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Voter Disenfranchisement

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Huffington Post: Michael Steele: Voter ID Rhetoric Is 'Irresponsible,' Party Needs New Approach To Black Voters

-By Gene Demby

August 31, 2012- As the Republican National Convention drew to a close, Michael Steele, the party's former chair, said that his party needed to do a better job of outreach to communities of color, and that the rhetoric around voter ID laws was a detriment to those efforts.

The party offered plum prime-time speaking spots to people of color, including two well-received speeches from former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez. But Steele said that he was disappointed at the contrast between the podium and the delegates in attendance.

"There were a lot of people of color on the stage, but my problem is that there weren't any on the floor," Steele told The Huffington Post on Thursday. "That's where the rubber hits the road."

Huffington Post: Ohio Early Voting Ruling: Court Orders State To Restore 3 Days Of Voting Before Election Day

-By Luke Johnson

August 31, 2012- A federal judge sided with the Obama campaign and ruled Friday to order Ohio to restore three days of early voting before Election Day, a decision that could affect the outcome of the 2012 election in a key battleground state.

Judge Peter C. Economus of the Southern District Court of Ohio granted an injunction in favor of Obama For America, the Democratic National Committee and the Ohio Democratic Party, which sued Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to restore in-person voting in the last weekend before the election.

CNN Opinion: Voter ID cases: Invisible voter v. imaginary fraud

-By Nathaniel Persily

August 31, 2012- In the space of two weeks, two different courts have come to two different results in evaluating the legality of two similar voter identification laws.

In Pennsylvania, a state trial judge upheld the newly enacted voter ID law under the state's constitution, while Thursday in Washington, a federal panel rejected Texas' similar ID law under the federal Voting Rights Act.

Despite their differences, both courts were quite right to agree on a central proposition: We really don't know how large an impact these voter ID laws will have on elections. In the end, the question, both legal and moral, often boils down to who should have the burden of proof: Should states be forced to show their laws are justified because they prevent demonstrable fraud or should opponents be forced to show that the law prevents large numbers of people from voting?

Washington Post: Texas voter-ID law is blocked

-By Sari Horwitz

August 30, 2012- A federal court on Thursday blocked a Texas law that would have required voters to show photo identification, ruling that the legislation would impose “strict, unforgiving burdens” on poor minority voters.

Describing the law as the most stringent in the country, the unanimous decision by a three-judge panel marks the first time that a federal court has blocked a voter-ID law. It will reverberate politically through the November elections. Republicans and Democrats have been arguing over whether tough voter-ID laws in a number of states discriminate against African Americans and Hispanics.

The panel at the U.S. District Court in Washington ruled that Texas had failed to show that the statute would not harm the voting rights of minorities in the state. In addition, the judges found that evidence indicated that the cost of obtaining a photo ID to vote would fall most heavily on African American and Hispanic voters.

Washington Post: Federal judge says Ohio must count disputed votes

-By Robert Barnes

August 27, 2012- The decision could mean that thousands of votes that otherwise would have been rejected — most of them cast in urban areas where Democrats are concentrated — will have to be counted.

“Recent experience proves that our elections are decided, all too often, by improbably slim margins — not just in local races . . . but even for the highest national offices,” U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley wrote. “Any potential threat to the integrity of the franchise, no matter how small, must therefore be treated with the utmost seriousness.”

The legal fight is probably not over. “We respectfully disagree with the judge’s ruling and will likely appeal,” said Matt McClellan, a spokesman for Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R).

The Atlantic: Rep. John Lewis: 'Make Some Noise' on New Voting Restrictions

The civil rights icon issues a call—"All of us should be up on our feet"—to protest partisan voting restrictions this election season.

-By Andrew Cohen

August 26, 2012-

And the major paused for about a minute, and he said, troopers advance. And you saw these men putting on their gas masks. They came toward us, beating us with nightsticks, bullwhips, tramping us with horses, releasing the teargas. I was hit in the head by a state trooper with a nightstick. My legs went from under me. I thought I was going to die. I thought I saw death.

Bloomberg: Ohio Secretary of State Sued Over Weekend Voting Curbs

-By Andrew Harris

August 25, 2012- Ohio’s Republican secretary of state was sued by his Democratic predecessor over a directive that makes early-voting hours uniform in all 88 of the state’s counties in part by eliminating weekend balloting.

Secretary of State Jon Husted issued the order Aug. 15. Former Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, together with the advocacy group Fair Elections Ohio and a voters’ referendum committee, claimed Husted violated their constitutional rights in a complaint filed today in federal court in Columbus.

Husted’s action revived portions of a repealed Ohio law, effectively reinstating parts of the statute that curbed or eliminated weekend early voting, the plaintiffs said. They seek a declaratory judgment that the directive and other actions are unconstitutional. Husted set uniform hours for in-person absentee voting after the Ohio Democratic Party said times were being expanded mostly in Republican-leaning counties.

NBC News: Flurry of Voter ID laws tied to conservative group ALEC

-By Ethan Magoc

August 21, 2012- A growing number of conservative Republican state legislators worked fervently during the past two years to enact laws requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls.

Lawmakers proposed 62 photo ID bills in 37 states in the 2011 and 2012 sessions, with multiple bills introduced in some states. Ten states have passed strict photo ID laws since 2008, though several may not be in effect in November because of legal challenges.

A News21 analysis found that more than half of the 62 bills were sponsored by members or conference attendees of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a Washington, D.C., tax-exempt organization.

ALEC has nearly 2,000 state legislator members who pay $100 in dues every two years. Most of ALEC’s money comes from nonprofits and corporations — from AT&T to Bank of America to Chevron to eBay — which pay thousands of dollars in dues each year.

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