On Voter Rights and Wrongs

Posted by on January 24, 2014 in Blog

by: Firas Suqi Spring Intern, 2014

Take a moment and picture the raggedy, seasoned bill from “Schoolhouse Rock”, who after getting tossed around from one chamber of Congress to the other, finally becomes ratified into law. After going through the entire painstaking process of becoming law, what the singing bill fails to tell its audience -- is that the Supreme Court can strike down certain aspects contained within the bill -- years after it’s been ratified into law.

This is precisely what happened to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) when...

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A Change of Course

Posted on December 03, 2013 in Countdown
Friday, November 29 marked the one-year anniversary of the United Nations vote to upgrade the Palestinian Mission to the UN’s status to “non-member observer state.” To mark the event, the United Nations passed a resolution labeled 68/L.12 declaring 2014 the “International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.”
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What Monday’s Supreme Court Decision Means

Posted by on June 18, 2013 in Blog

On Monday, the Supreme Court issued a key decision on voting rights. By a 7-2 margin, the Court said that Arizona cannot require new voters to present proof of citizenship before being added to the voting rolls. In its decision, the Court held that the Arizona requirement was “inconsistent with” the 1993 National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), which requires that states accept and use the federal form. The federal form allows applicants to mail in their registration forms, simply swearing that they are U.S. citizens eligible to vote.

The Arizona requirement was one of a spate of...

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Protecting the Voting Rights Act

Posted by on February 27, 2013 in Blog

Today, the Supreme Court hears oral arguments on one of the most important legislative initiatives from the Civil Rights era: Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The VRA ensures that all eligible American citizens are able to vote, unimpeded by processes or regulations— from literacy tests and English-only ballots, to moving polling places and redistricting—that could effectively disenfranchise ethnic minorities.

The VRA has been upheld a number of times over the years, upheld by the Supreme Court in 2009 and extended three times by Congress. The most recent extension, through 2031, passed in...

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AAI Takes Part in National Voter Registration Day

Posted by on September 26, 2012 in Blog

By Jennine Vari

2012 Fall Intern

Yesterday was National Voter Registration Day and AAI was out and about in Farragut Square and Georgetown as part of its Yalla Vote campaign to mobilize and educate voters. The Arab American Institute, in coordination with NNAAC and almost 250 other organizations around the country, spent the day registering new voters and helping people update their registration information. This nationwide effort is to ensure that no voter is left out of the 2012 election process.  In 2008, 6 million eligible voters didn’t cast their ballots either because they missed the registration deadline...

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Will Pennsylvania Keep the “Wandering Arabs and Tartar Hordes” from Voting?

Posted by on September 21, 2012 in Blog

Yesterday, we talked to you about the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s ruling on the Commonwealth’s new voter law.  In a 4-2 decision, the Justices said they weren’t convinced that the law would not impede on voting rights, and that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, while acting in good faith, was operating under joint burdens of operational and time constraints that might prohibit the timely issuance of required identification. 

“Not satisfied with a mere predictive judgment based primarily on the assurances of government officials,” the Supreme Court has sent the case back to a lower court to...

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Decision Time for Pennsylvania Voter ID Law

Posted by on September 20, 2012 in Blog

By Jennine Vari

2012 Fall Intern

On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided to hold hearings in the lower court to review the state’s Voter ID law. The re-evaluation is being held in order to assess whether it can be implemented by Election Day without disenfranchising voters. The decision was approved by four of the six judges on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, but with Election Day only 48 days away, the decision is coming down to the wire.  Judge Robert Simpson has been ordered to make a decision by October 2nd.

The legislation for stricter voter ID regulations...

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Volunteer with AAI for National Voter Registration Day

Posted by on September 14, 2012 in Blog

On September 25, Yalla Vote will be part of a nationwide effort to ensure that no eligible voter is left out of this year’s election. AAI will join almost 250 organizations from across the country, including Yalla Vote partner NNAAC, for National Voter Registration Day, with the goal of registering thousands of new Arab American voters.

It’s more important than ever that Arab Americans get to the polls and make their voices heard. It’s estimated that 6 million eligible voters failed to cast their ballots in 2008, and Yalla Vote was designed to give our community the...

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Sawyer Versus Scott: The Ultimate Showdown?

Posted by on August 24, 2012 in Blog

Voter suppression has been the story of the 2012 elections, and Florida has been in the thick of it. Last week, a federal court upheld the U.S. Department of Justice’s finding that Florida’s 2011 law narrowing early voting to 8 days would place an unfair burden on minority voters in 5 counties: Collier, Hardee, Hendry, Hillsborough, and Monroe.  To circumvent the court ruling, state election officials suggested that these counties offer 12 hours of voting during the 8 days. Four counties agreed. But Harry Sawyer said no. “My opinion was that the old law worked fine” said Sawyer,...

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Bad News for Voters in Virginia

Posted by on August 24, 2012 in Blog

Voting rights activists in Virginia suffered a defeat on Monday, as the U.S. Department of Justice approved Virginia’s new voter ID law. The legislation, which requires voters to bring identification to the polls for the first time, will go into effect in time for Election Day in November.

The law has a more expanded definition of acceptable ID than most other voter identification laws across the country, and according to Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, the DOJ found that the law does not violate the Voting Rights Act. The Brennan Center for Justice has found that...

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