Tuesday, November 8, 2016

From ProPublica: 2016 Election Lawsuit Tracker: The New Election Laws and the Suits Challenging Them - Courts are scrambling to rule on state election laws in time for the elections being held later this year. We’re keeping track of their decisions.

Last minute court ruling have become a staple of modern elections.

Little doubt that we'll see more after the election as well. This gives us an idea about what to look for.

- Click here for the article.

There are 15 states with new voting laws that have never before been used during a presidential election, according to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice. These laws include restrictions like voter ID requirements and limits on early voting. Many are making their way through the courts, which have already called a halt to two laws in the past month — one in North Carolina and one in North Dakota.
“All the sides were pushing for opinions over the summer so that nobody would run into the concern that it was all of a sudden too late to shift what the state had been planning to do,” said Jennifer Clark, counsel for the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program.

Here's what they have about Texas:

Texas’s most recent bout with the judicial system over election law started on Aug. 4, when the U.S. Department of Justice sued Harris County, alleging that many of its polling places are inaccessible to voters with disabilities. The DOJ wants the county to reevaluate how it picks its polling places and to train poll workers about accessibility.
Ever since Texas enacted a photo-ID law in 2011, it’s been back-and-forth in the courts.
A federal appeals court ordered a lower court to fix Texas’s strict photo-ID law, ruling that it violated the Voting Rights Act by disproportionately affecting African American and Hispanic voters. The state came back with a solution, officially providing a safety net: Anyone without an ID will be able to vote providing they sign an affidavit and show a voter registration certificate, a utility bill, bank statement, birth certificate, or other government document with their name and address. A district judge gave her final stamp of approval on the plan on Aug. 10.
However, the case may not be quite over. A spokesman for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said after the district court ruling that his office will “continue evaluating all options moving forward, including an appeal of the Fifth Circuit’s decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.” Paxton made good on his promise, petitioning the Supreme Court on Sept. 23 to hear Texas’ voter ID case. If the court takes the case, the decision wouldn’t come in time to have an impact on this November’s elections.
In the meantime, Texas election officials were found still to be sending out mailers telling voters that ID was required (it isn’t - voters can sign an affidavit). A federal judge issued an order on Sept. 20 that the state fix its ads and run any new ones by the plaintiffs to give them the opportunity to object.
Even after the court order, some Texas election officials continued to give out incorrect information about IDs. A voting-rights group, Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, sued Bexar County, and a judge granted a temporary restraining order on Oct. 28 that required the county election administrator to correct the election materials.

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