Voting RightsThis is the approved revision of this page, as well as being the most recent.
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How You Can ResistEdit
- Call your Senator and US Representative by dialing tel:844-6-RESIST and tell them to vote to strengthen the Voting Rights Act.
- Find out when your Senators and US Representative are holding town halls and other Upcoming Events/Opportunities. Show up and tell them to protect voting rights.
- Call your state representatives and tell them to pass automatic voter registration, expand early voting, enfranchise all voters, repeal voter ID laws, and adopt other recommendations within the Brennan Center's Democracy Agenda.
- Get involved with People and Organizations that are working on voting rights.
- 5/22/2017: The Supreme Court announced its decision in Cooper v. Harris. The court found that two congressional districts in North Carolina, the 1st and 12th, were illegally redistricted based on race. The Court ruled unanimously that North Carolina's 1st District was drawn to include minority voters from neighboring districts. This weakened their votes by placing them in a district where their party of choice usually wins. The Court ruled 5-3 that North Carolina's 12th District was an illegal racial gerrymander (boundaries changed based on race to favor a party). However, legislators claimed it was drawn according to party lines, instead of racial ones.
- 5/15/2017: The Supreme Court decided not to review a court decision finding that North Carolina's 2013 election law discriminates against African Americans. This means that the decision will remain in place.
- 5/11/2017: President Trump signed an executive order establishing a "Presidential Commission on Election Integrity". Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach would lead this commission. Kobach, as Secretary of State of Kansas, has been a strong supporter of voter ID legislation. Critics have called his efforts "voter suppression".  The former Secretary of State of Missouri, Jason Kander, relayed a story about Kobach's voter ID efforts in Kansas on Twitter. The ACLU reacted to the announcement by noting it has been undefeated against Kobach's voter suppression efforts in court, winning four times. The Kansas City Star noted that judges have "dismissed [Kobach's] assertions about voter fraud because they were backed by 'scant evidence' or based on 'pure speculation.'"
- 5/9/2017: The Census Bureau Director, John Thompson, resigned today in the middle of a funding battle for the agency. The Census Bureau is currently short on funds. This is especially harmful, since the next census is coming in 2020. Thompson's resignation raises concerns about gerrymandering. The census is the basis for redistricting, which determines how many representatives a state has in Congress. Without proper leadership, a poorly-conducted census could put minority populations’ representation at risk. 
Laws Proposed by CongressEdit
Legislation that Supports Equity and Justice
- Redistricting and Voter Protection Act (HR 151) would require states' congressional redistricting plans between decennial censuses to obtain preclearance under section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
- Voter Access Protection Act (HR 607) would prohibit election officials from requiring people to show photo IDs in order to vote or register to vote in federal elections.
- John Tanner Fairness and Independence in Redistricting Act (HR 711) would require states to use independent commissions for Congressional redistricting, to prevent politicians from drawing districts in ways that give unfair electoral advantages to their party.
- HR 946 would allow all eligible voters to vote by mail in federal elections.
- HR 133 would end taxpayer funding of presidential campaigns, making candidates more dependent on donations from wealthy individuals and corporations.
- HR 634 The House Administration Committee voted to eliminate the Election Assistance Commission, which is the federal agency that works to help administer elections. It is the only federal agency that makes sure that voting machines can't be hacked.
See also the State and Local Pages for state-by-state legislative tracking.
Making It Harder to Vote (Voter Suppression)Edit
Attempts to make it harder for citizens to vote are known as voter suppression. A common example are strict voter ID laws. These laws often create limits on the types of ID that can be used to vote. The rules might allow a driver's license, but not a student ID from a state university. This distinction affects some people more than others. People with disabilities, in particular, are thought to be the "canaries in the coal mine" when it comes to these policies. This is troubling, as up to 35% of all people will need accommodations to vote in the next 25 years.  Voter ID laws have been found unconstitutional in some states after challenges from the Obama Justice Department, most notably in North Carolina, where courts found explicit discriminatory intent. Voter ID laws disproportionately reduce turnout among people of color, who tend to vote Democratic:
- Interstate Voter Crosscheck Program. This program was started by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in 2007 and is now practiced in 27 states. Kansas combines voter registrant lists from all 27 states and purges "duplicates". All that is required to appear on this list are duplicate first name, last name and birth date. The result has been massive voter purging. Greg Palast has been done investigative journalism on this controversial program in his documentary called The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. Use this link to check if you are registered as a "double voter" on the Interstate Voter Crosscheck list. 
- Trump has supported the use of Voter ID laws.  He has also challenged early voting  and falsely claimed that 3 to 5 million undocumented immigrants cast votes during the 2016 election. In fact, in studying 23.5 million votes that were cast country-wide during the 2016 election, only 30 were found to be cases of voter fraud. 
- Attorney General Jeff Sessions has a record of prosecuting civil rights activists for trying to register voters.  He has called the Voting Rights Act "a piece of intrusive legislation" and opposed laws expanding voting rights to formerly incarcerated individuals.  Sessions supports Voter ID laws.  This suggests that the Trump agenda will likely focus on supporting voter restrictions, weakening the Voting Rights Act, and targeting organizations that register people to vote. The reasons given for these measures has been to combat alleged "voter fraud", but this fraud almost never occurs.
- According to the Brennan Center, at least 308 bills to enhance voting access have been introduced in 36 states. Meanwhile, at least 46 bills to restrict access to registration and voting have been introduced in 21 states. Go to State and Local Pages to view the bills currently being considered in your state.
- 2/27/2017: Early reporting suggests the Department of Justice will switch sides in a Texas voter ID case. The DOJ will defend the discriminatory law. Voter ID laws have been found to suppress voter turnout in communities of color.
- 8/8/2017:The Department of Justice will now support Ohio in the state's attempt to purge voters who have not voted in a few elections from the rolls.
Make Your Vote Count Less (Gerrymandering)Edit
For both federal and state elections, states are divided into districts. The district then elects people to represent them in state or federal government. At least once a decade, district lines are redrawn to ensure that each district has about the same number of people. Ideally, redistricting should secure a district’s residents’ best interest and provide meaningful representation. Gerrymandering is the deliberate manipulation of district lines to influence the outcome of elections. While the re-drawing effort is sometimes a bipartisan effort, one party can control the process in some states to secure their power. In turn, this process can divide communities into multiple districts at the expense of their interests. Redistricting can determine which party controls local, state, and national political power, affecting political representation across the country on multiple levels. The next redistricting efforts will take place after the 2020 census. State lawmakers will propose redistricting reforms that can impact crucial state elections. Hold your district-line drawers or your state legislators accountable and demand fair representation in all upcoming elections. 
- 5/1/2017: Congress and the Administration have come to an agreement for a budget that funds the federal government until this fall. Items in the area of voting rights include:
- $1.47 billion for the Census Bureau, which is equal to the amount in the House bill and $100 million more than the Fiscal Year 2016 level, but $163.6 million below the amount requested. This includes funding to help ensure an efficient 2020 Census utilizing innovative and cost-effective enumeration practices.  These practices can make the census more cost-effective and accurate. The Republican Party and the Trump administration have made statements that suggest changes to census taking that would impact voting rights.
- 3/10/2017: The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas handed down a 2-1 decision in "Perez v. Abbot", finding that four Texas districts had been drawn in a way that violated the Voting Rights Act and the Constitution because they were drawn with a racially discriminatory intent. The majority opinion stated that some redistricting was "intended to dilute Hispanic voters opportunity to elect their candidate of choice."
- 3/1/2017: The Supreme Court handed down its decision in Bethune Hill v. Virginia State Board of Elections, instructing the Federal District Court of Eastern Virginia to reconsider whether 11 of 12 districts amounted to a race-based gerrymander. Though the Court did not rule these districts were unconstitutional, it commanded the District Court to use a standard which makes a race-based gerrymander easier to prove.