Corona Boosts Mail Voting
Corona Boosts Mail Voting
The Corona Challenge to the 2020 U.S. Elections
The coronavirus has disrupted the 2020 U.S. elections like a vast hurricane, scrambling the political landscape, forcing 15 states to postpone their primaries, triggering an enormous tsunami of mail and early voting in the fall general election season, and threatened not only to overwhelm state and local election systems but to cause a slow and potentially disputed slow vote-count after Nov. 3 Election Day.
Before any ballot was even cast, President Trump has repeatedly claimed that mass mail voting would lead to widespread vote fraud and a rigged election, a charge denied as patently false by Republican as well asDemocratic election officials in multiple states. the Postal Service became engulfed by controversy. Trump’s Postmaster General, wealthy GOP campaign donor Louis DeJoy, triggered charges that the Trump team was out to sabotage mail voting with potentially crippling postal changes such as reduced overtime and office hours, removing numerous mailboxes and de-commissioning nearly 700 mass mail-sorting machines.
Confronted by an outcry from non-partisan voter advocates and some Republican candidates as well as charges of vote tampering from some Democrats, Postmaster DeJoy beat a hasty retreat and announced that he would postpone changes in Postal Service operations until after the November election, But the damage may already have been done. By October, amid heavy early mail voting, the Postal Service itself was reporting serious delivery delays in such battleground states as Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and some parts of Florida. First class mail was running behind its performance last January and requiring Americans to vote early to get their ballots in on time.
With roughly 175 million Americans able to vote by absentee ballot in November, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had pushed the House to pass $25 billion in emergency appropriations for the post office plus another $3.5 billion in urgent funding to help hard-pressed state and local election systems cope with the Niagara of absentee ballots that has already mushroomed this fall. But Senate Republicans blocked action, leaving voters to cope with delays and shortfalls.
Avalanche of Mail-In Voting in Primaries
Almost unnoticed amidst the furor over mail voting, citizen reform movements in states as varied as Arkansas, Florida, Massachusetts, and North Dakota pushed for state referendums in November on voting and election law reforms such as non-partisan primaries and rank choice voting in general elections. Even before the pandemic struck legislatures in New York, New Mexico and Virginia enacted laws to expand ballot access and make voter registration easier.
But it was the upheaval of Covid-19 that spawned widespread changes, as states scrambled to insure safe, at-home voting for millions of Americans who feared the danger of potentially fatal exposure to the virus. During the spring elections, eight states – Alaska, Idaho, Indiana, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, and Wyoming – decided to conduct their 2020 primary elections entirely by mail because of corona. Those were in addition to five states that have long run their entire elections by mail – Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah, and Washington, plus large parts of California.
More than 55 million people voted in the state primary elections, with the torrent of mail voting setting records for absentee ballots in such battleground states as Florida – 1.9 million; Pennsylvania – 1.5 million; Michigan – 1.6 million; Wisconsin – nearly 1.1 million. And while the primary in the swing state of North Carolina came in early March, before the full corona crunch, the state braced for heavy mail voting in November.
In early general election voting, Trump’s attacks on mail ballots seemed to backfire against Republicans, alarming some GOP strategists. In such battleground states as Florida, Iowa, Maine, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, which have publicly reported that nine million absentee ballots were requested before the first presidential debate, nearly twice as many by Democratic as Republican voters (52% to 28% of the total). Similar trends were also reported in Ohio, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Wisconsin. “It’s astronomical,” moaned one Republican strategist who told The Washington Post he was “horrified” by heavy Democratic tilt in the initial rush of mail voting.
Unlike President Trump, some Republican candidates warmly embraced absentee voting. “In North Carolina, absentee ballots have an authentication process that makes sense. I tell everyone ‘Vote absentee. Don’t worry about rain, don’t worry about the events of the day on Election Day. Vote by absentee ballot,’” incumbent Republican Senator Thom Tillis told a local TV station. “I think it’s a great way to vote.”
States Facilitate Mail Voting in the General Election
So essential and popular has mail voting become that election experts wae predicting that voting by mail will engage up to half of the U.S. electorate this fall, a figure that would more than double the 30 million Americans who voted by mail in 2016, which was then a bit less than one-fourth of the total vote.
To facilitate mail voting this fall, nine states are sending absentee ballots to every single registered voter in their jurisdiction – California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, and Washington plus the District of Columbia. Nine more states are automatically distributing absentee ballot applications to all voters – Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, New Mexico, and Wisconsin.
The largest group, 23 states in all, will permit absentee voting either with “no excuse” or allowing voters to cite the coronavirus as a reason for their needing an absentee ballot but leaving to individual voters to take the initiative of requesting an absentee ballot. Just eight states take the most cautious approach to absentee voting by requiring voters to cite a specific excuse for a mail ballot, such as work obligations, travel, or physical disability (but not coronavirus). Those eight are Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas,
Which States Are Using Voting by Mail in 2020?
Primary Election Fiascos – Wisconsin and New York
The sudden tsunami of mail voting swamped many states during the primary season. The first shock wave hit Wisconsin, paralyzed by a rip-tide of partisan warfare. Democratic Governor Tony Evers called for postponing the April 7 primary and having the state use all-mail voting – only to be met by stonewall rejection from the Republican-dominated state legislature. When Evers tried issuing his own order to put off the election, the Republicans leadership filed suit and the Wisconsin Supreme Court blocked the governor, ruling that only lawmakers had the power to set election dates.
Election Day was a fiasco. In the Democratic stronghold of Milwaukee, where 167,000 people voted in 2016, only 18,803 showed up this April. Absentee balloting was a crap-shoot. About 1.3 million absentee ballots were sent out by state officials but 235,000 never came back. Thousands of voters said they never got the ballots they requested. Three bins of undelivered ballots were found in a Milwaukee post office branch. In Madison, 2,000 ballots came back with no postmarks and weren’t counted.
But the Republican vote-in-person strategy backfired. In the one big statewide race, the GOP was banking on low voter turnout to help re-elect an important and GOP-friendly conservative state supreme court judge, who was endorsed by President Trump. But the GOP standard-bearer was soundly beaten by well organized Democrati absentee voting, over one million strong.
In other states, tens of thousands of mail votes never got counted. NPR reported that 65,000 absentee ballots missed the deadlines, which in some states are a week or more before Election Day. In Florida, Nevada, Kentucky, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and other states, mail votes were thrown out because voters filled them out improperly or failed to sign the ballot envelope, or because of administrative snafus and postal errors.
Worst of all was New York City, where 84,000 out of more than 400,000 mail ballots were initially set aside. The mail vote count was so slow that it took six weeks before the winners of some close elections could be decided. One bizarre twist involved the bar codes on absentee ballots, used to track voter identification and verify the ballots. Postal workers thought it was unnecessary to postmark the bar-coded ballots, but election officials that without postmarks they could legally count the ballots. It took a lawsuit and a court decision to get those ballots reinstated and counted.
Trump on the Warpath against Mail Voting
Trump pounced on the mail-vote mess in New York to equate mail voting with vote fraud. “It’s been a total disaster. They have — they’re six weeks into it now, they have no clue what’s going on,” Trump gloated. “Nobody knows what’s happening with the ballots and the lost ballots and the fraudulent ballots, I guess.” Actually, no one on any side of the New York races charged fraud or cheating. Trump alone brought it up.
Even before the heavy mail voting began, Trump was railing against voting by mail, evidently fearing it as a threat to his re-election. Mail voting, he claimed, means “You’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.” Despite the election of Republican governors and senators in states with mail voting and despite his own use of an absentee ballot this year and in 2018, Trump insisted: “Mail ballots are a very dangerous thing for this country, ’cause they’re cheaters, They go and collect them. They’re fraudulent in many cases.”
Several Republican governors disagree with Trump and have adopted and promoted vote-by-mail in their states. Also, the track record of the five states that rely wholly on mail voting contradicts Trump. None has reported significant cases of absentee voter fraud in recent years. The conservative magazine National Review pointed out that “Oregon has mailed out about 100 million ballots since 2000, with only about 12 cases of proven fraud,” an infinitesimally low percentage of the total vote.
Vote fraud is an old Trump theme. After his 2016 election victory, Trump claimed he lost the national popular vote because of massive illegal voting by immigrants and foreigners. and he set up a voter fraud commission. But Republican election officials in multiple states rebutted Trump’s charges as unwarranted. Then-Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan said he had “seen no evidence” of fraud. Trump’s own attorneys, defending the vote count, asserted: “All available evidence suggests that the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud or mistake.”
Given the actual habits of voters in the past, election specialists are puzzled why Trump and a few other Republican politicians started the 2020 campaign so vocally denouncing mail and absentee voting. They note that historically, absentee voting has been done mostly by seniors and regular voters, who normally lean Republican, while more pro-Democratic constituencies, such as minority voters and young people, shy away from the complexities of filing absentee ballots.
The Surge to Expand Voting Rights
Well before the coronavirus began scrambling the election landscape for 2020, momentum was building for election law reforms to make voting and voter registration easier, after a previous trend in the opposite direction. The 2018 mid-term elections saw reforms enacted in several states and new Democratic majorities in several state legislatures bent on further reforms in 2019 and early 2020.
In the 2018 elections, Florida voters passed a constitutional amendment to restore the voting rights of 1.4 million former felons who had served their time in prison. Eight other states either adopted “motor voter” registration (automatic registration when residents get their driver’s licenses) or “same day” registration (registering people on Election Day).By mid-2019, the National Conference of State Legislatures reported that 21 states have adopted “same day” registration and 13 states have adopted automatic voter registration.
This year, the most dramatic changes in voter laws came in Virginia with Democrats in control of both houses of the legislature for the first time in 20 years. Their election reform package included same-day voter registration on Election Day, automatic voter registration when residents obtain or renew their driver’s license, and elimination of Virginia’s controversial photo-ID requirement for voter registration. In the future, voter ID can be proven with paper documents such as utility bills, rent payments, or bank statements.
In New York, the Democratic legislative majority passed laws providing for nine days of early voting, Election Day registration, and pre-registration for teenagers. New Mexico adopted same-day voter registration starting in 2021 and voted to expand their automatic voter registration process.
In Kentucky, the newly elected Democratic Gov. Andy Bashear took executive action to restore the voting rights of 140,000 former felons in that state, following the example set by Florida voters in 2018. But Florida’s Republican governor and GOP legislative majority tried to restrict ballot access for Florida’s former felons by requiring them to pay off court fines; however, that Republican effort was blocked by a lawsuit and court ruling.
Franchise for Independents – Non-Partisan Primaries
The biggest change in the American electorate over the past two decades is the mushrooming growth of political independents and the shrinking of membership of the Democratic and Republican parties. NPA’s, they call, “No Party Affiliation.” Back in 2000, 27% of Americans told Gallup Poll they were political independents. Today, that number has shot up to 40%, and among people under 40 years old – Millennials and Gen Xers – the number is probably around 50%.
That’s a huge chunk of the American electorate and yet they get shut out of most elections, the political party primaries that are the decisive and deciding elections in about 85% of the congressional races all across the country and the vast majority of legislative races in all 50 states. Party primaries, often influenced by special interests, fringe groups, and large donors, and pitched to party diehards, tend to pick more extremist candidates in both parties. So in the general election, Independents are often disgusted with the choices and opt out, feeling that their votes don’t really count.
To address that problem, political reform movements in Florida, Arkansas, and North Dakota are proposing that their states reform the election process and decide to hold non-partisan primaries instead of party primaries. These primary elections would be open to all candidates-Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Greens, Independents, and others – all competing in one wide-open “jungle primary” with all voters participate, including independents. The top two or top four vote-getters go into the general election for a final vote.
That idea has proven so popular in Florida that 760,000o people signed petitions to put this reform on the November 2020 ballot, hoping to persuade Floridians to adopt the non-partisan top 2 primary for future elections. If passed, the plan would immediately give the primary vote to 3.6 million political independents. Not surprisingly, Both major parties fought this reform in the courts, but lost and state supreme court certified the non0partisan primary to go before voters in November.
Tough Line on Photo ID for Voters in 16 States
Over the past half dozen years, a group of states led by Texas, North Carolina, Alabama, Indiana, North Dakota, and Wisconsin, imposed strict photo ID laws that fall especially hard on minority voters, students, seniors and the poor, and that in some states, limit early voting. The latest state to adopt a tough ID law was Kentucky, in April 2020. Several of these laws have been challenged by citizen protest movements and lawsuits that question their constitutionality.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion in the Shelby County case that triggered new photo ID laws.
The trigger that set them off was a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 25, 2013, that struck down the heart of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and opened the way for states to change their election laws. Before that decision, the nine states of the old Confederacy plus parts of other states were required to obtain advance federal clearance before making any changes in their election laws to prevent them from using literacy tests, poll taxes, lengthy residency requirements or other barriers to block or deter voting by blacks, Hispanics or Native Americans.
In a 5-4 ruling, the high court agreed with local officials in Shelby County, Alabama, dominated by the largely white suburbs around Birmingham, that Congress lacked a sound constitutional basis in 2006 when it renewed the legal restrictions that were originally imposed in 1965 because of a long history of racial discrimination in southern and border states. This ruling freed nine states and other regions to initiate changes in their election laws.
Texas Moves Fast, and Imposes Restrictions
The ruling had an immediate impact. Texas announced that a highly restrictive voter identification law adopted by the legislature in 2011 but then blocked by the Justice Department would take effect at once. The court decision spawned newly tightened photo voter ID laws in several more states as geographically diverse as North Carolina, North Dakota, and Wisconsin, where Republican-controlled legislatures asserted that tight restrictions were needed to combat voter fraud, even though cases of voter fraud are extremely rare.
In American politics, voter ID laws date from 1970, when Hawaii adopted a law requiring identification but allowing multiple forms of ID, both photo ID and non-photo ID. Most states – 34 in all – use that same flexible approach under which voters can register using a range of documents from a driver’s license and student or tribal photo-ID to recent bank statements, utility bills, paychecks, or government documents showing the voter’s name and address.
But in 16 states, new voting restrictions took effect for the first time in the 2016 presidential election, ranging from strict photo ID requirements to cutbacks in the number of early voting days and other limitations. Those 16 states were Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
21 Million People Lack Official Photo ID
In 11 of those states, the most onerous new obstacle – the most important provision to lawmakers, largely in Republican-controlled legislatures, and the most controversial barrier to expand-the vote advocates — are the strict requirements for photo ID documents, usually a driver’s license, U.S. passport, military ID, tribal ID, and state ID document.
In a study called “Citizens Without Proof,” the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School reported that about 11% of voting-age Americans, or roughly 21 million people, lack government-issued ID. The proportion was 25% among African-Americans versus 8% for whites. The study, based on national surveys done in 2006 and 2011, also found that for many low-income, elderly, poor, and minority Americans, obtaining a government-issued photo ID is often a lengthy, well-nigh impossible process, given lost records and frequent misspelling of their names in official records. Even minor inconsistencies of name spellings are often used by election officials as a reason to bar voter registration.
ALEC Drives Tough ID Laws
The driving force behind the rapid adoption of state voter photo ID laws since 2010 was the militantly conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) whose founder, Paul Weyrich, declared in 1980: “I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”
In 2008, ALEC’s magazine ran a cover story headlined “Preventing Election Fraud.” In 2009, an ALEC task force developed a model voter ID bill. In 2011, several Texas legislators who were members of ALEC, used the ALEC model and got it adopted by the Texas legislature. Among ALEC’s members and supporters are major corporations, the high-profile billionaire brothers, David and Charles Koch of Wichita, Kansas, and hundreds of mostly conservative Republican state legislators. As ALEC’s role has become more controversial, corporations such as Coca-Cola and McDonald’s have dropped their membership, and ALEC, having largely achieved its goals, has taken a lower profile on Voter ID laws.
But the laws seem to be having the impact that ALEC sought. So steep is the hurdle in Texas, that in September 2014, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg worried that stiff photo-ID requirements “may prevent more than 600,000 registered Texas voters from voting in person for lack of complicated identification” and a “sharply disproportionate percentage of those voters are African-American or Hispanic.” In Texas, residents can vote based on their concealed hand-gun licenses but not their state-issued student university IDs.
In Alabama, the legislature raised an outcry by first requiring drivers’ licenses with photo-ID for voter registration and then shutting down 31 motor vehicle license offices in mostly black counties. In Wisconsin, a former state legislative aide testified in federal court that Republican state senators for whom he used to work acted gleeful and were literally “politically frothing at the mouth” at the prospect that a tough new photo ID law would reduce the vote in heavily Democratic precincts around Milwaukee.
Courts Overturn Strict Photo ID in Seven States
In response to lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of strict photo ID laws, federal courts have invalidated those laws in Texas, North Carolina, and North Dakota, legally blocking their enforcement. In Wisconsin, federal judges ruled against the photo-ID law and softened the photo ID requirements without striking down the law in its entity. (For details, see our state-by-state rundown.)
But the court decisions did not resolve the issue. Both in North Carolina and Wisconsin, voters and voting rights advocates contended that election officials in those states were not abiding by the court rulings and were imposing improper and unfair hurdles to voter registration in violation of court decisions. In recent efforts by the federal courts to loosen voter ID laws “so far has not fixed problems for voters facing special burdens to produce identification.
In three other states – Arkansas, Missouri, and Pennsylvania, state courts have ruled that laws with strict photo-ID requirements violate the state constitution by imposing an unfair burden on the right to vote. In five other states – Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, the state government allows voters who lack the required documents to vote – after signing an affidavit stating they are unable to obtain Photo-ID and giving their names and address.
For Honest Elections, GOP Rep Says Restore Federal Protections of Voting Rights
With a flurry of charges, lawsuits, and court decisions over voting rights late in the 2016 campaign, Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin called for restoring the 1965 Voting Rights Act provision that requires states with a pattern of voter discrimination to get pre-clearance from the Justice Department before changing their election laws or rules.
A bipartisan coalition of 100 co-sponsors have joined Sensenbrenner in backing a bill to require pre-clearance for any state that “demonstrates a consistent pattern of discriminatory voting practices.” The need for such legislation, Sensenbrenner argues, became clear in the wake of the 2013 Supreme Court decision striking down the pre-clearance provision of the Voting Rights Act. The country, he said, “has learned the hard way that there is no satisfactory cure for discrimination after an election occurs.”
Voting Rights – How easy or tough is your state?
- January 2011 –Republicans take control of Alabama legislature and quickly enact a new voter ID law that for the first time requires voters to present photo ID, including an Alabama driver’s license, U.S. passport, military or government ID, tribal ID, state voter ID or a state identification card from any state, a student or employee ID card issued by a public or private university. The photo ID requirement is much stricter than the previous standard, which allowed many forms of non-photo IDs, such as a utility bill, a Social Security card, or a copy of a birth certificate.
- June 25, 2013 – After Supreme Court’s Shelby County decision, Alabama’s voter photo ID law takes effect before the 2014 mid-term elections. Voter turnout is the lowest in almost three decades. Some critics blame the voter ID law. Others say that the lack of online voter registration and early voting days make Alabama among the least convenient states for voting.
- State officials counter that Alabama has a program to provide cost-free voter-ID cards and easy access through a mobile service. However, only about 5,000 people took advantage of the state voter-ID card before the 2014 elections, partly because of the cost of obtaining the necessary underlying documents. Alabama law also allows two election officials to permit someone to vote without required ID by signing an affidavit confirming the person’s identity, a point challenged in a voter lawsuit on grounds that it gives election officials “unfettered discretion” to identify voters, or to refuse to do so.
- October 2015 – The obstacles for minority voters are compounded when the legislature cuts the budget of the state’s motor vehicle agency, forcing the shutdown of 31 driver’s license offices. Residents in eight of the state’s 10 predominantly black counties are left without any local DMV office, forcing blacks in rural areas to drive more than an hour just to apply for a driver’s license.
- December 2015 – The NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Greater Birmingham Ministries file a lawsuit, contending that Alabama’s Voter ID law is an infringement on voting rights. The lawsuit estimates that 250,000 registered voters, disproportionately black and Hispanic, would be disenfranchised because they lacked an acceptable photo ID. In February 2016, U.S. District Judge L. Scott Coogler declined to issue a preliminary injunction to allow voters to present alternate forms of ID in the 2016 elections.
- January 2016 – Alabama imposes yet another restriction by obtaining authorization from the executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to require voter applicants using a federal registration form to provide proof of citizenship. That decision is being challenged by watchdog groups.
- July 6, 2016 – Federal District Judge Richard J. Leon rejects a request for a preliminary injunction to block action by Alabama, Georgia, and Kansas and allows them to enforce their new requirements for proof-of-citizenship for people using a federal form to register to vote. A lawsuit challenging that requirement was brought by League of Women Voters, NAACP in Georgia and other civil rights groups.
- Sept. 9, 2016 – Federal appeals court in Washington orders Alabama, Georgia, and Kansas to suspend enforcement of requirement that state residents show documentary proof of U.S. citizenship in order to register to vote. A lawsuit brought by League of Women Voters, NAACP and civil rights groups contended that the citizenship requirement imposes unfair burdens on some residents, usually elderly and poor or minority, who lack a U.S. passport and have trouble getting an official birth certificate because of poorly kept local court records.
- June 16, 2020 – Federal district judge opens way for curbside in-person voting in Alabama elections in order to help protect the health of elderly, sick or disabled voters. State law neither provides for nor prohibits curbside in-person voting. Some Alabama counties have used it in past elections, but current Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill has decreed that it cannot be used in 2020 elections. Voters in Mobile, Jefferson and Lee counties filed suite and U.S. District Judge Abdul K. Kallon issued a preliminary injunction lifting Merrill’s ban and allowing but not requiring curbside voting, at local option.
- Oct 21 – In a decision that Justice Sonya Sotomayor said would impose health risks on elderly and disabled voters, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a district court ruling that would have allowed counties in Alabama to offer curbside in-person voting. With a 5-3 vote, high court issues an unsigned emergency order that blocks a trial judge’s ruling while an appeal is argued and decided. Elderly, sick and disabled votershad filed suit, arguing in-person voting during the corona virus exposed them to unnecessary health risks and asked for the right to submit ballots in person at curbside to poll workers rather than having to stand and wait in long lines. A federal district judge agreed and opened the way for curbside voting. Alabama’s Secretary of State John Merrill, who months ago had banned curbside voting, appealed to the nation’s high court. The court’s 5-3 conservative majority sided with Merrill but did not explain its reasoning. In dissent, Justice Sotomayor noted that election officials in some Alabama counties “are ready and willing to help vulnerable voters… cast their ballots without unnecessarily risking infection from a deadly virus” and the high court should protect their right and safe access to voting.
- Alaska has some of the easiest voter registration requirements in the U.S. For identification, polling places accept a voter ID card, driver’s license, state IDs, military ID, hunting or fishing license, passport, birth certificate, or valid photo ID. Also acceptable are utility bills, paychecks, government check, bank statement, or other government-issued document.
- Residents can register online, by mail, fax or email, or in person. New residents coming from out of state must show proof of Alaska residency through a variety of documents, including Alaska driver’s license, Alaska hunting or fishing license, proof of Alaska student loan and college tuition showing Alaska as state of residency, military leave and earning statement showing Alaska as place of residence, proof of employment in Alaska, or other documentation showing state residency.
- Jan.9,2020- Alaskans for Better Elections, a trans-partisan citizens movement files petitions with state government calling for a popular vote on a new election law to establish a single non-partisan primary, open to all candidates and all voters, followed by a so-called “instant runoff ” through rank choice voting in the general election. Former state Rep. Jason Grenn, a political independent who co-chairs the group with a Republican and a Democrat, submitted 41,068 signatures, far more than required to put measure on ballot. The reform plan, Grenn said, is “a three-pronged attack on making our elections better” by banning “dark money” or undisclosed campaign contributions; replacing Republican and Democratic party primaries with a non-partisan primary; and moving the top-4 vote-getters for each office into the general election, where voters would rank their choices. If no candidates gets an immediate majority vote, then the lowest vote-getter is eliminated and his or her supporters’ votes are moved their second choice or third choice, until one candidate achieves a majority.
- March 20, 2020-Democratic Party of Alaska announces it will conduct its party primary entirely by mail. State adopts mail voting for this year.
- June 12, 2020 – Alaska’s supreme court rules unanimously that an election law reform proposal, calling for a single non-partisan primary and rank choice voting in the general eleciton, can appear on the ballot for a popular vote on Nov. 3, 2020. Court rejects the attorney general’s contention that this omnibus reform package violates a state law limiting a ballot initiative to one subject. The judges found that the several reform proposals all come under the umbrella of a single subject – election law reform.
- Nov.3, 2020 = By a narrow majority, Alaska voters adopt a new election system calling for holding a non-partisan primary open to al voters and to candidates of all political stripes, including political independents, with the top 4 candidates in the primary advancing to the general election. With 53% of Alaska voters registering as independent or non-affiliated, outnumbering Republicans (27%) and Democrats (15%,), there was a strong push for doing away with party primaries by a broad trans-partisan coalition called Alaskans for Better Elections. The reform plan, adopted by a vote of 171,045 (50.45% to 168,018 (49.55%), uses Rank Choice Voting to determine the winners of the general election. Voters rank their preferences 1,2,3,4 and to win, a candidate must get a majority of 50% or more. Rank choice voting acts as an immediate runoff mechanism. If no candidate gets an immediate majority, the weakest candidate is dropped out and that candidate’s votes are reallocated to those voters’ second choice. That process continues until some candidates gets a 50%-plu majority. The ballot initiative for reform also included a ban on political dark money, requiring the disclosure of :”the true sources” of any campaign contributions of more than $2,000.
- Arizona is among 31 states and the District of Columbia that offer online voter registration. Identification, but no photo ID, is required at the polls. Usable documents include driver’s license, passport, tribal ID, and two forms of non-photo ID, such as a bank statement and utility bill.
- Under a popular referendum passed in 2004, Arizona is one of four states requiring proof of citizenship for voter registration. Accepted documents include a driver’s license, a birth certificate that verifies citizenship, passport, U.S. naturalization documents, and tribal ID.
- 2013 – The U.S. Supreme Court rejects Arizona’s efforts to require documentary proof of citizenship on the federal voter registration form, ruling that the U.S. government has the power of decision in federal elections.
- November 2014 – The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals once again rules against Arizona and two other states.
- March 2016 – Some presidential primary voters in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix and Scottsdale, have to wait five hours to cast ballots. County election officials acknowledge that they had cut the number of polling places from 200 to 60 to save money, reportedly leaving only one polling place for every 21,000 voters according to the Arizona Republic. The mayor of Phoenix called for a Justice Department investigation.
- Nov. 4, 2016 – Federal district judge rejects request by Democratic Party for injunction against harassment of voters, saying that Trump and Republican calls to watch polls for voter fraud “simply do not prove actual or likely intimidation.”
- 2013 – A Republican-controlled legislature passes a photo ID law, overriding a veto by Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe.
- October 2014 – The Arkansas Supreme Court unanimously strikes down the photo ID requirement, ruling that it violated the state constitution by imposing an additional “qualification” to voting.
- A pre-existing, non-strict, non-photo ID law is now in effect. Citizens registering to vote must provide either a driver’s license or Social Security number. In order for citizens registering by mail to avoid additional identification requirements upon voting for the first time, they must submit with the form either a valid photo identification, or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows their name and address.
- July 7, 2020 – A citizen reform coalition Open Primaries Arkansas submits petitions with 94,000 signatures to the secretary of state requesting a referendum vote in November 2020 on a proposal to adopt rank choice voting for the election of members of Congress, the Arkansas legislature and state constitutional offices. Candidates would run in a single wide open non-partisan primary including Republicans, Democrats, libertarians, greens and other parties, with all voters participating. For each office, the four candidates garnering the most votes in the open primary would then advance to the general election. In the general election, voters would then rank their preferred candidates one through four. If no candidate wins an outright majority in the general election, then the candidate with the fewest votes would be eliminated, and those voters’ second and third choices would be added to the remaining candidates’ tallies until someone obtained the majority threshold.
Stephanie Matthews of Little Rock, representing the Arkansas Voters First committee, which collected the signatures for this proposed constitutional amendment, certified that the committee turned in 94,913 signatures, meeting state legal requirements for citizen-0initiated ballot measures.
- July 15, 2020- Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston rejects signature petitions from Open Primaries Arkansas calling for a popular referendum in November on a proposal that Arkansas adopt a system of open, nonpartisan primary elections and apply a system of rank choice voting in its general elections. Thurston said his office could not count the petition signatures because Open Primaries Arkansas failed to comply with a state law requiring them to certify that their signature gatherers passed criminal background checks. His ruling was immediately challenged by a lawsuit.
- July 22, 2020 –Five Republican-appointed or designated members of the Arkansas State Board of elections vote against allowing a proposal for a non-partisan primary to go on the November ballot for a statewide popular vote. those five contend that the “title” of the ballot measure was not sufficiently clear and would mislead Arkansas voters. One dissenting vote, to approve letting the reform measure go before voters, was cast by James Harmon Smith, the Democratic Party’s designee.
- California permits a wide variety of documents to prove identification for residents registering to vote for the first time. These include driver’s license, Social Security number, student ID, student housing bill or cellphone bill dated within the past 12 months, utility bill, bank statement, government check, and a document issued by the government, including a sample ballot mailed to applicant’s residence.
California’s new “motor-voter” law approved in 2015 instructs state officials automatically to register to vote anyone applying for or renewing a driver’s license or other identification card, as soon as work on a statewide database is complete. Target date: early 2017. The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles requires that driver’s license applicants provide a Social Security number to verify a person’s legal presence in the state. When the “motor-voter” law was approved, the state estimated 6.6 million residents were eligible to vote but were not registered.
- 2013 – In an effort to increase voter registration, Colorado adopts a voting reform law expanding the period for registration up through Election Day, lengthening the early voting period to 15 days before a general election and 10 days before a party primary; and shortening the mandatory residency requirement for voting to 22 days in state.
- The 2013 law also required that a ballot be mailed to every registered voter; allowed voters to cast ballots in any precinct within their county; gave voters a choice on how they want to vote, whether to mail in their ballot, deliver it themselves, or vote in person, either early or on election day.
- Sept. 12, 2020 – Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold files suit to try to stop U.S. Postal Service from sending mailer to Colorado voters, charging that postal service is interfering with the state’s constitutional authority to run its elections and attempting to disenfranchise Colorado voters by giving them misleading information about how to vote by mail. Her suit charges that Postal Service mailer includes “false statements about voting in Colorado (that) will disenfranchise Colorado voters, including its uniform military and overseas voters; mislead them about Colorado’s election procedures, infringe Colorado’s constitutional rights to conduct its elections; and interfere with the secretary of state’s ability to oversee Colorado elections.” The Postal Service, defending its mailer which is being sent out to all states, asserted that it is trying to ensure that voters mail in their ballots soon enough to be processed and counted. Five other states have contacted Colorado to consider joining its lawsuit or filing their own suits.
- Connecticut permits registration online, by mail and in person. First-time voters are required to show a Social Security card or any pre-printed form of identification that shows either name and address, name and signature or name and photograph.
- At voting polls, the state requires some form of identification. The rules are somewhat complicated for first-time voters who registered by mail, but most need to show one of the following: a copy of a valid photo ID that shows name and address, or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or government document that shows name and address. Voters without ID may sign a statement titled “Signatures of Electors Who Did Not Present ID.”
- May 17, 2016 – The Secretary of State’s office and the Department of Motor Vehicles announce they will implement a “streamlined motor voter system” to automatically register eligible state residents when they apply for or renew a driver’s license or state identification card. The system is expected to begin operating in August 2018.
- Delaware permits voter registration by mail, by phone, in person and online and requires registration by at least 24 hours before an election. A wide variety of documents are acceptable for identification, including photo ID, utility bill, paycheck and any government document with the voter’s name and address. Persons who do not have ID may vote if they sign an affidavit attesting to their identity.
- 2013 – The legislature approved a constitutional amendment eliminating a five-year waiting period to restore voting rights to felons who have completed their sentence, including parole and probation. But persons convicted of murder or manslaughter, a felony offense against public administration involving bribery, improper influence or abuse of office, or a felony sexual offense, remain permanently disqualified from voting.
- July 27, 2017 – Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) signs bipartisan legislation making it easier for Delawareans to vote absentee, especially helpful to students studying at out-of-state universities. Voters will no longer have to get their absentee ballot notarized. “We should always look for ways to make it easier for qualified Delaware voters to participate in the democratic process — not more difficult,” Carney said. “This legislation … takes the common sense step of removing a barrier.”
- April 11, 2019 – Final approval is given by the Delawar legislature to a bill establishing in-person early voting in Delaware, starting in January 2022. With Democratic Gov. John Carney publicly in favor, the bill will allow registered voters to start casting allots ten days before Election Day. More than 30 other states have adopted early voting.
- March 24, 2020 – Gov. John Carney, a democrat, in postponing the state’s primary eleciton to june 2, issues an executive order extending rights of absentee voting to people afflicted with Corona Virus or unable to go into public crowds because off Corona.
District of Columbia:
- DC permits registration on Election Day, and by mail or email. Mail applications must be postmarked at least 30 days prior to an election, and email must be received 30 days before an election.
- Voters are not required to show proof of residence to vote, but some polling places require ID to enter. The District permits no-excuse absentee voting. Most ex-felons automatically gain the right to vote upon the completion of their sentence.
- District residents may pre-register at 16, but will not be eligible to vote until they are at least 17 with a birth certificate indicating they will be 18 by the time of the next general election.
- November 2000 – In the contested presidential election of 2000, the margin of victory between Al Gore and George W. Bush in the deciding state of Florida is only 537 votes, but an estimated 600,000 former felons are barred from voting even though they have completed their prison sentences and rejoined their home communities. Florida has one of the harshest laws on convicted felons – a lifetime ban on voting rights, except for individual appeals. In Florida, a stunning ten percent of the adult electorate is barred from voting because of these restrictions. “These are felonies and we want to make sure people have turned their life around,” says Florida’s Republican governor, Rick Scott.
- 2003 – The Florida legislature adopts a Voter ID law with 12 acceptable forms of photo ID, three of which have since been eliminated. Acceptable ID includes a state driver’s license, state ID, U.S. passport, debit or credit card, military ID, student ID, retirement center ID, neighborhood association ID and public assistance ID.
- Floridians who show up on Election Day without photo ID are given a provisional ballot, which they must sign, and if the signature matches the one on their voter registration form, their ballot is counted.
- 2011 – Florida’s Republican-controlled legislature passes several laws, signed by Republican Gov. Rick Scott (R), making it harder to vote. First, lawmakers reduced the early voting period from 14 days to eight days, although they kept the maximum number of hours at 96, and they eliminated voting the Sunday before the election. The changes led to long lines in the 2012 election. Second, Florida passed new restrictions on voter registration drives, requiring voter registration groups to sign up with the state and report on their activity within 48 hours or risk penalties. “I’m going to call this bill for what it is: good old-fashioned suppression,” said Ben Wilcox of the League of Women Voters, testifying on the legislation. Because of the law’s onerous rules, Wilcox said the league would suspend its trademark voter registration drives.
- August 2012 – In a lawsuit brought by the League of Women Voters and the National Council of La Raza, a federal appeals court rules that the early-voting rules were discriminatory and could not be applied in five counties requiring pre-clearance under the Voting Rights Act.
- September 2012 – the U.S. Department of Justice approves the early-voting schedule for the counties as long as they offered 96 hours of voting between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. over eight days.
- 2013 –The legislature restored the number of early voting days to 14, permitted counties to hold early voting on the Sunday before the election and expanded the kinds of venues that could serve as polling places. Finally, Gov. Scott reversed a prior executive action that had made it easier to restore voting rights to people with past criminal convictions. In effect, the state now permanently disenfranchises most citizens with past felony convictions – an estimated 1.5 million persons.
- 2015 – After more than a decade of periodically tightening restrictions on voting and registration to vote, Florida reverses that trend with a new form of online voter registration that will took effect in 2017.
- Nov. 6, 2018 – In a move that could alter the political landscape in this hotly contested swing state, more than five million Floridians vote to restore voting rights to roughly 1.5 million felons who have served their terms, excluding those convicted of murder and sex crimes. As required for amendments to the state constitution, this measure easily won a super-majority vote – 5,097,761 in favor, or 64.5%, versus 2,808,846 against. A broad political coalition mobilized support, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Public Citizen, Catholic bishops and a political action committee linked to the conservative Koch brothers. Before today, Florida was one of just four states to permanently prohibit felons from voting, unless awarded clemency by the governor. Only 3,000 individuals got clemency during the eight-year tenure of Republican Gov. Rick Scott.
- Jan 8, 2019 – Hundreds of former Florida felons begin registering to vote at offices all across the state, among them George Meade of Orlando, who led the 2018 Florida ballot drive to win back voting rights for former felons. “It was a very, very emotional moment,” Meade wrote on Facebook after submitting his voter registration form. “There were a lot of tears of joy that were shed,” said Meade. “We were celebrating the expansion of democracy.” In Palm Beach, Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher reported: “We have seen an influx. It’s historic.” Even so, some reform advocates fear that either Republican Gov. Ron deSantis or the legislature’s Republican majority will try to impose restrictions to impede registration of up to 1.4 million former felons, made eligible to vote by ta popularly endorsed 2018 constitutional amendment.
- May 2, 2019- Republican majorities in Florida legislature pass bill setting pre-condition that former felons first pay off court debts and fines before being allowed to register to vote under constitutional amendment passed by near 65% popular vote majority in November 2018. Although voter-adopted amendment ordered “automatic” restoration of right to vote for most former felons who had served their prison terms , GOP lawmakers decided to impose restrictions requiring former felons to settle old financial obligations. As Republican party-line majorities passed the legislation by 22-17 in the state senate and 65-42 in the house, Democratic accused them of vote suppression and imposing the equivalent of an unconstitutional “poll tax.” Florida’s Democratic Party put out a statement warning first-term Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis that he would become known as the “Jim Crow” governor if he signed the law, evoking the era of racist laws and segregation.
- Oct. 18, 2019- Federal judge gives boost to restoring voting rights for 1.4 million former felons in Florida by issuing a temporary injunction against state law blocking them form registering to vote until they pay fines associated with their convictions, even if they have served their prison time. By solid majority, Florida voters approved a measure in 2018 to restore former felons right to vote, but in 2019 Republican-dominated state legislature enacted what critics called an unconstitutional “poll tax” law requiring former felons to pay fines and fees before registering. Ruling by federal district judge Robert Hinkle was a rebuke to the legislature and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis for an action that was widely seen as a republican effort to suppress voting by former felons, many of whom are African-Americans or Hispanics likely to support Democrats.
- March 19, 2020- Florida Supreme Court approves ballot initiative for a non-partisan primary open to all parties and all voters submitted by citizen reform group, All Voters Vote. The states high court overruled objections form both the Republican and Democratic parties of Florida and cleared the way for a popular referendum in the November 2020 elections on an amendment to the Florida state constitution that, if passed by the necessary 60% super-majority, would abolish political party primaries and replace them with a single primary open to all candidates and all voters of any political stripe. the two two vote0-getters for 4each office in the primary would then move into the general election for a final vote. All Voters Vote submitted petitions with more than 767,000 signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot, but the court ruling was a final necessary step for the ballot measure.
- May 24, 2020 – Federal district judge strikes down Florida law requiring felons to pay past fines and court costs in order to register to vote, as unconstitutional violation of 24th Amendment against political poll taxes. In a move that boosts chances to vote this year for 1.4 million former Florida felons, district judge Robert Hinkle issues a permanent injunction against state’s enforcement of law requiring financial payments before former felons can register — a right granted by a 2018 voter referendum passing a state constitutional amendment. “The Twenty Fourth Amendment precludes Florida from conditioning voting in federal elections on payment of these fees and costs,” Judge Hinkle wrote. Asserting that Florida compounded its failure by not informing former felons what they allegedly owe, Judge Hinkle mandated the former falons be automatically registered if state failed to inform felons their voting status with 21 days. days. His order also removed threat of perjury prosecution for any felons attempting to register under constitutional amendment adopted by Florida voters in 2018.
- July 1, 2020- A federal appellate court for 11th circuit temporarily blocks lower court order granting hundreds of thousands of former Florida felons right to vote, handing temporary victory to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Governor had asked appeals court to stop a ruling in May by U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle who ruled against DeSantis and Florida elections officials, deciding that they cannot keep felons from voting if they cannot afford to pay off all court fees, fines and restitution. Hinkle ruled that Florida law requiring such payments is an unconstitutional imposition of de facto poll tax that is barred by 24th amendment to U.S. Constitution. Next step is for full 11th Circuit court to hear the case.
- July 16, 2020 – In a rebuff to voting rights advocates with potential consequences for the 2020 presidential election, US Supreme Court lets stand a Florida law restricting rights of former felons to register to vote, as permitted in a state constitutional amendment passed by Florida voters in 2018. In dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor protested that high court’s ruling “prevents thousands of otherwise eligible voters from participating in Florida’s primary election simply because they are poor.” In the wake of 2018 constitutional amendment, Florida’s Republican-dominated legislature passed a law requiring former felons to pay court fines and fees before registering. A federal district judge ruled that the Florida law amounted to an unconstitutional poll tax and ordered the state to register former felons who had served their prison terms. But on July 1, an appeals courts issued a temporarily blocked implementation of the district court’s order and set a hearing for Aug 18, the date of the Florida party primaries. Lawyers for the felons appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to lift the injunction, but the high court rejected their appeal. It is uncertain whether the appealscourt will reach a decision in time for former felons to register for the November 2020 election, where Florida figures as a key battleground state. Experts estimate that up to 1.4 million former felons are covered by the 2018 constitutional amendment but only about 85,000 have registered thus far.
- Sept 11, 2020 – Federal appeals court rules that hundreds of thousands of former felons in Florida may not register to vote, until they pay all their outstanding fines and court costs. Agreeing with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the 11th Circuit Court of appeals held that payment of fines and fees by ex felons is part of their ”terms of sentence” and must be satisfied before these former felons can vote. Their voting rights were restored by a voter-approved constitutional amendment in 2018.
- Oct. 5, 2020 – Only an estimated 300,000 of 1.4 million former felons in Florida, who were granted the right to vote through state Constitutional Amendment 4 adopted by Florida voters in 2018, have qualified to register to vote in the 2020 election. The large majority have been blocked by a law passed in 2019 by the Republican-dominated state legislature requiring that former felons must complete “all terms” of their sentence, not just their prison terms but also pay fines, court fees and restitution to crime victims. On average, the former felons owe about $1,000, according the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, the major sponsor of the constitutional amendment. About 300,000 of the former felons either did not owe any fines or have paid them off, according to Florida ACLU Executive Director Mica Kubic. But two recent studies of voter rolls suggest that as few as 31,000 to 45,000 managed to register before Florida’s Oct. 5 voter registration deadline. For others, the Rights Restoration Coalition set up a Fines and Fees Fund last year. With a late donation of $16 million last month from former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, the group has raised $25 million. The Coalition plans to keep working to register former felons even after the 2020 election. “We won’t stop until all 1.4 million returned citizens impacted by the Amendment 4 have had their barriers removed,” coalition deputy director NeiL Volz told The Washington Post.
- April 2005 – Georgia becomes the first state in the South to approve a strict voter photo ID law. Signed by Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue the law is given approval by the Justice Department under President George W. Bush, as required by the 1965 Voting Rights Act. But a legal challenge brought by civil rights groups forced the state to alter the law after federal district Judge Harold Murphy of Rome, Ga., ruled that the law amounted to an unconstitutional poll tax because it required a $20 fee for a state-issued ID card.
January 2006 – Georgia enacts a new law that eliminates the $20 fee for a state ID card and allows voters to cast absentee ballots without having to explain why. In 2007, Judge Murphy approves the revised version, praising state officials’ “exceptional efforts to contact voters who potentially lacked a valid form of photo ID.”
- 2008 – Georgia’s 2005 ID law is amended to stipulate that acceptable photo ID to vote includes state or federal government-issued ID, state driver’s license, government employee ID, U.S. passport, military ID and tribal ID.
- 2009 – The Republican-controlled legislature passes a law requiring voters to provide documentary proof of citizenship in order to register, using either the state or federal form.
- March 2011 – Georgia Supreme Court upholds the photo ID law, ruling that the requirements of the law did not deprive residents of their voting rights.
- 2011 – Republican-controlled legislature reduces early voting period from 45 to 21 days, and eliminates early voting the weekend before Election Day. Both laws were signed by Republican Gov. Nathan Deal.
- 2013 – U.S. Supreme Court rules that a law in Arizona similar to one in Georgia requiring would-be voters to prove U.S. citizenship is unconstitutional. Court says Arizona lawias pre-empted by federal law.
- Jan. 29, 2016 – Georgia, along with with Alabama and Kansas, is granted authority by executive director of U.S. Election Assistance Commission, to require documentary proof of citizenship for those using the federal vote registration form – a decision that is quickly challenged by voting watchdog groups.
- June 29, 2016 – Federal District Judge Richard J. Leon rejects a request for a preliminary injunction to block action by Alabama, Georgia and Kansas and allows them to enforce their requirements for proof-of-citizenship for people using a federal form to register to vote. A lawsuit challenging that requirement is filed by League of Women Voters, Georgia NAACP and other civil rights groups.
- Sept. 9, 2016 – Federal appeals court orders Georgia, Kansas and Alabama to remove requirement that state residents show documentary proof of U.S. citizenship in order to register to vote. Court sides with lawsuit by League of Women Voters, NAACP and civil rights groups, that contended the citizenship requirement imposes unfair burdens on some residents, usually elderly, poor or minority, who lack a U.S. passport and have trouble getting official birth certificate because of poorly kept local court records.
May 4, 2017 – Federal District Judge Timothy Batten orders Georgia to reopen voter registration ahead of a hotly contested runoff in the Sixth Congressional District ,a suburban area north of Atlanta. Georgia had shut down voter registration on March 20, 90 days ahead of runoff between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel. In a non-partisan primary on April 18, Ossoff led a field of 18 candidates with 48% of the vote, but his failure to get 50% forced the runoff. Judge Batten, responding to suit filed by Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law on behalf of five civil rights and voting rights organizations, ordered that voter registration be kept open until May 21.
- April 6- Georgie Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger, a Republican, announced the state is mailing absentee ballots to all Georgia residents to enable them to vote by mail in postponed state primary.
- March 6, 2019- Hawaii’s legislature passes several bills to make voting easier. House adopts automatic voter registration and voting by mail, as well as automatic recounts whenever victory margins ind elections are extremely narrow. Senate also passes voting by mail and automatic recount. Another reform, passed by the House, would se tup rank choice voting for party primaries and special elections. It now goes to the state senate.
- Since 1970, Hawaii’s voter ID requirement has allowed both photo and non-photo documents, such as valid state photo ID or a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document that shows name and address. Hawaii law allows qualified individuals to pre-register at 16 years of age, then automatically become registered at 18.
- Registered voters may request a mail ballot or cast their vote at an early walk-in location within their county. The early voting period for an election begins 10 working days before an election and ends the Saturday before the election. The state permits no-excuse absentee voting.
- June 2014 – Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie signs legislation allowing voter registration at absentee polling places during an election as well as on Election Day at polling places.
- March 20, 2020 – HawaiI Democratic Party announces its primary will be conducted entirely by mail, with ballots to be submitted before May 22 deadline. State adopts voting by mail for 2020.
- In 2010, Idaho’s legislature approved a flexible photo ID law. To register to vote, an Idaho resident must either present a valid photo ID or sign a personal identification affidavit, swearing to his or her identity. Acceptable forms of photo ID are a driver’s license, state ID card, passport, government ID, tribal ID and student ID issued by a school within the state.
- The state permits no-excuse absentee voting. Voting rights are automatically restored to felons upon completion of their sentence and any probation or parole period.
- March 30 – Republican Gov.Brad Little and Secretary of State Lawrence Denney, also republican, announce that Idaho’s May 19 primary will be conducted entirely by mail.
- Illinois permits voter registration with multiple forms of ID including driver’s license, Social Security number, government check or document with applicant’s name and address or such commercial documents as a bank statement, utility bill, student ID with proof of home address, or personal paycheck issued within the past year.
- For voting, similar forms of identification meet state requirements.
- 2011 – A Democratic-controlled legislature imposes more restrictive rules on voter registration drives. They require that registration forms be returned by first-class mail within two business days, or by personal delivery within seven days, replacing a law that allowed seven days to return the forms in any manner. This rule does not apply to groups using only the federal mail-in voter registration form. The measure was signed by Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn.
- 2014 – Voters overwhelming approved the Illinois Right to Vote Amendment, which prohibits any law that disproportionately affects the rights of eligible state citizens to register to vote or cast a ballot based on the voter’s race, color, ethnicity, status as a member of a language minority, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or income. The amendment’s principal sponsor, Democratic House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, said its purpose is “to ensure that all citizens have an opportunity to register and vote and to prevent the passage of inappropriate voter-suppression laws and discriminatory voting procedures.”
- May 31, 2016 – House approves automatic voter registration measure previously passed by the Senate. Although Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner says he is a “big fan of simplifying the voter registration process,” he ends by vetoing the legislation, killing the reform effort.
May 29, 2017 – The Illinois House unanimously (115-0) passes new motor voter registration program that will automatically register an eligible Illinois resident to vote or update his or her voter registration whenever that person applies for, updates or renews a driver’s license or state ID, unless they opt out. The legislation creates similar programs for other state agencies, such as the Department of Human Services and Department of Natural Resources. The state senate also passed the measure with a 48-0 vote on May 5. Given the sharp partisan tensions in the Illinois government, the bipartisan agreement was considered remarkable.
- 2005 – Indiana, along with Georgia, passed the nation’s first “strict” Voter ID laws, requiring photo ID for registration to vote. Acceptable ID includes military ID, state driver’s license, state photo ID and U.S. passport. Student ID from an Indiana state school is acceptable but student ID from a private institution is not.
- Voters who lack photo ID may cast a provisional ballot, then appear at their county courthouse within 10 days to show identification. Persons who register by mail are required to present documents at the polls confirming their current address. Acceptable documents include a driver’s license, bank statement, paycheck with name and address and utility bill. Indiana requires an excuse for people mailing in an absentee ballot.
- April 2008 – The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Indiana’s Voter ID law, ruling that the requirement to produce photo ID is not unconstitutional, affirming lower court decisions.
- March 20, 2020 – Gov. Eric Holcomb, Republican, announces Indiana primary is being postponed to June 2 and all voters will be given the option of voting by mail.
- Iowa does not require identification to vote but it does require identification to register, either online – driver’s license or Social Security number – or in person on Election Day, when photo ID must be shown. Acceptable identification includes a state ID card, state or out-of-state driver’s license, U.S. passport, military ID, employer ID or student ID. If the address is not current, additional documentation, such as a utility bill, must be presented.
- The state permits no-excuse absentee voting.
- 2011 – Gov. Terry Branstad (R) reversed a prior executive action that had made it easier to restore voting rights to people with criminal convictions. In effect, the state now permanently disenfranchises most citizens with felony convictions.
- March 30, 2016 – Iowa Supreme court hears the case of a woman challenging the law that all but permanently prohibits felons from regaining voting rights, which could affect the voting rights of more than 20,000 Iowa felons.
- June 30, 2016 – Iowa Supreme Court upholds state policy preventing felons form voting unless their rights are restored by the governor.
- March 31, 2020- Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, a Republican, announces his office will send absentee ballot applications to all active registered voters for June 2 primary election. Pate had previously announced absentee voting would begin 40 days ahead of the primary date.
- 2011 – Kansas enacts a Voter ID law, requiring photo ID when voting in person, in the form either of a driver’s license, non-driver ID card, concealed carry handgun license, U.S. passport, government employee ID, military ID, Kansas college ID, government public assistance ID or tribal ID.
- Jan. 1, 2013 – The Republican-controlled legislature enacts law requiring proof of citizenship for registration to vote by producing a document from a list that includes birth certificates, passports and naturalization records.
- Jan. 29, 2016 – Kansas, Alabama, and Georgia are granted authority by Brian Newby, executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, to require documentary proof of citizenship for voter applicants using the federal registration form.
- February 2016 – The American Civil Liberties Union sues in federal court in Washington, D.C. to overturn the proof of citizenship requirement. The case was brought by the ACLU and League of Women Voters on behalf of six Kansas residents who said they were left off voter rolls after registering at the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
- June 29, 2016 – Federal District Judge Richard J. Leon issues ruling that allows Alabama, Georgia and Kansas to enforce their requirements for proof-of-citizenship for people using a federal form to register to vote. Judge rejected request for preliminary injunction to block this requirement filed by American Civil Liberties Union and others.
- July 25, 2016 -American Civil Liberties Union sues Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, charging that he has created a dual voter registration system that will unlawfully deny thousands the right to vote. New rule adopted earlier this month by Kansas election board creates a two-tiered system: People who register to vote with Kansas Department of Motor Vehicles but do not provide proof of citizenship are allowed to vote in federal races but not local and state contests. Those who offer proof of citizenship can vote on all races. ACLU argues that new rule denies full voting rights to about 17,000 people and violates state law, citing a decision by Shawnee County District Court in January.
- July 29, 2016 – Shawnee Country District Judge Larry Hendricks orders Kansas election officials to count votes of 17,500 Kansans in upcoming August 2nd state primary. Their voter registration was questioned by Secretary of State Kris Kovach who said they must provide documentary proof of their U.S. citizenship in order to register. Judge issued temporary order blocking state from enforcing that requirement.
- Sept. 9, 2016 – Federal appeals court orders Kansas, Georgia and Alabama to remove requirement that state residents must show documentary proof of U.S. citizenship in order to register to vote. A lawsuit challenging brought by League of Women Voters, NAACP in Georgia and other civil rights groups contended that this requirement imposes an unfair burden on some residents, usually elderly, poor or minority, who lack a U.S. passport and have trouble getting official birth certificate because of poorly kept local court records. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kovach, an outspoken advocate of the citizenship requirement, is known as nation’s most vigorous enforcer of that requirement.
- March 20, 2020- Kansas Democratic Party announces that its presidential primary scheduled for May 2 will be entirely conducted by mail.
- Kentucky permits residents to register by mail or in person. They are required to provide their Social Security number. All voters must produce identification or be known by a precinct officer prior to voting. Acceptable types of ID include personal acquaintance of precinct officer, driver’s license, Social Security card, credit card, or another form of ID containing both picture and signature.
- December 2015 – Kentucky’s new Republican governor, Matt Bevin, rescinds an executive order that had restored voting rights to as many as 140,000 non-violent felons. “While I have been a vocal supporter of the restoration of rights,” Bevin said, “it is an issue that must be addressed through the legislature and by the will of the people.”
- Dec 12, 2019- Kentucky’s new Democratic Governor, Andy Beshear, signs executive order restoring voting rights for roughly 140,000 former felons who have served their time for non-violent crimes. Kentucky joins Virginia, Florida, Nevada and 20 other states that since 1997 have approved measures to ease voting bans on former felons. The Kentucky order does not require former felons to complete payment of fines or other legal costs before winning the right to vote, an issue that has snarled implementation of a voter-approved measure adopted by Florida voters in 2018 to restore voting rights of 1.4 million former felons.
- March 20, 2020 – Republican majorities in Kentucky legislature pass law requiring government-issued photo ID to vote, prompting outcry from voting rights groups. “Many people in Kentucky aren’t even able to visit a state office to obtain ID, given office closures” caused by the corona virus, said Kristen Clarke, president of the National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights under Law. The measure was introduced before the pandemic. Its chief sponsor, State Senator Robby Mills, said it was intended to “build confidence in the election process.” He contended that any voter can “get a free photo ID at any circuit court clerk’s office.” However, circuit court offices remain closed to the public under the governor’s social isolation orders. The new law takes effect with the November 2020 general election.
- April 3, 2020 – As expected, Democratic Gov. Andy Bashear vetoes new voter photo ID law passed by the Republican-controlled state legislature.
- April 15, 2020- Republican legislative super-majorities override the governor’s veto and reinstate law requiring Kentucky residents to show government-issued photo ID to register to vote. “Today was a great day…Conservative agendas are still winning,” tweeted Repbulican statge Senator Damon Thayer, a lead sponsor. The vote to override was 27-6 in the Senate and 60-39 in the House. “This new law is fundamentally incompatible with the ongoing pandemic,” objected Corey Shapiro, legal director of the Kentucky chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. “This law will make voting more difficult and potentially dangerous for any Kentuckian who does not feel safe leaving their home during this pandemic.” To date,, Kentucky has recorded 2,200 infections and more than 100 deaths from Covid-19.
- March 1, 2019 – An estimated 36,000 former felons became eligible today to register to vote under a law passed by the Republican-led legislature last year and signed by Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards on May 31, 2018. The legislation applies to former inmates and parolees whose prison term or parole ended at least five years ago. Passage came after a steady push led by VOTE, Voice of the Experienced, a grassroots organization founded by formerly incarcerated Louisianans. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, a Republican who did not support the change, said he does not plan a large outreach effort to former felons to encourage them to register, but expects independent advocacy groups to take the lead. Some advocates of the change voiced concern. “I just want to make sure we make the process as easy and as simple as possible,” said Rep. Gary Carter, D-New Orleans . “One of the concerns I’ve had is the delays in the process.”
- Voters are asked to produce a photo ID at the polls, but in the absence of one, they can vote if they sign a voter identification affidavit. Acceptable forms of ID include a driver’s license, state ID, or other generally recognized picture identification card that contains the name and signature of the voter.
- Residents must give a reason in order to vote by mail. The early voting period is from 14 days to seven days before each election.
- Voters are not required to show ID to vote in Maine unless they are registering and voting on Election Day, when they are required to show ID and proof of residence.
- The state permits no-excuse absentee voting. Felons never lose their right to vote, even while incarcerated.
To register to vote, residents must provide either the number of a driver’s license or state ID card, or the last four digits of their Social Security number. Identification at polling places for first-time voters needing to verify their identity may also provide student, employee, or military ID, U.S. passport, or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document with name and current address of the voter. Residents may register by mail, online or in person, and may preregister if they are at least 16 years old. The state allows same-day registration during early voting, which was expanded from six to eight days in 2013; otherwise, the deadline to register to vote is 21 days before an election.
- Anyone may vote by absentee ballot.
- February 2016 – The Democratic-controlled legislature overrides a veto by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan on a bill to restore voting rights to convicted felons. The measure gives an estimated 44,000 former felons who are on probation the right to register and vote.
- March 28, 2018 – Maryland becomes 11th state to pass legislation that provides for automatically registering state residents to vote when they deal with certain state agencies. People could opt out of the system, but those who do register could decide whether to join a political party or register as an unaffiliated voter. The agencies that would have automatic voter registration include the Motor Vehicle Administration, the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, local social service agencies and the Maryland Transit Administration’s mobility office. The House of Delegates voted 93-46 today to approve the Secure and Accessible Registration Act, which had already cleared the state Senate on a 31-13 vote earlier this month. The measure became law without Gov.Larry Hogan’s signature.
- Massachusetts has a flexible list of documents to prove identification for voter registration. It does not require photo ID but accepts a range of documents, including a driver’s license, state-issued ID card, utility bill, rent receipt, lease, a copy of a voter registration affidavit, or any other printed identification which contains the voter’s name and address.
- For first-time voters or inactive voters casting a provisional or challenged ballot, or if a poll worker has reasonable suspicion about a person’s identity, the person must provide acceptable ID, which must include the person’s name and address.
- March 23, 2020 – Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, postponed the state primary and extended absentee voting eligibility to “any person taking precaution related to COVID-19” in the state’s primary.
- Nov 3, 2020 – By a margin of 55% to 45%, Massachusetts voters rejected a proposal to use rank choice voting in elections for statewide offices and the state legislature. the eleciton reform, measure had been advocated and put on the ballot by a coalition of nonpartisan civic action groups.
- Persons can register to vote by mail or in person. First-time registrants using the mail must provide a driver’s license or state ID number, or a photocopy of a paycheck, utility bill, bank documents or government document. Any document must show the applicant’s name and address.
- In 1996, the Michigan legislature approved a voter ID law that was not implemented for more than a decade because the attorney general, Frank Kelly, said it violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment guaranteeing citizens the right to vote. The law went into effect after the state Supreme Court upheld the law in 2007.
- For voting, a photo ID is required, either a state driver’s license, state ID card, driver’s license or ID card issued by another state, federal or state government-issued photo ID, U.S. passport, military ID, student ID and tribal ID. But if voters do not have a photo ID, the law also permits voters to sign an affidavit giving their name and address.
- 2012 – Gov. Rick Snyder becomes the first Republican governor to veto a bill passed by a GOP majority legislature that would have expanded the state’s photo ID law to require photo ID for absentee voting. The governor also vetoed proposals that would have required voters to affirm their U.S. citizenship before receiving ballots and would have required voter registration groups to undergo training by the secretary of state or local clerks. Snyder said the vetoed ID bills “could create voter confusion among absentee voters” and that verification of a person’s citizenship should be done only once – at the time of registration.
- July 21, 2016 – Federal District Judge Gershwin Drain issues a temporary injunction suspending law passed by Republican-led legislature and signed in January by Gov. Rick Snyder that bars straight-ticket voting – using one mark to vote for all candidates from one party. In his opinion, Drain cited a study by Kurt Metzger of the U.S. Census Bureau that found that African-American voters are more likely to use straight party-line voting than white voters. “An injunction would protect the public against burdens on the right to vote,” the judge wrote. the court rulings means that straight-ticket voting will be allowed this November but voting rights groups must still go to trial to seek a permanent injunction.
July 9, 2018- Frustrated with inaction by the state legislature, a coalition of civil rights groups move forward on their drive for a popular vote this fall on a reform that would dramatically expand access to voting in Michigan. Organizers of the campaign, which include the League of Women Voters, NAACP and the Michigan chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, submit petitions with 430.000 signatures to state officials to put their reform on November ballot. To qualify, state law requires at least 315,654 signatures. The proposed constitutional reform would make voter registration easier by requiring automatic voter registration when people get a driver’s license or a personal ID card and by letting people register to vote on Election Day. Under current law, people must register at least 30 days before an election. A separate ballot measure would also reform Michigan’s system for drawing election district boundaries, by taking that task away from elected politicians in the state legislature and turning it over to an independent bipartisan commission.
- Nov. 6, 2018 – By solid two-thirds majority, Michigan voters approve a state constitutional amendment for reforms designed to make voter registration and voting easier in the Wolverine State. A total of 2,772,301 Michigan voters backed a legal package that includes voter registration on Election Day (same-day registration), automatic voter registration when state residents get or renew drivers’ licenses or interact with certain state agencies, absentee voting with no excuse required and straight-ticket voting.
- Dec. 21, 2018- Outgoing lame-duck Republican majorities in the Michigan legislature pass bills to gut same-day voter registration approved by voters and to make future citizen reforms harder. One bill cuts off voter registration 14 days before Election Day unless voters physically go to their county or township clerk’s office to register, instead of allowing registration at polling sites, as provided by the ballot measure to make registration convenient. A second Republican bill would make it harder to put reform measures on the ballot by requiring that petition signatures be collected from 7 of the state’s 14 congressional districts and that no more than 15% come from a single congressional district. This would force petition organizers to gather more signatures from rural districts where voters more conservative and geographically dispersed, a harder task than gathering signatures primarily in the densely populated Detroit metro area.
- March 23, 2020 – Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, announces state election officials will mail absentee ballot applications to all 7.7 million registered voters for the May 5 primary election and also for the November general election.
- May 20, 2020 – President Trump, offering no evidence, accuses Michigan and Nevada of “illegally” sending absentee ballots to all voters and threatens to “hold up” Federal funding for election support. Offering no proof or evidence, Trump tweeted: “This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State. I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!” Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson denies Trumps false tweet, saying that her office plans to distribute applications for absentee ballots to all voters, not the actual ballots. Trump later corrects his error and backs off his threat to withhold federal money.
- Minnesota does not require voters to show documentary ID, but it does require voters to sign an affidavit of eligibility. If requested at the polling place, voters must provide their name, address and date of birth.
- The state permits early voting and non-excuse absentee voting.
- The legislature is under pressure from some groups to restore the voting rights of convicted felons after their prison terms have been completed but at present an estimated 47,000 felons who have served their sentences but who remain on parole or probation are ineligible to vote.
- 2011 – A voter referendum approves a state law requiring a photo ID, but the law did not take effect until 2014, following the U.S. Supreme Court decision nullifying Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Acceptable forms of photo ID include a driver’s license, U.S. passport, government employee ID, firearms license, student ID issued by an accredited Mississippi institution of higher learning, military ID, tribal ID, government ID or state ID.
- Even after serving their prison sentences, felons are prohibited from voting if they were convicted of certain crimes, including murder, rape, bribery, extortion, robbery, larceny, armed robbery, theft, arson, obtaining money or goods under false pretense, perjury, forgery, embezzlement, bigamy, extortion, felony bad check, felony shoplifting, receiving stolen property, timber larceny, unlawful taking of a motor vehicle.
- May 4, 2006 – Missouri legislature passes SB 1014, which imposes a “strict photo ID requirement,” according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. This law limited valid ID to forms issued by federal or state governments, such as driver’s license, passport or military ID.
- October 2006 – The Missouri Supreme Court rules that the state’s newly passed Voter ID law was an unconstitutional infringement on the right to vote.
- Today, Missouri requires some form of ID for voter registration but the list of acceptable documents is long and does not require photo ID. Acceptable forms are state or federal ID, such as a passport, local election authority ID; student ID issued by a state institution, public or private; copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check or other government document that contains the name and address of the voter; as well as a state driver’s license or state ID card issued by another state.
- May 2016 – The state House approves a referendum on whether the state constitution should be amended to require that photo ID be shown to vote. The step is necessary in order for companion legislation, which spells out how the requirement would be implemented, to become law. Secretary of State Jason Kander, a Democrat, estimates 220,000 of the state’s registered voters lack a photo ID.
- Montana requires identification for voters, but forms of ID are flexible. They include a driver’s license, state ID number, Social Security number and other unspecified identification.
- November 2014 – Voters reject a law passed by Republican majorities in the state legislature that would have repealed Election Day registration. Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock had vetoed a previous effort to repeal Election Day registration.
- The state permits no-excuse absentee voting.
- Multiple forms of ID are available for Nebraska residents registering for the first time. Those include valid photo ID, utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document dated 60 days prior to date of registration. There is no waiting period to register.
- First-time voters are asked for ID if they registered by mail and did not provide ID at the time.
- 2013 – Nebraska’s unicameral legislature reduces the early voting period from a minimum of 35 days to no more than 30 days, effective in 2014. The measure was signed by Republican Gov. Dave Heineman.
- 2014 – The legislature approves same-day registration for voters at polling sites during the early voting period until the second Friday before Election Day. The state permits registration by mail and requires a voter to re-register upon change of name, address or political party affiliation.
- The state allows no-excuse absentee voting.
- Residents may register in person at the county clerk’s office or a Department of Motor Vehicles office, by mail or online. When registering by mail or online, persons are asked to provide either their driver’s license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number.
- A 14-day early voting period ending the Friday before Election Day was scheduled for 2016. Most voters are not asked for ID at a polling place, but those voting for the first time who did not register in person are asked for an acceptable form of ID, which includes a driver’s license, state ID card, government ID, utility bill, bank statement or paycheck.
- The state permits no-excuse absentee voting.
- Nov. 4, 2016 – Federal district judge declines Democratic Party request for court order against aggressive poll watching by Trump campaign or Nevada Republican Party, though judge says that on Nov 7, he will consider issuing such an order against pro-Trump group called “Stop the Steal” led by outspoken Trump ally Roger Stone who has threatened aggressive questioning and potential harassment of voters.
- Feb. 22, 2017 – Democratic majority iN Nevada legislature, joined by independent, pass bill for automatic voter registration when state residents obtain or renew driver’s licenses. Legislature;s action came after national group iVote gathered 125,000 signatures appealing for automatic voter registration. Nevada bill is modeled after pioneering legislation used in Oregon.
- March 21, 2017- Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval vetoes democratic-backed “motor-voter” registration bill, automatically putting measure on November 2018 ballot for a popular vote, up or down. Advocates say this protects voter rights and makes registration more efficient. Sandoval said automatic voter registration increases “the possibility of improper registration” by green-card holders and other foreign residents who are not eligible to vote.
- Under a law passed in 2012 by a Republican-controlled legislature that overrode a veto from Democratic Gov. John Lynch (D), a photo ID is required to vote. The state previously required no form of ID to vote. Acceptable forms include driver’s license, military ID, state ID, U.S. passport and student ID. The law requires voters without acceptable ID to sign an affidavit and let poll workers photograph them.
- In April 2018, New Jersey becomes the 12th state to pass automatic voter registration whenever state residents interact with major state agencies, such as obtaining a driver’s license, welfare assistance or get a state ID..
“In New Jersey, we recognize our democracy is stronger when more people are given the opportunity to participate and when the residents of our state are empowered to be part of the democratic process,” Gov. Phil Murphy (d) said in signing the bill into law. After legislative majorities enacted the broad motor voter legislation th governor said that New Jersey’s invincible is that “registering to vote should be simple and seamless and there “should be no barriers to register to vote. ”
Some Republicans, opposing the bill, said it would lead to voter fraud. Others accused Democrats of trying to “exploit” registration trends that tend to lean Democratic.
- New Jersey allows multiple forms of identification for registration to vote, including photo ID, such as a driver’s license, U.S. passport, student or job ID and military ID, as well as non-photo ID, such as a bank statement, car registration, rent receipt and utility bill.
- The state does not require ID to vote unless the voter did not provide identification information when registering, or the voter is a first-time registrant by mail and the identification provided could not be verified.
- The state permits no-excuse absentee voting.
- March 19, 2020- Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, issues executive order asserts ng that state4’s May 12 primary will be conducted entirely by mail.
- March 27, 2019- Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signs two bills to make voter registration easier in New Mexico, passed by Democratic majorities in the state legislature this month. One new law authorizes Election Day voter registration and the other law insures automatic voter registration when people obtain or renew their state driver’s licenses. Republican lawmakers fought these bills, which were passed by Democratic majorities in the state legislature.
- In order to register to vote, residents must provide identification and their Social Security number, driver’s license or state ID number and date of birth must match information on file with the state Motor Vehicle Division. Acceptable are a valid photo ID, bank statement, utility bill, government check, paycheck or other government document with name and address.
- Those who provide ID information at their polling place on Election Day are given provisional ballots that are counted when the ID information is verified.
- Jan. 14, 2019 – On the first day in a decade that Democrats take full control of both houses of the state legislature, New York passes a package of election reform bills that provide for nine days of early voting, Election Day registration, voting by mail, pre-registration of teenagers and sharp limits on some channels of campaign dark money. For voting rights advocates, who complained for years about New York’s dismal voter turnout, these were long overdue reforms. “We are finally beginning to see New York’s elections begin – just begin – to catch up with the rest for the country,” commented Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause for New York.
- Jan. 24, 2019- Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs bill to offer nine early voting days and Election Day registration to help boost the state’s typically low turnout and that closes a loophole used by special interest to channel dark money into New York election campaigns. The governor predicted the early voting provision would be “transformative” for a state that ranked 41st in voter turnout in 2016, by making voting easier for people who face long commutes, tough work schedules, and other obstacles on Election Day.
- While most of the reforms adopted by New York have been pioneered by other states, one new wrinkle was a legal provision to have state agencies automatically transfer voter registration from one place to another when New Yorkers move to new residences. Many other states require entirely new registration at the new residence. Some states like Ohio have been quick to purge voters who leave an old residence and do not respond to mailed queries from election offices.
- In New York, voter registration is offered by several state agencies including the Department of Motor Vehicles, Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, Office for the Aging, Department of Labor and Department of Social Services, the State Universities of New York (SUNY) and the City Universities of New York (CUNY). Registration forms require either a driver’s license number or the last four digits of a Social Security number. First-time voters must provide ID at their polling place if their identity is not verified before Election Day.
- A person with a felony conviction is entitled to vote after being discharged from parole.
- April 8,2020 – After seeing what he called the “non-sensical” mayhem in Wisconsin election, Governor Andrew Cuomo announces that all New Yorkers will be able to cast absentee ballots in the state’s June 23 primary elections due to the coronavirus crisis. Governor’s office said that in-person polling sites would also operate and that Cuomo’s order meant that the excuses for absentee voting were being expanded to include the risk of contracting COVID-19 as a reason for obtaining a mail-in ballot.
- August 2013 – The Republican-led North Carolina legislature adopts a restrictive voting law that requires photo ID to register, reduces early voting from 17 to 10 days, eliminates same-day voting registration, ends pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, and bans many provisional ballots. Acceptable forms of ID include a state driver’s license, an unexpired out-of-state driver’s license (for registration within 90 days of an election), a state-issued ID card, valid U.S. passport, military or veterans IDs and tribal ID. Voters over 70 may present expired ID as long as it was valid on their 70th birthday. The law explicitly bars public employee IDs and student IDs.
- Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, anticipating a legal fight as he signed the measure into law, declared: “While some will try to make this seem to be controversial, the simple reality is that requiring voters to provide a photo ID when they vote is a common-sense idea. This new law brings our state in line with a healthy majority of other states throughout the country. This common-sense safeguard is commonplace.”
- September 2013 – The Justice Department files a lawsuit to block parts of the Voter ID law, asking for a federal court ruling that North Carolina needed federal pre-approval for certain changes under a provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act still in effect. The suit challenged the new law’s photo ID requirement, the shortening of the early voting period from 17 to 10 days, the elimination of same-day voter registration during early voting, and restrictions on counting some provisional ballots.
- Democracy North Carolina, a nonpartisan organization that advocates increasing voter participation, estimates that 2013 voting restrictions reduced turnout in 2014 by at least 30,000 voters.
- June 18, 2015 – A three-week trial of the Justice Department’s challenge to North Carolina’s Photo ID law prompts legislature to modify the law to allow NC residents to vote by signing an affidavit explaining why they lack Photo ID and presenting alternative ID. The state estimated that 300,000 registered voters lacked acceptable forms of ID. Under the new modifications, voters can swear that they were unable to obtain required photo ID due to lack of transportation, work schedules and family responsibilities. Also, no photo ID is required for absentee voting, and ballots are available on line. After the new modifications, the Justice Department decided to defer its challenges. But other critics were not satisfied. The Southern Coalition for Social Justice said that while the modificiations were “a step in the right direction, obstacles to voting remain” that would still “disenfranchise qualified North Carolina voters.
- January 2016 – Federal court trial begins on a lawsuit filed by civil rights groups against North Carolina’s 2013 restrictions on voting. The lead plaintiff is Rosanell Eaton, 94-year-old granddaughter of a slave. In order to fulfill the photo ID requirement, Eaton said she had to drive more than 200 miles and make more than 10 trips to correct her identification because the name on her driver’s license, Rosanell Eaton, is not an exact match of the name on her voter registration card, Rosanell Johnson Eaton.
- April 25, 2016 – Federal District Judge Thomas Schroeder of Winston Salem, N C, rules in favor of election law changes enacted by North Carolina’s GOP-led legislature, imposing strict Voter ID requirements, canceling Election Day voter registration, reducing early voting by 7 days, barring voters from casting ballots outside their home precincts, and ending pre-registration for high school students. “North Carolina has provided legitimate state interests for its voter ID requirements and electoral system,” wrote Judge Schroeder, an appointee of President George W. Bush. Despite what he called the state’s “shameful” historic racial discrimination, Judge Schroeder found that “certainly for the last quarter century, there is little official discrimination to consider.” The Justice Department and other plaintiffs appealed to the Fourth Circuit Court in Richmond.
- July 29, 2016 – A three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals strikes down North Carolina’s voter photo ID law as constitutional on grounds that it was enacted with discriminatory intent against blacks. “We cannot ignore the record evidence that, because of race, the legislature enacted one of the largest restrictions of the franchise in modern North Carolina history,” the court declared. “Faced with this record, we can only conclude that the North Carolina General Assembly enacted the challenged provisions of the law with discriminatory intent.” The appeals court decision permanently bars the application of the 2013 North Carolina law that required certain photo IDs to vote, limited early voting, eliminated same-day registration, blocked out-of-precinct voting and halted pre-registration of high-school students approaching age 18, which it found were all disproportionately used by blacks. Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and the GOP-dominated legislature asserted that the photo ID law was needed to protect against voter fraud. But the Justice Department, League of Women Voters, and the North Carolina NAACP, challenging the photo ID law, argued that its true aim was to disenfranchise mostly black and Hispanic voters. The court agreed. The judges found that the photo ID law’s restrictions “targeted African Americans with almost surgical precision” for partisan Republican advantage by “targeting voters who, based on race, were unlikely to vote for the majority (Republican) party,” thus violating U.S. constitutional mandates for equal rights and protections for all citizens. By annulling the 2013 law, the court restored North Carolina’s voting rules prior to the 2013 law.
- Aug. 30, 2016 – Amidst hotly competitive presidential, senatorial and gubernatorial races in North Carolina, Democrats accuse Republican-controlled county election boards of once again curbing the black vote in defiance of federal court rulings that struck down changes in election laws enacted by Republican-led legislature in 2013. “It is equal to voter suppression in its worst way,” says Courtney Patterson, sole Democrat i\on Lenoir County’s elections board. In wake of federal court ruling striking down Republican restrictions on voting, Dallas Woodhouse, Executive Director of North Carolina Republican Party, sent out email to Republicans on county election boards telling them that they “can and should make party-line changes” to rules to GOP’s advantage. “Does anybody think that Democrats did not select early voting sites and set hours to advantage their voters over Republicans?” Woodhouse asserted. “We are just attempting to rebalance the scales.”
- Sept. 1, 2016 – U.S. Supreme Court rejects North Carolina’s appeal to reinstate the state’s strict photo ID law and overturn an appeals court ruling that struck down that law as discriminating unconstitutionally against black voters and minorities. By deadlocking 4-4, the high court justices leave standing the appeals court decision that had ordered North Carolina to restore more early voting days, same-day voter registration, out-of-precinct voting, and most importantly, to allow the use of multiple forms of non-photo ID for voting. North Carolina’s attorneys had contended that the appeals court ruling would “threaten voter ID laws throughout the nation.” The Court’s four more liberal justices disagree and take issue with the partisan intent of North Carolina’s Republican legislature and governor in enacting the voter ID law. “This is a case about the use of race to achieve partisan ends,” assert Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. The court’s four conservative justices disagree. Justice Clarence Thomas favored restoring all of the law’s provisions, while Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy and Samuel Alito would have reinstated the voter ID and early voting provisions. Dale Ho, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Voting Rights project, said the Supreme Court ruling “means that thousands of voters who would have been disenfranchised will now be able to participate in the presidential election.”
- Nov. 4, 2016- Just four days before election, federal judge bars three North Carolina counties from revoking the voting rights of 4,500 disproportionately African-American voters whose eligibility faced 11th hour challenge from Republican political operatives. In case that NAACP has cast as an attempt at voter suppression, Federal District Judge C. Loretta Biggs issues preliminary injunction blocking county election officials from purging targeted voters pending a later trial. She rules that election officials in the three counties had ignored a 23-year-old federal law that lays out specific rules about when and how voters’ registrations can be canceled.
- Dec. 16, 2016 – Republican majority in state legislature passes bill that strips power of incoming Democratic Governor Roy Cooper to appoint majority of North Carolina Election Board, which appoints county election boards, some of which were accused in 2016 elections of defying federal court orders on voter eligibility and registration. Bill replacing current five-member state elections board with an evenly balanced bipartisan board is signed into law by outgoing Republican Gov Pat McGrory, who lost to Cooper in tight gubernatorial race on Nov. 8.
- Dec. 30, 2016 – A Wake County Superior Court judge issues restraining order temporarily blocking sweeping overhaul of state elections board enacted by Republican-led legislature, pending a hearing on Democratic charges of a GOP “power grab.” Case must be heard by three-judge panel.
- May 15, 2017- U.S. Supreme Court delivers setback to strict voter-ID movement by refusing to hear an appeal by Republicans that challenged an appeals court ruling striking down North Carolina’s strict voter Photo-ID law. In July 2016, a three-judge appeals panel ruled that state law enacted in 2013 violated the U.S. Constitution because its provisions “target African Americans with almost surgical precision.” The appeals panel overturned and barred the law’s reduction of early voting days, it cancellation of Election Day voter registration, its denial of pre-registration of teenagers, and its requiring forms of photo identification more difficult for minority voters than white voters to obtain. In a brief statement, Chief Justice John Roberts said that the high court was not deciding the merits of the case but that “a blizzard of filings” had left confusion over the source of the appeal, whether it was the legislature or an outgoing Republican governor whose Democratic successor annulled his appeal.
- June 7, 2018 – Despite rejection by federal court, Republican lawmakers led by House Speaker Tim Moore file a bill calling for a popular vote this fall on a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would require a photo ID to vote in North Carolina. The bill must first pass both legislative houses by 60% majorities, which is within the Republican super-majorities – provided GOP lawmakers remain united.
- June 15, 2018 – North Carolina Senate Republicans unveil a bill to eliminate early voting on the final Saturday before the Tuesday election. That Saturday typically draws heavy voting from black voters. Critics like former legislative counsel Gerry Cohen say Republican leaders fear losing their supermajorities in the 2018 elections, “So they’re trying to pass as much (deterrence to voting) as they can before December 31.
- Nov 6, 2018 – State Republican leaders win a new chance to reimpose highly controversial photo ID requirements for voter registration as North Carolina voters pass an amendment to the state constitution requiring photo ID for voter registration. The winning majority was 55%, or 2,029,709 votes in favor, versus 1,623,583 opposed. The amendment left it to the state legislature to draft the provisions of a voter ID bill. Although Democrats made gains in legislative elections, Republican leaders were expected to rush through a new voter ID bill this fall before before the GOP surrenders its super- majorities on both houses.
- Nov 29, 2018 -North Carolina Senate votes 30-10 in favor of new voter registration bill requiring photo ID but expanding the list of acceptable forms of ID slightly beyond 2013 version, which was struck down by federal appeals court as racially discriminatory. Main addition in Senate Bill 824 is inclusion of college and university IDs, from both public state universities and from community colleges and private universities, as well as municipal government ID’s that meet state requirements. Two Senate Democrats joined 28 Republicans voting for the bill, but most Democrats accused Republicans of rushing legislation through while GOP could still override an expected veto by Democratic Governor.
- Dec 14, 2018 –Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoes new voter photo ID bill passed by expiring Republican super-majorities in the lame-duck legislature. In his veto message, Cooper said the problem was not with voter impersonation, as Republicans charged, but with “votes harvested illegally through absentee ballots, which this proposal fails to fix.” The North Carolina Board of Elections is investigating charges that in the 9th Congressional District race this November, a paid campaign operative working for Republican candidate Mark Harris improperly handled absentee ballots. Election results gave Harris a narrow edge of 828 votes over Democrat Dan McReady. The board has received allegations that Leslie McCrae Dowless, hired as a consultant for Harris’s campaign, illegally collected voters’ absentee ballots and at one point was reported to have had more than 800 absentee ballots in his possession. State law bars anyone from collecting or handling absentee ballots of other voters.
- Dec 19, 2018- Using their dying super-majorities in the legislature, North Carolina Republicans overrode Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto to enact a new state voter photo ID law. A previous photo ID law enacted by the GOP-dominated legislature in 2013 was struck down by federal courts as unconstitutional on grounds that it discriminated against racial minorities. As before, the NAACP and Southern Coalition for Social Justice immediately filed a lawsuit challenging the new photo ID law. In hopes of winning court approval, Republicans had slightly modified the kinds of eligible photo ID documents and then steamrolled their pet voter law through the Senate by a 33-12 vote followed by a 72-40 vote in the House.
- Feb 21, 2019 – North Carolina’s hotly disputed voter Photo ID law is thrown out by state judge on grounds that state legislature that put it on 2018 ballot has no legal authority because it was elected using district maps that federal courts had ruled were unconstitutionally gerrymandered. Wake County Superior Court Judge G. Bryan Collins wrote that “An illegally constituted General Assembly does not represent the people of North Carolina and is therefore not empowered to pass legislation that would amend the state’s constitution.” State legislative leaders said they would immediately appeal the case, that was brought by the North Carolina NAACP and Clean Air Carolina.
- Feb. 21, 2019- After hearing testimony about wide use of fraudulent absentee ballots, North Carolina’s bipartisan Elections Board votes unanimously to throw out last November’s disputed election in the state’s 9th congressional district and orders a new election. “It appears to me the irregularities and improprieties occurred to such an extent that they tainted the results of the entire election and cast doubt on its fairness,” said board chairman Bob Gordie.Republican candidate Mark Harris, who had claimed a 905-vote lead, reluctantly endorsed a new election after one of his campaign workers was accused of orchestrating a “coordinated, unlawful” campaign of collecting and submitting other voters’ absentee ballots.. Yesterday, Harris’s son, John Harris, testified that he had warned his father in 2017 against hiring Leslie McCrae Dowless, a longtime political operative described by multiple witnesses as illegally gathering absentee ballots from other voters and filling them out. Today, Mark Harris admitted that he had misspoken under oath when he had denied being aware that Dowless had a record of dubious campaign practices.
- Feb. 27, 2019 – In one of first criminal prosecutions for voter fraud in recent memory, North Carolina authorities arrest and charge L. McCrae Dowless, with illegally harvesting and filing absentee ballots in the 2016 general election and the 2018 Republican primary election in the state’s ninth congressional district. Four other people were also indicted and face charges of conspiracy to obstruct justice and illegally possessing absentee ballots. Further charges are expected in connection with the Ninth district’s 2018 general election, which was thrown out by the state board of elections because of ballot fraud. Prosecutor Lorrin Freeman said that the widening investigation keeps turning up more legal activity that, “as has been widely reported…has gone on for years.”
- North Dakota:
- North Dakota is the only state without voter registration, but since 2004 it has required voters to provide some identification when they cast ballots. In both 2013 and 2015, the Republican-controlled legislature passed voter ID laws. The 2015 law requires Photo ID, allowing only four types of ID: a current North Dakota driver’s license, state photo ID, tribal ID, or a long-term care certificate, which must give not only the person’s name and age but residential address, often lacking on tribal ID documents. One study found that 72,000 voting age North Dakotans would not qualify under these restrictions, which were signed into law by Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple. Lawmakers said they had enacted the new law to combat voter fraud but Secretary of State Alvin Jaeger reported that in 14 years in office he had never seen evidence of a single case of voter fraud.
- March 4, 2015 -New survey shows that three percent of North Dakota college students were unable to vote in November 2014 because of confusion over residency requirements. State law hinders student voting because it denies their use of identification certificates issued by their university.
- In January 2016, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewas sued the state, alleging that voter ID laws approved in 2013 and 2015 “disproportionately burden and disenfranchise Native Americans.” The suit charges that the North Dakota law violates the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution, asserting that some tribal members were denied the right to vote in 2014 because their tribal ID did not list a current residential street address, as is normal with many tribal IDs. The suit says that some tribal members cannot afford a new tribal ID or the documentation needed to obtain a state driver’s license or a state ID card.
- Aug. 1, 2016 – Federal District Judge Daniel Hovland issues a restraining order blocking North Dakota from enforcing its strict voter photo ID law after a group of American Indians said it unfairly burdens them. “The record is replete with concrete evidence of significant burdens imposed on Native American voters attempting to exercise their right to vote,” Judge Hovland wrote.”There are a multitude of easy remedies that most states have adopted in some form to alleviate this burden.” Secretary of State Alvin Jaeger said the state would not appeal the decision and that November’s election would revert to using less restrictive voter ID rules in force before the 2013 law was enacted. Voters were then allowed to present a broad range of documents as proof of identity or simply sign an oath affirming their identity.
- April 24, 2017 – Republican Gov. Doug Burgum signs new voter ID law that legislative leaders say will cure deficiencies of 2015 law, by allowing provisional balloting by residents who lack specified voter ID on Election Day. But critics say that law is still legally defective because voters must produce required documents within six days of elections and Indian ID documents do not show voter’s street address, as the new ID law still requires.
- April 4, 2018 – Federal District Judge Daniel Hovland, finding legal fault with North Dakota’s restrictive 2016 voter ID law, adds other tribal documents to the state’s list of valid forms of voter ID and removes state requirement that ID documents include residential street addresses. “No eligible voter, regardless of their station in life, should be denied the opportunity to vote,” Hovland asserts in 17-page ruling.Several members of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa challenged the state’s voter ID laws, saying they constituted a form of voter suppression.
May 1, 2018- In a ruling that could affect the outcome of a potentially close U.S. Senate race this November, Federal Judge Daniel Hovland rejects what he calls a “litany of embellished concerns” raised by state officials about the dangers of voter fraud under his ruling last month to expand the range of documents that Native Americans can use for proof of identity in North Dakota elections.“The reality is (the state) has failed to demonstrate any evidence of voter fraud in the past or present,” Hovland asserts, affirming his order that broader forms of ID be used in 2018 elections. Tom Dickson, attorney for tribal members, contends the law passed by the GOP-dominated legislature was aimed at reducing voter turnout among American Indians, who tend to vote Democratic. “They want to limit the right of people to vote,” Dickson said. “This isn’t a law with unintended consequences, it’s a law with intended consequences.” The Native American vote is seen as vital to Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat who faces a tough re-election race against Republican Congressman Kevin Cramer that could help determine which party controls the U.S. Senate.
- Sept 24,2018 -Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals issues a stay, blocking district court decision against a key provision of North Dakota’s strict voter ID law and upholding the state’s requirement that mID documents show a voter’s street address.
- Oct. 8, 2018 -U.S. Supreme Court upholds a strictly worded North Dakota voter ID law that could affect the outcome of a pivotal U.S.Senate race and which party controls the Senate.High court rejects emergency appeal from Native American Rights Fund and a district court’s finding that 70,000 state residents lack a qualifying ID and about 18,000 residents also lack other documents that would enable them to vote in 2018. The case centers on the state’s legal requirement that voter ID documents provide a street address, whereas many tribal ID documents list only a post box and no street address. Federal district judge Daniel Hovland threw out the street address requirement as an unfair and unconstitutional burden on Native Americans. Even though Hovland’s ruling applied during primary elections, the Supreme Court struck it down, leaving applicants with less than a month until Election Day to try to obtain new documents.
- Oct. 31, 2018-Tribal leaders and Native American voting rights advocates scramble to issue new tribal ID documents with street addresses to qualify 30,000 or more Native American would-be voters under 11th hour court rulings. Secretary of State Al Jaeger’s office says that tribal members can have a street address assigned “in an hour or less” by calling their county’s 911 coordinator, but practice varies widely by county. At Standing Rock, in Sioux County, the 911 coordinator is Sheriff Frank Landeis, who is repeatedly unavailable. So tribal officials, working with Four Directions, a Native American voting rights group, begin assigning street addresses to tribal members whose tribal ID shows a post office box address, rejected as invalid by state officials and the U.S. Supreme Court. The tribes also plan to issue street addresses on tribal letterhead paper on Election Day. But no one is certain how many of those votes will be counted in the tight election race between incumbent Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp and her Republican challenger, Rep. Kevin Cramer.
- March 26, 2020 – Gov. Doug Burnum, a Republican, issues executive order directing that the state’s June 9 primary will be entirely conducted by mail. Governor orders that absentee ballots be sent to every resident in state’s voter files.
- July 6, 2020 -A citizens reform movement called North Dakota Voters First submits petitions with 36,000 signatures calling for a popular referendum in November on a plan for the state to scrap Republican and Democratic party primaries in favor of a single non-partisan primary, open to all candidates and all voters, followed by an instant runoff, or rank choice voting, in the general election. The petition drive by the nonpartisan grassroots coalition of conservatives, progressives, and moderates gathered far more than the 26,904 signatures required for a citizens’ ballot initiative. If certified by Secretary of State Al Jaeger, the plan goes before state voters in November. If adopted, the plan would establish one open primary for all candidates, Republicans, Democrats, independents and others – with the top four vote-getters for each officer advancing to the general election. In that election, voters are asked to rank their choices. If no candidate immediately wins a majority, the lowest vote-getter is eliminated and that candidate’s supporters are reallocated to their second choice. This process continues until one candidate finally wins a majority. Advocates say this system gives voters more power and helps break the hammerlock of the two major parties.“There is a powerful appetite here in North Dakota for putting power in the hands of the citizens.” said Nicole Donaghy, board member of North Dakota Voters First. “We intend to capture that and build momentum for the measure as we head to the election in November.”
- Aug 11, 2020- North Dakota secretary of state certifies petitions and places on the ballot for general election on Nov 3, 2020 a proposal from North Dakota Voters First for a single non-partisan primary, including all voters and candidates from all parties and independents, with the top four vote-getters moving into the general election. In that second round, voters would rank their choices in order and if no candidate wins a solid majority, the votes for the last place candidate would be reallocated to their second choice among the remaining candidates, a process that is continued until one candidate wins an absolute majority of the votes.
- Ohio permits voter registration on the basis of a driver’s license, Social Security number, military identification, or, if residents lack those forms of ID, they can offer a recent utility bill, bank statement, or paycheck dated within the last 12 months showing name and current address. Ohio’s residency requirement is fairly limited – 30 days prior to Election Day.
- In order to vote, Ohioans must bring some documentation to verify their ID to the polls but the same easily accessible documents required for registration are acceptable for proving ID at the polls.
- August 2012 – A fight over early voting hours erupted after a top adviser to Republican Gov. John Kasich made a remark that Democrats called racist. Doug Preisse, chairman of the Republican Party in Franklin County, which includes the state capital, Columbus, was quoted in The Columbus Dispatch as saying, “I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter turnout machine.” Also, Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted suspended two officials who voted to extend early voting to weekends in Montgomery County, the state’s fifth largest county and home to Dayton.
- 2014 – The Republican-controlled Ohio legislature passes a series of voting restrictions, which are then signed by Gov. Kasich. Lawmakers cut six days of early voting – eliminating “Golden Week,” during which voters could register and cast a ballot all in one trip – and changed absentee and provisional ballot rules. Secretary of State Husted also issued a directive reducing early voting on weekday evenings and weekends. These cuts went into effect in 2014.
- April 2015 – The state and the Ohio chapter of the NAACP and other plaintiffs settled a lawsuit that had alleged that the cutback in voting hours disproportionately hurt low-income black voters. Their agreement added weekend and evening voting hours; however, Golden Week was not restored.
- August 2015 – An updated federal lawsuit filing contends that new voting laws create hurdles for minority voters casting absentee and provisional ballots. The suit, brought by the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, the Columbus Coalition for the Homeless and the Ohio Democratic Party, argues that the laws unconstitutionally permit absentee votes to be thrown out for ID errors.
- May 24, 2016 – Federal District Judge Michael Watson rules that cutbacks in Ohio’s early voting days signed into law by Gov. John Kasich (R) are “unconstitutional and …accordingly unenforceable.” The Ohio Democratic Party had sued the state after Republican lawmakers voted to eliminate the days and times of early voting that were most convenient for those working full time: the weekend before election day, weekday evenings, and “Golden Week,” the time about a month before election day when the registration period and the early voting period overlap. Judge Watson wrote that restricting voting time “results in less opportunity for African Americans to participate in the political process than other voters.”
- June 29, 2016 – Federal District Judge George C. Smith affirmed authority of Ohio’s secretary of state to strip thousands of inactive voters from Ohio voter rolls, rejecting legal challenge by the American Civil Liberties Union, which claimed that the purge disenfranchised minorities and the poor. The judge disagreed, noting that voters were a> being removed from the polls only after they failed to vote and then did not respond to requests for information on change of address.
- Sept 23, 2016 – Three-Judge federal appeals court orders halt to purging of voter rolls in key swing state of Ohio, dealing severe setback to Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted and delivering legal victory to voting rights advocates. A 2-1 majority of 6th Circuit. Court of Appeals overruled a U.S. district court judge’s decision and ordered Ohio to let tens of thousands cast ballots in November election. Obama Administration Justice Department filed friend of court brief calling voter roll purges unlawful. Legal conflict arose over Ohio’s plans to remove several hundred thousands voters from registration lists because they had failed to cast a ballot since 2008 and did not respond to letters seeking to confirm their addresses.
- Nov. 4, 2016 – Federal district issues injunction barring political workers from harassing, aggressively questioning or intimidating voters with 100 feet of polling sites in Ohio. Judge James Gwin rules in response to Democratic Party request for court order against pro-Trump groups, including “Stop the Steal” led by Trump ally Roger Stone name=”Ohiotrump” a>who announced plans to carry out aggressive questioning and poll-monitoring including conducting so-called “exit poll” asking voters how voted.
- Aug 8, 2017 – Trump Justice Department, reversing Obama Administration, throws its weight behind efforts to purge voter rolls by Ohio’s Republican secretary of state. Before 2016 election, federal appeals court found the voter purge illegal and blockeeded the removal of hundreds of thousands of resident from voter rolls because they had voted infrequently and failed to answer a mail-out asking for c9nfirmation of their addresses. Now, in pursuit of Trump’s unproven claims of fraudulent voting in 2016, name=”Ohiopurge”his Justice Department has appealed to U.S. Supreme Court to overturn 2016 appeals court decision and to allow Ohio to proceed with purge of voter rolls.
- June 11, 2018 – U.S. Supreme Court, responding to push from Trump administration, affirmed Ohio’s aggressive purging of voter rolls. In 5-4 decision written buy Justice Samuel Alito, Court said that a state may remove people form voter rolls if they skip two elections and fail to respond to a notice from state election officials asking them to confirm their residential address. Case was brought by Navy veteran larry Harmon who sat out three federal elections from 2010 to 2014 and when he went to vote on ballot initiative, he found his name had been stricken from, the voter rolls. Federal laws prohibit states form removing people form, voter rolls “by reason of the person’s failure to vote” but they allow election official to seek confirmation that the person ha sm=not moved away or died, by asking for confirmation of address. Harmon said he did not remember receiving such a notice. Court’s decision was sharply criticized by voter rights advocates, and praised by Ohio’s Republican secretary of state.
- March 25- Ohio Legislature passes law to conduct the state’s April 28 primary election entirely by mail voting, except for people with disabilities who need to vote in person. New law is implemented by executive order issued by republican governor Mike DeWine on March 27.
- 2010 – Oklahoma voters approve a ballot referendum requiring voter photo ID, issued by the U.S. government, state of Oklahoma or a federally recognized tribal government. Persons also may use a voter ID card received by mail after registering to vote, even though it doesn’t have a photo. A provisional ballot may be cast without photo ID and will be counted if county elections officials are satisfied with the identity of the voter following an investigation.
- Persons registering to vote must submit either their driver’s license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number. Voter registration is closed for 24 days before an election.
- The state permits no-excuse absentee voting.
- Traditional means of registering to vote remain available to Oregon citizens, including online, by mail and in person at county clerk offices, libraries and universities. The deadline to register is 21 days before an election.
- 1998 – Oregon becomes the first state in the nation to adopt mail-in voting.
- 2015 – Oregon becomes the first to pioneer a “new motor voter” law that requires the state automatically to register to vote anyone applying for or renewing a driver’s license or other identification card. The law, which took effect on Jan. 1, 2016, also provides for the transfer of voter registration if a state resident moves and changes his driver’s license address. Persons moving into Oregon have to register to vote, either by obtaining a driver’s license or interact with the stage government by other means to become covered by Oregon’s automatic voter registration system.
- 2015 – State officials estimated that 800,000 Oregon residents were eligible to vote but not registered.
- Nov 2016 – Thanks in large measure to Oregon’s motor voter program, which added 226.094 people to the voter rolls since Jan 1, 2016, the state hits a record for total voter turnout of 2,051,452. This is also the highest percentage of votes cast among the eligible voter-age population in Oregon history -70.4%.
- March 15, 2012 – Republican Gov. Tom Corbett signed tough new voter law requiring photo ID for voter registration. A limited list of acceptable photo ID includes a driver’s license, passport, student ID from an in-state college, or ID from a nursing home or assisted living facility. The law was passed by solid Republican majorities in the state legislature. “This is a law of prevention,” Corbett said. “It is to prevent voter fraud. And I believe it needs to be prevented.”
- Jan. 17, 2014 – Judge Bernard L. McGinley of Commonwealth Court struck down Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law. In a strongly worded opinion, the judge ruled that the law was burdensome for voters, especially the elderly, disabled and low-income residents, and that the state’s reason for the law, that it was needed to combat voter fraud, was not supported by the facts. “Voting laws are designed to assure a free and fair election,” the judge wrote. “The voter ID law does not further this goal.”
- Today, Pennsylvanians may register to vote in person, online or by mail. A driver’s license or state ID card number, or the last four digits of a Social Security number are required for registration. The deadline for registration is 30 days before an election.
- Sept 17, 2020 – With more than 3 million residents expected to vote by mail, Pennsylvania supreme court grants Democratic Party’s’ request for 3-day extension to absentee voting, 0ver Republican objections, as well as barring Green Party presidential candidate from listing on Nov 3 ballot. Court, with a 5-2 Democratic court majority, allowed for counting ballots received up to 5pm on Nov 6, provided they are postmarked on or before Election Day. Court also authorized the use of satellite election offices and vote drop boxes, planned in Philadelphia and its suburbs, with heavy concentrations of Democratic voters, to help relieve the pressure from an avalanche of mailed-in ballots. Republicans had sought to outlaw use of such drop boxes or satellite election offices. Mail vote in 2020 is likely to be ten times more than in 2016, when Trump won Pennsylvania by 44,000 votes. No Democrat since Harry Truman in 1948 has won White House without winning Pennsylvania.
- 2011 – A Democratic-controlled legislature approves a Voter ID law signed by then Republican Gov. Lincoln Chaffee, that requires poll workers on Election Day to ask for identification, but allows for a long list of acceptable documents including state driver’s license, state voter ID card, U.S. passport, ID card issued by an educational institution in the U.S., military ID, state or government ID, and government-issued medical card, as well as more than two dozen documents in order to issue a voter ID card to residents who do not have acceptable photo ID.
- Rhode Island Secretary of State Ralph Mollis, a Democrat, told the New Republic that he introduced the bill not in response to specific charges of impersonation but to “address the perception of voter fraud.”
- 2011 – A Republican-controlled legislature approves a Voter ID law that was signed by Republican Gov. Nikki Haley. Because the state had a history of voter discrimination, it needed federal approval under the Voting Rights Act.
- October 2012 – A federal court puts the law on hold until after the 2012 election, ruling that the law was not discriminatory but that it would cause too much confusion if it were implemented immediately. The law went into effect in 2013.
- During litigation, the state won federal approval after officials described their interpretation of the law’s “reasonable impediment” exception. If a person is unable to obtain one of five forms of accepted photo ID, he or she can sign an affidavit explaining why – possible reasons include lack of a birth certificate, work schedule and lack of transportation – and bring a voter registration card without a photo. The ballot will automatically count unless someone can prove the person is lying.
- Sept 16, 2020– South Carolina’s Republican Gov. Henry McMaster signs bill expanding absentee voting during COVID-19 pandemic, granting right of mail ballot to all South Carolina voters. Earlier this month, state legislature adopted the expanded absentee ballot law, throwing out previous requirement for a specific age, health disability or work conflict excuse to obtain an absentee ballot. Legislature’s adoption of universal “no excuse” absentee voting was triggered by an appeal in July from State Election Commission Director Marci Andino who urged lawmakers to consider changes to insure a safe election and help election officials prepare for mail vote. While the GOP-dominated legislature agreed to no excuse absentee voting, it rejected appeals from Democratic lawmakers to do away with requirement that each absentee voter provide a witness to his or her signature on the mail ballot.
- Sept 19, 2020- Federal district judge strikes down South Carolina legal requirement that absentee voters must have witness for their signature on mail-in ballots, saying it is undue hardship during corona pandemic and warning that infected voters could be forced to expose their witnesses to the virus. Judge Michelle Childs, who had previously struck down witness requirement in South Carolina’s party primaries in June, wrote that the legislature’s stated concerns about voter fraud were not a sufficient reason to potentially jeopardize fundamental right to vote during a pandemic. Her 71-page oinion questioned how effectively the witness requirement guards against voter fraud.
- Oct. 4, 2020 – U.S. Supreme Court, agreeing with South Carolina Republican officials, reinstates requirement that mail-in ballots in Palmetto State must contain a written witnesses, as decreed by legislature. High court rejected a district judge’s opinion setting aside the witness requirement, which an appeals court had let stand. However, high court ruled that absentee ballots without a witness signature could not be disqualified if they have already been submitted or are received by election boards within two days of this ruling.
- 2003 – The state legislature approves a flexible ID requirement.
- When voting, residents must either show photo ID or sign an affidavit attesting to the person’s identity. Acceptable forms of photo ID are a state driver’s license or state ID, a passport or other photo ID issued by the U.S. government, tribal ID and student ID.
- 2012 – A Republican-controlled legislature passes a law that takes away the voting rights of convicted felons who had not been sent to prison but were either placed on probation or given parole. It is signed by a Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard. Voting rights of felons can be restored once they’ve served their prison terms and/or completed the terms of probation or parole.
- The state permits no-excuse absentee voting.
- 2011 – Tennessee’s Republican-controlled legislature enacts restrictive law requiring photo ID to vote.
- 2011 – Lawmakers reduced the early voting period and passed a law requiring documentary proof of citizenship to register to vote. All were signed by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam. Proof of citizenship applies only to individuals flagged by state officials as potential non-citizens based on a database check.
- 2014 – Legislature makes Tennessee’s 2011 photo ID law even more restrictive by limiting acceptable IDs to those issued by the state or federal government. A handgun carry permit can be used as ID but a student ID card cannot. Legislation that would have added student ID was defeated in both 2012 and 2013. Other acceptable photo IDs are a state driver’s license, U.S. passport, state Department of Safety and Homeland security ID, federal or state government ID and military ID. Tennessee not only rejects student ID cards but also photo IDs issued by counties or cities, such as library cards, and photo IDs issued by other states. Exemptions are granted to those who live in a nursing home, the indigent and voters with a religious objection to being photographed.
- 2013 – Within hours of a U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, Texas begins implementing a strict 2011 voter ID law that requires Texans to prove their citizenship and their state residency with forms of ID that are expensive and difficult to obtain for some low-income Americans. The list of approved identification includes a concealed carry gun license but not a college student’s university ID; a U.S. passport and a state-issued ID card but not voter registration cards and utility bills. The law poses difficulties for women who have married or divorced and whose voter IDs and driver’s licenses reflect maiden or married names that do not exactly match. Similar obstacles confront Mexican-Americans who use combinations of mothers’ and fathers’ names.
Fall 2014 – Federal District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Corpus Christi rules that the Texas Voter ID law “creates an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote.” The judge ruled that the Texas legislature had intentionally adopted a discriminatory law, noting the lack of evidence that voter fraud was a threat and citing expert testimony that about 600,000 Texans, mainly poor, black and Hispanic, lacked the newly required IDs and often faced obstacles in obtaining them. Texas took issue with her conclusion that the law in effect imposed a poll tax, because it required potential voters to pay for documents in order to acquire a photo ID. Texas appealed to a higher federal court.
- August 2015 – A three-judge federal appeals panel ruled that the Texas Voter ID law discriminated against blacks and Hispanics and violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The appeals court stayed enforcement of the lower court order against the law but also ordered the lower court to consider ways of changing the law without overturning it entirely, possibly reinstating certain forms of more readily available IDs. “It does show the continuing relevance of the Voting Rights Act even in its weakened form,” said Wendy Weiser, of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, which helped represent plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
- April 29, 2016 – U.S. Supreme Court temporarily leaves standing strict voter identification law in Texas, but leaves open possibility that it would intervene if the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals fails to act promptly. In dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, asserts that leaving the Texas law intact “may prevent more than 600,000 registered Texas voters (about 4.5 percent of all registered voters) from voting for lack of compliant identification,” of whom “a sharply disproportionate percentage” are black or Hispanic. Ginsburg cites difficulties of travel and cost confronting voters required to get state ID.
- May 24, 2016 – The full 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals hears arguments in the Texas photo ID law that in 2015 had been ruled discriminatory by a three-judge panel. The court appeared to be fishing for some other solutions, such as expanding the list of acceptable IDs. Chief Judge Carl E. Stewart observed that Indiana, Wisconsin, Virginia and other states had enacted similar voter-ID laws but provide “infinitely more options” for voter ID proof. The Texas law, he said, was “the strictest of all the laws enacted.”
- July 20, 2016 – The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals overturns the Texas Voter Photo ID law, asserting that it has a racially discriminatory effect against ethnic minorities and the poor. By a 9-6 majority, the 5th Circuit affirms an earlier decision of Federal District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Corpus Christi and instructs Judge Ramos to create a temporary, non-discriminatory ID system for the November 2016 elections. In its ruling, the court’s majority asserts that the discriminatory impact of the Texas Photo ID law (SB14), passed by the Republican-led legislature in 2011 and signed by former Gov. Rick Perry, violates Section 2 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. “The record shows that drafters and proponents of SB 14 were aware of the likely disproportionate effect of the law on minorities, and that they nonetheless passed the bill without adopting a number of proposed ameliorative measures that might have lessened this impact,” Judge Catharina Haynes writes for the court majority.
- Noting that it would be “untenable” to allow the discriminatory law to be used in the 2016 elections, the court majority says “it becomes the ‘unwelcome obligation’ of the federal district court to devise and impose a [remedy] pending later legislative action.” That task falls to federal District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos who had previously found that the law was discriminatory and that expert testimony showed that the law was preventing an estimated 600,000 potential voters from registering this year.
- Aug. 4, 2016 –Lawyers for Texas, civil rights groups and U.S. Justice Department, agree on plan that sets aside strict photo ID requirements for voter registration and allows residents to vote with many other forms of ID – a voter registration certificate, birth certificate, utility bill or bank statement, government check, or any other government document with their name and address. Those voters would also have to sign an affidavit stating that they were unable to easily procure any of the seven IDs required by a state law. On Aug. 11, the settlement was approved by a federal district judge.
- Sept 8, 2016 – In new court motions, Justice Department and voter advocacy groups accuse Texas officials of misleading voters about requirements for voting, undermining federal court order intended to overturn earlier Texas mandate for photo IDs and allow more varied forms of ID. “This is part and parcel of an ongoing state effort to discourage and prevent citizens from voting,” said Chad Dunn, lawyer representing voter groups in Houston and surrounding Harris County, which has heavy black and Hispanic population. “The state lost the litigation, and …what it’s trying to do now is…scaring some people away from voting.”
- Feb. 10, 2017 –Texas judge imposes eight-year prison sentence on Rosa Maria Ortega, 37-year-old mother of four teenagers, who voted illegally in 2012 and 2014 elections as a registered Republican, thinking she qualified as permanent resident brought to U.S. from Mexico by her mother in her infancy, though she never gained U.S. citizenship. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, for whom Ortega voted in 2014, declared that heavy prison sentence “shows how serious Texas is about keeping its elections secure.” Her lawyer calls sentence an egregious overreaction made to score political points against someone who wrongly believed she was eligible to vote. “She has a sixth-grade education. She didn’t know she wasn’t legal,” said her lawyer, Clark Birdsall. “She can own property. She can serve in the military. She can get a job. She can pay taxes. But she can’t vote and she didn’t know that.”
Feb. 27, 2017 – In dramatic reversal of federal policy on protecting voting rights, Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions drops charges by Obama Administration that Texas voter photo ID law was enacted with intentional and illegal prejudice against minority voters. Federal district judge hearing the case had previously found that the law had blocked 600,000 minority would-be voters from registering and 5th Circuit Court of Appeals had overturned the disputed law and ordered Texas to revise its standards for registration. But in a telltale harbinger of a new federal policy, Trump Justice Department asks federal judge to “dismiss the discriminatory purpose claim.” Critics object that the Texas law sanctions photo IDs likely to be used by whites, such as military ID and licenses to carry concealed handguns, but excludes government employee IDs and public university IDs, to which blacks, Hispanics and younger voters have ready access.
- April 10, 2017 – A federal district judge in Houston, rejecting the arguments of Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions. rules that the Texas voter photo ID law was enacted by the Texas legislature with the unconstitutional intent to discriminate against black and Hispanic voters. Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos made a similar ruling in 2014 and when Texas appealed, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case back to Judge Ramos for a second look, saying her first opinion relied too heavily on past practices in Texas. Citing new grounds, Judge Romas once again found that the Texas bill was unfairly restrictive and discriminatory toward minority voters, noting that “many categories of acceptable ph9to IDs permitted by other states were omitted from the Texas bill.” While Texas may once again appeal, Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which represented some minority voters, said the latest decision “should sound the death knell for burdensome voter ID requirements in Texas and across the country.”
- June 1, 2017 – Texas Legislature passes SB-5, a revision of the state’s legally challenged 2011 voter photo ID law, to broaden its provisions and ease its restrictions in line with federal court decisions. The revised law, signed by Gov. Greg Abbott, allows Texans without photo ID to vote if they present alternate forms of ID and sign affidavits swearing a “reasonable impediment” kept them from obtaining the proper ID. To confirm their identification, those voters could present documents such as utility bills, bank statements or paychecks. But lawmakers added a provision that anyone found to have lied about being unable to obtain the proper photo ID could be charged with a state felony, subject to jail.
- Aug. 23, 2017 – Federal judge blocks Texas from applying its revised voter ID law on grounds that even with legislative fixes, it still imposes unfair burdens on blacks and Latinos who want to register to vote. Previously ordered by court to fix the controversial law, GOP controlled legislature softened its tough photo ID law to allow potential voters to sign an affidavit and show more widely available types of ID, such as a utility bill or bank statement. But Federal District judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos ruled this was an inadequate fix because the revised law still bars would-be voters from showing state or federal ID cards, meaning that minority residents were still being “subjected to separate voting obstacles and procedures.”
- April 27, 2018- A three-judge panel of 5th Circuit Court of Appeals overturns lower court ruling and approves implementation by Texas of revised voter ID rules passed by the Texas legislature in June 2017. A federal district judge had ruled last August that the voter ID law did not go far enough in removing unfair burdens of voter registration for minority residents. Writing for a 2-1 majority, Judge Edith Jones asserted that the Texas legislature had “succeeded in its goal” of adjusting the harsher 2011 version of the photo ID law to comply with federal court orders. In a biting dissent, Judge James Graves Jr. contended that the new law was still too much like the old law. “A hog in a silk waistcoat is still a hog,” he wrote, contending that there was still an “unconstitutional disenfranchisement of duly qualified voters.” Minority plaintiffs signaled that they may appeal to the full 5th Circuit Court. “Our view today is the same as it has been since the first day of this litigation — Texas’s voter ID law is discriminatory,” said state Rep. Rafael Anchia, who chairs the Mexican American Legislative Caucus.
- May 20, 2020 – Federal district rules that fear of corona virus constitutes valid reason for Texas voters to obtain absentee ballots under the “disability” provision of state laws regulating voting by mail. District Judge Fred Biery finds that the Texas election code defines “disability” as “a sickness or physical condition that prevents the voter from appearing at the polling place on election day without a likelihood of needing personal assistance or of injuring the voter’s health” and that “lack of immunity from Covid-19 is indeed a physical condition.” But within hours, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton files an appeal to Fifth Circuit Court which issues an immediate order blocking enforcement of district court decision, leaving voters who fear corona virus without a legal recourse to vote by mail.
- May 27, 2020 – Texas Supreme Court issues decision denying corona virus as a valid reason for voters in Texas to obtain absentee ballots. In response to an appeal by Texas Attorney General, the state’s high court said: “We agree with the State that a voter’s lack of immunity to COVID-19, without more, is not a ‘disability’ as defined by the Election Code.” Texas voters can qualify for mail-in ballots only if they are 65 years or older, have a disability or illness, will be out of the county during the election period, or are confined in jail.
- Oct 1, 2020 – In retaliation against a push by local election officials in heavily Democratic counties to facilitate mail voting, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott issues order restricting each county to one ballot drop-off site – “a single early voting clerk’s official location.” Governor’s decree poses hardships for Harris County (Houston) with a population of 4.7 million, Dallas County (Dallas) with 2.6 million, Tarrant County (Fort Worth) with 2.1 million and Bexar County (San Antonio) 2 million. Each of these counties, and others, had planned to provide several mail vote drop-off boxes. Even though Texas has one of the nation’s strictest limits on absentee voting, an unprecedented absentee vote is expected this year, and so Republican officials have taken aggressive measure to restrict mail voting in order, the governor said, to prevent “illegal voting.”
- Oct 2, 2020 – Latino and voting rights groups file federal court suit to block enforcement of Governor Abbott’s order, contending that limiting each county to one mail vote drop-off site “undermines the public’s confidence in the election itself.” The suit, filed by the Campaign Legal Center in tandem with the League of Women Voters and the National League of United Latin American Citizens groups, contends that “the impact of this eleventh hour decision is momentous, targeting Texas’s most vulnerable voters – older voters and voters with disabilities.” and imposing particularly heavy burdens on minority communities “already hit hardest by the COVID-19 crisis.”
- March 2018 – After a two-year test period, Utah moved to make voting easier by legally adopting same-day registration for voters on Election Day. It also set up a procedure for voters to register when they obtain or a renew a state driver’s license. But the Utah system stops short of automatic Motor-Voter registration.
- 2009 – The Utah legislature adopts a flexible voter ID law, requiring the name and address of the voter proven by two documents from a list of 17 that includes a driver’s license, state or federal ID, state permit to carry a concealed weapon, U.S. passport and tribal ID, as well as utility bills, bank statement, certified birth certificate, Social Security card and hunting or fishing license.
- The state permits no-excuse absentee voting.
- April 28, 2016 – Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin signs legislation to automatically register eligible voters who apply for a driver’s license or state ID. “While states across the country are making it harder for voters to get to the polls, Vermont is making it easier by moving forward with commonsense polices that remove unnecessary barriers and increase participation in our democracy,” Shumlin said.
- The state does not require a document to vote. Persons registering by mail to vote for the first time in Vermont must include a photocopy of acceptable forms of ID. They are a driver’s license, passport, current utility bill, current bank statement or another government document.
- The state permits no-excuse absentee voting. Felons never lose their right to vote, even while incarcerated.
- March 30, 2020 – Republican Gov Phil Scott authjorizes temporary changes in state’s election laws including measures to expand voting by mail.
- 2013 – Republican-controlled Virginia legislature passes a photo ID law that went into effect in 2014. Lawmakers also pass a bill restricting third-party voter registration, which requires groups receiving 25 or more registration forms to register with the state and reduces the amount of time from 15 to 10 days to deliver the applications. Both measures were signed by Republican Gov. Robert McDonnell.
- 2015 – A Republican-controlled legislature passes a bill to amend the photo ID law to add student IDs issued by private schools, as well as public universities, to the list of acceptable IDs. Other acceptable forms of photo ID include a driver’s license or state ID, veteran ID card issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles, U.S. passport, other state of federal government-issued ID, tribal ID issued by a state-recognized tribe, student ID from a public or private school in Virginia, and employee ID.
- 2014 – Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe reclassifies violent drug crimes as nonviolent, allowing felons who had been convicted of drug crimes to automatically receive their right to vote upon the completion of their sentence. He also reduced the mandatory waiting period for felons convicted of violent crimes from five years to three for people completing sentences.
- 2015 – Gov. Terry McAuliffe removes the requirement that citizens fully repay court costs and fees in order to have their voting rights restored.
- April 2016 – Gov. Terry McAuliffe invokes his executive power to restore voting rights to more than 200,000 felons, broadening his earlier proclamations that restored voting rights to some ex-felons. His action effectively overturns a Civil War-era provision in Virginia’s Constitution that Mcauliffe said was aimed at disenfranchising African-American. Prior to McAuliffe’s action, more than 620,000 people in Virginia (7.8% of the state’s population) were barred from voting because of prior felony convictions. Virginia has one of the nation’s harshest laws on felons – a lifetime ban on voting, except for individual pardons.
July 22, 2016 – In 4-3 ruling, Virginia Supreme Court overturns executive orders by Gov. Terry McAuliffe that had restored the voting rights for more than 200,000 convicted felons. Court’s majority disputed the governor’s assertion that the state constitution gives him blanket authority to issue collective clemencies to ex-felons who have serve out their prison time. “The clemency power may be broad, but it is not absolute,” the court asserted. Its opinion ordered Virginia’s Elections Department to delete from voter rolls more than 11,000 felons who were registered to vote under McAuliffe’s executive orders this spring.
- July 22, 2016 -Responding to the Virginia Supreme Court’s determination that clemency must be granted individually, Governor McAuliffe vowed to sign thousands of individual clemency orders. “I will expeditiously sign nearly 13,000 individual orders to restore the fundamental rights” of ex-felons already registered,” McAuliffe declared, “and I will continue to sign orders until I have completed restoration for all 200,000 Virginians.”
- Feb 14, 2020 – With Democrats controlling both houses, the Virginia legislature adopts a package of voter reform bills that permit same-day voter registration on Election Day, automatic voter registration when residents obtain or renew their driver’s license, and that eliminate Virginia’s controversial photo-ID requirement for voter registration. From now on, Virginia voters will be able to prove their ID with various personal documents such as utility bills, rental payments or bank statements, as in more than 30 other states. The voter reform package, a hallmark campaign promise from many Democratic candidates in the 2019 elections, also included protections for minority voters modeled on the 1965 federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, no-excuse absentee voting with postage prepaid, and making Election Day a state holiday.
- March 4, 2020- Democratic majorities in Virginia legislature pass bill giving local jurisdictions the option to adopt ranked choice voting in elections for city councils, county commissions and other local governing bodies. State Board of election is instructed to draw up regulations for the new system. As adopted, this system calls for voters to rank candidates. In multi-candidate races, lowest polling candidates are eliminated and their votes re-allocated to higher ranked candidate until one candidate gains a majority of all votes.
- March 16, 2020- Virginia Department of Elections announces that all voters will be able to cast absentee ballots in municipal elections in May 2020.
- March 18, 2018 –Washington becomes 15th state to legalize same-day voter registration on Election Day and the 13th state to allow preregistration of 16 and 17-tear-olds so that they will be ready to vote when they turn 18. “I’m proud of our state for making it easier to vote, not harder,” Governor Jay Inslee told students at Foster High School in Tukwila, where the bill-signing ceremony was held.Foster senior Maria Alvarez told the crowd: “Young people should be the ones to shape the future, because it’s our future that we are all voting for. We are the change.”
- Washington requests a photo ID for voter registration but it allows a wide variety – driver’s license, state ID card, student ID, tribal ID or employer ID. To register online, residents are asked to submit either some form of photo ID; mail-in or in-person registrants are given the additional option of providing the last four digits of their Social Security number.
- On Election Day, residents who choose to vote in person but lack the prescribed forms of photo ID are allowed to cast their ballots if they can establish their ID from a current bank statement, current utility bill, current paycheck or a government document shows current name and address.
- To qualify as Washington voters, people must have lived at their current address at least 30 days before an election. The deadline for online and mail-in registration is 29 days before an election. Felons who no longer are under the supervision of the Department of Corrections may register to vote.
- 2011 – In order to encourage greater voter participation, Washington state adopts a universal mail-in voting system. The non-partisan Top Two primary system is also designed to increase voter participation, by giving independent voters as well as Democrats and Republicans maximum choice among all candidates, with the top two vote-getters advancing to the general election, regardless of party affiliation. Washington voters do not register as members of any particular party.
- 2011 – A Democratic-controlled legislature reduced the early voting period by a week, starting 13 days before an election instead of 20, but it added early voting on Saturdays, thereby providing 10 early voting days. Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed the law.
- March-April 2016 – In an unusual move for a Republican-dominated legislature, West Virginia lawmakers join those in California and Oregon by adopting a new voting law that provides for automatic voter registration for any resident obtaining or renewing a state driver’s license.
- April 1, 2016 – Democratic Gov. Earl Tomblin signs a bipartisan legislative compromise that authorizes a wide range of documents from government photo IDs to student ID cards, gun registration permits, bank statements and utility bills without any photo ID, as well as permitting friends and poll-workers to vouch for voter applicants.
- March 26- West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner announces plan to enable absentee balloting by any voter in the stat ein May 123 primary election.
- May 19, 2011 – After bitterly fought late-night sessions, the Republican majorities in both houses of the Wisconsin legislature push through a bill requiring state voters to show photo ID at the polls. “Requiring photo identification to vote will go a long way to eliminate the threat of voter fraud,” declared Gov. Scott Walker, who quickly signed the bill into law.
- April 2014 – U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Adelman of Milwaukee rules that Wisconsin’s photo ID law for voters would “deter or prevent a substantial number of the 300,000-plus registered voters who lack ID from voting.” The judge siding with the American Civil Liberties Union and civil rights groups, stayed the application of the law, concluding that it violated the Voting Rights Act because it was racially discriminatory against black and Hispanic voters.
- September 2014 – A three-judge federal appeals court panel upholds Wisconsin’s Voter ID law and authorizes its immediate application. The appeals panel overturns the district court ruling that had sided with a legal challenge by the ACLU and other plaintiffs, while they appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
- 2014 – The state legislature reduces early voting hours on weekdays and eliminates voting entirely on weekends.
- March 23, 2015 – In a political victory for Republican Gov. Scott Walker and the GOP majority of the Wisconsin legislature, the U.S. Supreme Court allows Wisconsin’s Voter ID law, one of the strictest in the nation, to go into effect. Since 2012, not long after its passage in 2011, the Wisconsin law had been blocked by lawsuits and court appeals. While the law was being adjudicated, the Supreme Court prevented its use during the 2014 elections. But in 2015, the nation’s highest court gave the Wisconsin law the green light by refusing to hear a legal challenge to the law.
- In the 2016 elections, Wisconsin state officials are enforcing the Voter ID law. Forms of acceptable ID include a state driver’s license, a state non-driver ID, a military ID, a U.S. passport, a certificate of naturalization issued no more than two years before the election, a tribal ID, and a student ID card with signature, issue date, and expiration no more than two years after the election. Voters must also present proof of residence.
- May 2016 – In a federal court trial in Madison, a former Republican legislative aide testifies that GOP state senators were “giddy” over the prospect that Wisconsin’s strict 2011 voter photo ID law could prevent some people from voting on college campuses and among minority districts in the Milwaukee area. “Hey, we’ve got to think about what this would mean for neighborhoods around Milwaukee and college campuses,” Todd Allbaugh quoted state Senator Mary Lazich as telling skeptics during a private meeting among Republican legislators. Then, Allbaugh said, Sen. Glenn Grothman chimed in: “What I’m concerned about here is winning, and that’s what really matters here. … We better get this done quickly while we have the opportunity.” Allbaugh said two other senators, Leah Vukmir and Randy Hopper, were gleeful over the likely impact of the bill. “They were politically frothing at the mouth,” he said. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit – One Wisconsin Institute and Citizen Action of Wisconsin Education Fund – contend that the law was intended to disenfranchise students, minorities and other groups who traditionally vote for Democrats.
- July 20, 2016 – Federal District Judge Lynn Adelman blocks enforcement of Wisconsin tough Voter Photo ID requirement, allowing a loophole for voters unable to obtain the required documents. In preliminary ruling, Judge Adelman orders state to allow voters lacking specified photo IDs to cast a ballot provided they sign an affidavit attesting to their identity and listing a reason why they were unable to obtain an ID document, such as lacking a birth certificate, disability, illness or heavy work schedule. In 44-page opinion, Adelman writes that thousands of qualified Wisconsin voters were likely to lack an ID document and for many, it would be “impossible or nearly impossible” to obtain a free ID card offered under Wisconsin’s 2011 voter ID law.
- July 29, 2016 -In a sweeping setback for Gov. Scott Walker, Federal District Judge James Peterson strikes down a succession of voting restrictions passed by Wisconsin’s Republican-led legislature and orders the state to revamp its voter photo ID law before the November election. Decision declares that photo ID law unfairly burdens and disenfranchises minority voters. “To put it bluntly,” judge asserts, “Wisconsin’s strict version of voter ID law is a cure worse than the disease.” Finding that the legislature had passed voting laws for partisan Republican advantage and had enacted unconstitutional restrictions, Judge Peterson annuls cutbacks in early voting days, restriction in number of early voting sites, limitations on absentee voting, longer residency requirements and a ban on using expired student identification. Peterson says he could not overturn the entire voter photo ID law because a federal appeals court had split 5-5 on whether the law was constitutional.
- Aug. 11, 2016 – Federal appeals court blocks a ruling by Federal District Judge Lynn Adelman that would have allowed Wisconsin residents to vote even if they lacked state-required photo ID by signing an affidavit stating that they faced “a reasonable impediment” in obtaining photo ID. A three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals barred Adelman’s order from taking effect pending an appeal, cautioning that it “is likely to be reversed on appeal and that disruption of the state’s electoral system in the interim will cause irreparable injury.”
- Dec 13, 2019- Wisconsin Circuit Court judge rules that 200,000 Wisconsin voters names be purged from voter rolls to comply with state law passed by Republican-dominated state legislature. Angered by inaction of state’s election Commission, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, a conservative group filed lawsuit saying that election laws require removal of names of people who changed their residences, as shown by state agency computers. Ozaukee County Circuit Court Judge Paul Malloy agreed. “I don’t want to see anybody deactivated, but I don’t write the legislation,” Judge said. When Milwaukee Journal analyzed list of voters that were believed to have moved, it found that about 55% lived in municipalities carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016. Highest concentrations were mostly in college towns and in state’s two largest cities, Milwaukee and Madison. Voters who are purged from rolls can register again, including on election day.
- Jan 13, 2020-Wisconsin judge holds three state election commissioners in contempt and orders them immediately to begin purging more than 200,000o people from state’s voter rolls. Despite state law requiring removal people who have moved since last election, state election commission deadlocked and declined to take action. Three Republican commissioners favor purging the rolls; three Democrats refuse. Ozaukee County Circuit Court Judge Paul Malloy holds three Democratic commissioners in contempt, imposes $250-a-day fine for delay and orders them to take action. On appeal, Wisconsin Supreme Court lets Malloy’s decision stand.Democratic Party leaders fear voter purge is likely to swing this highly competitive state for President Trump in 2020. In 2016, Trump won by 23,000 votes out of three million registered voters.
- Mar 20, 2020 – As states scramble to cope with corona virus, federal judge grants extension for on-line voter registration for April 7 Wisconsin primary. State Election Commission had rejected appeal from state Democratic Party, saying late changes would cause voter confusion. But Federal District Judge William Conley agreed to extend on-line registration deadline from March 18 to March 30 “to preserve citizens’ right to vote amidst this unprecedented health crisis.”
- March 24, 2020- Gov. Tony Evers instructs state health department to issue stay-at-home order for Wisconsin for the next month, starting March 25, barring all but essential travel.
- April 3, 2020 – With many Wisconsin cities and towns unable to operate enough polling sites for April 7 state election, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers summons legislature into special session for press for postponement. But Republican legislative leaders shut down special session in one minute, rejecting Evers’s appeal. They had previously rejected Evers’s proposal for sending absentee ballots to all 3.3 million Wisconsin voters. Republican leaders say late changes in election procedures will confuse voters and cause chaos. Democrats says Republicans want low turnout, hoping that will increase re-election chances of a conservative state supreme court judge Daniel Kelly.
- April 6, 2020 – Gov. Tony Evers suspends in-person voting in April 7 primary and sets new date for June 9 but within hours the state supreme court, siding with a Republican legal challenge, blocks the governor and leaves election timing up to legislature, which orders go-ahead tomorrow. Evers said he was taking action to “to help keep people healthy and safe…(A)bsent legislative or court action, I cannot in good conscience stand by and do nothing.” Republican state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos issue joint statement accusing Governor Evers of “unconstitutional overreach” and assert that “The clerks of this state should stand ready to proceed with the election.” Conservative 4-2 majority on state supreme court agree with legislature, giving green light for election.
- April 7, 2020 – With poll workers in hazmat suits and masked voters in stretched-out lines for safety’s sake, Election Day turnout is low. “This is ridiculous,” says the sign held by one unhappy voter. In the Democratic stronghold of Milwaukee, where 167,000 people voted in 2016, only 18,803 show up today. Even with 56,000 absentee ballots, the Milwaukee vote is way below normal and it is able to oper ten 5 of 180 polling sites. Statewide, more than 100 towns and cities say they lack enough volunteer workers to manage election. the state election board reports that it has recdceived 860,000 of the nearly 1.3 million absentee ballots it sent out.
- April 8, 2020 -Thousands of Wisconsin voters protest that they never received their requested absentee ballots. Three bins of undelivered ballots were found in a Milwaukee post office branch. In Madison, 2,000 ballots came back with no postmarks. In all, 235,000 ballots were not returned to state election board,
- April 13, 2020- Fourteen Milwaukee residents, claim they represent thousands more in the state, file class action suit in federal district court, charging they were “disenfranchised” by hasty, illegal procedures in April 7 state election and calling for a partial recount to permit count “the votes of all those who were disenfranchised April 7.” Several alleged that they were among thousands who applied for but never received absentee ballots. Others said they had received and filed absentee ballots but, checking state on-linw records, draw evidence that their votes were not counted.
- April 13, 2020 – Delayed vote-count of Wisconsin shows major presidential primary victory for Joe Biden over Bernie Sanders and stunning upset defeat for state supreme court judge ostentatiously backed by President Trump. Apparently voter anger at Wisconsin Republican leaders for pushing ahead with the state election despite corona virus mobilized powerful Democratic absentee balloting. That vote enabled Democratic candidate Jill Karofsky to score a surprisingly solid victory over Republicans supreme court incumbent judge Daniel Bell.
- Sept. 14, 2020- Wisconsin Supreme Court gives a boost to mail voting in November election by rejecting belated appeal from Green Party presidential candidate Howard Hawkins that would have delayed mailing out more than one million absentee ballots. Judges rejected Green’s late appeal to be placed on the ballot, stating that it would cause “confusion and undue damage” to elections for all offices in Wisconsin, by forcing the reprinting and delayed mailing of absentee ballots, requested by more than one million Wisconsin voters. Absentee ballots, already printed and approved by the state election board, were ready for mailing before the case reached the high court. Without ruling on the merits of the case, the Wisconsin high court suggested that the Green Party candidates had forfeited their normal right to be listed on the ballot by delaying their submission to the state election commission until the last moment and then failing to file an immediate legal appeal when rejected. “Given their delays in asserting their rights,” the court said, “We would be unable to provide meaningful relief without completely upsetting the election.” Since a Green candidate tends to draw left-of-center voters, the court’s ruling could have modest unintended benefit for Democratic nominee Joe Biden in the tight presidential contest in this pivotal battleground state.
- Wyoming does not have a photo ID requirement. Persons may resister in person, by mail or at the polls on Election Day. Wyoming is exempt from the federal Motor Voter law, which means a person cannot register to vote at a local Wyoming Department of Motor Vehicles office. A driver’s license or the last four digits of a Social Security card are the primary identification means for registration of voters; if residents have neither, other acceptable forms of identification are certificate of U.S. citizenship or naturalization, draft record, voter registration card from another state or county, original or certified copy of birth certificate, certificate of birth abroad issued by U.S. State Department and any other form of ID issued by an official agency.
- The state permits no-excuse absentee voting.
- March 2020- Wyoming decides to conduct its primary election entirely by mail in 2020, and pushes back deadline for absentee voting form April 7 to April 17.