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    War on Voting: Week(s) End Update

    It has been a while since we surveyed the battlefield in the war on voting, so here are some odds and ends from the states. I’m doing this alphabetically, I hope:

    Kansas: Earlier this year, Kansas enacted new photo ID and proof of citizenship requirements for voting. Under the new law, these requirements would go into effect in 2013. Not good enough, says Secretary of State Kris Kobach. He wants to get those bad boys implemented for the 2012 elections – an idea rejected by the state Senate when it decided to go with the 2013 implementation. Kobach may try to do it anyway. Good luck with that.

    Maine: This week, the Protect Maine Votes coalition submitted more than 68,000 signatures to halt the elimination of Election Day registration by placing a People’s Veto on the ballot in November. Earlier this year, the Maine legislature overturned a 38-year old practice that nearly 70,000 people used to register and cast their ballots during the last two elections. The good news: Maine voters – not self-interested politicians – will get to decide whether we will continue to be able to register to vote at the polls.

    For more information on the campaign to protect Election Day registration, go to www.ProtectMaineVotes.com.

    New Hampshire: It looks like the state legislature is going to try to override the Governor’s veto of the strict photo ID legislation in early September. Nine state Senators will need to vote to uphold the Governor’s veto; right now there are only seven or eight votes to sustain the veto. We’ll see what happens.

    North Carolina: The state House failed to override the Governor’s veto last month, but the legislative leadership is still holding out the possibility that they will try again at a later date.

    The latest twist in the state is that nine people are being prosecuted for double voting in the 2008 election. To that I say, “GOOD! Fraudulent voting is ILLEGAL and should be punished.”

    Of course, proponents of photo ID have jumped on this. As the Raleigh News & Observer wrote, the state Republican Party sent out an “I-told-you-so news release,” which said: “The reason why Republicans have fought to promote proper voter-identification laws is to prevent fraud like this from happening.”

    The problem, as the article points out: “None of the cases would have been prevented if the voters had been required to show photo identification…” Exactly right. Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby, the man prosecuting the double voters, noted: “I don’t think voter ID had anything to do with this – just people voting twice, not using another person’s name or dead Aunt Betty.”

    Read the whole story here.

    Ohio: Voting rights organizations, lead by former Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, are taking steps to put the new election “reform” bill on the ballot in 2012 so voters can decide if they want to implement the law. Highlights of the bill: shortens the early voting period, eliminates the “golden week” when voters could go to the polls to register and vote at the same time, and eliminates the requirement that poll workers tell you if you are in the wrong polling place. (We’ve written about its non-awesomeness here.)

    What’s cool about this approach is that if enough signatures are collected to put a referendum on the ballot, the law itself cannot be implemented until after the 2012 elections.

    Tennessee: The state government is trying to help people get photo IDs before the new law kicks into effect in 2012. That’s nice. Read about it here.

    Texas: The Texas Tribune did a short write-up about how the new Texas law, which still needs to be cleared by the Department of Justice under the Voting Rights Act, compares with other states’ laws. Conclusion: it is one of the strictest. You can read the primer here.

    Wisconsin: Some potentially good news on the photo ID front on Wisconsin campuses. You may recall that the new photo ID law in the Badger State allows for student IDs to be used at the polls provided they have a photo, a signature and expire every two years. Of course, no student ID at any college or university in the state met those requirements. Now word is coming out that several schools are working to solve the problem by making changes to student IDs.

    We pick up the story in Platteville:

    Students at University of Wisconsin-Platteville might see these changes this fall. Officials said that they’ve remade the identification cards.

    “We had to come up with a different way to look at a different ID card or something to modify our ID card,” said Jim Mueller, of UW-Platteville auxiliary services.

    The current IDs at Platteville only have a photo and no expiration date. Instead of changing all the IDs, the school will create a special card for voting.

    “If we change it to our whole student ID card, there would be 8,000 cards we’d have to issue immediately. Then, about every year because of the expiration date, it would be about 2,000 every year, Mueller said.

    Instead of the 2,000 some out-of-state students could get a voter ID card and the rest could use their state driver’s license.

    “We just want to make sure that our students can vote, and to make it as easy for them as possible so they can be part of the democratic process,” Mueller said.

    The story also notes that UW-Lacrosse is considering a similar plan of issuing “voting IDs” to out-of-state students and UW-Madison is looking at changing the actual student ID to be compliant.

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    Thomas Bates
    Bio: Thomas is Rock the Vote's Vice President of Civic Engagement.
    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com

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