1. Federal judge: A messy signature doesn't take away your right to vote
New Hampshire — the "Live Free or Die" state — had a law on the books that allowed pollworkers to throw away absentee ballots if they didn't think the signature matched one on earlier voting records. So it's more like "Life Free (so long as you carefully match your cursive signature from ten years ago) or Die."
Side note: If this law were in effect where I lived, every one of my ballots would be thrown out. Instantly. My signatures are like the squiggly scratchwork of a dying 110-year-old man. Each one is an indecipherable snowflake.
Anyway… U.S. District Judge Landya McCafferty ruled that this law relied on a lack of standards, training, and oversight and struck it down. She also pointed out that the state could show only two instances of voter fraud based on absentee ballots, while an estimated 740 voters were disenfranchised due to mismatched signatures.
2. Texas law says high schools are supposed to help students register to vote. Why aren't they?
When people say "everything is bigger in Texas," they must not be talking about voter participation, because the Longhorn state ranked 48th in voter turnout in 2016 (51.2%). Amazingly, this was actually up from 2014 when Texas came in dead last in voter participation out of every state in the nation (28.3%). So clearly, there's room for improvement, Texas. Not surprisingly, Texas has some of the strictest voting restrictions in the nation.
Texas Monthly looks at competing studies that look into whether high schools in the state are helping high school students register to vote as required by state law. Their conclusion — in case you want me to save you a click — is probably not.
3. Georgia plans on closing seven of nine polling places in a mostly black county. Wait, what?
An often overlooked practice that affects voter turnout is the closure or consolidation of polling places, which is why this week, the ACLU of Georgia attacked plans to close seven of nine polling places in a predominantly African-American county.
When polling places are closed or consolidated, it increases the average distance from voters to their closest polling place. For low-income voters without private transportation, changes in polling locations can be problematic. Once a polling place is beyond walking or easy public transportation distance, it can make voting too burdensome from many voters, especially older and low-income voters. Reductions in the number of polling places often also mean longer lines and waiting times to vote. With more people funneled to fewer polling places, the odds of crowds and delays grow. All of this, together, discourages voting.
4. This week's must read
Michael Tomasky breaks down the GOP's evolution to a fundamentally undemocratic organization and how Trump is the perfect leader for what it has become:
For a generation now, Republicans haven’t been just arguing with Democrats about who wins elections. They’ve been trying simultaneously to change the rules of the game so that they will win every election (their Supreme Court majority has done its part too, by the way, by allowing all this dark money into the system).
Read the rest here. Can't take much issue with any of this sobering, depressing column…