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ACLU, Project Vote File to Join Federal Court Review Of Voter Suppression Act E-mail

August 25, 2011

MIAMI – The American Civil Liberties Union, together with Project Vote, today filed a Motion to Intervene in the United States District Court’s review of the Voter Suppression Act (formerly House Bill 1355) which, if approved, will make it harder for Floridians to register to vote, harder to vote and harder to have that vote counted.
Governor Rick Scott and Secretary of State Kurt Browning withdrew the most discriminatory and regressive portions of the Voter Suppression Act from review by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) under the Voting Rights Act. With just days remaining before a decision deadline, the state chose instead to initiate a legal review of the provisions by the US District Court in the District of Columbia – a process which will take longer, cost more and continue the confusion, uncertainty and lack of uniformity of Florida’s voting laws.
“We’ve strongly objected to these voter suppression schemes from the beginning,” said Howard Simon, Executive Director of the ACLU of Florida. “After the state’s latest round of legal hide-and-seek, we’re asking the court to allow us to join the case on behalf of impacted Floridians who will see the right to cast their vote rolled back by these regressive and unnecessary changes to Florida’s voting laws.”

Indiana Settles Class Action Lawsuit Regarding Compliance with the NVRA E-mail

Indiana to Implement New Procedures for Offering Voter Registration to Public Assistance Recipients in the State
August 25, 2011                                 

Indianapolis, Indiana – Today, U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt approved the settlement of a class action lawsuit brought against Indiana officials to bring the State into compliance with the National Voter Registration Act (“NVRA”).  The settlement requires that Indiana implement specific measures to assure that thousands of low-income residents have the opportunity to register to vote at state public assistance offices, as mandated by the NVRA.  The suit was brought by the Indiana State Conference of the NAACP on behalf of all state public assistance clients injured by the State’s violation of federal law.  Plaintiff and the class are represented by attorneys from the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Project Vote, Demos, the Chicago law firm of Miner, Barnhill & Galland, the NAACP, and the ACLU of Indiana.

The NVRA requires that state public assistance agencies offer voter registration to their clients when clients apply for benefits, and when they recertify or submit a change of address.  The State already began implementation of the settlement prior to its approval by Judge Pratt, and the number of persons submitting registration applications through state public assistance offices in recent months has increased substantially.  Monthly average registration applications are now approximately 4,800, compared to only about 100 prior to the filing of the lawsuit in July 2009. 

“We are pleased that Indiana has agreed to resolve this litigation through settlement,” said Barbara Bolling, President of the Indiana NAACP.  “This is an important step forward to ensuring that all Indiana residents have the opportunity to register to vote and participate in elections in our State.”

Michigan Failing to Offer Voter Registration to Public Assistance Clients E-mail

National Voting Rights Groups Put Secretary of State Johnson on Notice of Voting Rights Violations

August 22, 2011

(Detroit, Michigan) - Citing clear evidence that the State of Michigan is failing to provide low-income residents with a legally-mandated opportunity to register to vote, attorneys from Demos, Project Vote, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCRUL), and the NAACP sent a pre-litigation notice letter on August 19, 2011 to Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, on behalf of the Michigan State Conference of the NAACP.  The letter demands that the Secretary immediately act to bring Michigan into compliance with the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) or face litigation.

Section 7 of the NVRA requires state public assistance agencies, which provide services such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and Medicaid, to provide voter registration services to their clients. In the first two years after the NVRA became effective in Michigan in 1995, the State registered more than 79,500 people through public assistance agencies.

However, according to evidence cited in the notice letter, the local offices of the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS) have largely disregarded this law in recent years.  For example, looking at registration data for 2005-2006 and 2007-2008, there was an 82.5% decrease in the number of voter registration applications submitted through public assistance agencies in Michigan – even though 2008 included a historic presidential election for which high voter registration at public assistance agencies would be expected.  Field investigations found that public assistance clients around the state are not being provided with voter registration applications, contrary to the requirements of the NVRA.

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