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Arizona 'ballot harvesting' ban is discriminatory, court rules

An Arizona law banning a third party from returning another person's mail-in ballot was contrived to suppress minority voting in violation of the Voting Rights Act, a federal appeals court ruled Monday.

The practice of so-called ballot harvesting — often practiced by campaign volunteers and staff — was banned by the state's Republican-controlled Legislature in 2016 but later challenged in court on the grounds it was a deliberate attempt to stifle minority voters.

The lawsuit, filed by state and national Democratic party committees, also challenged Arizona's policy of discarding votes cast in the wrong precinct. The committees claims that is another voter suppression tactic.

On Monday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, ruling 7-4 that discarding out-of-precinct votes and banning ballot collection violated federal law and were a continuation of the state's long history of voter discrimination.

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Alabama is one of just nine states that doesn't offer in-person early voting.

Democrats will try again to expand voting options in deep red Alabama

An uphill drive is being revived to make casting a ballot easier in Alabama, which has been at the center of the struggle for voting rights in the United States for more than half a century.

Thomas Jackson, one of the longest serving Democrats in Montgomery, is already gathering support for bills to permit absentee voting without an excuse as well as mandate early voting in every county in the state, one of the few places where neither provision is on the books.

He'll introduce the bills when the Legislature convenes in two weeks. But he's proposed them before and they've never received so much as a committee vote in the lopsided Republican legislature. And Alabama's top elections official, GOP Secretary of State John Merrill, says he's confident both measures will die again this year.

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The former New York mayor, above talking to reporters this week, is the last presidential candidate to detail his plan for fixing the system's ills.

Bloomberg joins other Democrats with broad plans for democracy reform

Citizens would be automatically registered to vote, or they could register online or on Election Day, under a comprehensive voting rights proposal unveiled Friday by Mike Bloomberg.

He is the last of the prominent Democratic candidates for president to detail an agenda for making the democratic process work better. The plan was unveiled as Bloomberg took his campaign to Georgia for an appearance with Stacey Abrams, one of the most prominent civil rights advocates in the country.

"The right to vote is the fundamental right that protects all others, but in states around the country it is under attack," Bloomberg said in a statement released by his campaign.

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A federal judge in North Carolina has put a hold on a law that would have required voters to show an ID at the polls.

Citing history of racial discrimination, judge blocks North Carolina voter ID law

A federal judge has blocked implementation of a new voter identification law set to go into effect in North Carolina, claiming Republican state legislators who authored the bill were intending racial discrimination.

U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs noted in her ruling on Tuesday that North Carolina "has a sordid history of racial discrimination and voter suppression stretching back to the time of slavery, through the era of Jim Crow, and, crucially, continuing up to the present day."

Biggs blocked use of the voter ID requirement until there is a trial. That, in effect, means North Carolina voters won't have to present an ID when they vote in the state's March 3 primary elections.

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