SUPREME COURT HEARS ARGUMENTS CHALLENGING THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT

THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

The Supreme Court in Washington

PHOTO: The Supreme Court. REUTERS

Today the Supreme Court hears arguments in Shelby County v. Holder, a case challenging the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act (VRA).  In 1965, following a civil rights movement demonstration in Selma, Alabama, which ended in bloodshed, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act and catapulted the civil rights movement by making discriminatory practices that disenfranchised voters illegal.

 

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The 15th Amendment to the Constitution prohibited states from denying a male citizen the right to vote based on “race, color or previous condition of servitude.” However, continuing discriminatory practices like poll taxes and mandatory literacy tests prevented African Americans from voting and in 1965 Congress passed the VRA. Section 5 of the VRA prohibits discrimination based on race, critical in specific states with historical and documented discriminatory restrictions on voting.

 

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These particular jurisdictions are prevented from making changes in their election requirements without first getting pre-approval from the federal government. Section 2 of the VRA bars the use of voting practices or procedures that discriminate against minority voters.

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During the 2012 Presidential election there were many attempts to disenfranchise voters with attempts to pass voter ID laws that prevented minorities and elderly people from exercising their Constitutional right to vote. Long voting lines and last minute changes to polling sites are every bit as oppressive as the poll taxes that dominated past elections before the passing of the VRA of 1965.
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“Texas, for example, proposed a stringent voter ID law that had the purpose to prevent minority voter participation which the Supreme Court found violated Section 5 of the VRA,” said LULAC National Executive Director Brent Wilkes. “It’s outrageous to minority voters to suggest that the VRA is outdated in light of recent attempts by states to disenfranchise voters. The progress we’ve made has been solely because of the protections offered by the VRA, and any distinctions made are attempts to manipulate the law for political advantage.” The League of United Latin American Citizens is rallying on February 27th on the steps of the Supreme Court in order to reinforce to the Court that the Voting Rights Act protects real voters from discrimination.

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DOES VOTER TURNOUT AMONG HISPANICS DECREASE AFTER STRICT VOTER ID LAWS?

THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

Analyzing Minority Turnout After Voter ID

Minnesota currently has a proposed constitutional amendment moving through its legislature to impose strict photo ID restrictions on voters and possibly eliminate Election Day registration. I take great pride in the fact that my home state of Minnesota consistently has the highest turnout in the country, and I’m pained by this legislation that is sure to reduce opportunities for voter participation across the state.

I want to correct a common misperception that came up during show, suggesting that voter turnout among Hispanic voters in Georgia has increased since the passage of its restrictive no-photo, no-vote photo ID law.

Motivation for voter turnout is notoriously difficult to measure. It’s a moving target, not lending itself easily to empirical methods of evaluation. But in this case, any assertion that voter turnout among Hispanics increased in Georgia following enactment of its strict voter ID law is simply not true.

According to the GA Secretary of State,Georgia’s Hispanic turnout (calculated as a percentage of registered voters) was lower in 2010 than in 2006, and it was lower in 2008 than in 2004. See table below:

Registered Hispanic Voters Actual Hispanic Voters Hispanic Turnout %
2004 30,148 18,240 60.5%
2006 43,514 11,601 26.7%
2008 73,375 43,717 59.6%
2010 75,658 19,320 25.5%

The number of Hispanic voters was greater in the 2010 election than in the 2006 election, and in the 2008 election than in the 2004 election, as the total population of registered Hispanic voters increased by 73.9 percent and 144 percent, respectively. However, there was a slight reduction in the percentage of voter turnout for Hispanics between presidential election years 2004 and 2008 and non-presidential election years 2006 and 2010.

While simple turnout numbers from a single state cannot tell us exactly what impact new voter restrictions have on voter turnout, it’s clear that in Georgia, the percentage of minority voter turnout has not increased following enactment of its strict voter ID law.

Strict voter ID laws are absolutely the wrong policy direction for this country. Voter participation rates across all racial, ethnic and socio-economic are dropping each election year. Georgia has seen voter participation rates in the fastest growing ethnic population over the past decade stay flat or decline.  As we consider what is best for America, increased voter participation is essential to restoring faith in our democracy and strict voter ID laws that fail to solve any real problems are wrong for America.

READ MORE: http://www.brennancenter.org/blog/archives/analyzing_minority_turnout_after_voter_id/

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WHICH STATE BLOCKED THE VOTER ID LAW?

THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

Judge Blocks Voter I.D. Law

A Dane County judge has granted a temporary injunction against Wisconsin’s new voter identification law. Circuit Judge David Flanagan granted the injunction Tuesday, meaning the law would not apply for the April 3 presidential primary election. The NAACP‘s Milwaukee branch and immigration rights group Voces de la Frontera filed the lawsuit last year. A trial on a permanent injunction is scheduled for April 16.

“It’s a solid victory for voting rights and all voters in the state of Wisconsin,” said Richard Saks, attorney for the NAACP, who said the group was planning a news conference later Tuesday.

The Journal Sentinel added this to a later version of the story:

Flanagan’s 11-page order covered the history of Wisconsin Supreme Court rulings upholding votes even when they may have run afoul of technical procedural requirements imposed by the Legislature, and distinguished Wisconsin’s voter ID law from Indiana’s voter ID law that was recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme CourtHe also relied on the testimony and reports of the plaintiffs’ expert, professor Kenneth Mayer, whose work concluded there were more than 220,000 constitutionally qualified voters in Wisconsin who don’t have the type of ID required under Act 23, as well as affidavits from 40 residents describing the costs and difficulties they encountered while trying to obtain photo ID to allow them to vote.

Flanagan found the impact of the law hit disproportionately hard on the elderly, indigent and minorities.

“The scope of the impairment has been shown to be serious, extremely broad and largely needless,” Flanagan wrote. “There is no doubt that the plaintiffs have shown a very substantial likelihood of success on the merits.” There are multiple suits against the law: This separate case is pending.

Read more: The Political Environment Blog

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