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Critics claim voter suppression on plan to close Georgia county’s polling places

A plan to close most polling places in a predominantly black Georgia county ahead of November’s midterm elections is drawing opposition from the state’s gubernatorial candidates and voting rights activists, who claim blatant voter suppression. 'You don’t tell yourself no': Stacey Abrams' bid to be America's first black female governor Read more The two-member local elections board is expected to vote Friday on a proposal to shutter seven of nine polling sites in rural Randolph county, in south-west Georgia, where roughly 60% of the 7,800 residents are black – twice the statewide rate. “You don’t help persons with disabilities by removing the number of locations at which they might possibly be able to vote,” Young said. He added that the Georgia ACLU and the county commissioner’s office offered to work with the county to solve compliance issues and were not taken up on the offer. Both Stacey Abrams, the Democratic nominee seeking to become the first female African American governor in US history, and Republican Brian Kemp, who is white and is Georgia’s secretary of state, urged county officials to drop the plan. “Consolidation has come highly recommended by the secretary of state and is already being adopted by several counties and is being seriously considered and being worked on by many more,” Mike Malone, a consultant hired by the elections board, said according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Voting while black: the racial injustice that harms our democracy | Carol Anderson Read more Voting rights could become a flashpoint in the governor’s race, as Abrams seeks to turn out African American voters in rural areas, particularly in a series of counties known as the “Black Belt”, mostly south of Atlanta. She has said Kemp is an architect of voter suppression, an accusation he has denied. Why US elections remain 'dangerously vulnerable' to cyber-attacks Read more “We are deeply troubled by this proposal which would impair the ability of African Americans, particularly in low-income areas, to reach the polls,” Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee, said on Monday. “If you live in one of these places where the polling location was closed,” he said, “that’s a three-and-a-half-hour walk to your new polling place, if you don’t have a car.”

The Politics Hour – June 29, 2018

This week, Marylanders went to the polls to cast ballots in the primaries. Winners included Ben Jealous, who Democrats chose to run against Governor Larry Hogan in November, and Angela Alsobrooks, Democratic nominee for Prince George’s County Executive. In a dramatic turn, the Democratic primary in Montgomery County’s Executive race is still too close to call. We check in with two winners from Tuesday’s election, Amie Hoeber, the Republican pick to represent Maryland’s sixth district, and Democratic Senator Ben Cardin. We also discuss the shooting at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis. Sorting political fact from fiction, and having fun while we’re at it. Join us for our weekly review of the politics, policies and personalities of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. Sorting political fact from fiction, and having fun while we’re at it. Join us for our weekly review of the politics, policies and personalities of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. Guests Corey Stewart, Republican candidate for Senator, Virginia; Chairman, Prince William Board of County Supervisors (R); @CoreyStewartVA Benjamin Cardin, U.S.

Supreme Court says Minnesota ban on political apparel in polling places too broad

The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down Minnesota’s ban on wearing “political” apparel to polling places, saying that the state’s intentions may be good but that its law was too broad and open to differing interpretations. But Minnesota’s prohibition on the wearing of a “political badge, political button or other political insignia” raised more questions than it answered, Roberts wrote, and gave too much discretion to volunteer election judges trying to figure out what counted as “political” and what did not. “Here, the unmoored use of the term ‘political’ in the Minnesota law, combined with haphazard interpretations the state has provided in official guidance and representations to this court, cause Minnesota’s restriction to fail even this forgiving test.” The Supreme Court decided 25 years ago that states could ban electioneering and distributing campaign materials within 100 feet of polling places, and all states have restrictions. But Minnesota and nine other states go further. Cilek was told that he could not vote without covering up or losing the T-shirt. That said, a shirt displaying a rainbow flag could be worn ‘unless there was an issue on the ballot’ that ‘related somehow . But a shirt with the text of the First Amendment? Sotomayor wrote that the Supreme Court should have first given the Minnesota Supreme Court a chance to interpret the law. All justices agreed that states may impose restrictions on speech at polling places. The state may reasonably decide that the interior of the polling place should reflect that distinction.” The case is Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky.

Supreme Court strikes down political dress code at polls in latest decision involving voting

WASHINGTON — Overly broad state laws that ban wearing political messages inside polling places are unconstitutional, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday. During oral argument in February, state officials said the law had not been challenged until now. Chief Justice John Roberts issued the court's opinion, calling the state's effort to make polling places less clamorous admirable. Sotomayor had expressed support for the state law during oral argument in February, noting some people viewed "Please I.D. All 50 states regulate campaign advocacy in and around polling places for reasons most of the justices readily defended during oral argument. Federal district and appeals courts dismissed the complaints from Andrew Cilek and the Minnesota Voters Alliance, but the Supreme Court has been protective of free speech rights even when it disagrees with the message. The problem, Roberts said, is that Minnesota's prohibition doesn't specify what's allowed and what isn't, leaving too much up to the whim of temporary polling place officials. The case was one of several before the court this term that affect voting, which the justices have quarreled over for years following their landmark 5-4 decision in 2013 striking down a key section of the Voting Rights Act. Can a state prohibit voters from wearing a "Make America Great Again" or "#MeToo" T-shirt? And why would it be OK to herald First Amendment freedom of speech rights across one's chest, but not Second Amendment rights affecting firearms -- a differentiation Minnesota allowed?