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 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.”
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
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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