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American Civil Liberties Union Says New Voting Laws Are Unconstitutional

Victoria Johnson | 8/16/2013, 1:32 a.m.

Less than two months after the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, an act passed in 1965 to keep up with racial discrimination in voting laws by determining which states must get federal approval before changing voting laws, states such as Arizona, Kansas and North Carolina have moved to create new voting laws that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is calling unconstitutional.

Arizona attempted to require prospective voters to provide proof of citizenship in order to be able to vote in national elections. In order to apply, they would have to provide a passport, birth certificate, or other proof of citizenship to register. This requirement is more than the federal government requires to vote. The Supreme Court struck it down, however in June.

Now Kansas is attempting to use similar laws.

According to a letter distributed by the ACLU, more than one-third of voter registration applications submitted in Kansas this year are being held in "suspense" by the state.

"Kansas has also defied the Supreme Court's ruling in the Arizona case by continuing to demand documentary proof of citizenship from individuals applying to register with the federal voter registration form. These unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles have deprived thousands of Kansans of their right to register to vote." the letter from ACLU reads

Dale Ho, the director of ACLU's Voting Rights Project, stated "Kansans are simply trying to exercise their constitutional right to vote. This is the most fundamental freedom we have as Americans, yet Secretary of State Kobach is blocking thousands upon thousands of Kansans from their rightful participation in the political process."

While Kansas has 90 days to comply with federal law before facing legal action, the ACLU of North Carolina and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice already filed a lawsuit on August 14 to challenge another state's, North Carolina, new voting law signed by Governor Pat McCrory.

According to another letter distributed by the ACLU, the new law would eliminate a week of early voting, end same-day registration, and prohibit "out-of-precinct" voting.

"This law is a disaster. Eliminating a huge part of early voting will cut off voting opportunities for hundreds of thousands of citizens and turn Election Day into mess, shoving more and more voters into even longer lines," said Ho

"Florida similarly eliminated a week of early voting before the 2012 election, and we all know how that turned out – voters standing in line for hours, some having to wait until after the president's acceptance speech to finally vote, and hundreds of thousands giving up in frustration. Those burdens fell disproportionately on African-American voters in Florida, and the same thing will happen in North Carolina. We should be making it easier for people to vote, not harder." Ho continued.

According to the ACLU, the lawsuit was filed on behalf of several North Carolinians who will face "substantial hardship" under the law. The letter also states that during the 2012 election, 2.5 million ballots were cast during the early voting period which represented more than half of the total electorate. Additionally, more than 70 percent of African-Americans used early voting during the 2008 and 2012 general elections.