters who would vote in favor of that measure will be kept from the polls for lack of acceptable identification. ...

The suit claims that the law unconstitutionally requires voters to pay for documents such as a birth certificate or a passport that are needed to get an acceptable nondriver's ID under the law, though the new law does pay for the cost of the ID itself.

The suit also claims that the law disproportionately affects the poor, minorities, older residents and people with disabilities, who are less likely to drive a car and thus less likely to have a photo ID. The suit says at least 170,000 registered Missouri voters do not possess a photo ID. -- Kansas City Star | 08/04/2006 | Voter ID prompts lawsuit

July 26, 2006

Missouri: poor need not apply

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports: With about 14 weeks left before the Nov. 7 election, officials charged with publicizing and providing the new government-issued photo IDs face a daunting task:

Of the roughly 170,000 Missouri voters who lack such identification, only 629 have gotten the free state-issued cards in the six weeks since Gov. Matt Blunt signed the new mandate into law.

Trish Vincent, head of the state Department of Revenue, said Tuesday it will be another week or so before her agency's workers begin traveling the state with mobile units to visit facilities for the elderly and disabled. The units will collect the necessary information and take photographs, but they won't be able to issue the cards on site. They will be mailed out within two days from Jefferson City, a spokeswoman said.

Vincent also emphasized that her department will not be using the units to go into low-income areas to help the poor obtain the voter identification cards.

"The law is clear," she said. "We are to work with older folks, the seniors and the disabled, not the low-income." ...

The law stipulates that the state provide free nondriver identification cards for those who need them to vote. But some of the documents needed to get the cards - such as a birth certificate or passport - cost money to obtain. A Missouri-issued birth certificate costs $15. -- STLtoday - News - St. Louis City / County

July 24, 2006

Ohio: Blackwell's role in elections causes criticism

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports: Lingering debate over the 2004 presidential election, continues to haunt Secretary of State Ken Blackwell in his campaign to become governor.

Those who blame the Cincinnati Republican for long lines and rulings leading up to the 2004 election predict even more chaos during the upcoming Nov. 7. election.

That's when a new law requiring identification for voters at the polls takes effect statewide for the first time.

Add to that a federal requirement that 68 of Ohio's 88 counties replace punch card ballots with electronic voting machines, and politicians and voting experts worry that the stage is set for another difficult election. -- The Enquirer - Blackwell's dual role criticized

July 20, 2006

Wisconsin: elections board adopts rule for voter I.D.

AP reports: Voters without a driver's license could still cast a ballot on Election Day under action taken Wednesday by a state board.

But their ballot would be tossed if they didn't come up with their license within a day.

The plan was part of what the state Elections Board said was a compromise to deal with people who show up at the polls on Election Day and want to register to vote.

The issue has become highly politicized, with two Republican congressmen saying the state was inviting a federal lawsuit under a previous rule adopted by the board. Democrats argue that Republicans were trying to limit people's access to the polls.

The rule adopted Wednesday on a voice vote would require a person seeking to register at the polls to produce their driver's license.

If they have it, they can register. If they don't, they can cast a provisional ballot if they produce either their state identification card or give the last four digits of their Social Security number. -- AP Wire | 07/19/2006 | Driver's license would not be required to vote under rule adopted

July 19, 2006

Georgia: some poll workers asked for photo I.D., despite court orders

The Macon Telegraph reports: Some Bibb County poll workers did not seem to know that Georgia's new voter ID law was not in place for Tuesday's primary.

The Telegraph observed workers at several polling places refusing one of the 17 approved forms of identification unless accompanied by a photo ID or telling would-be voters that a picture ID was required.

Originally, Tuesday's primary was to have been the first election to require a photo ID for voting. But last week, a U.S. District Court judge blocked the state from enforcing the law after civil rights groups challenged it in court, arguing that it discriminated against poor, elderly and rural voters. -- Macon Telegraph | 07/19/2006 | Not all Bibb workers knew photo ID not required

Michigan: Dems file brief asking state supreme court to rule against voter I.D. law

AP reports: The Michigan Democratic Party, the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus and the Democratic caucuses in the state House and Senate filed a friend-of-the-court brief Tuesday in a case that could decide whether Michigan can require voters to show photo identification at the polls.

The Michigan Supreme Court voted 5-2 in April to issue an advisory opinion on the constitutionality of a 1997 state law requiring voters to show photo identification to get a ballot. A court spokeswoman said the ruling would be binding, although it could be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Former Attorney General Frank Kelley, a Democrat, issued an opinion nine years ago that the law violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees U.S. citizens the right to vote.

Opponents of the law say the requirement would keep poor people, nondrivers and others away from the polls. They cite figures showing that about 370,000 of the state's registered voters do not have driver's licenses or state ID cards.

But supporters say the law is needed to prevent election fraud. The U.S. Justice Department, for example, has been investigating allegations that Detroit votes were cast last year in the names of dead people. -- Dems try to stop voter ID measure

July 18, 2006

Missouri: cities claim voter I.D. imposes costs in violation of state constitution

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports: The first courtroom battle over Missouri's new voter ID law will focus on a relatively simple question: Does the law impose extra costs on local governments without the state picking up the tab?

In a suit filed Monday in Cole County Circuit Court, three Democratic officials contend that the Republican-backed law will cost local election authorities $6 million this year.

For example, the suit says, more staff must be hired and trained because in the November election, voters without state-issued photo IDs will cast provisional ballots. They will be counted only if a voter's signature matches one on file.

The suit says the added costs violate the Hancock Amendment. That amendment, adopted by state voters in 1980, bars the state from requiring any new or expanded activities by counties and other political subdivisions without full state financing. -- STLtoday - News - St. Charles

July 13, 2006

Georgia: Judge Murphy blocks new voter I.D. law

UPDATE: The Rome News-Tribune has a more detailed story: U.S. District Court and the Georgia Supreme Court both dealt blows to the state’s voter ID law on Wednesday, issuing orders that will prevent enforcement of the law at next Tuesday’s primary and possibly the general election in November.

U.S. District Court Judge Harold L. Murphy found the law unconstitutional, blocking its enforcement on grounds that it violates the First and Fourteenth amendments. The General Assembly could offer another version of the law, he said, but it “cannot pass and enforce a voter ID law with a discriminatory purpose.”

Murphy had not yet made that ruling Wednesday afternoon when attorneys arguing over the matter received word of a Georgia Supreme Court decision that upheld a temporary restraining order against the law issued in Fulton County Superior Court last week.

The justices did not offer any reasoning for their decision but noted that all concurred other than Presiding Justice Carol W. Hunstein, who did not participate. -- Voter ID pulled for primary

AP reports: The same federal judge who threw out Georgia's voter photo identification law last year issued a ruling today that blocks the state from enforcing its revised law during this year's elections.

The federal ruling came down less than an hour and a half after the Georgia Supreme Court denied the state's emergency request to overrule a state court order that blocked enforcement of the new photo ID law during next week's primary elections and any runoffs.

If the rulings stand, Georgia voters will not have to show a government-issued photo ID to cast a ballot. The state's primary elections are scheduled for Tuesday and the general elections will be Nov. 7. -- Macon Telegraph | 07/12/2006 | Under rulings, Georgia can't require voter photo IDs this year

My comment: I just checked the Pacer system and the order is not there yet. If anyone has it, please email it to me. And when the inevitable emergency motion to the 11th Circuit is filed, please email that to me. I will post both.

July 12, 2006

Georgia: federal court hearing set for today on voter I.D.

AP reports: A federal court is set to consider a request to block a Georgia law that requires voters to show photo identification less than a week before the law would apply for the first time at the polls.

Civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the AARP and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund plan to ask a federal judge Wednesday to halt the law.

Making voters go to the county registrar's office to get a picture ID is an inconvenience that does nothing to address fraud at the ballot box, said ACLU attorney Neil Bradley.

"It's a complete sham," Bradley said. "The possession of an ID is an unnecessary burden, since the oath that you execute to get the ID is the same one you'd use on Election Day." -- AP Wire | 07/12/2006 | Ga. court considers halting voter ID law

Georgia: Voter I.D. hearing today -- background story

NPR reports: The high-profile voter identification debates in Georgia and Arizona are only the beginning of a larger trend. More state legislatures are pushing strict voter identification requirements, to the dismay of civil rights groups. Ari Shapiro reports. -- NPR : States Move to Enact Voter Identification Laws

Note: The audio will be available about 10:00 a.m. ET this morning.

July 8, 2006

Georgia: state judge blocks voter I.D. law

AP reports: With 11 days to go before Georgia's July 18 primary elections, a judge on Friday issued a restraining order blocking enforcement of the state's voter photo ID law. The state immediately announced plans to appeal the decision to the Georgia Supreme Court.

In a sharply worded ruling, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Melvin Westmoreland said Friday that Georgia's voter ID law "unduly burdens the fundamental right to vote rather than regulate it" and would cause "irreparable harm."

Westmoreland went on to write that "where the right of suffrage is fixed in the Constitution it cannot be restricted by the legislature, but only by the people through an amendment to the Constitution."

Westmoreland, who was appointed to the bench by former Democratic Gov. Zell Miller, said that the 17 forms of ID - some with photos and some without - that had been allowed in previous elections can be used at the polls for the upcoming primary. Voters who lack one of those IDs can also continue to attest to their identity under oath. -- Macon Telegraph | 07/08/2006 | Judge blocks voter ID law

July 5, 2006

Georgia: a new motion on the voter I.D. act

From an ACLU press release: A coalition of civil rights groups and private attorneys filed a motion in U.S. District Court in Rome, Georgia, today seeking a federal injunction to block implementation of the state’s latest photo identification requirement for in-person voting. The groups, who are acting on behalf of Georgia voters, charge that the state law known as S.B. 84 constitutes a poll tax and places an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote.

Today’s motion is the latest development in the ongoing lawsuit, Common Cause/Georgia v. Billups, 4:05-CV-201. ...

In the motion filed today, attorneys argue that S.B. 84 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the 24th Amendment by imposing requirements for voting that disproportionately affect Georgia’s elderly, low-income and minority voters.

“Senate Bill 84 doesn’t address the root problem of Georgia’s photo ID requirement,” said Bradley, “The law continues to impose an unnecessary burden on voters and does nothing to protect against fraud in voting. No amount of tinkering can cure the many flaws in this unconstitutional statute.”

North Carolina: Conservatives now tying voter I.D. to illegal immigration

AP reports: Declaring a partial victory in their battle against the state's gas tax, a coalition of North Carolina conservatives shifted their message Monday, beginning a new radio campaign focused on the state's growing population of illegal immigrants.

Bill Graham, chairman of North Carolina Conservatives United, said illegal immigration is burdening taxpayers and jeopardizing the integrity of the state's elections. ...

In his group's latest advertisement, Graham attacks illegal immigrants for abusing the state's education and health care programs. He also questions the state's electoral process, which he suggests may be ripe for fraud.

"Now we need to pass a law that prevents illegal immigrants from getting a driver's license and requires a photo ID to vote, because a nation of immigrants must also be a nation of laws," Graham says in the ad. -- AP Wire | 07/03/2006 | Conservatives begin new campaign targeting illegal immigration

June 20, 2006

Georgia: Cox expects 'pandemonium' over missing voter I.D.s

The Macon Telegraph reports: More than 675,000 Georgia voters lack a driver's license or some other state ID card, Secretary of State Cathy Cox said Monday, predicting that that could cause "pandemonium" before next month's primary when new voter-ID laws will be enforced.

Cox is on the July 18 ballot in the gubernatorial race against fellow Democrat Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor.

She said an analysis by her office compared Georgia's 5 million registered voters to a Department of Driver Services database, and found 676,246 voters either with no record of a license or state ID, or whose license had been revoked, suspended, canceled, denied or surrendered.

"We continue to believe that this law has the potential to disenfranchise thousands of Georgia voters," said Cox.

The Macon state senator who co-sponsored the voter ID law noted that many registered voters sit elections out. -- Macon Telegraph | 06/20/2006 | Cox: Lack of photo ID may cause 'pandemonium'

June 15, 2006

Missouri: voter I.D. bill signed

The St. Louise Post-Dispatch reports: The state will begin issuing free nondriver identification cards today to help people comply with a new law requiring state-issued photo IDs to vote.

The law, which Gov. Matt Blunt signed Wednesday, requires that voters who go to the polls Nov. 7 show a Missouri drivers license, a nondriver ID or a military ID.

But getting a nondriver ID won't be simple. Applicants must show a birth certificate or passport, as well as documents such as a Social Security card and recent bank statements. ...

Critics said the state will be hard-pressed to publicize the changes adequately so that people can comply in less than five months. A coalition of groups is considering a legal challenge on grounds that the law discriminates against people with disabilities. ...

An estimated 170,000 people lack state-issued ID cards. For the November election, they can cast provisional ballots if they have other forms of identification, such as utility bills, student IDs or out-of-state licenses. -- STLtoday - News - St. Louis City / County

June 6, 2006

Georgia: when and how will Georgia provide voter I.D. cards?

The Savannah Morning News reports: Ask Sandra Williams, Chatham County's voter registration director, if Georgia's new voter ID program will run smoothly and she laughs.

"I really don't know," she said last week. "We're still waiting for complete information from the state. ... They haven't said when it will be forthcoming."

Williams and her counterparts in Georgia's 158 other counties have received some of the gadgetry they will need and have been trained to use it.

But no one knows when the effort to provide voter ID cards to people who lack drivers licenses or other state-approved identification will start. -- SavannahNOW | Questions stalk voter ID program - 06/04/2006

May 17, 2006

Arizona: Problems with the new voter I.D. requirement

The Arizona Star reports: The first election in Pima County since Proposition 200 passed two years ago caused some confusion at polling places Tuesday.

The law requiring voters to show ID before they could vote, approved by voters in 2004, resulted in an undetermined number of people having to cast provisional ballots, which require additional verification before they can be counted, said Brad Nelson, Pima County elections director. ...

Tucsonan John Sartin had to use his driver's license to vote because election workers wouldn't accept his active- duty military ID card. The Pima County Recorder's office says "valid U.S. federal, state or local government issued identification" is acceptable.

Sartin was incredulous that military identification would be rejected, but utility bills would be accepted.

Voters without a government-issued photo ID could still vote with two other forms of identification from a list published repeatedly in newspapers, and on a yellow card sent to all voters.

Charles Allen said he took his voter registration card and American passport to the polls, but was told his passport wasn't acceptable.
Although the approved list included utility bills, vehicle registration and insurance cards, bank and property tax statements and voter registration cards, it does not include passports.

"What better proof of citizenship could you ask for than an American passport?" Allen asked. -- ID requirement, polling site changes confuse, rile voters | ďż˝

May 7, 2006

New Hampshire: Governor vetoes voter I.D. bill

The Nashua Telegraph reports: Gov. John Lynch, in his first veto of the year, killed a bill Friday that would have required people to show photo identification before they could vote.

“Our responsibility as elected officials is to protect every citizen’s constitutional right to vote and to ensure that any proposed changes to our voting system do not create unnecessary barriers to voting. We should be encouraging people to vote, not discouraging them,” he said in his veto message. -- Lynch vetoes voter identification bill

May 5, 2006

Missouri: House passes voter I.D. bill

The Columbia Missourian reports: The Missouri House passed a bill Thursday that would require Missourians to show a state or federally issued photo identification card to vote.

Lawmakers voted down the partisan line, with 94 Republicans voting in favor of the bill and 65 Democrats opposing it.

Rep. Jeff Harris, D-Columbia and the House Democratic leader, said the bill would prevent the elderly and disabled from voting. ...

But Rep. Bryan Stevenson, R-Webb City, cited voter fraud as the reason for promoting the bill. -- Columbia Missourian - Mo. House passes bill to require photo ID to vote

Indiana: Dems will appeal voter I.D. case

The Indianapolis Star reports: An appeal will be filed today to try to overturn Indiana's voter ID law, Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean said Thursday.

Dean, in his second trip to Indianapolis in recent weeks, and Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker said Tuesday's primary election showed some Hoosiers were denied the right to vote. A hotline set up by the national party received a few hundred complaints, with more still coming in.
In April, U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker upheld Indiana's law, the most stringent in the nation, saying Democrats had not proved their contention that the law was too burdensome. -- Dean to fight voter ID statute |

May 3, 2006

Indiana: few problems at the polls

Indianapolis Star reports: Some voters might have received two school board ballots. A few Indianapolis townships had to count ballots by hand, resulting in tallying delays. And there was a fleeting problem with U.S. Rep. Julia Carson's identification.

Aside from those setbacks, Tuesday's primary election came and went with few hitches despite a new state law requiring all voters to show a photo ID. ...

Democrats disputed the upbeat assessments. They also argued that the primary was not a good measure of how well the new ID law worked because turnout was low and enforcement was spotty.
Fran Quigley, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, said his organization received reports of some people who had difficulty voting because of the ID requirements. -- Not perfect at the polls, but no meltdown either |

May 2, 2006

Indiana: problems caused by voter I.D.

AP reports: It took one of the most-recognized faces in Indiana politics to create the first glitch for Indiana's new voter ID law.

U.S. Rep. Julia Carson, a Democrat seeking her sixth term in Washington after 18 years in the General Assembly, was delayed at her Indianapolis polling site Tuesday when the congressional ID card she presented to confirm her identity didn't have the expiration date required under the new law.

"It says for the 109th Congress, so that takes care of that," Carson joked later, referring to the term that expires at the end of this year. ...

In South Bend, Notre Dame sophomore Steve Przywara from Cincinnati wasn't allowed to vote because the only photo identification he had was his Ohio driver license and his university ID. He was aware of the new voter ID law, but thought his student identification would be acceptable. ...

He was offered a provisional ballot, but turned it down because he didn't think he'd be able to get his birth certificate from home soon enough. -- AP Wire | 05/02/2006 | New voter ID law snags Indiana congresswoman

April 28, 2006

Michigan: Supreme Court to decide if 10-year old voter I.D. law is constitutional

The Detroit Free Press reports: The Michigan Supreme Court has agreed to referee the highly partisan dispute over whether state voters can be asked for photo identification under a law approved nearly 10 years ago that has never gone into effect.

A divided court said Wednesday it will issue an advisory opinion on whether the law's photo ID provisions are constitutional, and invited arguments from Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox and the two major political parties. ...

Republican majorities in the Legislature and Republican Gov. John Engler approved the law in 1996, but it never went into effect after then-Attorney General Frank Kelley, a Democrat, said it was unconstitutional. ...

The state Supreme Court gave Cox and the other parties until midsummer to submit arguments. But the schedule leaves open the possibility that the court could rule before the November general election. -- Court jumps into dispute over voter ID checks

Missouri: voter I.D. one step closer

AP reports: Overriding critics' worries about hindering people from voting, a House panel advanced legislation Thursday requiring voters to show a photo identification starting this fall.

The Senate passed the bill last week after making changes intended to ease Democratic concerns, though in the end only one Democrat joined Republicans in voting for the bill.

In the House Elections Committee, Rep. Bill Deeken of Jefferson City, a former county clerk, was the only Republican to join Democrats in opposing the legislation, which cleared the panel on a 6-5 vote.

Deeken said he agrees with the concept of requiring a photo ID, but this year is too soon. -- AP Wire | 04/27/2006 | House committee passes voter ID requirement

April 22, 2006

Georgia: DOJ preclears voter I.D.; federal suit to be renewed

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports: A revised law requiring Georgia voters to show government-issued photo ID at the polls cleared an important hurdle Friday, gaining the approval of the U.S. Department of Justice.

But whether voters will have to present a photo ID at the polls for the July 18 primaries remains unknown because a federal lawsuit challenging the law is still pending. The law has also been challenged in state court.

In October, U.S. District Court Judge Harold Murphy halted enforcement of Georgia's photo voter ID law, saying it appeared unconstitutional. Murphy wrote in his opinion that requiring voters to pay for a voter ID card amounted to a poll tax, and noted that getting such an ID card was difficult for the elderly and people in rural areas. ...

Lawyers representing several groups suing over the law, including the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, ACLU and NAACP, say they will formally ask Murphy to find SB 84 unconstitutional now that it has been approved by the federal government. Because of past discrimination, Georgia is one of several states and regions covered by provisions in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that require federal approval for any changes to voting laws. -- U.S. OKs latest ID voter law |

April 18, 2006

Indiana: Democrats will appeal voter I.D. ruling

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reports: The Indiana Democratic Party said Monday it will appeal last week’s ruling upholding the state’s voter identification law, although the party concedes the appeal likely will not affect the May 2 primary election.

The decision was handed down late Friday by U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker, who found the rule placed reasonable restrictions on voting. She rejected a claim that the law would unfairly affect the poor, minorities, people with disabilities and the elderly who may struggle to obtain photo identification. ...

According to state election officials, the name on the identification must conform to the name on the poll book but doesn’t have to be identical. And the identification can be expired as long as it lapsed after Nov. 2, 2004 – the last general election.

There are several exemptions to the law – including those who are indigent or have a religious objection to being photographed. Those who use one of these exemptions will be asked to cast a provisional ballot that will be counted only if the exemption-seeker goes to the county clerk’s office within 10 days to sign an affidavit swearing to the exemption.

Those who forget their IDs can also cast a provisional ballot and then bring identification in within 10 days. -- Journal Gazette | 04/18/2006 | Democrats to appeal ruling upholding poll ID law

April 15, 2006

Indiana: federal judge upholds voter I.D. law

The Indianapolis Star reports: If you're planning to vote in the May 2 primary, you'll have to show a state or federally issued photo ID.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker upheld Indiana's stringent voter-identification law. Barker said plaintiffs, including the Indiana Democratic Party, failed to back up their contention that the ID law is unduly burdensome and would keep many people from casting ballots.
Barker wrote in her 126-page opinion that the opponents' arguments would require "the invalidation" not only of the photo ID statute, "but of significant portions of Indiana's election code which have previously passed Constitutional muster." ...

But Barker wrote: "Despite apocalyptic assertions of wholesale voter disenfranchisement, plaintiffs have produced not a single piece of evidence of any identifiable registered voter who would be prevented from voting" because of the statute.
The judge had particular scorn for a report prepared by an expert hired by the Democrats that said 989,000 registered voters in Indiana do not possess a BMV-issued driver's license or photo ID.
Barker said she did not consider the report in her determination because she viewed the analysis and conclusions as "utterly incredible and unreliable." -- Law upheld: Voters need photo ID |

April 13, 2006

Georgia: von Spakovsky "acknowledges" being Publius

The Washington Post reports: When he was a senior lawyer in the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, Hans von Spakovsky played a central role in approving a controversial Georgia voter identification program over the objections of staff lawyers.

But now, after leaving Justice for the Federal Election Commission, von Spakovsky has acknowledged writing a law review article that endorsed photo identification, which was Georgia's approach, before the state's proposal was even submitted to Justice for review. He also took the unusual step of using a pseudonym, "Publius," in publishing the article, which appeared in the spring 2005 issue of the Texas Review of Law & Politics.

The article and its unusual authorship prompted a letter of complaint to the Justice Department last week from the Voting Rights Project, an arm of the American Civil Liberties Union that is opposed to Georgia's voter identification plans. The group said the article shows von Spakovsky had already made up his mind on the issue and that his attempt to hide his views may have violated Justice Department guidelines.

In addition, a link to the Publius article suddenly disappeared this week from the FEC Web site, which had featured the article among a list of von Spakovsky's writings. -- Official's Article on Voting Law Spurs Outcry

April 10, 2006

Georgia: More on von Spakovsky

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports: A Bush appointee from Georgia who played a role in upholding the state's controversial photo voter ID requirement held an inappropriate — and secretive — bias in favor of the law, a voting rights group fighting the measure contends.

Further, the group says the U.S. Department of Justice should take steps to make sure the views of Hans von Spakovsky, a former lawyer for the department, do not influence pending consideration of a new voter ID requirement passed by the Georgia Legislature this year.

According to an April 7 letter sent by the ACLU Voting Rights Project to the head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, von Spakovsky wrote an article last spring under the anonymous name "Publius" in the Texas Review of Law & Politics. At the time he allegedly wrote "Securing the Integrity of American Elections: The Need for Change," von Spakovsky was counsel to the assistant attorney general for civil rights and participated in the review of Georgia's voter ID law.

The article appeared before the Department of Justice approved House Bill 244, a law passed by the Georgia General Assembly in 2005 that requires voters to present government-issued photo identification at the polls. The ACLU, League of Women Voters and other groups sued to block the law, arguing it could suppress minority voting participation. A federal judge temporarily halted enforcement in October. -- Voter ID ruling bias charged |

Georgia: ACLU asks for DOJ for relief against "Publius's" participation in preclearance of voter I.D. law

Rick Hasen recently revealed that FEC Commissioner Hans von Spakovsky was the anonymous "Publius" who wrote Securing the Integrity of American Elections: The Need for Change, 9 Texas Review of Law and Politics 277 (2005). Rick points out that the official bio for von Spakovsky states, "Commissioner Hans A. von Spakovsky was nominated to the Federal Election Commission by President George W. Bush on December 15, 2005 and was appointed on January 4, 2006. Prior to his appointment, Commissioner von Spakovsky served as Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Justice, where he provided expertise and advice on voting and election issues, including of the Help America Vote Act of 2002."

One of the issues discussed in the Publius article was the question of the effect of voter I.D. requirements on turnout in, of all places, Georgia. (As my Georgia relatives would have said, "Well, don't that beat all?")

That means that Spakovsky was "counseling" about election issues at DOJ when it was considering the Georgia voter I.D. law for preclearance. (It was precleared on 26 August 2005.) And, at the same time, he was doing his own research and publishing it under the name "Publius."

You may remember that the Washington Post reported on that the career staff in the DOJ Voting Section had recommended against preclearance but were overruled by John Tanner, chief of the Voting Section. (Later Bradley Schlotzman, who had been acting assistant attorney general for civil rights when the preclearance occurred, wrote a letter to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, claiming the leaked memo "was merely a draft.")

The folks at the ACLU Southern Regional Office apparently read the post and have now written this letter to the Justice Department asking that it undertake several actions to undo the damage caused by von Spakovsky's secret bias in favor of the voter I.D. law. My summary would be but a pale shadow of the richly nuanced argument of the ACLU. So, read it yourself.

March 30, 2006

Missouri: Secretary of State says voter I.D. bill would keep 200,000 from voting

The Columbia Missourian reports: Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan told protestors gathered at the Capitol on Wednesday that a proposed bill requiring voters to present a federal or state voting identification card could keep citizens out of the polls.

“It’s a bill that I think could risk disenfranchising up to 200,000 Missourians,” Carnahan said in the Capitol’s rotunda.

These 200,000 people affected could include senior citizens, the disabled and some students, Carnahan said.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Delbert Scott, said otherwise. “That’s absurd,” he said.

Legislation proponents argue the measure would crack down on voter fraud. -- Columbia Missourian - Bill sponsor, secretary of state differ on voter ID cards bill

The bill is here.

March 29, 2006

Georgia: groups ask DOJ to block voter I.D. bill

AP reports: Civil rights groups have asked the U.S. Department of Justice to block a new Georgia law that requires a photo ID to cast a ballot.

More than two dozen civil rights, community, religious and citizen advocacy groups sent a letter to the Justice Department Tuesday.

The law was signed by Gov. Sonny Perdue in January but the Justice Department must endorse it before it can be enforced. Even if the Justice Department approves it, a federal judge could stall the law, which Georgia leaders would like to have in place starting with the July 18 primaries. An earlier version of the voter ID law was halted by a federal judge in Rome, Ga., in October.

It makes Georgia one of only seven states that require a photo ID to cast a ballot. The law requires a voter to present one of five types of government-issued cards. The law eliminates several forms of identification currently accepted at the polls, from Social Security cards and birth certificates to utility bills. -- AP Wire | 03/29/2006 | Civil rights groups urge feds to block voter ID law

March 28, 2006

Missouri: Carter-Baker report cited by both sides in I.D. fight

AP reports: As legislation requiring a photo identification to vote lingers in the Senate, both supporters and opponents are pointing to recommendations from a commission co-chaired by former President Jimmy Carter to justify their positions.

The bill would require voters to show a government-issued photo identification to cast a ballot — a change supporters say is necessary to prevent voter fraud, but which critics say would be a hassle that discourages people from voting.

Both sides cite the Commission on Federal Election Reform, which was organized by American University and led by Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker.

The commission called for states to require photo identification at the polls and said such ID cards should follow a federal law requiring people to prove they are legally in the country before obtaining driver's licenses or state ID cards. -- | Local News

March 26, 2006

Indians still want the Voting Rights Act's protection

AP reports: Despite these achievements, tribes point to restrictive voting laws around the country. South Dakota's new voter identification law -- passed after Johnson's election -- requires residents to show photo identification at the polls, a problem for many on the reservations who don't have IDs. The law permits those without identification to sign an affidavit, but opponents argue there is confusion about what is allowed. The American Civil Liberties Union has challenged other voter identification statutes seen as restrictive to Indians in Albuquerque, N.M. and Minnesota.

"The tribes are still very concerned about the targeted efforts to disenfranchise their vote," says Jacqueline Johnson, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians. "We are having to change a mind-set that exists."

Others imply the problems are exaggerated. Chris Nelson, South Dakota's Republican secretary of state, focuses on the positive -- a huge differential in American Indian turnout between 2000 and 2004, after two major Senate races -- and says he has seen little evidence of voter intimidation.

Nelson says he is even willing to support removing some federal protections on South Dakota's reservations. Shannon and Todd Counties -- historically home to the state's largest population of American Indians -- are included in Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, meaning that any major changes in election policy there must be federally approved. -- Sioux City Journal: American Indians still face obstacles in voting

March 22, 2006

Pres. Carter promotes use of voter I.D.

AP reports: Requiring voters to show a free photo identification is just one of several changes the U.S. electoral system needs to catch up with most of the rest of the world, former President Carter said Wednesday.

He said Mexicans, Palestinians and Venezuelans all had fairer and more doubt-free elections than Americans recently.

"We've got a long way to go," he said. "It's disgraceful and embarrassing." Carter made the observation as he filmed a TV and radio program on the recommendations made last year by a commission he co-chaired to restore public confidence in elections.

The former president said requiring voters to show a free photo identification at the polls was just as "practical" as the many identification needs of daily life. -- AP Wire | 03/22/2006 | Carter promotes requirement of voter ID

March 15, 2006

Missouri: Senate wrangles over voter I.D. bill

AP reports: Senate Democrats spent hours talking about how a voting bill would limit people’s access to the polls, but in the end the starting date is what stalled the legislation.

The bill would require voters to show photo identification to cast a ballot — a change supporters say is necessary to prevent voter fraud, but which critics say would be a hassle that discourages people from voting.

After hours of talk on the bill, the Senate took a break to see if a compromise could be reached. But Democrats insisted on putting off the photo ID requirement until at least 2008, saying voters need time to learn of the new requirement, while Republicans want it done this year. -- Lawmakers defer decision on voter ID bill

Minnesota: straight party line vote in House committee on voter I.D. bill

Minnesota Public Radio reports: A bill moving through the Minnesota House would create stricter requirements for people trying to register to vote in Minnesota. The House Civil Law Committee approved the legislation on Wednesday on a straight party-line vote. The proposal brought emotional pleas from supporters who called for stronger measures to prevent voter fraud. But critics say the bill is an attempt to keep people of color, the poor and the elderly from voting.

Right now Minnesota law allows people to register to vote on the day of an election. People can register with a photo ID, a utility bill with an up to date address or through a neighbor who can vouch for a voter's residency.

Rep. Tom Emmer's legislation basically does two things: it would require citizens to provide a passport, a birth certificate or naturalization papers when they register to vote. Voters would also have to provide proper photo identification when they go to the polls on election day. -- MPR: Voting bill stirs strong emotions at Capitol

Pennsylvania: Governor vetoes voter I.D. bill

The Governor's Office announces: Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell today formally vetoed House Bill 1318, calling the bill an unnecessary burden that will result in some Pennsylvania residents losing their right to vote.

In taking action to veto the bill, Governor Rendell said, "I am vetoing this bill because I believe it violates the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It also places an unnecessary new burden on electors that will result in some losing their right to vote, and I will do all I can to make sure that actions like this cannot happen on my watch.

"With voter participation in our country dropping to alarming levels, the government should not be taking action that will turn away bona fide voters from our polls," the Governor said.

Governor Rendell said that those who want to decrease voter participation by passing this bill did so under the ruse that voters need to show identification to prevent voter fraud. The Governor added that he is concerned that the legislation would have disenfranchised people living in nursing homes, a displaced family or the state's poorest, who may not have any government-issued identification. -- Pennsylvania Governor Rendell Signs Veto Message Protecting Fundamental Right to Vote of PA Citizens, Says Bill Places Unnecessary Burden on Voters

The FIFTH Amendment !?!

February 22, 2006

Pennsylvania: Governor will veto voter I.D. bill

AP reports: Gov. Ed Rendell said Monday he'll veto a bill that would require voters to show identification at the polls because he believes such a mandate is unconstitutional and would disenfranchise some of the state's most vulnerable residents.

People including nursing home residents and poorer citizens might not have proper ID and thus could lose their right to vote under the legislation, Rendell said.

"At a time in our nation's history when voter participation is dropping to alarming levels, the government should not be taking action that will turn away bona fide voters from our polls," Rendell, who made the announcement in a speech at the National Constitution Center, said in a statement.

The bill had cleared the Legislature on Wednesday mostly along party lines. Democrats generally opposed the measure, claiming it would lead to countless voter challenges and create long lines that would discourage participation; Republicans countered it would fight voter fraud by ensuring that a person can cast only one ballot in an election. -- NEPA News - NEPA News - 02/21/2006 - Rendell to veto bill that would require voter ID

February 15, 2006

Arizona: Photo I.D. -- don't leave home without it (if you want to vote)

The Arizona Republic reports: A campaign reminding voters to bring positive identification to the polls was launched Tuesday in anticipation of next month's elections.

A new Arizona law requires voters to show at the polls a valid form of photo ID with a current address or two forms of acceptable non-photo ID with a current address.

Those who cannot will have to cast a provisional ballot.

For their vote to count, those casting provisional ballots must follow up and show required ID to the County Recorder within five days of a federal election or three days of any other election. -- Voter ID campaign begins

February 14, 2006

Missouri: voter I.D. bill debated in legislature

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports: A Republican proposal to require voters to show photo identification would discriminate against blacks, the poor, the elderly and the disabled, opponents said Monday.

Under the plan, voters would have to present drivers licenses or other government-issued photo ID cards at the polls. About 170,000 Missourians of voting age lack drivers licenses and would have to secure alternative IDs.

Critics told a Senate committee that the changes would add a hurdle that would discourage legitimate voters from voting. Rep. Yaphett El-Amin, D-St. Louis, likened the requirement to Jim Crow laws, which imposed racial segregation on blacks. ...

Supporters of the proposal said their goal is to attack voter fraud and restore confidence in the election system. They said 95 percent of voting-age Missourians have drivers licenses. -- STLtoday - News - St. Louis City / County

February 13, 2006

Missouri: GOP pushes voter I.D. bill

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports: With statewide elections nine months away, some Missouri Republicans are pushing a controversial bill requiring government-issued photo identification to cast a vote.

Michael Gibbons, Senate president pro tem and co-sponsor of the bill, says the aim is to have the law in place by the fall. He praised the measure as a way to curb potential fraud and improve voter confidence. Republican Gov. Matt Blunt also supports it, a spokesman said.

But Mary A. Ratliff, president of the Missouri NAACP, called the bill "just another attempt by Republicans to keep African-Americans and people of low and middle incomes off the rolls."

A hearing is slated Monday on the bill, which would move Missouri into the small, but growing, group of states mandating such a requirement. -- STLtoday - News - St. Louis City / County

February 10, 2006

Georgia: voter I.D. case returned to district court

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports: A federal appeals court in Atlanta will not hear the state's case March 1 on the legality of the state's photo voter ID law.

In a ruling issued Thursday, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals sent the case back to a lower court in light of the passage of Senate Bill 84, which made changes to the photo voter ID law passed last year. In October, federal Judge Harold Murphy of Rome temporarily blocked enforcement of the new law requiring voters to show government-issued photo ID at the polls, ruling that it appeared unconstitutional. Murphy said the ID amounted to a poll tax, because people had to pay to acquire one. He also said getting the ID cards was difficult for many people because of the limited locations throughout the state where they could be obtained. -- Voter ID case sent back to lower court |

February 1, 2006

Ohio: voter I.D. bill signed

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports: Gov. Bob Taft signed a controversial new elections bill Tuesday just hours after the Republican-supported measure cleared the General Assembly amid heated floor comments from lawmakers.

The crux of the massive law, House Bill 3, which contains scores of election changes, was a new requirement that voters show identification at the polls.

Before this law, a signature was all that was needed. -- Voter ID bill gets Taft's signature

January 27, 2006

Minnesota: GOP legislators call for voter I.D.

AP reports: Minnesota should join seven other states in requiring voters to present a photo ID before casting a ballot, two Republican legislators said Thursday.

State Reps. Tom Emmer of Delano and Joe Hoppe of Chaska want election law changed so that voters must prove their identity by bringing a government-issued picture identification card to the polls. If they don't have a driver's license, a passport or another official ID, they would be able to sign an affidavit swearing to their identity.

They said the bill isn't in response to any particular cases of voter fraud in Minnesota. -- Bill would require voters to present photo ID

January 26, 2006

Georgia: governor signs voter i.d. bill

AP reports: Gov. Sonny Perdue signed the latest version of Georgia's voter identification bill into law today, sending it to the U.S. Justice Department for the second time in two years.

Perdue acted one day after the House gave final approval to the measure requiring voters to show a driver's license or other government-issued photo identification at the polls.

The bill eliminates most forms of ID that are currently accepted - including Social Security cards, birth certificates and utility bills.

Perdue called it an attempt to crack down on voter fraud in the state. -- Macon Telegraph | 01/26/2006 | Perdue signature sends voter ID back to feds

December 14, 2005

Ohio: Senate passes election reform bill

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports: A sharply divided Ohio Senate voted 21-11 Tuesday on a voluminous election reform bill that includes a requirement that voters show identification rather than simply sign a poll book.

The House plans to take a final vote on the proposal today, and Gov. Bob Taft is expected to sign it.

Sen. Kevin Coughlin, a Cuyahoga Falls Republican and the bill's Senate sponsor, said the new ID requirement is a less restrictive mandate than some states have imposed but still helps assure that only legitimate votes are cast. ...

[Democrats] cited estimates that 357,000 Ohioans age 18 and older don't have a driver's license or a state ID card - two items that would allow those eligible to cast a regular ballot. Student IDs, passports and military IDs would not qualify, Democrats said. ...

Senate Minority Leader C.J. Prentiss implored the governor to veto the offending portions of the bill, and she suggested Democrats will file a constitutional challenge to the measure if it becomes law in its current form.

Democrats said the lawsuit will depend in part on how local election boards and the secretary of state implement the law. The most likely grounds for a challenge would be equal protection. -- Voting? I need to see some ID

December 6, 2005

Ohio: proposal for voter I.D.

The Toledo Blade reports: Voters would be forced to provide proof of identification before casting ballots and non-Ohioans could not circulate petitions to change state law under proposals headed for an Ohio Senate committee today.

The measures could reach the full Senate next week.

The Senate Rules Committee is expected to expand on a provision passed by the House to require first-time voters to provide proof of identification at the polling place.

The Senate version would require all voters to provide a driver's license or other photo ID, utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, any government document with his or her name and address, or the last four digits of their Social Security number. -- - -

December 1, 2005

Nevada: Tarkanian will push voter i.d. if elected

AP reports: Danny Tarkanian announced his Republican candidacy for Nevada's secretary of state Thursday with a call to establish voter identification cards and require proof of citizenship when registering to vote.

Tarkanian, the son of former UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian and Las Vegas City Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian, lost a bid for the state Senate last year.

He said he opposes efforts by current Secretary of State Dean Heller, also a Republican, to allow Nevadans to register to vote through Election Day. ...

If elected, Tarkanian said he would push for a photo identification card that voters would have to present at the polls. -- Famous UNLV coach's son begins state race with call for voter IDs

November 27, 2005

Georgia: DOJ's Schlozman says leaked memo was "merely a draft"

Bradley Schlotzman writes in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Recent reports in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution have confused and misrepresented the decision-making process at the Department of Justice concerning preclearance of Georgia's changes to its voter identification statute.

The leaked internal memorandum that has generated the attention was merely a draft that did not incorporate the analytical work and extensive research conducted by all the attorneys assigned to the matter. Most disturbingly, this paper has neglected to mention that the leaked memorandum did not represent the recommendation of the veteran career chief of the Civil Rights Division's Voting Section, to whom preclearance approval decisions are expressly delegated by federal regulation.

The chief's well-grounded and solidly reasoned recommendation, in which I concurred as the acting assistant attorney general, was that the Georgia statute was clearly not racially retrogressive within the limited scope of the Voting Rights Act.

This matter arose when Georgia recently amended its voter identification statute by changing the number of acceptable documents that individuals must present before voting. Georgia is one of at least 17 states that mandate identification from voters, and there is no evidence that such requirements have had any adverse impact on minority voters.

Georgia's corrected data — which were not incorporated in the leaked memo — indicate that African-American citizens are actually slightly more likely than white citizens to possess one of the necessary forms of identification. -- Voter ID bill not an obstacle for minorities |

November 24, 2005

Georgia: sponsor of voter I.D. act proposes changes

AP reports: The Republican legislator who sponsored Georgia's controversial voter ID bill in the state Senate says he is willing to make changes to the law.

State Sen. Cecil Staton, R-Macon, said Friday that changes could include letting local governments issue photo identification cards that would let people who don't have a driver's license vote.

Another idea, he said, would eliminate a provision under which voters can get a photo ID without paying a fee by signing a pauper's affidavit. "We'll make it free," Staton said.

A federal appeals court has blocked enactment of the law, which requires Georgia residents who do not have a driver's license or another state-issued form of identification to buy a separate card for as much as $35. Critics say that is the equivalent of an illegal poll tax, falling on the underprivileged, who are disproportionately minorities. -- AP Wire | 11/19/2005 | Sen. Staton says voter ID law may be changed

Michigan: former A.G. defends his opinion on voter I.D.

AP reports: Former Attorney General Frank Kelley says he told the Attorney General Opinion Review Board on Wednesday that his 1997 opinion labeling as unconstitutional a state law requiring a picture ID to vote should stand.

The board is considering a July request from state Rep. Chris Ward, R-Brighton, that Republican Attorney General Mike Cox issue a new opinion on the law.

Eight years ago, Kelley - then the Democratic attorney general - wrote that the law violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment, which among other things guarantees U.S. citizens the right to vote.

Ward said the state needs to require a picture ID from voters to prevent election fraud. In making his argument, he cited a Benton Harbor vote-buying scheme, absentee ballot tampering in River Rouge and election fraud in Ecorse. ...

Kelley, now with his own governmental affairs firm in Lansing, said Wednesday after the hearing that he doesn't think voter fraud is a problem in Michigan and that numerous other checks are in place to protect the integrity of the election process. -- Lansing State Journal: Former AG says requiring ID hurts vote rights