Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Restrictions On Deputy Voter Registrars At Issue

Last Thursday, U.S. Southern District Court Judge Gregg Costa issued an injunction to suspended five provisions of Texas law that place restrictions on groups and individuals who work to register new voters. These provisions place restrictions on groups like the League of Women Voters, making it significantly more difficult for them to register voters. The provisions are suspended until a trial in the Voting for America v. Hope Andrade case on whether the entire law violates the 1993 National Voter Registration Act can be held. The Houston Chronicle has more:

Under Judge Gregg Costa injunction, Texas may not require that deputy voter registrars live in Texas, a law Voting for America said prevented it from organizing voter registration drives.

It also may not prevent deputy registrars from registering voters who live outside their county; prevent organizations from firing or promoting employees based on the number of voters registered; prevent organizations from making photocopies of completed voter registration forms for their records; or prevent deputy registrars from mailing completed applications.

One day later, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed a motion to stay Judge Costa's order to suspended those provisions, arguing an injunction would lead to confusion and possibly disenfranchise more voters if third party volunteers improperly handled registration. Judge Costa will rule on A.G. Abbott's motion on Wednesday to determine whether to allow those five provisions of Texas law to remain in effect pending a full trial.


There are more than 13 million registered voters in Texas, roughly 71 percent of the voting age population, however, there’s a fight brewing over exactly who can register the rest.

At issue are a five provisions of current Texas law, from a pair of items passed during the last session to legislation dating to the mid-1980s. One provision keeps third-party voter registration groups from working in more than one county.

Another specifies only Texas residents who are themselves registered to vote in a county can can become a deputy registrar to register new voters who reside only in that same county. Other elements include legislation to keep registrars from being paid in relation to the number they sign up, from photocopying registration certificates and from mailing completed forms.

Last week, a federal judge put those laws on hold with an injunction against the State of Texas. In his 94-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Gregg Costa of Galveston called the rules “more burdensome… than the vast majority, if not all, other states.”

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott replied Friday with a motion to stay, arguing an injunction would lead to confusion and possibly disenfranchise more voters if third party volunteers improperly handled registration. ”I just think it’s another straw man,” said Dicky Grigg, an Austin attorney representing Voting for America, an organization that includes non-partisan voter registration organization Project Vote and a plaintiff in the original lawsuit against Texas.

Grigg characterizes the legislation as a whole as “sort of like a thousand small cuts,” designed to disenfranchise minority voters under the guise of preventing statistically rare voter fraud. ”What they’re trying to do is to prevent the registration of minority voters. That’s basically the bottom line of what the legislature has done,” said Grigg. “Talking to the media they talk about voter fraud, but there wasn’t one piece of evidence of voter fraud put on before this judge because it doesn’t exist,” said Grigg. “It’s not a problem.”

Read the full story @ KVUE News.

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