What’s Happening With Voting Rights Near You? Here’s a National Look

Some of the latest voting rights news from around the country.

By Aura Bogado Jul 31, 2012

Pennsylvania’s voter ID case continues this week, and so does the fight against voter suppression throughout the country. As students seek to organize around the Pennsylvania law, an online initiative seeks to register student voters. In New Mexico, meanwhile, several counties simply run out of registration forms. And Alabama becomes ground for a new redistricting fight. Here’s some of the latest voting rights news.

Online Registration Site Also Sends Reminder Texts
Eastern Michigan University became the 25th university to partner with TurboVote, a resource to get voters to fill out their registration forms online. Once completed, voters receive their already completed forms in the mail, ready for their signature to send out in a stamped and pre-addressed envelope. And in case you–like the rest of us–find it hard to keep up with every deadline and election, TurboVote will send you a text message to remind you. Started by two Masters students at Harvard’s Kennedy School two years ago, three campuses have already launched TurboVote and garnered nearly 10,000 members. As more community colleges and universities cobrand ahead of the fall term, cofounder Seth Flaxman tells us he’s excited to see how many voters will register before Election Day. Not a student? Don’t worry, TurboVote is for voters of all ages.

New Mexico Runs Out of Voter Registration Forms
If registering online isn’t your thing, you might have a hard time doing it in person in New Mexico. Our newest community journalist, George Lujan, tells us that six counties have run out of English language registration forms. Secretary of State Diana Duran–the first Republican to hold that office in eighty years–is ultimately responsible for printing and making the forms available to register new voters. According to KOB-TV Channel 4, her office says new forms will be available next month.

Penn Election Official Won’t Enforce Voter ID Law
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that at least one election official won’t enforce the law. Delaware County’s Christopher Broach, a Democrat insists that he won’t ask voters to show identification because it’s a violation of civil rights. Another elections supervisor from Radnor Township, Republican Jane Golas, made clear that there the town has "never had an issue with people coming in to fraudulently vote," and contends that the voter ID law was set in place to suppress Philly’s vote.

Philly College Students Discuss Voter ID
Last week, community journalist James Cersonsky produced a photo essay about a Freedom Ride from Philly to Harrisburg against voter ID–make sure to check it out if you haven’t already. James tells us the fight against the new law is far from over. The Philadelphia Higher Education Network for Neighborhood Development met on Friday to discuss the way the new law may affect first time voters, and students in particular.

Heart of Dixie Claims Voting Rights Act Requirement is Unconstitutional
Whenever Alabama (or any state that has a history of discriminating against voters of color) draws a redistricting map, it must pre-clear it with the Department of Justice or through a federal court. The Heart of Dixie State avoided the DOJ, and is now asking the court of authorize its new map. However, Alabama is also claiming that pre-clearance is unconstitutional.