When Republican-controlled legislatures around the country have passed laws curtailing early voting, they have invariably insisted that these laws have nothing to do with politics.
Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly, however, has no problem with admitting the reason she wants to do away with early voting: giving people more time to cast their ballots might help Democrats.
Writing today in WorldNetDaily, Schlafly insists — without any evidence — that early voting is rife with fraud and enables Democratic campaign workers to “harass and nag low-information voters until they turned in their ballots.”
She blames early voting in states like Ohio for President Obama’s reelection victory, and worries that early voting may help Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections as people who have already voted “may wish to change their vote” because of “the Ebola scandal.”
Last year, Schlafly offered a similar defense of a voter suppression law in North Carolina.Because of the Ebola scandal, some may wish to change their vote, but that is impossible for those who have already voted. Some early voters may die before Election Day, and early voting allows the votes of those dead people to be included. If there is any dispute over whether their votes were valid or fraudulent, they are no longer with us to defend themselves.
Typically, there are no poll watchers during early voting, so the integrity of the casting of the ballots cannot be monitored. Many of the early votes are cast in a coercive environment, such as a union boss driving employees to the polls and watching over the process so there is no guarantee that their votes will be private.
Democrats promote early voting for the same reason they oppose voter ID: because they view early voting as helping their side. In the absurdly long 35-day period of early voting in Ohio in 2012, Democrats racked up perhaps a million-vote advantage over Republicans before Election Day was ever reached.
Republicans have been slow to realize how early voting helps the Democrats. Most top Republican political operatives firmly believed, right up to the morning of the 2012 election, that Mitt Romney was going to win.
In his expert analysis of why Republicans lost the 2012 election, scholar and WND writer Jerome Corsi quoted Mitt Romney’s chief campaign strategist, Stuart Stevens, on the last plane flight of the 2012 campaign, confidently assuring all that Romney would win the presidency because “a positive campaign message trumps a good ground game every time.”
Romney lacked a message, too, but he was mainly defeated by the Democrats’ superb ground game, which exploited early voting in key states such as Florida and Ohio. By continuously updating their computer-based information about who had not yet voted, Democrats could harass and nag low-information voters until they turned in their ballots.
h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW
A day before early voting was to begin in Ohio, a 5-4 split court stops lower court rulings from going into effect that allowed for more extensive early voting in the Buckeye state.
WASHINGTON — A day before early voting was due to begin in Ohio, the Supreme Court, on a 5-4 vote, stopped it before it began.
Although early voting will still happen in Ohio, the state’s NAACP had sued to stop a new state law and an associated order from Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted that restrict early voting in the state from going into effect.
The group won at the trial court and the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, but, on Monday afternoon, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay of this past week’s order from the 6th Circuit — putting the new rules back into effect.
The court’s more liberal members — Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan — would have denied the state’s request for a stay.
Source: Chris Geidner for Buzzfeed News
The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday upheld a trial court judge’s order blocking Ohio’s restrictions on early voting. A unanimous three-judge panel affirmed the preliminary injunction granted earlier this month by Judge Peter C. Economus, meaning that the cutbacks cannot go into effect until the case is resolved on the merits by the courts. The circuit judges agreed that the restrictions run afoul of the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
The law, enacted earlier this year, scaled back early voting in the Buckeye State from 35 days to 28 days and scrapped “Golden Week,” when residents could both register and vote in the same week.
From here the state of Ohio can either seek a full court — en banc — ruling at the 6th Circuit or appeal to the Supreme Court.
"With the press of time, it is not clear that Ohio is going to bother to try to change this for this election," wrote election law professor Rick Hasen of UC-Irvine. “But if and when this case gets to the Supreme Court, I expect 5 Justices could well adopt a much narrower definition of equal protection and the Voting Rights Act than offered here.”
Missouri Republicans are pushing for a measure to expand early voting in the state. The move seems like a departure from the nationwide, GOP-led effort to shrink the window of time voters have access to the polls, but Democrats say it’s more of the same. The measure from Missouri’s Republicans, who in May failed to amend the state’s constitution to implement stricter voter ID requirements, comes at the same time as a citizen-led ballot measure that would expand early voting significantly. State GOPers say their version, which expands early voting by a much smaller amount and includes restrictions, will combat voter fraud and help voters make up their minds. But critics say the Republican-backed measure excludes days when working families and African American voters are more likely to hit the polls.
The hullabaloo started after Martin Luther King Jr. Day, when volunteers such as Greg Oelke, a retired pipefitter in Missouri, gathered signatures to place an initiative on the ballot that would give voters six extra weeks to get to the polls at multiple locations and provide time to vote on the weekends. Oelke, who often worked overtime on construction projects both in and out of Missouri, collected signatures around Springfield because he said it was hard for him to make it to the polls on Election Day. “Early voting is an issue that really means a lot to me,” he told Missouri Jobs With Justice, a group that helped organize the petition drive.
In early May, after hundreds of volunteers collected signatures in church basements and break rooms, citizens delivered a petition with more than 300,000 signatures to Missouri’s secretary of state, whose office has until August to verify the signatures and decide whether to place the measure on the November ballot. But Missouri Republicans won’t let that happen without a fight.
On April 1, a couple months after the petition drive had begun, Rep. Tony Dugger (R-Hartville) sponsored a competing measure. In May, the GOP-led House passed a version of the bill that expands early voting by six days—excluding the weekend—to a limited number of polling places, while also prohibiting same-day voter registration. If the citizens’ initiative is approved, both measures will appear on the ballot in November. “The testimony in the Legislature in favor of the sham early voting bill was actually testimony against early voting,” says Lara Granich, the director of Missouri Jobs With Justice. “That makes the real motivation behind it clear. They want it to be more difficult for folks to vote.”
GOP-led legislatures in other key swing states, including Ohio, North Carolina, and Wisconsin, have all recently advanced measures to cut down on early voting. Democrats contend that Republicans target early voting because people who utilize it—low-income voters and minority voters—tend to also vote Democrat, a perception fueled by President Obama success with early voters, the Associated Press notes.
Republicans have offered different theories as to why six days of early voting makes more sense than six weeks. Last week, state Rep. Paul Curtman (R-Pacific) told the Missourian that six weeks of early voting would give voters too much time to commit voter fraud. (Between 2000 and 2010, there were 13 credible cases of in-person voter impersonation nationwide.) State Sen. Brian Nieves (R-Washington) said that six weeks of early voting “invites and begs” voter fraud, because it’s not uncommon for people to lie about their addresses, or to have people vote who are not registered. Mother Jones reached out to both Curtman and Nieves for information about documented voter fraud cases in Missouri, but did not receive a response.
Dugger, who introduced the measure, did not comment on the voter fraud allegations. He told Mother Jones that six weeks of early voting is too much because voters who cast a ballot early might end up changing their minds by Election Day. “I don’t want anyone to feel as if they wasted their their vote,” he says, noting that keeping the polls open for six weeks is a financial burden. “I think six days is a reasonable step.”
Granich argues that “if you are juggling two jobs and a family, six more days of bankers’ hours does nothing for you. This is really a cynical attempt to confuse voters.” Denise Lieberman, senior attorney at the Advancement Project, says that other states have demonstrated that early voting makes voting significantly more accessible, and voters aren’t required to vote early. As for the argument that early voting could promote voter fraud, she says, “I find it flabbergasting.”
The fifth largest state in the nation passed one of the most impactful progressive voting reforms last week, a move that will likely result in hundreds of thousands of new voters.
On Friday, both Illinois legislative chambers approved HB 105, a bill that allows state residents to register to vote on Election Day. The Land of Lincoln had previously cut off voter registration three days before Election Day.
Election Day registration is, in many ways, the anti-voter ID. Voter ID laws, which have been en vogue among conservatives recently, could disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters (though different studies have reached different conclusions regarding how many voters will be disenfranchised by voter ID, even conservative estimates suggest that 2 to 3 percent of registered voters will be impacted). Election Day registration, on the other hand, tends to boost turnout between 7 to14 percentage points, according to scientific studies. These gains come predominantly from the very groups that voter ID tends to discriminate against: minorities, young voters, and low-income Americans.
There are a few reasons why Election Day registration has such a significant impact on turnout. Requiring people to register before they actually cast a ballot presents an extra hurdle to voting that necessarily depresses turnout. In addition, many Americans don’t begin paying attention to an election until just before Election Day, at which point it is too late to register in many states. Finally, nearly one in eight Americans move in an average year. Unless they remember to update their voter registration before Election Day or live in a state with Election Day registration, they can’t vote.
Election Day registration has grown increasingly popular in blue states recently, likely in response to the rash of voter suppression laws since 2010. In the past two years, four other states — California, Colorado, Connecticut, and Hawaii — have enacted Election Day registration, bringing the total number of states to 13, plus the District of Columbia.
Recently unearthed footage of Rep. Ted Yoho speaking at Berean Baptist Church in Ocala, Florida, during his candidacy for Congress in the 2012 election cycle shows the Republican politician suggesting that only property owners should have the right to vote.
“I’ve had some radical ideas about voting and it’s probably not a good time to tell them, but you used to have to be a property owner to vote,” he said to applause.
He also called early voting through absentee ballots “a travesty” and hailed Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s move — since rescinded — to significantly reduce early voting from 14 days to eight, saying Scott’s plan didn’t go far enough. “I think it needs to be cut less than that,” he said.
Later in the event, an audience member asked Yoho about the Bilderberger Group, the center of a popular conspiracy theory. The audience member claimed the group “wants to take us down,” and asked, “What do you think our chances are in the next two years of being able to vote?”
“That’s a scary question and that’s one of the reasons I’m running for Congress, because I fear for this country,” Yoho replied. “I grew up believing in the American dream, I’m a product of the American dream, no one gave my wife and I anything…we worked our tail off and we didn’t expect anything from the government.” (In fact, Yoho has admitted that he and his wife at one point “went on food stamps.”)
He added: “If we don’t do anything in two and a half years, it’s a scary thought, if you start reading some of the stuff I’ve been reading, you’re like, this is all by designs, it sounds like a conspiracy.”
Yoho had a similar response to the next questioner who inquired about why he is running for Congress: “I fear for the country, two and a half years from now we may not be able to vote.”
h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW
The ACLU, along with the Ohio chapter of the NAACP, filed a lawsuit on Thursday challenging the state’s new restrictions on early voting.
The ACLU, along with the Ohio chapter of the NAACP, filed a lawsuit on Thursday challenging the state’s new restrictions on early voting. Given the timing, it seems plausible that the suit seeks to block Ohio’s cuts to early voting in time for November’s midterm elections.
Target No. 1 of the suit is Ohio Senate Bill 238, a new 2014 law that eliminated Ohio’s so-called “Golden Week,” of early voting, when voters in the state could previously register to vote and cast a vote at the same time. And there’s another provision challenged in the suit: Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s decision to eliminate Sunday voting, voting hours on the Monday before the election, and evening voting hours, in the name of having more “uniform” voting times across the state.Since minority communities are more likely to take advantage of early and evening voting periods, the suit argues, the new round of restrictions violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
The ACLU explained the complaint in a statement:
In the 2012 election, more than 157,000 Ohioans voted on the days that have now been cut. A disproportionately high percentage of those are low-income voters, many of whom are also African American. Lower-income voters tend to rely on evening and Sunday voting because they cannot take paid time off of work to vote during regular business hours. Single parents need these hours because it’s the only time they can find friends or family who can provide child care. People experiencing homelessness or severe transience rely on the opportunity to register and vote at the same time during the first week of early voting. And among the African-American church community, Sunday voting has become an important cultural tradition.
Sound familiar? It should. Ohio is hardly the first state to eliminate voting hours disproportionately used by minority and low income voters. Wisconsin’s governor just signed a new law that basically means the state only has early voting hours when everyone is at work. These new restrictions are the opposite of what a recent report from the Presidential Commission on Election Administration said states should be doing to ensure that all voters are able to get to the polls. That commission urged states to expand, not eliminate, early voting opportunities. Ohio has tried at least twice since 2011 to eliminate portions of the “Golden Week” voting period. Both times, the state has been forced to reinstate those hours, the ACLU explains.
Overall, the new restrictions on early voting hours nationwide come from Republican-controlled legislatures, justified by the argument that the uniform hours will combat voter fraud. But many, including a federal judge this week, have questioned whether that concern really warrants sweeping restrictions on when and how American citizens can vote. In a decision against Wisconsin’s Voter ID laws, U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman wrote that ”a person would have to be insane to commit voter-impersonation fraud,” given the current strict punishments on the books for the crime.
Source: Abby Ohlheiser for The Wire
While he thought you weren’t paying attention, Gov. Scott Walker and his legislative allies made it harder for Wisconsinites to vote in the 2014 election.
Wisconsin is going to lose its place as the state with the second highest voter turnout.
(Credit: Joe Shlabotnik)They can’t win elections on their ideas, so they’re going to rig them in their favor every way they can.[…]With an enormous number of individuals drifting from outrageous, narrow-minded, classist, racist, and sexist Teabagger concepts, Teapublicans are doing everything in their power to get their numbers up – even if that means asserting outlandish voter ID laws into place, despite their massive defects.These new Voter ID Laws, with ironically a slew of Republicans fumbling behind them, complicate voter locations, dates, voter times and confuses the general election system,deliberately to befuddle the voting structure.
Since 2013, 9 states have approved procedures directly affecting when and how people vote, oddly making voting more problematic for statistically demonstrated voters who don’t vote Republican. Embarrassingly, the same Republicans who claim Democrats are “not upholding the American way of life” and ruining the American dream are simultaneously attempting to sabotage the voting system. Wouldn’t you want to make it easier for individuals to vote properly if you cared about democracy? Not in Teapublamerica.
Some of these severe voter ID laws include obligatory proof of citizenship other than a normal ID card, such as a birth certificate, or passport. Some individuals would find recovering or verifying a birth certificate to be exceptionally difficult, because once it’s lost either due to circumstances such as a natural disaster or simply misplacing the document – it can be a complicated, costly and prolonged process to reclaim another. Particular individuals, mostly elderly voters of color, have even reported never receiving one. Whereas statistically it is the lower-class whom is more likely to either not have either document, or not have the financial means to obtain another.
Laws like these were recently upheld in Kansas and Arizona, and will unquestionably make the voting process more difficult for individuals who could have otherwise flashed a normal ID. Republicans claim this will level out and unify the voting system ( you mean, intentionally lean it more towards your end of the field? ) and the same ID you obtained through your state department, and have used to drive, acquire alcohol and vote so many times before will no longer be sufficient.
Meanwhile in North Carolina, Democrats are fighting feverishly to reverse the nation’s most restrictive voter laws. These laws in specific established rules to make it not just more complicated to prove citizenship, but more complicated for people to register to vote ( usually younger individuals ), cast provisional ballots, vote absentee and reduces the number of early voting days. So, if you have a dreadfully busy schedule, or two jobs and a family like many low income families, good luck getting that vote in early, voting at all or even registering yourself.
In Ohio and Wisconsin, weekend voting, which has statistically been preferred by the working class, black voters and low-income voters was cut drastically by Republicans who demanded the measures were essential, limiting the time that polls are open; how voter friendly.
Wisconsin State Senator Dale Schultz was a rarity of the Republican Party when he disagreed with the measure and claimed that they were “fiddling with mechanics rather than ideas.” He also stated that he felt the legislation was wearisome, “Making it more difficult for people to vote is not a good sign for a party that wants to attract more people.”. Schultz surprisingly voted against the bill.
Jon A. Husted, Ohio Republican Secretary of State however defended the unjust slew of legislations claiming that,“Every voter should have an equal opportunity to vote under the same set of rules.” What an ironic statement, since in February Ohio reduced early voting by one week, placed new restrictions on absentee ballot applications, and also same day registration and voting abilities. However, amidst all of the moves to limit voting ease of access for new and current voters, Husted believes that the laws will somehow aid in the “equal opportunity” to vote.
Overcomplicated registration, voting hours, absentee forms, irregular voting dates, and problematic voter ID systems will undoubtedly prevent some individuals from voting, obstruct the already congested registration and absentee voter process and result in longer lines at already time consuming poll sites.
“They know when they are taking away early voting exactly who it’s affecting,” said Ed FitzGerald, the executive of Cuyahoga County and a Democratic candidate for governor.
Although many of these ridiculous measures will not take place until 2016, Democrats and voting experts alike are concerned about the voting system being convoluted for no reason other than the Republican need to hinder Democratic leaning voters out of the system. While Dems battle over the Affordable Care Act, bogus commercials, advertisements claims and dramatic propaganda funded by Republican donors such as the Koch Brothers over healthcare laws, Republicans are also coming from behind and attacking voter systems themselves.
“What we see here is a total disrespect and disregard for constitutional protections,” stated the Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina N.A.A.C.P. and leader of the Moral Mondays movement, which disagrees with voter law changes.
Just last year, central provisions to the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in the voting system, were luckily denied by the Supreme Court.What sort of democracy loving individual would want to alter a piece of legislation that prohibits voter discrimination?
The slapped down provisions consisted of Southern Republicans attempting to pass legislation that would allow the “alteration of election laws prior to approval.” Who, other than a sore loser who doesn’t want the American people to be heard, would want to alter election laws without any oversight?
While Republicans claim the harsh voter ID laws are needed to help voter ID fraud, to ” bring greater uniformity to a patchwork election system” and attempt to gain back immense numbers of supporters lost by botching the voting system Democrats have continuously been fighting to make it easier for people to sign up to vote, and cast their votes while even implementing a secure online voting system. These systems have already been effective in California, Colorado and Maryland, while States like Arizona and Kansas attempt to limit voting as much as possible to targeted Republican supporters – very democratic.
As uncompromising conservative candidates belittle people of color, immigrants, women and lower-class individuals, it’s no surprise that in the midst of self-mutilation, Republicans are obviously trying to alter the game with their selfish needs in mind – as always.
The GOP doing the usual voter-suppressing routines.
Ohio voters will no longer be able to take part in early voting on Sundays or weekday nights, according to hours set by Secretary of State Jon Husted.
The AP reports voters will only get two Saturdays to cast early, in-person ballots during the statewide election this fall.
In a release on the “fair and uniform voting hours,” Husted explained the goal of cutting back on opportunities for early voting.
“In 2014, absentee voters will have the option of voting in person for four weeks, or they can vote without ever leaving home by completing the absentee ballot request form we will be sending all voters,” Husted said. “Our goal is to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat and to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity in the voting process no matter which method they choose.”
There’s little doubt that cuts to early voting target blacks disproportionately. In 2008, black voters were 56% of all weekend voters in Cuyahoga County, Ohio’s largest, even though they made up just 28% of the county’s population.
“By completely eliminating Sundays from the early voting schedule, Secretary Husted has effectively quashed successful Souls to the Polls programs that brought voters directly form church to early voting sites,” said Mike Brickner, a spokesman for the Ohio American Civil Liberties Union, in an email.
On the Sunday ahead of the 2012 elections, voters faced extremely long lines at polling locations in Ohio. That year, early voting in the state had been reduced from the five weekends before the election to only the weekend right before Election Day.
See the entire release on the decision here.
Source: The Huffington Post
Today Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and John Conyers (D-MI) and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) will introduce legislation to strengthen the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision last June invalidating a critical section of the VRA. The legislation, known as “The Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014,” represents the first attempt by a bipartisan group in Congress to reinstate the vital protections of the VRA that the Supreme Court took away.
In the Shelby County v. Holder ruling on June 25, 2013, the Court’s conservative majority struck down Section 4 of the VRA, the formula that compelled specific states with a well-documented history of voting discrimination to clear their voting changes with the federal government under Section 5 of the VRA. The two provisions were always meant to work together; without Section 4, Section 5 became a zombie, applying to zero states.
Section 4 covered nine states (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia) and parts of six others (in California, Florida, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, South Dakota) based on evidence of voting discrimination against blacks and other minority groups dating back to the 1960s and 1970s. Since the Shelby decision, eight states previously covered under Section 4 have passed or implemented new voting restrictions. This includes onerous new laws in states like North Carolina and Texas, which the Justice Department objected to under other provisions of the VRA (Sections 2 and 3).
The Sensenbrenner-Conyers-Leahy bill strengthens the VRA in five distinct ways:
1: The legislation draws a new coverage formula for Section 4, thereby resurrecting Section 5. States with five violations of federal law to their voting changes over the past fifteen years will have to submit future election changes for federal approval. This new formula would currently apply to Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Local jurisdictions would be covered if they commit three or more violations or have one violation and “persistent, extremely low minority turnout” over the past fifteen years.
The formula is based on a rolling calendar, updated with a current fifteen-year time period to exempt states who are no longer discriminating or add new ones who are, creating a deterrent against future voting rights violations. It’s based on empirical conditions and current data, not geography or a fixed time period—which voting rights advocates hope will satisfy Chief Justice John Roberts should the new legislation be enacted and reach the Supreme Court.
The new Section 4 proposal is far from perfect. It does not apply to states with an extensive record of voting discrimination, like Alabama (where civil rights protests in Selma gave birth to the VRA), Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, which were previously subject to Section 5. Nor does it apply to states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that have enacted new voting restrictions in the past few years.
Moreover, rulings against voter ID laws—like in Texas in 2012—will not count as a new violation. Voter ID laws can still be blocked by the Department of Justice or federal courts in the new states covered under Section 4, but that will not be included as one of the five violations needed to keep the state covered. This exemption for voter ID laws was written to win the support of House majority leader Eric Cantor and other Republicans.
2: The legislation strengthens Section 3 of the VRA, which has been described as the Act’s “secret weapon.” Under Section 3, jurisdictions not covered by Section 4 could be “bailed-in” to federal supervision, but plaintiffs had to show evidence of intentional voting discrimination, which is very difficult to do in court. Under the new Section 3 proposal, any violation of the VRA or federal voting rights law—whether intentional or not—can be grounds for a bail-in, which will make it far easier to cover new states. (One major caveat, again, is that court objections to voter ID laws cannot be used as grounds for “bail-in” under Section 3.)
3: The legislation mandates that jurisdictions in all fifty states have to provide notice in the local media and online of any election procedures related to redistricting changes within 120 days before a federal election and the moving of a polling place. This will make it easier for citizens to identify potentially harmful voting changes in the forty-six states not subject to Sections 4 and 5.
4: The legislation makes it easier to seek a preliminary injunction against a potentially discriminatory voting law. Plaintiffs will now only have to show that the hardship to them outweighs the hardship to the state if a law is blocked in court pending a full trial. There will be a preliminary injunction hearing on North Carolina’s voting law in July 2014, before the full trial takes place July 2015.
5: The legislation reaffirms that the attorney general can send federal observers to monitor elections in states subject to Section 4 and expands the AG’s authority to send observers to jurisdictions with a history of discriminating against language minority groups, which includes parts of twenty-five states.
The bill is certain to have its critics, including on the left. Voting rights supporters will argue, justifiably, that the new Section 4 formula does not apply to enough states and wrongly treats voter ID laws differently than other discriminatory voting changes. Despite these flaws, the legislation represents a significant improvement over the disastrous post-Shelby status quo, which has seen states like North Carolina and Texas rush to pass blatantly discriminatory voting restrictions after being freed from federal oversight. The legislation strengthens voting rights protections in a number of tangible ways and gives the federal government and voting rights advocates new tools to combat voting discrimination.
The sponsors of the bill have a lot of credibility on this issue. Sensenbrenner, as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, shepherded through the 2006 reauthorization of the VRA—which passed 390-33 in the House and 98-0 in the Senate. Conyers first entered Congress in 1965, the year of the VRA’s passage, and has served on the House Judiciary Committee ever since. Leahy is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and has recently worked with Sensenbrenner on reforming the NSA.
The problem of contemporary voting discrimination ultimately requires a solution that only Congress can provide. It was Congress, after all, that passed the VRA in 1965 in response to the failure of litigation to stop the mass disenfranchisement of black voters in the South. Yes, yes, I realize that a Congress that can scarcely do more than name a Post Office nowadays is not likely to resurrect the VRA any time soon—especially when so much of the GOP is devoted to erecting new barriers to the ballot box. But now that there’s legislation on the table, members of Congress face a choice: Do you want to make it easier or harder for people to vote? The question, and answer, is really that simple.
Hours after passing the country’s worst voter suppression law, North Carolina Republicans escalated their attempts to prevent students from participating in the political process.
• The GOP-controlled board of elections in Pasquotank County voted to disqualify Montravias King, a senior at historically black Elizabeth City State University, from running for city council, claiming King couldn’t use his student address to establish residency, even though he’s been registered to vote there since 2009. “The head of the county’s Republican Party said he plans to challenge the voter registrations of more students at the historically black university ahead of upcoming elections,” the AP reported.
—The GOP chair of the Forsyth County Board of Elections is moving to shut down an early voting site at historically black Winston-Salem State University because he claims students were offered extra credit in class for voting there. “He offered no proof such irregularities had occurred,” the Raleigh News and Observer noted.
—The GOP-controlled Watauga County Board of Elections in Boone, North Carolina, voted along party lines to close an early voting and general election polling place at Appalachian State University. Instead, the county limited early voting to one site in Boone and created the state’s third-largest voting precinct, with 9,300 voters at a precinct designed for 1,500, with only thirty-five parking places. It’s inaccessible by public transportation and over a mile from campus along a 45 mph road with no sidewalk. “I feel like the people (students) who really care might come all the way out here to vote,” said Ashley Blevins, a junior at Appalachian State, “but I know a lot of people who are like, ‘eh, it’s too far—I don’t think I’m going to walk that far,’ because they don’t really have another way of getting here.”
None of this would be happening if the Supreme Court hadn’t invalidated Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which previously covered forty of 100 counties in North Carolina. As Rick Hasen noted, the extreme voter suppression measures adopted in the state are a clear reason why Congress needs to strengthen the VRA.
The Christian Action League, the American Family Association’s North Carolina affiliate, issued a statement Friday praising a restrictive new voting law in North Carolina. The group is particularly pleased with a provision eliminating early voting on Sundays. “We have always opposed voting on Sunday for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that Sunday is the church’s prime time for developing the character of a nation,” said Mark Creech, the Christian Action League’s director.
He adds that Sunday voting in fact imperils our freedom because “it is a Sunday-cultivated character that makes an electorate fit to guard and preserve its liberties.”
h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW
Limbaugh: "There's No Reason For Early Voting," It Is "A Bastardization, A Corruption" | Video | Media Matters for America
Rush attacks Early Voting.
From the 08.13.2013 edition of Premiere Radio Networks’ The Rush Limbaugh Show:
RALEIGH, N.C. — A Republican-backed measure that would make sweeping changes to when and how North Carolinians can vote appears headed for a court fight.
The measure given final approval late Thursday night in a party-line vote in the GOP-dominated state House requires voters to present government-issued photo IDs at the polls and shortens early voting by a week, from 17 days to 10.
The measure also ends same-day registration, requiring voters to register, update their address or make any other needed changes at least 25 days ahead of the election. A popular high school civics program that registers tens of thousands of students to vote each year in advance of their 18th birthdays will be eliminated.
The bill also ends straight-ticket voting, which has been in place in the state since 1925.
Disclosure requirements intended to make clear who is underwriting campaign ads will be weakened and political parties would be enabled to rake in unlimited corporate donations. The cap on individual campaign donations will rise from $4,000 to $5,000.
Republicans claimed the changes will restore faith in elections and prevent voter fraud, which they claim is endemic and undetected. Nonpartisan voting rights groups, Democrats and Libertarians say the true goal is suppressing voter turnout among the young, the old, the poor and minorities.
The proposed changes now head to the desk of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory. His communications director, Kim Genardo, did not respond to messages Thursday night inquiring whether the governor will sign the bill.
Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday that the U.S. Justice Department will challenge a new voter ID law in Texas and hinted it may pursue similar legal action against other states, including North Carolina. Several other groups, including the NACCP, also indicated they are likely to mount legal challenges.
Republicans took control of the North Carolina Legislature in 2010 for the first time since Reconstruction and cemented full control of state government with the inauguration of McCrory in January. But registered Democrats still heavily outnumber Republican voters in the state and the margins of victory in recent elections have sometimes been razor thin.