Category Archives: voter id

5th Circuit Panel Upholds Attorneys Fees for Plaintiffs in Texas Voter ID Case, Judge Ho Concurs Separately in His Own Majority Opinion to Rail Against Earlier 5th Circuit Decision Finding Texas Voter ID Law Discriminatory

Totally gratuitous opinion not only citing fraudulent fraud squad member John Fund but also saying that Texas can’t have engaged in racial discrimination in passing a voter id law knowing of its disparate impact on minority voters because the Carter-Baker Commission in 2005 endorsed voter id requirements. It also relitigates an issue that has long been closed at the 5th Circuit after its en banc decision finding Texas’s original voter id law violated Section 2.

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“Michigan Republicans launching petition drive to require IDs for voting”

Detroit News:

Michigan Republicans unveiled Monday a petition campaign to try to impose new identification requirements for voters and go around Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to put the policies into law.

A committee called Secure MI Vote planned to turn in its proposed petition language to Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s department, the first step toward pursuing an initiative. The group wants to mandate that voters present photo ID to cast their ballots in person and those wishing to use absentee ballots submit their driver’s license number, state personal ID number or the last four digits of their Social Security number.

The ideas have been at the center of a controversial 39-bill package Senate Republicans introduced in May, and their inclusion in the initiative is likely to prompt heated debate in the battleground state that is expected to spill into the 2022 gubernatorial election.

The new petition campaign came amid GOP efforts in multiple states to change voting laws after Donald Trump’s loss in November. The Republican former president has levied unsubstantiated claims that voter fraud cost him his race against Democrat Joe Biden.

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“The Obvious Voting-Rights Solution That No Democrat Will Propose”

Russell Berman in the Alantic:

Democrats in Congress are considering a policy that was long unthinkable: a federal requirement that every American show identification before casting a ballot. But as the party tries to pass voting-rights legislation before the next election, it is ignoring a companion proposal that could ensure that a voter-ID law leaves no one behind—an idea that is as obvious as it is historically controversial. What if the government simply gave an ID card to every voting-age citizen in the country?

I proposed national voter id coupled with universal voter registration in my 2012 book, The Voting Wars. This is hardly a new idea.

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“As extremes shape voter ID debate, the rules keep getting stricter”

PolitiFact, with this bottom line:

  • Efforts to tighten identification requirements for voting, largely driven by Republicans, have been under way for about two decades, but they accelerated this year in the wake of the 2020 election.
  • While the debate over voter ID laws often seems like it’s one between two irreconcilable camps, there’s actually more nuance.
  • A wide variety of voter ID requirements and verification processes already exist, and critics of tightening voter ID laws usually don’t have a problem with these as long as there are a wide number of options and backup processes exist.
  • Meanwhile, polls show broad public support for voter ID laws, including among Democrats.
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“Photo identification laws and perceptions of electoral fraud”

Recent publication in Research & Politics:

Photo identification (ID) laws are often passed on the premise that they will prevent voter fraud and/or reduce perceptions of electoral fraud. The impact of ID laws on perceptions of electoral fraud remains unsettled and is complicated by widespread confusion about current voting requirements. In the 2017 Virginia election, we fielded an experiment, with an advocacy organization, evaluating the effects of the organization’s outreach campaign. We randomized which registered voters were mailed one of three informational postcards. After the election, we surveyed subjects about electoral integrity and their knowledge about election laws. We find that providing registrants with information on the state’s photo ID requirements is associated with a reduction in perceptions of fraud and increased knowledge about voting requirements.

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Panic setting in over new voting rules

Politico reports on the fear among Democrats and voting rights activists that getting out the vote (GOTV) will be much harder in light of the new more restrictive voting laws being adopted in states like Georgia. The article is useful because it helps explain the intensity of the opposition to these laws. And without getting into a discussion here about how unjustified (or not) these new laws are from a policy perspective, it is worth noting an analytical distinction that often gets elided in the coverage of these laws: cutbacks in voting opportunities that are retrogressive, and thus are an impediment relatively speaking to GOTV efforts, are not necessarily voter “suppression” in the strict sense of disenfranchisement (i.e., a barrier to casting a ballot and thus participating in the election). If voters have a genuine opportunity to participate but choose to abstain, they aren’t being denied the right to vote. This is true even if voter turnout efforts on the left fail to reach their target goals, or even past turnout levels. To be sure, these laws may be cynically motivated by a partisan realization that turnout rates are variable, depending on how convenient voting is; if it is less convenient, some marginal voters may not bother to cast a ballot, even though they actually have an opportunity to do so. It is certainly appropriate to condemn that kind of cynical partisanship, since it is a form of bad faith and contrary to the ideal of structuring the rules of electoral participation in the public interest (based on a nonpartisan assessment of the overall relevant policy considerations). Even so, discussion of this topic (at least in my view) ought to be careful to use terminology that recognizes the distinction between new laws that hinder participation compared to new laws that deny participation. Often, it seems that the phrase “voter suppression” or similar language is employed to make the former seem more like the latter, or at least to lump the two categories together.

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Brennan Center Updates Report

Voting Laws Roundup: July 2021. I saw this just after posting on Politfact’s caution on the need to be nuanced when characterizing these new state laws. To the Brennan Center’s credit, this July update prominently states up front: “The new laws restricting voting access are not created equal.” It goes on to explain that some of the new statutes are “mixed” and others are “narrower in scope.” Still, I might quibble with how the Brennan Center describes some of the specific measures. For example, it calls “harsher” the requirement for absentee voters to produce a numerical form of identification (like a driver’s license number) rather than to use signature-matching as the way to verify an absentee voter’s ID. I would argue, to the contrary, that an accessible form of numerical ID is actually more voter-friendly than the inherently fraught process of signature-matching. Even so, I consider it a positive development if the public discourse on these laws is becoming more detailed-oriented and less of painting with the broadest possible brush.

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North Dakota must pay attorney fees, expenses in tribal voter ID lawsuits

Bismark Tribune:

An 8th U.S. Circuit of Appeals panel on Friday upheld a federal judge’s May 2020 order that the state pay $452,983.

The state in February 2020 agreed to settle longstanding legal disputes with Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa members as well as the Spirit Lake and Standing Rock Sioux tribes. The crux of the tribal claims was that North Dakota’s requirement that voters have identification with a provable street address creates a voting barrier for Native Americans who live on reservations where street addresses are hard to come by.

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“Rep. Clyburn’s false claim that ‘no Democrat’ has opposed voter ID laws”

WaPo fact checker:

Clyburn is trying to have his cake and eat it, too. He routinely decries “voter ID” laws, but at the same time he insisted on Fox News that he has never opposed such laws — and that every Democrat has supported them. In reality, he appears to be against many types of voter ID laws — ones that require photos, or a fee for a photo or which favor one voting group over another.

In other words, he’s playing word games. He supposedly is for voter identification but against most of the voter ID laws being adopted by states.

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“Texas Republicans Reveal Bills of Far-Reaching Voting Restrictions”

NYT:

Republicans in the Texas Legislature on Thursday fully unveiled their plans to overhaul the state’s election apparatus, outlining a raft of proposed new restrictions on voting access that would be among the most far-reaching election laws passed this year….

Among many new changes and restrictions to the state’s electoral process, both bills would ban 24-hour voting and drive-through voting; prohibit election officials from proactively sending out absentee ballot applications to voters who have not requested them; add new voter identification requirements for voting by mail; limit third-party ballot collection; increase the criminal penalties for election workers who run afoul of regulations; limit what assistance can be provided to voters; and greatly expand the authority and autonomy of partisan poll watchers.

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“Appeals Court Denies GOP Bid to Defend North Carolina Voter ID Law”

Courthouse News:

Republican members of the North Carolina General Assembly are not allowed to intervene on behalf of the state in a lawsuit over its embattled voter ID requirements, the full Fourth Circuit ruled Monday. 

In a 45-page majority opinion written by U.S. Circuit Judge Pamela A. Harris on Monday, the en banc appeals court upheld a federal judge’s refusal to let individual GOP lawmakers defend the controversial election law requiring photo ID at the polls.

Harris wrote that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it found that the legislators’ proposed intervention in the case was “likely to cause undue delay and prejudice to the plaintiffs.”

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Unanimous 4th Circuit Panel Applies “Presumption of Good Faith” in Upholding 2018 North Carolina Voter ID Law, Despite Finding That 2013 Voter ID Law Was Passed with Racially Discriminatory Intent

You can find the 29-page opinion at this link (via WRAL).

The opinion leans heavily on the Supreme Court’s use of a presumption of legislative good faith in Abbott, despite an earlier history of racially discriminatory conduct.

I recently wrote about how this presumption, along with other recent Supreme Court apparently procedural rules, help pave the way for courts to uphold more suppressive voting laws. See The Supreme Court’s Pro-Partisanship Turn, 109 Georgetown Law Journal Online 50 (2020).

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