Civil rights groups have returned to the cause of criminals' political rights for the second time this week — this time in Tennessee, which has some of the strictest and most complex rules in the nation.
A federal lawsuit the NAACP filed Thursday alleges the constitutional rights of perhaps 350,000 Tennesseans have been violated by the "unequal, inaccessible, opaque and error-ridden implementation" of the law permitting felons to apply to vote again after completing their sentences.
The state stands out in a nation where such rules have a disproportionate effect on people of color, which critics see as an affront to both racial justice and an engaged electorate. The Campaign Legal Center, which drafted the suit, says one in five Black adults in Tennessee can't vote because of their convictions, the second highest disenfranchisement rate after Wyoming, which has a tiny Black population. The same is true for 10 percent of Latinos, a higher share than anywhere else.
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North Carolina's strict new photo ID requirement for voters will remain in limbo for the foreseeable future, even though a federal appeals court has paved the way for it to take effect.
The state's history of racially discriminatory election laws is not enough to prevent the General Assembly from imposing new restrictions, a three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously Wednesday.
But the court continued to keep the 2018 law on the shelf during a certain appeal of its decision to the Supreme Court, alongside a separate challenge in state court. Both suits allege the 2018 measure would lead to the unconstitutional suppression of Black and poor voters.
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Nearly 200,000 valid voters should be returned to the rolls in time for Georgia's twin elections that will decide partisan control of the Senate in five weeks, a new lawsuit argues.
The suit, filed Wednesday by three voting rights groups in federal court in Atlanta, alleges the Georgia secretary of state's office improperly removed 198,351 voters from the state's registration database last year — an error rate of 63 percent.
The Black Voters Matter Fund, the Transformative Justice Coalition and the Rainbow Push Coalition maintain that voters who hadn't moved were taken off the rolls because the state did not use the correct list to verify addresses. The suit also challenges the state's "use it or lose it" law, which requires people to vote in at least one federal election every four years or interact with a state election office in order to remain registered.
One lesson about elections reinforced time and again this year is that states get to decide almost all their own rules, Washington bigfooting with its own decisions only rarely.
The closest congressional contest in four decades looks to be one of those times.
A Democrat who fell a scant six votes short, in a district covering southeastern Iowa, says she will challenge the result in the House itself — triggering a highly unusual process that threatens to eradicate any small measure of bipartisan collaboration that might germinate in the new Congress.
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