Vigils to urge Voting Rights Act's revival planned Tuesday nationwide
Vigils are scheduled across the country Tuesday to mark the anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and to protest the elimination if its most powerful provision.
At least three dozen events in 17 states – including one at the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial within walking distance of both the Capitol and the White House in Washington – are sponsored by more than 30 state and national groups.
A listing of all the events can be found here.
A central provision of the law required that any changes in voting processes – from the drawing of election district maps to the changing of poll closing times — be approved in advance by the Justice Department in nine states and parts of six others with a history of racial discrimination.
This requirement, called "preclearance," was effectively stripped from the law in 2013 by the Supreme Court, which ruled that the law's formula for designating the places where preclearance was required was based on unfairly outdated data.
"Since the VRA was gutted in 2013, 20 states have passed discriminatory voting laws including gerrymandering, voter ID laws, and voter purges that have put up barriers to voting and suppressed the voices of entire communities," the Action Network, a collation of progressive groups, said in encouraging attendance at the candle-lit vigils. "Tell Congress that enough is enough — it's time to restore the Voting Rights Act.
A majority of House members are behind such legislation, but the Democratic majority leadership has not signaled a timetable for a debate. And even if the bill passes, its fate would be grim in the Republican-majority Senate.
The paper trail has become the industry standard for giving voters and elections officials confidence that ballots haven't been hacked. Now comes another back-to-the-future move for boosting security and bolstering public confidence in elections: the return of the 10-sided dice.
The quirky toys found in many high school classrooms and role-playing games are part of a pilot program announced this week in Pennsylvania, which is joining a handful of other states in trying out a math-based system for checking the accuracy of election returns.
The "risk-limiting audit" searches for irregularities in vote tallies and relies on some seriously advanced statistical analysis combined with a bit of analog randomness, which is where auditors using those pentagonal trapezohedrons (the dice) at public audit hearings will get involved.
Indiana is not moving nearly assertively enough to upgrade its voting machines so they're less vulnerable to hackers, a nonprofit alleges in a federal lawsuit pressing the state to spend millions more before the presidential election.
At issue is the timetable for eliminating the direct recording electronic, or DRE, voting machines that are in use in 58 of the state's 92 counties. The complaint filed Thursday by Indiana Vote by Mail, which advocates for any array of proposals to give Hoosiers easier access to the ballot box, wants to force the state to replace the paperless devices in the next year with machines that produce a voter-verified paper audit trail.
Indiana for now looks to be among just eight states using paperless balloting in 2020, when President Trump will be counting on its 11 electoral votes. The state last went for the Democratic candidate for president in 2008.