While some other states are trying to make it harder for people to vote, California is making it easier.California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into a law a bill supported by AFJ and other groups to allow people to register to vote on Election Day. The bill won’t take effect until 2014 at the earliest, in order to allow time to create a computer database of voters.In his statement signing the bill Gov. Brown called voting “the sacred right of every citizen.” He added: “While other states try to restrict voters with new laws that burden the process, California allows voters to register online – and even on Election Day.”
A bipartisan group of Senators, including Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Susan Collins (R-NH), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), introduced the Jury ACCESS (Access for Capable Citizens and Equality in Service Selection) Act, which would ban discrimination in federal jury selection on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. As Senator Shaheen explained, “[d]iscriminating against a potential juror because of sexual orientation or gender identity is unacceptable, and it should not be tolerated. Our country is founded on principles of inclusion and acceptance and the jury selection process should be no different.”
Currently, while federal law bans discrimination in jury selection on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin and economic status, discrimination against potential jurors on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is not prohibited. Among the states, only California and Oregon ban exclusion from jury service on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in state court.
LGBT organizations applauded the bipartisan legislation. Allison Herwitt, with the Human Rights Campaign, expressed HRC’s support, saying, “[a]rbitrary and discriminatory exclusion of LGBT jurors has no place in our federal courts. We appreciate the bipartisan leadership of Senators Shaheen, Collins and Whitehouse to help ensure every American is guaranteed the right to be judged by a jury of his or her peers.”
Alliance for Justice strongly supports the Jury ACCESS Act, which is a step to ensuring that all Americans have equal access and participation in our justice system.
Alliance for Justice is partnering with dozens of civic engagement organizations to promote NationalVoter Registration Day. We are supporting this effort because we think it’s a great way to focus the nation’s attention on this most essential American right: the right to vote. While we know organizations have been and will be registering voters on other days, this event is designed to involve people and groups that might not otherwise participate in voter registration. Find out more about how to host or join an event on our Blolder Advocacy Blog.
Voter suppression laws are under challenge all across the country. Nowhere is the fight more fierce than in Pennsylvania – in the courts and on the streets.In Pittsburgh, members of the United Steelworkers made their point through street theater. Check out the story on their excellent blog – a great source of information on issues involving labor, the economy and income inequality.