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Texas bill: A step towards better voter ID education, greater transparency
04/24/17 |
Publication Date: 
Monday, April 24, 2017 - 12:00
Excerpt: 

The state has a responsibility to educate the public about voter identification requirements under SB 14, the voter ID law passed by the Texas Legislature in 2011. In July 2016, the state was also ordered by a federal court to engage in a $2.5 million voter ID education campaign as part of an interim remedy agreement. Despite evidence that the 2016 voter ID education campaign was not entirely successful, the state has not been forthcoming with details about the plan.

HB 3328 seeks to increase government transparency in the interest of improving voter ID education efforts by making information related to public spending on voter ID education public information subject to disclosure under the Public Information Act. The exceptions described in Sections 552.101 and 552.103 of the Government Code would no longer apply to such information.

Recent rulings that Texas' voting laws discriminate put pressure on the state, but the road ahead is long
04/24/17 |
Publication Date: 
Monday, April 24, 2017 - 01:00
Excerpt: 

Lawmakers are trying to pass a bill to address the discriminatory issues found with the voter ID law. But Democrats say it falls short of meeting the standards that a district court set last year.

Plaintiffs want District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Corpus Christi to consider throwing out the law after the legislative session and returning the state to the federal government's "pre-clearance" list.

But even if that happened, the Texas attorney general's office would almost certainly challenge the decision in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. ...

The parties in the [redistricting] case are set to meet in San Antonio on Thursday. The three-judge panel will hear updates on whether a trial is needed and what a timeline for the rest of the case might look like.

But the panel has moved slowly and methodically throughout the case for over six years. It is unlikely to grant the plaintiffs' requests — for new congressional maps for the 2018 elections and federal oversight — before tackling other remaining issues, such as whether the 2013 interim maps were also discriminatory.

And even if the court sided with the plaintiffs in a trial and struck down the maps, Texas could appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court — dragging out the case even longer.

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Ohio Election Info

Upcoming Elections in Your State

2016 General Election: November 8, 2016

Voter Registration Deadline: October 11, 2016

For more information, visit the Ohio Secretary of State’s website http://www.sos.state.oh.us/SOS/.

Election Day:

The polls must be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (Eastern Time) on Election Day. If there are voters waiting in line to cast their ballots, the polls must remain open until those in line have voted.

Early In-Person voting begins October 12, 2016. Voters will find their polling locations here: http://www.sos.state.oh.us/SOS/Upload/sites/ballotTracking/ballotTracking.aspx?page=20547

Absentee voting by mail begins October 12, 2016.

How to Find Your Polling Place:

Visit the Ohio Secretary of State’s polling place locator web page.

http://voterlookup.sos.state.oh.us/voterlookup.aspx

REGISTER TO VOTE HERE

Already registered? Verify your voter registration status.


Registration Deadlines:

The voter registration deadline is October 11, 2016. Because Early In-Person voting begins October 12, 2016. To register to vote in person, you must provide either your driver’s license number or the last four digits of your Social Security number as identification on the registration card.

How to Check Your Registration: Visit the Ohio Secretary of State’s voter registration check web page.

http://voterlookup.sos.state.oh.us/voterlookup.aspx

Registration Eligibility: In order to be eligible to register in Ohio, you must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States;
  • Be at least 18 years old on or before Election Day;
  • Be an Ohio resident for at least 30 days;
  • Not be imprisoned for a felony conviction;
  • Not be declared  incompetent for voting purposes by a probate court; and
  • Not be permanently denied the right to vote for violations of the election laws.

How to Register: Complete your voter registration form and return in person or by mail to any of the following public offices:

  • Any county board of elections;
  • The Ohio Secretary of State’s Office;
  • BMV or Deputy Registrars;
  • Office of designated agencies, including:
    • The Department of Job and Family Services,
    • The Department of Health (including the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program),
    • The Department of Mental Health,
    • The Department of Developmental Disabilities,
    • Opportunities for Ohioans With Disabilities, or
    • Any state-assisted college or university that provides assistance to disabled students;
  • Any county treasurer’s office;
  • Any public high school or vocational school; or
  • Any public library.

Your completed voter registration form must be postmarked or received at least 30 days before Election Day.

Identification Required for Registration:

You may provide the last four digits of your Social Security number, or your current and valid Ohio driver’s license number on line 10 of the Voter Registration Form. If you have neither, you may write “None.”

If You Want to Vote Early

Early In-Person Voting begins October 12, 2016. Registered voters may vote early on business days: October 12-October 21 (8a-5pm), October 24-28 (8am-6pm), and October 31-November 4 (8am-7pm). Additional hours will be available on the two weekends before Election Day: October 29 (8am-4pm), October 30 (1pm-5pm), November 5 (8am-4pm), and November 6 (1pm-5pm). The last day of Early In-Person Voting is Monday, November 7, 2016; please note that voting is only available 8am-2pm on November 7.

Check with your county board of elections for information about where to vote early: http://www.sos.state.oh.us/sos/elections/electionsofficials/boeDirectory.aspx.

If You Want to Vote Absentee

Anyone who is a registered voter may vote absentee. If an absentee ballot is mailed to you and you change your mind and appear at your polling place to vote on Election Day, you will be required to vote a provisional ballot that cannot be counted until at least 11 days after the election.

Absentee voting by mail begins October 12, 2016. The absentee ballot postmark deadline is November 7, 2016.  Applications are available online at http://www.sos.state.oh.us/sos/upload/elections/forms/11-A.pdf. Applications must be received by noon on Saturday, November 5 (three days before the general election).  The county board will mail you an absentee ballot.  Mark the ballot and mail it back to the county board.  Your ballot is due back to the county board of elections before the close of the polls on Election Day (or else should be postmarked by the day before Election Day and received within 10 days after Election Day).

Identification Requirements to Cast a Ballot

You may vote without providing identification, BUT if you have no ID, you must vote on a provisional ballot. When you cast your provisional ballot you must provide either: (a) your Ohio driver’s license or state identification number (which begins with two letters followed by six numbers), or (b) the last four digits of your Social Security number. If a voter casts a provision ballot, he or she should expect to be given information so that they can follow up to make sure that their vote counted.

Within 7 days after Election Day, a voter who casts a provisional ballot because of not providing to the election officials any of the required forms of identification, or because the individual has been successfully challenged, must appear at the board of elections office and provide to the board the appropriate identification (meaning one of the required forms of ID required at the polls [see below section on Voter ID], the last four digits of the voter's social security number, or the voter's full Ohio driver's license number or Ohio state ID card number) or other additional information necessary to determine the voter's eligibility. However, no follow up is required if a voter who did not provide a proper ID wrote on the provisional ballot envelope either the last four digits of their social security number or their full Ohio driver's license or Ohio ID card number.

To vote a regular ballot, Ohio voters are required to show some kind of proof of identity. Acceptable forms of identification are:

  • An unexpired Ohio driver’s license or state identification card with present or former address;
  • A military identification;
  • A photo identification that was issued by the United States government or the State of Ohio, that contains the voter’s name and current address and that has an expiration date that has not passed;
  • An original or copy of a current (within the last 12 months) utility bill (includes a cell phone bill or zero balance utility bill from university housing) with the voter’s name and present address (note: a U.S. Passport is not valid ID, because it doesn’t have an address listed);
  • An original or copy of a current bank statement with the voter’s name and present address;
  • An original or copy of a current government check with the voter’s name and present address;
  • An original or copy of a current paycheck with the voter’s name and present address; or

An original or copy of a current other government document (other than a notice of voter registration mailed by a board of elections) that shows the voter’s name and present address.

VoteRiders has created Ohio voter ID info cards in English and in Spanish.

Moving within the Same County

            Moving within the same precinct

Any registered voter who moves within a precinct on or prior to election day and has not filed a change of residence form may vote by going to their assigned polling place, completing and signing a change of residence form, showing identification in the form of a current and valid photo identification, a military identification, or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the name and current address of the elector, and casting a ballot. The identification used by the voter should reflect their current/new address.

            Moving to a different precinct but within the same county

The voter should file a change of residence form or vote by appearing at the board of elections starting 29 days before election day, or on the day of the election at their polling place or the board of elections and completing and signing the written affirmation on the provisional ballot envelope, voting a provisional ballot, and completing and signing a statement attesting to their change of address.

If a voter is unable to appear at the office of the board of elections or other designated location due to illness or disability, they may vote on election day if they do all of the following: (1) Apply for an absent voter’s ballot at the board of elections starting 90 days before the election and no later than 12pm on the Saturday before the election; (2) declare that the voter has moved; (3) complete and return a notice of change of residence; and (4) complete and sign a statement attesting that the voter has moved and has voted by absent voter’s ballot because of illness or disability.

Moving Between Counties

The voter should file a change of residence form.  If that has not happened, then starting 29 days before Election Day the voter may go in person to the Board of Elections (or another place if the Board has so designated) and do the following:  completing and signing the written affirmation on the provisional ballot envelope, voting a provisional ballot, and completing and signing a statement attesting to the change of address.

Registering and Requesting an Absentee Ballot

Qualified voters who are members of the uniformed services or residing overseas may apply for an absentee ballot in any of the following ways:

  1. You may use the current Federal Post Credit Application (FPCA), available online at www.fvap.gov. The FPCA may be used both to register to vote and to request absentee ballots.
  2. You may also request an absentee ballot using a form prescribed by the Ohio Secretary of State (Form 11-A, if you will be in Ohio during the absentee period; otherwise use an FPCA).
  3. If you are already a registered Ohio voter, you may designate an eligible relative to request an absentee ballot on your behalf, like using the Secretary of State prescribed Form 11-E or the FPCA.

Receiving an Absentee Ballot

If you are an individual eligible to vote under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA), you may ask to receive your ballot in any one of the following ways:

1. By mail: Beginning on January 1, 2016, you may mail your completed absentee ballot application, bearing your signature, to the board of elections of the county in which your voting residence is located. The board must receive your request by noon on the Saturday before the election. However, you should submit your request as far in advance of the election as possible to ensure there is sufficient time for the board to mail, fax, or e-mail you a ballot. Your marked ballot must be returned by mail.

2. By fax: You may fax your absentee ballot request to the board of elections of the county in which your voting residence is located. The board must receive your request by noon on the Saturday before the election. You may request that the board fax, mail, or e-mail your ballot to you, but you must return your marked ballot by mail.

3. By e-mail: Your completed and signed absentee ballot request form may be e-mailed to the board of elections office in the county in which you are registered to vote. The board must receive your request by noon on the Saturday before the election. You may request that the board fax, mail, or e-mail your ballot to you, but you must return your marked ballot by mail.

4. In-person: Once absentee ballots are available, you may go to your county board of elections office or other site designated by the board of elections to cast your ballot in person.  If you are a UOCAVA voter voting in person on the day before an election or on Election Day, you may vote in person at the office of your county board of elections only. An application delivered in person to the board of elections office must be received by the close of polls on Election Day.

When the board of elections issues your ballot, it will provide you with information on how to track the status of your ballot in the Centralized Ballot Tracking System.

Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot

If you have requested an absentee ballot by noon on the Saturday before the election, but have not received it, you may use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot. If you receive your absentee ballot after submitting the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot, you may vote it and return it via mail or in person. If both the absentee ballot and the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot are received by the 10th day after Election Day, the board of elections will only count the absentee ballot.

A person currently incarcerated for a felony cannot vote.  If the person has a felony conviction, but is granted parole, judicial release, final discharge or is out of prison on probation, the person may vote but must register to vote again in order to be able to vote.  The felony conviction cancels the prior registration.

Inmates who are not in prison for a felony conviction (e.g. awaiting trial, or imprisoned for a misdemeanor) may vote by an absentee ballot if incarcerated on Election Day and otherwise eligible to vote.

FAQ

Top Issues to Field 

For more information for voters with disabilities, find a National Disability Rights Network partner in your area.

For more information for student voters, visit the Student Voting Guide from the Brennan Center for Justice.

Information provided by Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights

Voting as a Student

As a student, you have a constitutional right to register and vote in the place you truly consider to be “home” — whether that’s your parents’ house, your apartment, or your dorm room. But before you make the important decision about where to vote, make sure you know the voting rules (and sometimes consequences) of registering to vote in that state.

More Info On Student Voting

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Election Information for your state