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Voter ID Tag

A federal judge has once again struck down the Texas voter ID law, stating that the changes the lawmakers made over the summer did not eliminate the discriminatory language. From The Hill:
U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos ruled that the law was enacted with the deliberate intent to discriminate against black and Hispanic voters. Ramos said that it violates the Voting Rights Act and the 14th and 15th Amendments of the Constitution.

A federal judge has again rejected the 2011 Texas voter ID law, stating that the legislators meant to discriminate against minority voters. U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos made this same ruling in 2014, which forced an appeal. The Fifth Circuit issued a stay against the order. The Supreme Court stepped in and allowed Texas to use the voter ID law. But last July the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans asked the judge "to re-examine the decision" since the judges found that "some of the evidence used by the judge wasn't relevant." The two sides reached a deal for the 2016 election, which allowed a voter to "sign a declaration swearing that he or she has had a reasonable difficulty that prevented obtaining one of the accepted forms of photo identification."

Oh, Democrats. Why can't you look in the mirror and just admit your problem? The Democrats suffered a massive blow when President Donald Trump crushed Hillary Clinton in the presidential Electoral College race. But Democrats also suffered in Congress and at the state level. To fix that, the party wants to fight over the next round of redistricting and loosen the voting laws. Guess who will guide the push? Former President Barack Obama and his former Attorney General Eric Holder!

North Carolina wanted to reinstate its voter ID law in time for the elections, but a deadlocked Supreme Court denied them this opportunity. From The Wall Street Journal:
The high court, in a brief written order, declined to stay an appeals court ruling from July that struck down North Carolina’s Republican-backed voting rules. The appeals court found state lawmakers enacted the rules with the intent to discriminate against black voters.

The battle over voter ID has been thrust into the forefront of this election cycle's news coverage, and advocates on both sides of the issue have been working hard to win the hearts and minds of voters, even as most politicos are focused on getting whatever votes they can to win on Tuesday. North Carolina is one of many states in the U.S. where no documentation is required to vote; and in this last ambush video from James O'Keefe, a series of encounters with North Carolina election officials shows just how easy it can be for an imposter to cast multiple votes. Project Veritas Action released the video exclusively to MailOnline:
By this time in 2016, the state government hopes, naysayers who see the voter ID law as a barrier to minorities and the poor will see hundreds of thousands of new, zero-cost IDs coming out of voters' wallets and purses. For now, though, O'Keefe is using North Carolina as a proxy for the other 42 states – and the District of Columbia – which don't require voters to show a photo ID. His crew used publicly available election rolls to identify 'inactive' voters and then chose 30-year-old men for him to impersonate. The final footage shows election officials, over and over, accepting O'Keefe's claim that he was one of those people. 'With almost three-quarters-of-a-million inactive voters and no voter ID law in place, we could have turned the election results for most major candidates in the state,' he claimed Monday. 'What we uncovered in this video illustrates how easy it would be for a well-orchestrated campaign with no regard for the law to change the outcome of a major election. Voter laws across the country need to be changed immediately to prevent this sort of potential voter fraud.'

AP reports via HuffPo:
The Supreme Court said Saturday that Texas can use its controversial new voter identification law for the November election. A majority of the justices rejected an emergency request from the Justice Department and civil rights groups to prohibit the state from requiring voters to produce certain forms of photo identification in order to cast ballots. Three justices dissented. The law was struck down by a federal judge last week, but a federal appeals court had put that ruling on hold. The judge found that roughly 600,000 voters, many of them black or Latino, could be turned away at the polls because they lack acceptable identification. Early voting in Texas begins Monday. The Supreme Court's order was unsigned, as it typically is in these situations. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented, saying they would have left the district court decision in place. "The greatest threat to public confidence in elections in this case is the prospect of enforcing a purposefully discriminatory law, one that likely imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters," Ginsburg wrote in dissent. Texas' law sets out seven forms of approved ID — a list that includes concealed handgun licenses but not college student IDs, which are accepted in other states with similar measures.
The Supreme Court Order is here. It denies a request to vacate the stay issued by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals putting on hold the trial court ruling invalidating the law.

An en banc ruling of the Fifth Circuit has issued a stay against last Friday's order striking down Texas voter identification laws. The Court looked at four key factors when deciding whether or not to grant a stay pending appeal: (1) whether the stay applicant has made a strong showing that he is likely to succeed on the merits; (2) whether the applicant will be irreparably injured absent a stay; (3) whether issuance of the stay will substantially injure the other parties interested in the proceeding; and (4) where the public interest lies. The first two factors are the most important, and the court focused on them when deciding to issue the stay. First, the court looked to the Supreme Court's tendency to preserve the status quo on the eve of an election in order to protect the process from confusion and misapplication of the rules.
Here, the district court’s decision on October 11, 2014 presents similar logistical problems because it will “be extremely difficult, if not impossible,” for the State to adequately train its 25,000 polling workers at 8,000 polling places about the injunction’s new requirements in time for the start of early voting on October 20 or even election day on November 4. The State represents that it began training poll workers in mid-September, and at least some of them have already completed their training. The State also represents that it will be unable to reprint the “election manuals that poll workers use for guidance,” and so the election laws “will be conveyed by word of mouth alone.”

A federal District Court judge has ruled that Texas' embattled voter ID law is unconstitutional. This news came just hours after the Supreme Court granted a request from civil rights activists to block similar requirements in Wisconsin. In a 147 page opinion, U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of Texas Nelva Gonzales Ramos held "that SB 14 creates an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote, has an impermissible discriminatory effect against Hispanics and African-Americans, and was imposed with an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose." Judge Ramos also held that SB 14 constitutes an unconstitutional poll tax. Although the Supreme Court last year freed Texas from onerous federal pre-clearance requirements, much of Ramos's opinion focuses on Texas' (admittedly) dark history of discrimination and racial tension. Additionally, the opinion appears to accept arguments made by Justice Department attorneys that voter fraud is "extraordinarily rare" and that SB 14 amounts to nothing more than “a solution in search of a problem.”
This history describes not only a penchant for discrimination in Texas with respect to voting, but it exhibits a recalcitrance that has persisted over generations despite the repeated intervention of the federal government and its courts on behalf of minority citizens. In each instance, the Texas Legislature relied on the justification that its discriminatory measures were necessary to combat voter fraud. In some instances, there were admissions that the legislature did not want minorities voting. In other instances, the laws that the courts deemed discriminatory appeared neutral on their face. There has been a clear and disturbing pattern of discrimination in the name of combatting voter fraud in Texas. In this case, the Texas Legislature’s primary justification for passing SB 14 was to combat voter fraud. The only voter fraud addressed by SB 14 is voter impersonation fraud, which the evidence demonstrates is very rare (discussed below). This history of discrimination has permeated all aspects of life in Texas...

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Wisconsin's new voter ID laws are constitutional, meaning that those heading to the polls in November will need to show ID before casting a vote. Via ABC News:
State elections officials are preparing for the photo ID law to be in effect for the Nov. 4 election, even as opponents continue their legal fight. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Advancement Project asked the U.S. Supreme Court last week to take emergency action and block the law. ... A lower court judge, U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman, struck the law down as unconstitutional in April, saying it unfairly burdens poor and minority voters who may lack such identification. Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen asked the 7th Circuit to overturn that ruling. The three-judge panel agreed with Van Hollen. The judges said Wisconsin's law is substantially similar to one in Indiana that the U.S Supreme Court declared was constitutional.
Last month, the same panel of the 7th Circuit issued a short Order vacating the district court injunction staying enforcement of the law, and instead held that the voter ID laws would indeed be in effect for this November’s election. The court indicated that a full decision on the merits would be forthcoming. Progressive activists in Wisconsin and across the country had a meltdown following the ruling:

The legal challenges surrounding Wisconsin's contentious voter ID law just got a little more complicated. On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union, League of United Latin American Citizens of Wisconsin and Advancement Project asked for a full-court hearing to reconsider September 12th's ruling allowing the State to implement voter ID requirements in time for the midterm elections. Via Bloomberg:
Contending last week’s ruling by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago came too close to the election date and will sow confusion among voters and polling place officials, the American Civil Liberties Union, League of United Latin American Citizens of Wisconsin and Advancement Project asked for a rehearing by a full 10-judge panel. The groups submitted their request yesterday. The court today gave Wisconsin officials until Sept. 23 to respond. ... “No court has permitted a voter ID law to go into effect this close to an election based on last-minute changes to the law,” the opponents of the measure said in yesterday’s filing.
September 12's ruling allowed the provisions to go into effect only because the State eliminated barriers to acquiring a valid ID. This countered arguments that the requirements could cause irreparable harm to voters:

In a ruling just handed down (h/t RightWisconsin), a panel of the 7th Circuit has vacated a prior injunction staying enforcement of the law, and holding that it will be in effect for this November's election. The full Order is embedded at the bottom of the post. The case was argued before the Court of Appeals earlier today. The critical finding was that recent changes enacted in Wisconsin to make it easier to get an ID obviated the likelihood of irreparable harm, a necessary test for an injunction:
The district court held the state law invalid, and enjoined its implementation, even though it is materially identical to Indiana's photo ID statute, which the Supreme Court held valid in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, 553 U.S. 181 (2008). It did this based on findings that it thought showed that Wisconsin did not need this law to promote an important governmental interest, and that persons of lower income (disproportionately minorities) are less likely to have driver's licenses, other acceptable photo ID, or the birth certificates needed to obtain them, which led the court to hold that the statute violates §2 of the Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. §1973. After the district court's decision, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin revised the procedures to make it easier for persons who have difficulty affording any fees to obtain the birth certificates or other documentation needed under the law, or to have the need for documentation waived. Milwaukee Branch of NAACP v. Walker, 2014 WI 98 Guly 31, 2014). This reduces the likelihood of irreparable injury, and it also changes the balance of equities and thus the propriety of federal injunctive relief. The panel has concluded that the state's probability of success on the merits of this appeal is sufficiently great that the state should be allowed to implement its law, pending further order of this court.

Opponents of Wisconsin's voter ID laws won a small victory yesterday when U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman denied the state of Wisconsin's request for a stay of his decision forbidding the enforcement of voter ID laws. Judge Adelman rejected the petition because he felt that the state was unlikely to overturn on appeal his original ruling blocking the requirements from going into effect. Wisconsin's voter ID laws are currently under fire in both state and federal courts. Last month, the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld the laws as constitutional, but this did not convince the District Court to set aside its original ruling. Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, however, is optimistic about his chances on appeal. He has already filed a petition with the U.S. Seventh Circuit asking the Court to allow Wisconsin's voter ID provisions to go into effect for the November 2014 elections.

Last month, the Justice Department asked for an injunction to prevent the state of North Carolina from implementing changes the legislators made to state election law. The lawsuit, first filed in 2013, is backed by the NAACP and the League of Women Voters, and claims that the new law--namely, its strict voter ID requirement--was passed in violation of the 14th, 15th, and 16th Amendments, as well as section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. However, a federal district judge has ruled against the DoJ, which means that North Carolina's new election laws will be in force for the midterm elections come November. The court held that, although the DoJ's lawsuit has merit (meaning that the court can't justify simply dismissing it,) attorneys for the plaintiffs failed to provide a "clear showing" of entitlement (meaning that they failed to show the court that they would succeed on the merits of their legal claims.) The court also said that, with regards to several of the claims, the plaintiffs had failed to show that they would suffer irreparable harm before trial in the absence of an injunction. North Carolina's new election laws contain a complete overhaul of the state's policies. Although the main point of contention rests with the new voter ID laws, the bill also reforms existing law. From the opinion:
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