Blog of Rights


The Voting Rights Act to the Rescue in South Dakota -- Again!

By Bryan Fisher, Washington Legislative Office at 12:53pm
Chalk up another victory for Indian voters in South Dakota. On September 30, the South Dakota Department of Public Safety announced that it was reversing a prior decision to close driver licensing stations in Todd and Charles Mix counties, home to the Rosebud and Yankton Sioux reservations, respectively. Residents of those counties had complained that the closures would force them to drive great distances to get a driver's license or photo identification card necessary to vote in South Dakota, and they argued that the closures would have disparate impact on Native American voters.

ACLU Empowers Voters in Georgia Runoff

By Bryan Fisher, Washington Legislative Office at 12:58pm

This election isn't over — at least not in Georgia. That state is holding a runoff election on December 2 to decide who will represent the peach state in the U.S. Senate for the next six years. Two other statewide offices are also on the ballot.

The runoff is necessary because of a Georgia state law that requires the winning candidate in certain elections to win more than 50 percent of the votes cast. When no candidate wins a majority in the general election, the top two finishers face each other in a runoff.

That's exactly what happened on November 4, when Republican incumbent Senator Saxby Chambliss garnered 49.8 percent of the vote to Democratic challenger Jim Martin's 46.8 percent and Libertarian candidate Allen Buckley's 3.4 percent. As a result, Chambliss and Martin face off on December 2 in a race that has attracted significant national attention.

The ACLU will be there, as it was on November 4, to educate and empower voters. We have just released an updated version of our Georgia voter empowerment card with important details about the runoff. You can download the card here (PDF) and print it at your home or office. We'll also be staffing our voter protection hotline (1-877-523-2792) to assist voters as needed on December 2.

Here's what every Georgia voter needs to know about the runoff:

Be Prepared to Wait: High Voter Turnout Could Mean Long Lines

By Bryan Fisher, Washington Legislative Office at 5:18pm

Next Tuesday, more than 70 million Americans will head to the polls in what many are predicting will be a record turnout. When they do, voters will encounter an election system that has undergone a dizzying number of changes since the debacle of…

Ten Tips For Avoiding Problems When You Vote

By Bryan Fisher, Washington Legislative Office at 9:40am
voting rights

With Election Day right around the corner, it's not too soon to focus on the nitty-gritties of casting your ballot. Here are the ACLU's top 10 tips for avoiding problems when you vote.

  1. Check your voter registration status as soon as possible.
  2. Vote before Election Day if you can.
  3. Locate your polling place before Election Day.
  4. Plan ahead if you need special assistance.
  5. Don't wear political attire to the polls.
  6. Bring some form of identification if you have it.
  7. Vote early in the day.
  8. Follow all instructions.
  9. Ask for help if you need it.
  10. Take your time.

Want more details? Read on...

Voter Suppression in South Dakota - Not So Fast!

By Bryan Fisher, Washington Legislative Office at 1:26pm

South Dakota isn't getting much attention in this election cycle. The state is reliably red at the presidential level, and none of the major down-ballot races are particularly competitive. But that doesn't mean that all is well and good.


You've Got to be Pretty Quick to See the Fleeting Penis

By Bryan Fisher, Washington Legislative Office at 2:07pm

The Parents Television Council (PTC) is once again trying to be every American's parent by raising a so-called "indecency" claim against CBS's show Survivor. The PTC complaint is the result of a millisecond view of a contestant's penis,…

Congress-ese: On Conference Committees and What Grade School Failed to Mention

By Bryan Fisher, Washington Legislative Office at 12:27pm

In grade school, we are taught that a bill becomes a law after passage by both houses of Congress and once signed by the president. Straightforward, right? Not quite. If the House and Senate pass different versions of the same bill, the differences must be reconciled into one that the president then either signs or vetoes. This process plays itself out in conference committees appointed by the leadership of both houses to iron out differences between their respective pieces of legislation. When bills share policy goals, use the same actors, or envision similar budgets, coming to a consensus can sometimes be quite easy. However, when two pieces of legislation do not share these characteristics, this process becomes more complicated and, almost always, contentious.

Congress-ese: House Rules Committee

By Bryan Fisher, Washington Legislative Office at 3:59pm

The unassuming House Committee on Rules, with the innocuous sounding charge to "arrange the order of business and decide how and in what way certain measures shall be considered," holds almost unassailable control of what legislation passes…

Mukasey Must Cooperate with Congress: Charisma and Hubris Not Enough to Fix Justice Department

By Bryan Fisher, Washington Legislative Office at 3:32pm

On Tuesday, speaking before the American Bar Association, Attorney General Michael Mukasey attempted to sweep the legacy of Alberto Gonzales, Kyle Sampson, and Monica Goodling under the rug. To suggest that the Department of Justice's (DOJ) tattered…

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