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Two lawsuits challenging the legality of Wisconsin's Voter ID law were sent directly to the state's Supreme Court by lower Appeals Courts Wednesday.The law was stayed by two different Dane County circuit court judges in early March. The development puts Wisconsin election officials in limbo. If the Supreme Court decides to take up the cases, the law could be reinstated prior to next Tuesday's election.
The Government Accountability Board, which oversees the state's elections, says it has reached out to town clerks to clarify the status of the law.
"What we've been advising clerks is: train your poll wokers on the procedures for checking photo IDs. However, unless you hear otherwise from us, do not actually check photo IDs," said GAB spokesperson Reid Magney in an interview with Green Bay's Fox 11 News.
Clerks across the state have to be ready at a moment's notice to remove and replace signs advising voters to produce a photo ID. Some clerks have even hired additional poll workers for Tuesday in anticipation of widespread confusion.
"I feel like I'm somewhat ready," Neenah City Clerk Patty Sturn said, "but that could all change by the end of the week".
Wisconsin's Republican legislature passed its Voter ID bill last May. It is one of 32 states that have implemented Voter ID laws. Many of these laws are currently subject to pending court cases or review from the Department of Justice.
After passing the bill only weeks ago, Republicans are now looking to repeal a bill that would cut back on the number of days available for early voting and eliminate the so-called "golden week" prior to an election during which someone can register and vote on the same day.
From the NBC4 story:
"Republican Sen. Bill Seitz ofCincinnatisaid the GOP was taking action Democrats had requested in earlier statements and he urged them to cooperate in drafting a replacement bill.
"If we're going to get something done we've got to get it done by the end of May," Seitz said. "If you all don't want to do it, then we're back to the drawing board."
Seitz accused Democrats of changing course because President Barack Obama's re-election campaign determined joining the fall repeal effort on November's ballot would be a political advantage.
But Sen. Nina Turner ofClevelandsaid it's telling that Republicans "suddenly see the light" and want to repeal the bill before voters get their chance. She said Republicans are blatantly trying to suppress voter turnout in November.
"You can dress it up and you can criticize Democrats but we are not the ones that tried to ram this down the throats of the voters of this state," Turner said. "We stand up for the right to vote and this bill is wrong."
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert currently has legislation on his desk that if signed will result in some welfare recipients being required to take a drug test.
HB155 was recently passed in the Senate with a 23-4 vote and now resides on the desk of Governor Gary Herbert. If the governor does not veto the bill, it will mandate that individuals that recieve cash assistance from the Utah Family Employment program to fill out questionairres. If the responses on the questionairres lead to suspicion of drug use, the individual must be tested for drugs. If an individual refuses to take a drug test or if they test positive and do not go to treatment for their drug problem they will lose their financial assistance.
Some legislators do not think the proposed measures are enough. For example, state Senator Dave Hinkins R-Orangeville, when speaking of the bill said, "It don't go far enough." Hinkins went on to say "It’s a shame that people that want to work for a living has to be … [subjected] to drug tests, but people who want to sit around and go fishing in the afternoons don’t."
A similar bill was recently passed in Florida. In Florida, the law requires all welfare recipients be tested. The first round of drug tests revealed that 96% of the welfare recipients tested were drug free. Only 2% actually tested positive, the other 2% did not go through the drug testing process for reasons that were not specified. Florida's law is currently being challenged in court.
On Wednesday, the Republican-controlled Pennsylvanian state Senate passed a bill in favor of requiring Voter ID at polling sites.
On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania State Senate passed a bill to require proof of identification in order to vote along party lines. The bill is expected to passed by the Republican-controlled state House of Representatives and be signed by the Republican Governor, Tom Corbett. Once passed, the law would make Pennsylvania the newest state to infringe on the right to vote of its citizens in a misguided attempt to curb voter fraud. Pennsylvania would become the third-largest state, after Texas and Florida, to require voters to produce photo identification. This law would therefore play a huge role in national politics due to the large amount of electoral votes (20) that Pennsylvania has.
Voter fraud is an issue most experts agree is negligible at best, meaning only a handful of cases of voter fraud over the past few years have been discovered. A Brennan Center for Justice study showed that about 7% of Americans, and that a disproportionate amount of that 7% make less than $25,000 a year, do not have access to citizenship documents. While more moderate than some Voter ID laws, this law would still lead to the disenfranchisement of numerous U.S. citizens living in Pennsylvania. The law is more moderate because it allows a College ID to be used as an official form of Voter ID.
The intent is to have the bill signed in time for a test run during the April 24th primary and the November Presidential Election.
Voting is considered to be one of our civic duties/right. Join America Votes in speaking out against laws that would infringe upon this right.
New legislation could leave Ohio's 32 Planned Parenthood clinics without funding.
Planned Parenthood's funding is being threatened by legislation proposed by the Republican led legislature of Ohio.
Planned Parenthood is likely being targeted because they provide abortion services. Last year in Ohio, they recieved $1.7 million in public funding and were able to provide care for over 100,000 patients; none of the public money was used for abortions.
The $1.7 million was allocated towards the plethora of other low cost services Planned Parenthood provides, ranging from preventative cancer screenings, contraceptives, and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases. If the bill does pass, unfortunately for the people that rely on their services, higher costs and extensive waits for services are likely.
The bill passed in the House, but is currently stalled in the Senate.
Read more here.
The Justice Department is taking legal action against Alabama for failing to mail overseas ballots before the assigned deadline.
The U.S. Justice Department is suing Alabama and its Secretary of State Beth Chapman alleging election officials have violated federal law by not sending absentee ballots to military and overseas voters far enough ahead of the state's March 13 federal primary election. In the past months, the U.S. has seen many bills infringing on citizens' rights to vote by requiring Voter ID at the polls. This, however, is a different but no less serious case of infringement on voting rights.
The deadline to mail absentee ballots was January 28th. However, according to the lawsuit several, counties admitted to mailing ballots as much as eight days after the deadline. In light of this delay the Secretary of State has already announced that the deadline for military and overseas absentee ballots would be extended eight days to March 21 to correct for this error. Despite this, the fact remains that Alabama's military and overseas voters voting rights were infringed upon.
The right to vote is one of our civic duties and when a person requests an absentee ballot to vote in an upcoming election, they have to trust that their right will be respected. We all must work to protect the rights of those serving in our services or living in foreign lands.
Joan Fitz-Gerald, President of America Votes, spoke with Rick Smith yesterday on the Rick Smith Show (WIOO and WEEO in Central Pennsylvania) about the Republican primary race.
On Monday, February 20th, America Votes President Joan Fitz-Gerald spoke with Labor Exchange host Dennis Creese on KGNU (Boulder, CO) about voter protection and the many barriers to the ballot box voters will be encountering because of new state laws.
Rev. Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King III and Southern Christian Leadership Conference President Isaac Newton Farris Jr came together to oppose Voter ID Laws on the site that led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which protects the rights to vote of minorities.
In Selma, Ala. this past weekend, Reverend Al Sharpton held a news conference to voice his opposition and shed light on the wave of states attempting to hinder the right to vote of valid U.S. Citizens on the site of "Bloody Sunday," the event that led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Rev. Sharpton and others expressed their belief that these laws are not an attempt to end voter fraud but rather to suppress the votes of minorities. These bills are political weapons, fighting a political agenda rather than attempting to fix a problem of voter fraud (of which there is little evidence).
"Bloody Sunday" refers to the first of three marches from Selma to Montgomery, held on March 7, 1965 by civil rights activists to call attention to the violation of their civil rights. During the march, the activists were attacked by 600 local and state law enforcement officers armed with tear gas and nightsticks. Images of beaten marchers appeared in newspapers the next day, and led to the vocal support for the Civil Rights Movement from President Lyndon Johnson and the introduction of the legislation now known as the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
On the site of this momentous turning point for the Civil Rights Movement, Rev. Sharpton and others addressed the trend of Voter ID legislation. "It could literally cost this election, but also others," Sharpton said. "This could permanently undermine the minority vote, which would defeat the whole purpose of the Voting Rights Act."
America Votes stands committed to opposing all attempts to take the right to vote from American citizens. Legislation to require ID in order to vote is a form of voter suppression.
The Virginia Senate has approved laws that would restrict the right to vote while loosening the restrictions on stockpiling guns.
Last week, the Virginia Senate put its stamp of approval on a law requiring voters to provide a valid photo ID in order to vote. This made Virginia the latest of many states to have its legislative body approve legislation to strip the right to vote from people without ID. Claiming that the law is necessary to fight voter fraud, the truth is there is virtually no hard evidence that voter fraud is a rampant problem anywhere across the country. With this fact, it is apparent that this law is a political weapon rather than a tool to maintain untainted elections. In Virginia, voters without ID sign an affidavit under penalty of perjury saying they are who they say they are and then vote using a regular ballot, yet Republicans feel that this not enough.
Almost simultaneously, the Virginia Senate approved legislation repealing the ban which mandated that people could only buy a single handgun a month. Claiming that the law, which was put in place nearly 20 years ago in an effort stop illegal gun running out of Virginia, is no longer necessary given the advancement in background check technology at the federal level.
So the Virginia Senate is taking the right to vote from people with one hand while giving the right to buy multiple firearms a month with the other. Americans have the right to bear arms and the right to vote. It seems wrong that the Virginia Senate would value one of these rights above another, especially in this order.
America Votes stands opposed to any legislation that infringes on our right to vote. Please join us in opposing restriction on the right to vote.