Major Voting Rights Victories in July
CWAers stand up for the right to vote at the Democracy Awakening in Washington, DC.
Judges handed out major victories in six states for the protection and expansion of voting rights in July. Courts in Wisconsin, Texas, North Carolina, Kansas, Michigan and North Dakota struck down restrictions related to voter ID, early voting, pre-registration, and provisional voting:
- In Wisconsin, a judge ruled that a voter ID law disenfranchised voters, and that voters unable to obtain ID with reasonable effort must be provided an affidavit at the polls that they can sign to allow them to vote. A different federal judge struck down other Wisconsin voting restrictions, saying that legislators tailored some of the law "to suppress the reliably Democratic vote of Milwaukee's African-Americans."
- The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that Texas' voter ID act violates the Voting Rights Act because of its discriminatory impact on minorities and the poor. The ruling means that the ID law cannot be enforced in the 2016 election.
- The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit struck down North Carolina's new restrictive voting law for violating the Voting Rights Act. The court also ruled that the law was passed with discriminatory intent by Republican legislators to disenfranchise African-American voters, violating the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause.
- A U.S. District Court judge ruled that a Republican-backed law in Michigan to ban straight ticket voting violates the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause, as African-American voters are more likely to cast straight ticket Democratic ballots.
- In Kansas, a judge ruled that 17,500 voters could have their votes counted in federal, state, and local elections, contrary to a state board rule passed earlier in the month to only allow certain voters registered at the DMV to have their vote counted in federal elections. In his bench ruling, the judge called losing a vote "irreparable harm."
- A U.S. District Judge blocked North Dakota's 2013 voter ID law, stating that it violates the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause by placing "substantial and disproportionate burdens" on Native American voters.