This Week’s Victories in Voting Rights

The push back against voter suppression has resulted in some major victories this week.

By Aura Bogado Sep 14, 2012

As we approach Election Day, the push back against voter suppression efforts is paying off. Innovative social media based registration schemes, coupled with legal victories may encourage more voters to participate in November. And while voting rights advocates remain "cautiously optimistic" about Pennsylvania’s voter ID Supreme Court heading, other states already have reason to celebrate legal victories. Here are some of this week’s voting rights updates–including some major triumphs.

New Tool Targets New Mexico’s Latino and Youth Voters
Our community journalist in New Mexico, Goerge Lujan, writes that his organization, the SouthWest Organizing Project, has partnered with other groups to reach out to potential new voters:

Groups in New Mexico are launching Nuestra Elección, a campaign to reach the more than 200,000 eligible, non-registered citizens in the state, to register to vote in the upcoming election. SouthWest Organizing Project, Progress Now New Mexico, New Mexico Vote Matters, and are presenting an online registration tool that targets Latinos and youth, two groups that can make a huge difference in our elections when they get involved.

Victory for Former Felons in Virginia
The Advancement Project has been working to restore voting rights to former felons in Virginia who have already served their time. This week, Secretary of Commonwealth Janet Kelly agreed to make sure that all former felon applications received by August 15 will be processed by the voter registration deadline of October 15. This will likely result in the restoration of voting rights for hundreds of people by Election Day.

Colorado Quits its Dubious Voter Purge
Colorado’s Secretary of State Scott Gessler has turned back on his plan to purge voters, just weeks before Election Day. The Department of Homeland security maintains what’s called the SAVE database, used to identify non-citizens’ eligibility for public assistance. As we reported in July, the department agreed to allow Florida and several other states access to the database to potentially purge voter rolls. Gessler, who previously issued 4,000 letters challenging voters’ citizenship, says that his office is running out of time, and will allow county clerks to challenge voters’ eligibility instead.

Florida Halts its Voter Purge, Too
The Advancement Project is also celebrating another victory in Florida this week. In exchange for plaintiffs dropping their discrimination claim in Arcia v. Detzner, Florida will restore its voter list to include anyone whom the Supervisor of Election cannon confirm as non-citizens. Florida Secretary of State Kent Detzner had sent letters in April, erroneously informing voters they were not eligible–Florida has now agreed to send letters confirming these voters’ right to cast a ballot. It appears that Florida’s voter purge saga may finally be coming to an end, and thousands of eligible voters will be able to participate in November.