In the discussion thread: Court enjoins enforcement of new Texas voter registration laws [View all]
Response to Gothmog (Original post)
Thu Aug 2, 2012, 10:56 PM
sonias (18,063 posts)
4. Victory for Voter Registration in Texas
PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 2, 2012
Contact: Sarah Massey, 202 210-6614, firstname.lastname@example.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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