Think Progress: Sixteen Senators Ask DOJ To Investigate Potentially Illegal State Voter Disenfranchisement Laws

-By Ian Millhiser

July 9, 2011- Sixteen senators led by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) submitted a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder last week asking him to examine whether the Voting Rights Act’s prohibitions on laws preventing minorities from voting invalidate so-called “voter ID” laws, which effectively disenfranchise thousands of elderly, disabled, and low-income voters:

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Talking Points Memo: Bill Clinton: GOP Voting Crackdown Worst Since Jim Crow

-By Benjy Sarlin

July 6, 2011- Former President Bill Clinton weighed in on Republican efforts in several states to pass new restrictions on voting, comparing the measures to the Jim Crow laws of the past.

"There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit the franchise that we see today," Clinton said in a speech at a Campus Progress conference in Washington.

He specifically called out Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) for trying to reverse past precedent and prevent convicted felons from voting even after they've completed their sentence.

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US Senate Democrats: Bennet Urges DOJ To Review Voter ID Laws

Restrictive Voter ID Laws Could Disenfranchise Thousands of Eligible Voters

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) today requested that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) carefully review highly restrictive photo identification voter requirements that are under consideration or recently signed into law in several states that could potentially disenfranchise thousands of eligible voters.

In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Bennet—along with Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV) and U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin (IL), Chuck Schumer (NY), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Sherrod Brown (OH), Jeanne Shaheen (NH), Jeff Merkley (OR), Mark Begich (AK), Ben Cardin (MD), Mary Landrieu (LA), Patty Murray (WA), Ron Wyden (OR), Tom Harkin (IA), Herb Kohl (WI) and Tom Udall (NM)—expressed serious concerns about voter identification laws, which could disenfranchise American voters.

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WashPo: Felon voting rights expanded in 23 states

By Krissah Thompson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 19, 2010; 1:37 PM

A study of felony disenfranchisement laws has found that 800,000 former felons have been returned to the voter rolls in the past decade.

A push by criminal justice advocates and civil rights groups to rewrite state laws that sometimes place lifetime voting bans on felons has resulted in 23 states amending their policies since 1997 to expand voter eligibility, according to a report out by the Sentencing Project.

Nine states repealed or reduced their lifetime voting bans, and eight states made it easier for former felons to appeal to have their voting rights restored.

Those changes were made despite "political challenges that hinder reform and can make it difficult for elected officials to extend civil rights to persons with felony convictions," said Nicole Porter, author of the report and the Sentencing Project's state advocacy coordinator.

Existing policies vary from state to state, with Kentucky and Virginia denying ex-felons the right to vote – even after they have completed parole or probation sentences. Both states require individuals to apply to the governor for restoration of civil rights.

Read Rest of Article Here

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NY Times: A Welfare Check and a Voting Card

Aug 9, 2010- After years of deliberate neglect, the Justice Department is finally beginning to enforce the federal law requiring states to provide voter registration at welfare and food stamp offices. The effort not only promises to bring hundreds of thousands of hard-to-reach voters into the electorate, but it could also reduce the impact of advocacy organizations whose role in registering voters caused such a furor in 2008. Full Story HERE

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Pacific Standard: Prison-Based Gerrymandering Dilutes Blacks’ Voting Power

A new report concludes some majority-black legislative districts are penalized because of the way the census bureau counts their imprisoned residents.

-By Emily Badger

June 3, 2010- Sixty-six percent of the inmates in the state of New York come from New York City. But 91 percent of them are incarcerated upstate, in communities where they have long been counted by the U.S. census.

On paper, this means prisoners belong not to the communities from which they’ve come (and to which they eventually will return), but to places where they can neither vote, check out a library book or attend a local school.

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