Ninety-eight to zero. That was the vote of the United States Senate in July 2006 in favor of re-authorizing the Voting Rights Act, the landmark civil rights law which this week came under withering — and disturbing — attack from conservative Supreme Court Justices during oral arguments in Shelby Co. v. Holder. At the very same time that Chief Justice Roberts was quoting dubious election statistics and Justice Scalia was claiming the protection of the right to vote was a "racial entitlement," states across the nation continued to press forward with voter suppression measures that underscored the need to continue to protect voting rights for all Americans:
Conservatives wasted no time in exploiting their numeric advantages following historic gains in state legislatures during the 2010 midterm elections, particularly in the area of voting rights. Of the over 285 election reform bills enacted in 47 states in 2011, the majority were passed in conservative-dominated legislatures and will serve to restrict access to the polls in time for the 2012 election. In addition to the passage of well-publicized voter ID legislation, successful rollbacks to existing laws, including shortening early voting periods and eliminating same day registration, will mainly serve to benefit conservative candidates at the public’s expense.
This report from Pew Center on the states examines the unnecessary costs of voter registration due to an antiquated, paper-based system and suggests voter registration modernization as a way to cut costs and increase accuracy of the voter rolls.
Low-income Ohioans will soon be ensured access to voter registration at Ohio public assistance offices as the result of a settlement agreement that resolves a three-year old lawsuit compelling compliance with the federal National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).
As part of our Shared Multi-State Agenda, the Progressive States Network is working with legislators, advocates and leading experts to promote election reforms that drive voter turnout in states across the country - just in time for the coming 2010 and 2012 election years.