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Thu Aug 2, 2012, 07:47 PM

Court enjoins enforcement of new Texas voter registration laws

Here is some great news http://txredistricting.org/post/28584005627/court-enjoins-enforcement-of-new-texas-voter

This afternoon, U.S. District Judge Gregg Costa enjoined enforcement of Texas laws passed in the 2011 legislative session which require that deputy voter registrars be Texas residents and prohibited performance-based compensation for voter registration staff.

The restrictions had been challenged by the non-profit group Voting for America and various other plaintiffs in a suit filed early this year in federal district court in Galveston.

The court rejected claims of Texas that the new restrictions were required to prevent fraud, holding that “f these practices did contribute to fraud, concrete examples of such fraud would likely exist from decades of experience … But no such evidence was introduced for the Court to weigh against the harm to Plaintiffs.”

The court also enjoined enforcement of existing provisions of Texas law which Texas interpreted as banning deputy voter registrars from “accepting or handling applications from residents of counties other than the county in which the person is appointed as a VDR,” finding the requirement unconstitutionally burdensome. ...


This decision will undo the damage done by the republicans in the state legislature as to voter registration

13 replies, 2747 views

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Arrow 13 replies Author Time Post
Reply Court enjoins enforcement of new Texas voter registration laws (Original post)
Gothmog Aug 2012 OP
Celebrate2012Victory Aug 2012 #1
NoPasaran Aug 2012 #2
Gothmog Aug 2012 #3
sonias Aug 2012 #4
onestepforward Aug 2012 #5
Gothmog Aug 2012 #6
sonias Aug 2012 #7
Gothmog Aug 2012 #8
Gothmog Aug 2012 #9
sonias Aug 2012 #10
sonias Aug 2012 #11
Gothmog Aug 2012 #12
thevoiceofreason Aug 2012 #13

Response to Gothmog (Original post)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 07:59 PM

1. Good.

Anyone have a state website where I can check voter laws on how to register?

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Response to Celebrate2012Victory (Reply #1)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 08:27 PM

3. For Texas?

Here is the Texas secretary of state website http://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/voter/reqvr.shtml Here is the link to my county's website for voter registration http://www.co.fort-bend.tx.us/getSitePage.asp?sitePage=5661 You can fill out the application and then mail it to the Sec. of State or to the appropriate county registrar.

Personally, I do not trust the Sec. of State. She is a policital hack appointed by Perry and so I would send your completed application to the voter registrar in your county or contact your local Democratic party for help. My party was complying with the rules that were just ruled invald

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Response to Gothmog (Original post)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 10:56 PM

4. Victory for Voter Registration in Texas


PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 2, 2012
Contact: Sarah Massey, 202 210-6614, smassey@projectvote.org


Victory for Voter Registration in Texas

(GALVESTON, Texas) – In a major victory for voting rights, today U.S. District Court Judge Gregg Costa ruled in favor of plaintiff Project Vote and its affiliate in Voting for America v Andrade and ordered the state of Texas to stop enforcing certain laws that restrict voter registration drives.

“This case is about making sure that voter registration drives, which are the foundation of our democracy, can operate without undue burdens,” says Michael Slater, executive director of Project Vote. “At this time when millions of eligible Texans are still not registered to vote, our focus should be to help them become voters. Instead, the Texas election code sets up a system that punishes voter registration drives for helping community members get access to voting.”

Plaintiffs argue that certain provisions of Texas election code violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and/or the National Voter Registration Act. Today the court agreed that the organizations are likely to succeed on the majority of their claims.

The court’s ruling grants a preliminary injunction enjoining the following laws:

*a prohibition on voter registration drives submitting to officials by mail applications they collect;
*a prohibition on drives copying applications before submitting them to officials (as long as confidential information is not copied);
*a ban on non-Texans becoming volunteer deputy registrars;
*a prohibition that prevents any person from accepting or handling applications from residents of counties other than the county in which the person was appointed as a volunteer deputy registrar, a provision that forced organizations engaged in large-scale registration efforts to have their canvassers and managerial staff appointed as volunteer deputy registrars in multiple counties; and
*a burdensome compensation law that prohibited organizations from firing employees based on their performance in collecting applications.

In the opinion, Costa emphasized the importance of voter registration drives, especially to communities of color: “Voter registration drives have played a vital role in increasing participation in the political process. This is especially true in minority communities with historically lower rates of voter registration. Census figures indicate that a significant percentage of African-Americans and Hispanics voting in the last presidential election registered through voter registration drives and other third-party voter registration activities.”

Criticizing the law’s chilling effect on voter registration, Costa writes, “The result is that Texas now imposes more burdensome regulations on those engaging in third-party voter registration than the vast majority of, if not all, other states.”

“Today's ruling means that community groups and organizations like Voting for America and Project Vote will be able to run community voter registration drives in Texas. These drives are important to reaching the millions of Texans, including half a million African-American and three-quarters of a million Latinos who are eligible but still not registered to vote,” says Chad Dunn, counsel for the plaintiffs.

“This is a terrific victory and I am hopeful it sets a national precedent,” says Ryan M. Malone, lawyer for the plaintiffs.

“Voter registration policies in Texas, over at least the past decade, created an environment hostile to voter registration,” says Slater. “Today’s ruling restores the rights of Texas citizens to participate in our democracy.”

The court declined to enjoin three out of the eight challenged provisions, but plaintiffs will have the opportunity to develop their case on these issues as the litigation moves forward.

###

Project Vote is a national nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) that works to empower, educate, and mobilize low-income, minority, youth, and other marginalized and under-represented voters.

For more information and interviews, please contact Sarah Massey at 202 210-6614.




Way to go Project Vote!

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Response to Gothmog (Original post)

Fri Aug 3, 2012, 12:24 AM

5. Awesome!

Great news!

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Response to Gothmog (Original post)

Wed Aug 8, 2012, 09:13 AM

6. Hearing today on Stay of Decision

Greg Abbott is asking the court to stay its ruling. There is a hearing today on Abbott's request today

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Response to Gothmog (Reply #6)

Wed Aug 8, 2012, 02:03 PM

7. TX Redistricting had a bit on it


TX Redistricting blog 8/07/12
Plaintiffs’ reply to Texas’ request to stay voter registration ruling


Voting for America’s reply to the State of Texas’ request to have Judge Costa stay his voter registration ruling can be found here.

The court has scheduled a hearing on the stay request for Wednesday, August 8, at 4:00 p.m.

From the reply:

wholly fails to articulate what difficulty arises from allowing voting organizations to use perforamance-based metrics, photocopy completed voter registration applications, submit the applications by mail, or operate in multiple counties. To the extent that out-of-state canvassers cause an increased administrative burden on counties to accept and process VDR applications, the burden is slight. Moreover, two of the provisions - the Compensation Prohibition and the In-State Restriction - are only recent policy interpretations.


This post is so short I just included it all here.

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Response to sonias (Reply #7)

Fri Aug 10, 2012, 03:20 PM

8. No ruling yet but this article is interesting

The judge has not issued a stay yet and a ruling is expected soon. The ABC station has a good article on the hear and it is clear that the GOP election administrator is not a happy camper http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?section=news/in_focus&id=8766634

For two hours on Wednesday, the state's attorney general office pleaded with judge to turn his decision over. He didn't seem inclined to do so but it'll take a day or two before he makes a ruling.

On Wednesday, on the way out of the hearing, we wanted to talk to Keith Ingram, the secretary of state's director of elections No one knows the issues better than him but he wasn't talking.

"You're the director of elections, right?" we asked Ingram.

"Right," he replied.

"So you do know more about the law than your spokesman, right?" we asked.

"You're going to talk to my spokesman," he said.

"You just won't talk to us about it," we said.

"They have consistently the lowest voter turnout of all the states. Something's gotta be done about it," attorney for Project Vote Chad Dunn said. "Our legislature doesn't look for solutions to that problem, they look for more obstacles for the ballot box."

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Response to Gothmog (Original post)

Tue Aug 14, 2012, 06:47 PM

9. Request for Stay was denied

Greg Abbott's request for a stay was denied http://www.statesman.com/blogs/content/shared-gen/blogs/austin/politics/entries/2012/08/14/judge_denies_states_stay_in_vo.html

A federal judge in Galveston today denied the state’s request for a stay that would have allowed Texas to enforce several of its voter registration laws.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office asked for the stay on Aug. 4 — the same day it appealed an order by U.S. District Judge Gregg Costa that granted a temporary injunction sought by two Galveston residents and two national, nonpartisan groups that organize efforts to register people in areas with low registration levels.

The provisions at issue include those that prohibit completed voter applications from being mailed to county offices; prohibit deputy voter registrars from registering voters in counties where they don’t live; prohibit the photocopying of voter registration cards; require voter registrars to be Texas residents; and prohibit registration drives from firing deputy registrars based on their performance. Some of the blocked provisions specifically address “volunteer deputy registrars,” the canvassers who, by law, must be appointed to take applications from prospective voters.

Costa’s injunction, which remains in place, bars enforcement of the provisions until a trial can be held to determine if they violate the 1993 National Voter Registration Act or the U.S. Constitution. No trial has been set.


Greg Abbott will no doubt try to get a stay from the 5th Cir.

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Response to Gothmog (Reply #9)

Tue Aug 14, 2012, 09:26 PM

10. Well it's a victory for now!

I have no faith in the 5th circuit court - just like you suggest at the end.

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Response to Gothmog (Original post)

Tue Aug 14, 2012, 09:30 PM

11. Judge refuses to lift ban on Texas voter laws

Houston Chronicle 8/14/12
Judge refuses to lift ban on Texas voter laws

GALVESTON - A federal judge Tuesday refused to lift an order blocking enforcement of Texas laws that make voter registration drives difficult, but modified his order to allow counties to more easily track deputy voter registrars.

U.S. District Judge Gregg Costa refused a request by Secretary of State Hope Andrade that he stay a preliminary injunction issued Aug. 2 while the state appeals the ruling to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Galveston County Tax Assessor-Collector Cheryl Johnson is also a defendant.

Costa blocked enforcement of five provisions of Texas voter registration law in a lawsuit brought by two Galveston County residents and the nonprofit Voting for America, which claimed that Texas laws made it impossible to conduct voter registration drives. The preliminary injunction would remain in place until a trial to decide whether Texas laws violate the civil rights of the plaintiffs and the 1993 National Voter Registration Act.

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Response to Gothmog (Original post)

Sun Aug 26, 2012, 01:26 PM

12. Fifth Cir. to hear appeal on Stay on Sept 6

The Fifth Cir. is one of the most conservatives courts in the country and I am worried about what this court will do here http://txredistricting.org/post/30130386613/expedited-oral-argument-in-voter-registration-case-set

The Fifth Circuit has granted a request by the State of Texas for expedited consideration of its appeal of the district court enjoining enforcement of parts of Texas voter registration laws.

The court set oral argument in the case for September 6, 2012 at 11 a.m. in New Orleans.

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Response to Gothmog (Reply #12)

Sun Aug 26, 2012, 02:45 PM

13. As an attorney from the Harris County Attorney's Office said yesterday

Until the stay is lifted, the law is that there is no residency restriction on folks who are out there registering voters.

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