May 27, 2011
This morning, Texas Governor Rick
Perry signed SB 14, which will institute strict photo-ID requirements for
anyone wishing to vote in the state. Project Vote Executive Director Michael
Slater issued the following statement in response:
under the guise of addressing the mythical threat of “voter impersonation,” the real effect and intent of this
legislation will be to disenfranchise tens of thousands of Texas voters,
particularly young voters, seniors, and low-income residents.
14 requires every voter to present a specific form of Texas identification,
from a very limited list of options, including a driver’s license, a state ID card, a military ID, or
other government issued photo identification. While this may sound like a
reasonable requirement in a society that requires photo ID for routine
transactions, we must remember that voting is a right, not a privilege. Setting
up new hurdles that otherwise eligible voters must jump on their way to vote is
a severe blow to our democracy.
Today Project Vote is pleased to join the American
Civil Liberties Union of Florida (ACLUFL) in filing a lawsuit in federal court
in Miami to block implementation of damaging new changes to Florida's election
law until those changes can be reviewed and examined by the U.S. Department of
Justice (DOJ) or the U. S District Court for the District of Columbia, as
required by the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The law at issue, HB 1355, would set onerous
requirements, unreasonable deadlines, and stiff penalties that would severely
hamper the ability of community organizations to conduct voter registration
drives. It also prevents voters from changing address or updating their
information at the polling place when they vote, which is now permitted, and
cuts in half the number of early voting days provided under current law.
press release sent today by the ACLU, Project Vote Director of
Advocacy Estelle Rogers, co-counsel in the case, said "Voter registration
drives have been indispensable in expanding the Florida electorate,
particularly to low income people and racial minorities. HB 1355, with its
onerous rules and stiff penalties, makes it too risky for most groups—like
civic organizations and church groups—to run a drive in Florida, and thousands
of eligible voters will be left out as a result."
Decision overturns NJ board of education’s refusal to comply with statute, despite urging from ACLU-NJ, Project Vote and Fair Elections Legal Network
Monday, April 25, 2011
NEWARK - The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, Project Vote and the Fair Elections Legal Network today applauded the New Jersey Superior Court Appellate Division’ decision holding that the New Jersey State Board of Education failed to meet an obligation for all eligible students to receive voting materials and instruction by failing to create regulations governing those rights of private and charter school students.
“This is a significant victory for the rights of young voters, and for the voting process generally,” stated ACLU-NJ Legal Director Ed Barocas. “We all benefit when we have an informed and engaged electorate.”
For 25 years the Department of Education failed to fully implement the 1985 Voter Registration Law, which mandates schools distribute voter registration materials and civic instruction to eligible public and non-public high school students, by not adopting rules and regulations as required. The ACLU-NJ, Project Vote and the Fair Elections Legal Network petitioned the State Board of Education in January 2010 to comply with the High School Voter Registration Law. When the Board of Education rejected that petition in June 2010, the organizations filed a lawsuit challenging the Board’s lack of regulations covering voter education at private and charter schools. Its regulations only covered public schools, requiring them to check off a large questionnaire every three years attesting that they have complied with the law.
"School-based programs are one of the most effective means of instilling life-long voting habits," said Niyati Shah, election counsel for Project Vote. “We hope the state board now adopts regulations that will increase voter registration and participation by young adults throughout New Jersey."
Agencies Failed to Register Minority and Low-Income Voters under National Voter
April 20, 2011
(New Orleans, LA)
--Yesterday, Project Vote, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Inc. (LDF), and New
Orleans attorney Ronald Wilson filed a complaint in federal court on behalf of
the state conference of the NAACP and several private individuals, alleging
that Louisiana is disenfranchising minority and low-income voters by failing to
offer them the opportunity to register to vote as required by the National
Voter Registration Act (NVRA).
“By failing to
comply with the National Voter Registration Act, Louisiana is denying minority
and low-income voters across the state equal access to the ballot box,” said
Dale Ho, Assistant Counsel with LDF’s Political Participation Group.
The NVRA requires
public assistance agencies that provide services to low-income residents to
offer their clients the opportunity to register to vote with every application
for benefits, renewal, recertification, or change of address transaction. The
complaint cites evidence showing that Louisiana agencies are failing to carry
out their responsibilities under this law.
consistently high numbers of participants in Louisiana’s food stamp and
Medicaid programs, voter registration applications originating from public
assistance agencies have been surprisingly low. As of 2008, voter registration
applications originating in these agencies had dropped 88 percent from 1995,
despite increased participation in
public assistance programs. The
complaint also cites the results of agency investigations and interviews of
public assistance recipients showing widespread non-compliance.
public assistance agencies is important for reaching populations that are less
likely to register through other means, including low-income residents,
minorities, and persons with disabilities,” says Nicole Zeitler, director of
the Public Agency Voter Registration Project at Project Vote. “By ignoring this
vital law, Louisiana is denying this right to thousands of its residents every
Voter registration will be offered at public assistance offices
following settlement of lawsuit brought by coalition of voting rights groups
Feburary 24, 2011
ALBUQUERQUE, NM – A federal judge today approved a consent
order requiring New Mexico state officials to implement procedures to ensure
that thousands of New Mexico citizens have the opportunity to register to vote
at state public assistance offices, as provided by the National Voter Registration
Act of 1993 (NVRA). The consent order resolves a lawsuit brought against state officials by voting rights
groups, including the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Project
Vote, and Dēmos; and by the Albuquerque law firm of Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg
Ives & Duncan, and the law firm of DLA Piper.
The consent order details the specific procedures that New
Mexico must follow to offer voter registration to public assistance clients who
are applying for benefits, periodically recertifying their benefits eligibility,
or submitting a change of address for receipt of benefits. Congress required in the NVRA that
these registration opportunities be provided to ensure that all citizens have a
fair and equal ability to exercise the fundamental right to vote. The consent order also mandates that
New Mexico conduct voter registration training for public assistance employees and
that state officials regularly monitor implementation of the order.