Tag Archives: voter registration

Supreme Court upholds Ohio’s voter roll purge of infrequent voters

The U.S. Supreme Court began today with 25 cases yet to be decided over the next three weeks before the end of June. “The court is on pace to issue 48 percent of its opinions during June, the highest percentage in history, according to Adam Feldman, a scholar who runs the empiricalscotus.com website.” Get Ready for Some Blockbuster U.S. Supreme Court Rulings.

The court is racing toward the end of its nine-month term with some of its biggest cases still to be decided, led by the fight over President Donald Trump’s travel ban. The justices also will rule on partisan gerrymandering, voter purges, union fees, internet sales taxes, credit-card fees and cell-phone privacy.

This morning the Court issued its ruling in the voter purge case, Husted v. A Philip Randolph Institute (.pdf). Justice Alito writing for the majority in a 5-4 decision reversed the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The majority opinion holds that Ohio’s process follows subsection (d) of the National Voter Registration Act.

Ohio’s Supplemental Process follows subsection (d) to the letter. It is undisputed that Ohio does not remove a registrant on change-of-residence grounds unless the registrant is sent and fails to mail back a return card and then fails to vote for an additional four years.

Respondents argue (and the Sixth Circuit held) that, even if Ohio’s process complies with subsection (d), it nevertheless violates the Failure-to-Vote Clause—the clause that generally prohibits States from removing people from the rolls “by reason of [a] person’s failure to vote.” §20507(b)(2); see also §21083(a)(4)(A). Respondents point out that Ohio’s Supplemental Process uses a person’s failure to vote twice: once as the trigger for sending return cards and again as one of the requirements for removal. Respondents conclude that this use of nonvoting is illegal.

We reject this argument because the Failure-to-Vote Clause, both as originally enacted in the NVRA and as amended by HAVA, simply forbids the use of nonvoting as the sole criterion for removing a registrant, and Ohio does not use it that way. Instead, as permitted by subsection (d), Ohio removes registrants only if they have failed to vote and have failed to respond to a notice.

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Kris Kobach and his ‘proof of citizenship’ law on trial

GOP voter suppression specialist, Kris Kobach, is unbelievably the Secretary of State of Kansas. He is the author of  the so-called “Arizona Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act,” Prop. 200 in 2004, provisions of which require proof of citizenship to register to vote and presenting a photo I.D. to receive a ballot.

In 2012, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals sitting en banc in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council, held that the requirement to provide proof of citizenship to register to vote is invalid as preempted by the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) — but the requirement to provide voter identification at the polling place is valid. In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed in a 7-2 decision, with Justice Antonin Scalia delivering the Court’s opinion, the Ninth Circuit’s ruling that Arizona’s proof of citizenship requirement is preempted by the NVRA.

Kris Kobach had enacted a similar law in Kansas, the Kansas Secure and Fair Elections (SAFE) Act in 2011.

The response of Kobach to the Supreme Court ruling, along with a series of hanger-on Arizona Secretaries of State, all Republicans, was to set up a dual voter registration system, one for the NVRA federal voter registration form which would allow citizens to vote only in federal races (denying them their right to vote in state and local races),  and one for state voter registration forms, that require proof of citizenship, and allow voter to vote in all races and ballot measures.

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Washington is the tenth state to adopt automatic voter registration. Whither Arizona?

At the start of this year, nine states had adopted universal (automatic) voter registration.

AVR 2017 Map

The State of Washington will become the tenth state, and the states of New Jersey and Nevada are in the que. Whither Arizona? This should be the issue in the Arizona Secretary of State race this year.

Steve Benen reports, Automatic voter registration poised to reach another state:

[T]he Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law noted yesterday, the [automatic voter registration] policy will soon be the law in a fifth of the states.

Washington is set to become the latest state to automatically register citizens to vote at state agencies. The State House and Senate agreed on language and passed the legislation today. […]

Under the bill, Washingtonians who apply for or renew an enhanced driver’s license at the Department of Licensing will automatically be registered to vote unless they decline. The bill also requires public assistance agencies to move toward automatic voter registration, and for the state’s health benefit exchange to implement electronic voter registration.

According to the Brennan Center, the bill in the state of Washington is now headed to Gov. Jay Inslee (D), who is expected to sign it into law.

The Evergreen State will then join Oregon, California, Alaska, Colorado, Illinois, Georgia, West Virginia, Rhode Island, and Vermont as states that have adopted AVR.

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Register high school students to vote at March for Our Lives and #NeverAgain events

In 2015, Arizona became the 1st state to pass law requiring high-school civics test: The American Civics Act will require students to pass 60 of the 100 questions on the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization civics test. They can first take the test in eighth grade, and can retake it until they pass.

If Arizona really wants to teach its children civics – the obligation of American citizens to actively participate in the democratic political process, at a minimum, through voting  – then an opportunity to put actions before empty platitudes will present itself in the coming weeks.

The students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida,  have organized the March for Our Lives and #NeverAgain movement. Several civics events are planned, i.e., the First Amendment rights of freedom of speech, the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances:

Students, teachers, and allies will take part in a for 17 minutes at 10am on March 14, 2018. Join us in saying !http://bit.ly/EnoughMarch14.

On March 24 students, teachers and allies will take to the streets of Washington, DC and our communities across the country for March for Our Lives. We will be the last group of students who have to stand up for fallen children due to senseless gun violence. March with us. Sign up at marchforourlives.com.

On April 20th students and teachers will participate in the National School Walkout at 10:00 a.m. Sit outside your schools and peacefully protest. Make some noise. Voice your thoughts. “We are students, we are victims, we are change.” Sign the petition at Change.org National High School Walk-Out for Anti Gun Violence.

My thought was that the Arizona Secretary of State’s office and our 15 County Recorder’s offices, along with voter registration organizations such as the League of Women Voters and many others, could coordinate with Arizona’s school districts to make voter registration tables available at every Arizona high school for seniors participating in these extraordinary events to register to vote. High school civics teachers should see this as a golden opportunity to teach their students about civics.

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Secretary of State Michele Reagan is disenfranchising voters

Last month we learned that Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan violated the law when her office failed to mail publicity pamphlets to hundreds of thousands of voters in time for the May 2016 special election, a state-appointed investigator has concluded.

But, the investigator found, there is no provision in state law to punish anyone for not delivering the pamphlets on time and Reagan and her staff did not act criminally.

That’s the outcome of a long-awaited investigative report released Wednesday by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. Michael Morrissey, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice, led the review as an appointed special investigator.

Reagan responded “mistakes were made and we were responsible,” then tried to pass the buck to vendors and her staff.

Last week the Secretary of State was sued for illegally denying thousands of Arizonans the right to vote in federal elections because they registered using the federal voter registration form. Arizona, lawsuit contends voters are being disenfranchised:

Legal papers filed Tuesday in federal court here acknowledge that state law requires would-be voters to produce certain identification when registering. That requirement has been upheld in prior court rulings.

But attorneys for the League of United Latin American Citizens and the Arizona Students Association point out that the U.S. Supreme Court has said that state law does not — and cannot — prevent people from registering to vote for federal elections using a federally approved registration form. And they contend that those whose state registrations are rejected for lack of citizenship proof are not informed of that option.

“At least 26,000 voters in Maricopa County alone have been disenfranchised by these policies,” the lawsuit states. But the problem is not limited there.

The lawyers say they’ve sampled more than 2,000 state registration forms that were rejected because applicants had failed to provide the required proof of citizenship. Of that group, fewer than 15 percent successfully registered after receiving notice of the rejection.

“Therefore, many eligible voters across Arizona have been disenfranchised by these unnecessary bureaucratic policies,” the lawsuit states.

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Register to Vote for City of Tucson August primary

“Voter Registration Deadline Approaching  
The voter registration deadline for the City of Tucson’s Aug. 29 primary election is next Monday, July 31. Those wishing to register to vote should contact the Pima County Recorder’s Office at (520) 724-4330, or follow the link below. The City of Tucson election information publication, “The Choice Is Yours,” will be mailed Aug. 2, and ballots for the mail-in election will be sent to registered voters on Aug. 9. The materials will be sent only to voters in contested wards (3, 5, and 6).
Register to vote via ServiceArizona: http://bit.ly/2pyzIGb
Tucson City Clerk’s vote-by-mail calendar: http://bit.ly/2sYqJAJ
Pima County Recorder: http://bit.ly/2bj0xsD.”
Many thanks to Ward 3 Councilmember Karin Uhlich for this info above sent out in her weekly newsletter. There is a Dem primary in her race, as she is retiring after 3 terms. Check our website for information on the 3 candidates: Felicia Chew, political newcomer; Paul Durham (former Chief of State for Ward 6 Councilmember Nina Trasoff); and Tom Tronsdal, political newcomer.
Another contested race is in Ward 6 with 2 Green Party candidates vying for their nomination for the Council: Mike Cease (Chair of the Green Party of Pima County) and Michael Oatman. They are having a candidate forum for the Green Party of Pima County on August 1st. See our Calendar for details.
Vote wisely on or before August 29, 2017.