How to Make Voter Registration Accessible to All Citizens

Cross-posted at Project Vote's Voting Matters Blog

After the 2008 election, voter registration has become a focal point for legislators and advocates from all ends of the spectrum. Whichever way it is sliced, the number of registered eligible voters has still declined since 2004. As multiple problems have been cited as the cause for lowered registration rates (including mobility issues, unequal access to registration opportunities, voter caging, and even so-called apathy), voting rights advocates as well as legislators have been vocal about their solutions.

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All Voters are Unequal: Voter ID Law Exposed as Unfair, States Still Follow Suit

When an appellate court shut down Indiana's unequal mandate for polling-place voter ID, it sent a clear signal that--partisan politics aside--election laws should be assessed on whether or not all voters are given equal access to the democratic process. Yet, despite violations of law and the fact that absentee voting is more susceptible to voter fraud activity than in-person voting, other states continue to emulate what was one of the country's toughest voter ID laws.

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Indiana Voter ID Law Found Unconstitutional and Disenfranchising

Cross-posted to Project Voting Matters Blog

One of the country's most contentious voting rights issues came back into the spotlight last Thursday when an Indiana court struck down the state's strict photo voter ID law as unconstitutional. The law, which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008, was found be in violation of the Indiana Constitution because it treated voters unequally.

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CA Measure to Improve Youth Voter Engagement Goes to Governor

Cross-posted to Project Vote's Voting Matters Blog

The California Legislature approved a bill last week to extend voter registration privileges to 17-year-old citizens. If signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the bill would help put California youth on the road to a lifetime of democratic participation.

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Restoration of Civil Rights Gets Attention in Wisconsin and Virginia

Cross-posted to Project Vote's Voting Matters Blog

Last month, we reported that citizens are becoming more sympathetic to voting rights restoration as they realize disenfranchisement of released felons does not just unnecessarily punish the ex-offender, but also the voice of their communities. This news resonated recently in the states of Wisconsin and Virginia - one of which has hopes of restoring the rights of some 40,000 ex-offenders while the other is criticized for "lagging" in restoration of civil rights.

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Revitalization of DOJ's Civil Rights Division a Promising Sign for Voting Rights

Cross-posted at Project Vote's Voting Matters Blog

by Michael McDunnah

A New York Times story this week reported that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is planning to return the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to its historical mission: protecting the civil rights of Americans. According to the article, the new attorney general is committed to “a revival of high-impact civil rights enforcement against policies…where statistics show that minorities fare disproportionately poorly,” including housing, employment, lending practices, and voting rights.

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El Paso County, Colo. Exemplifies Voter Reg. Turnaround for Low Income Citizens

More than fifteen years after the passage of the National Voter Registration Act, few states are complying with the law's requirement that voter registration services are provided to those who apply for public assistance. Though highly successful in the first two years the NVRA was implemented, in 1995-1996, registrations through public assistance agencies have steadily declined, and had fallen by 79 percent nationwide in 2007-2008. Project Vote and other voting rights organizations have been working to bring several states into compliance with this key provision of the NVRA, and--as a last resort--have been forced to bring lawsuits in several states to ensure that low-income public assistance clients have access to voter registration services as required by law.

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Ga. Secretary of State Asks DOJ to OK Discriminatory Voter Verification Procedure

Cross posted to Project Vote's Voting Matters Blog

A Georgia voter list maintenance procedure that the Department of Justice shut down as "discriminatory" in May is being brought up again by Secretary of State Karen Handel, who asked the Department to reconsider its decision and grant preclearance last Wednesday. This appeal has brought the disappointment of voting rights advocates and, if successful, could result in the disenfranchisement of thousands of legitimate voters.

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Restoration of Voting Rights Gains Support across the Nation

Cross-posted to Project Vote's Voting Matters Blog

The message that democracy works best when all citizens participate - including those reintegrating into society after serving time for felony convictions - is finally being heard by the public, the media, and the U.S. Congress. Whether the message will affect the change needed to enfranchise the millions of Americans who currently cannot represent their communities in the democratic process, it is encouraging to find more citizens recognize the value in voting rights restoration and its impact on rehabilitation.

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Officials Violate Voting Rights & State Laws by Implementing Stricter Photo ID Requirements

Cross-Posted to Project Vote's Voting Matters Blog

State and federal law outlines, protects, and facilitates the voting rights of citizens. Under ideal circumstances, these laws make voting equally accessible to all eligible Americans without unnecessary barriers or hurdles. Unfortunately, the right to vote is too often misconstrued by the very officials charged with helping to protect and facilitate that right, leaving voters at best confused, and at worst disenfranchised.

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