Tag Archives: voting rights

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We reject this argument because the Failure-to-Vote Clause, both as originally enacted in the NVRA and as amended by HAVA, simply forbids the use of nonvoting as the sole criterion for removing a registrant, and Ohio does not use it that way.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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‘Economically forgotten’ have much in common with America’s poor

Axios.com has an Exclusive: 40% in U.S. can’t afford middle-class basics:

Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 6.19.16 AM

Data: United Way; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

At a time of rock-bottom joblessness, high corporate profits and a booming stock market, more than 40% of U.S. households cannot pay the basics of a middle-class lifestyle — rent, transportation, child care and a cellphone, according to a new study.

Quick take: The study, conducted by United Way, found a wide band of working U.S. households that live above the official poverty line, but below the cost of paying ordinary expenses. Based on 2016 data, there were 34.7 million households in that group — double the 16.1 million that are in actual poverty, project director Stephanie Hoopes tells Axios.

Why it matters: For two years, U.S. politics has been dominated by the anger and resentment of a self-identified “forgotten” class, some left behind economically and others threatened by changes to their way of life.

  • The United Way study, to be released publicly Thursday, suggests that the economically forgotten are a far bigger group than many studies assume — and, according to Hoopes, appear to be growing larger despite the improving economy.
  • The study dubs that middle group between poverty and the middle class “ALICE” families, for Asset-limited, Income-constrained, Employed. (The map above, by Axios’ Chris Canipe, depicts that state-by-state population in dark brown.)
  • These are households with adults who are working but earning too little — 66% of Americans earn less than $20 an hour, or about $40,000 a year if they are working full time.

When you add them together with the people living in poverty, you get 51 million households. “It’s a magnitude of financial hardship that we haven’t been able to capture until now,” Hoopes said.

By the numbers: Using 2016 data collected from the states, the study found that North Dakota has the smallest population between poverty and middle class, at 32% of its households. The largest is 49%, in California, Hawaii and New Mexico. “49% is shocking. 32% is also shocking,” Hoopes said.

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Poor People’s Campaign kickoff on Monday

Here is something you can persuade your local church congregation into supporting and participating in. After all, WWJD?

On Monday, thousands of low-wage workers, clergy and activists will gather at the U.S. Capitol and more than 30 statehouses across the country to kick off the Poor People’s Campaign (organization website), a civil disobedience movement that aims to push the issue of poverty to the top of the national political agenda. Here’s how the Poor People’s Campaign aims to finish what MLK started:

Inspired by a 1968 initiative planned by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the multiracial coalition will involve 40 days of protests and direct actions to highlight the issues of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, the war economy and militarism. Organizers are pitching it as one of the largest waves of nonviolent direct action in U.S. history.

About 41 million Americans live below the official poverty line, the majority of them white. Organizers with the Poor People’s Campaign say official measures of poverty are too narrow, and the number of poor and low-income Americans expands to 140 million if food, clothing, housing and utility costs, as well as government assistance programs, are taken into account.

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Trump administration sabotages the census, gets sued by at least 12 states (Updated)

On Monday, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced his decision to add a controversial question on citizenship to the 2020 census came in the face of opposition from career officials at the Census Bureau who fear it will depress response rates, especially from immigrants. Wilbur Ross Overruled Career Officials at Census Bureau to Add Citizenship Question:

It would be the first time since 1950 that the full, once-a-decade census asks people about their citizenship. The Constitution requires a count of all residents of the country every ten years. The Census Bureau conducts a separate detailed survey of a sample of U.S. households that includes questions about citizenship.

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In a memo announcing his decision, Ross said that “The Census Bureau and many stakeholders expressed concern that [a citizenship question] would negatively impact the response rate for non-citizens.”

But Ross added that “neither the Census Bureau nor the concerned stakeholders could document that the response rate would in fact decline materially.”

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A Commerce spokesman said that Ross “took a hard look” at an alternative proposal by the Census Bureau to get citizenship data without adding the question. But he ultimately decided the proposed method “would provide an incomplete picture.” The Ross memo argues that the value of the data collected from the new question will outweigh any harm.

ProPublica first reported in December that the Justice Department had submitted a last-minute request that the Census Bureau add a question on citizenship to the 2020 survey. The Justice Department argued that better data on citizens was needed to better enforce voting rights protections for minority groups.

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The driving force behind the request for the new question, according to internal emails, was a Justice Department political appointee, John Gore, who spent years as an attorney in private practice defending GOP redistricting maps around the country.

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Trial of proof-of-citizenship voter registration law ends, decision of court to follow

Closing arguments in the Kansas proof-of-citizenship voter registration law case were Monday. Testimony ends in Kansas voting law trial. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson said she couldn’t say when she would issue an opinion but that she was aware this year’s elections were quickly approaching. She gave attorneys until April 16 for any final legal filings in the case.

The GOP’s voter suppression specialist, Secretary of State Kris Kobach (above), returned to court on Tuesday for a contempt hearing for violating the judge’s orders. Judge harshly criticizes Kobach during contempt hearing:

A visibly angry federal judge on Tuesday blasted Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach for his office’s failure to ensure that certain voters are notified that they are eligible to vote in the upcoming election while a lawsuit over a state voting law makes its way through the courts.

U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson criticized Kobach during a hearing on a motion from The American Civil Liberties Union to hold Kobach in contempt of court for not updating the state’s election guide or ensuring that county election officials send postcards to residents who registered to vote at driver licensing offices without providing proof of citizenship. Tuesday’s hearing came after seven days of testimony in the ACLU’s challenge of the state’s voter registration law.

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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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