Posts tagged "Ken Blackwell"

Early this morning, before the official opening of the Values Voter Summit, the Religious Right legal and advocacy group Liberty Counsel hosted “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition,” a breakfast panel on threats to the Second Amendment.  On the menu: conspiracy theories about President Barack Obama and the United Nations plotting to disarm Americans, and rhetoric of resistance.

In addition to Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, the speakers were the Family Research Council’s Ken Blackwell (also a board member of the National Rifle Association) and gun-rights advocate Jan Morgan, who also appeared at Liberty Counsel’s Awakening conference earlier this year.

Morgan portrayed a United Nations treaty meant to restrict the illegal international trade in weapons as a UN plot to take Americans’ guns (false), and the Obama administration’s decision to sign the treaty as an ominous step.  Blackwell portrayed the “assault” on the Second Amendment as an assault on the Constitution and on God himself, warning that nations that fall to tyranny or big-government socialism first must destroy the family, silence the church, and disarm their citizens.  The Obama administration, he said, thinks it has replaced God in people’s lives. Asked how Americans should respond to the signing of the treaty, he said, “resist, resist, resist.”

Morgan celebrated the Colorado recall of two state senators who had supported the state’s new gun law, and she praised southern governors who she said are looking to put the “Firearm Freedom Act” into law in their states, which would threaten the arrest and prosecution of federal agents who try to enforce federal gun regulations in their state. She ended with a dramatic call for conservatives to “pull ourselves out of this pity party” and channel the fighting spirit of the founding fathers.

h/t: Peter Montgomery at RWW

As a general rule, the candidate who receives the most votes in an election is declared the winner.  But that would all change if the Family Research Council’s Ken Blackwell gets his way and states start adopting a vote-rigging scheme that he is recommending whereby, in a presidential election, electoral votes would switch from winner-take-all allocations to a system where they were awarded according to congressional districts.

As a result of such a switch, candidates who lose the overall popular vote in a state could still end up receiving a majority of that state’s electoral votes simply by virtue of winning the popular vote in more individual districts.

As Blackwell admitted several months ago, if this sort of system had been in place during the last election, Mitt Romney would have won the presidency despite the fact that he lost the overall popular vote by nearly 5 million votes.

David Barton has eagerly been supporting the scheme by laughably claiming that it would “give the people a greater voice” and last night he got Glenn Beck to endorse it as well on his television program.

From the 09.19.2013 edition of TheBlazeTV’s The Glenn Beck Program:

h/t: Kyle Mantyla at RWW

motherjones:

EXCLUSIVE: Inside Groundswell, the right-wing group where activists & journalists coordinate messaging 

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Believing they are losing the messaging war with progressives, a group of prominent conservatives in Washington—including the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and journalists from Breitbart News and the Washington Examiner—has been meeting privately since early this year to concoct talking points, coordinate messaging, and hatch plans for “a 30 front war seeking to fundamentally transform the nation,” according to documents obtained by Mother Jones.

Dubbed Groundswell, this coalition convenes weekly in the offices of Judicial Watch, the conservative legal watchdog group. During these hush-hush sessions and through a Google group, the members of Groundswell—including aides to congressional Republicans—cook up battle plans for their ongoing fights against the Obama administration, congressional Democrats, progressive outfits, and the Republican establishment and “clueless” GOP congressional leaders. They devise strategies for killing immigration reform, hyping the Benghazi controversy, and countering the impression that the GOP exploits racism. And the Groundswell gang is mounting a behind-the-scenes organized effort to eradicate the outsize influence of GOP über-strategist/pundit Karl Rove within Republican and conservative ranks. (For more on Groundswell’s “two front war” against Rove—a major clash on the right—click here.) 

One of the influential conservatives guiding the group is Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, a columnist for the Daily Caller and a tea party consultant and lobbyist. Other Groundswell members include John Bolton, the former UN ambassador; Frank Gaffney, the president of the Center for Security Policy; Ken Blackwell and Jerry Boykin of the Family Research Council; Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch; Gayle Trotter, a fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum; Catherine Engelbrecht and Anita MonCrief of True the Vote; Allen West, the former GOP House member; Sue Myrick, also a former House GOPer; Diana Banister of the influential Shirley and Banister PR firm; and Max Pappas, a top aide to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). 

Among the conveners listed in an invitation to a May 8 meeting of Groundswell were Stephen Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart News Network; Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service agent who resoundingly lost a Maryland Senate race last year (and is now running for a House seat); Leonard Leo, executive vice president of the Federalist Society; Sandy Rios, a Fox News contributor; Lori Roman, a former executive director of the American Legislative Exchange Council; and Austin Ruse, the head of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. Conservative journalists and commentators participating in Groundswell have included Breitbart News reporters Matthew Boyle and Mike Flynn, Washington Examiner executive editor Mark Tapscott, and National Review contributor Michael James Barton.

Groundswell has collaborated with conservative GOPers on Capitol Hill, including Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Cruz and Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), a leading tea partier. At its weekly meetings, the group aims to strengthen the right’s messaging by crafting Twitter hashtags; plotting strategy on in-the-headlines issues such as voter ID, immigration reform, and the sequester; promoting politically useful scandals; and developing “action items.”

A certain amount of secrecy cloaks Groundswell’s efforts. Though members have been encouraged to zap out tweets with a #GSW hashtag, a message circulated to members of its Google group noted that the role of certain advocates should be kept “off of the Google group for OPSEC [operational security] reasons.” This “will avoid any potential for bad press for someone if a communication item is leaked,” the message explained. (The Groundswell documents were provided to Mother Jones by a source who had access to its Google group page and who has asked not to be identified.)

After watching the Republican presidential candidates lose the last two elections, right-wing activist Ken Blackwell cooked up a scheme whereby states would move away from winner-take-all allocations of electors to a system in which Electoral College votes would be assigned according to congressional districts.

The result would be that a Republican presidential candidate who does not win the overall popular vote in the state could still end up receiving a majority of that state’s electoral votes simply by virtue of winning the popular vote in more individual districts.

Today, Blackwell appeared on “WallBuilders Live" to promote this scheme, where it was met with enthusiastic support from Rick Green and David Barton. As Blackwell explained, if every state had implemented this plan for the 2012 election, Mitt Romney would have won despite the fact that he lost the overall popular vote by nearly 5 million votes.

Blackwell: There’s an old farmer’s tale that if you throw a brick at a pack of pigs, the one that squeals is the one you hit.  Well, when we put this out there, the Left started squealing, the New York Times started squealing, so we must be on to something.

Green: You must be on to something. No doubt about that.  I haven’t had a chance to look, I don’t if anyone has done a map, I’d be real curious to know if every state did this, how would the last few elections [have gone]? Have you had a chance to look?

Blackwell: I already know. If every state did it, Romney would have won the election.  And so that’s another reason that the Left just instinctively dislikes it.

Barton: This actually is a way to give the people a greater voice rather than just having the majority slap it to the minority every time you turn around. And I really like what he’s proposed here with reverting back out of the winner-take-all philosophy of the states, going back to congressional district take all, which is a good way to do it.

From the 05.02.2013 edition of Wallbuilders Live:

h/t: Kyle Mantyla at Right Wing Watch

One of the more stunning developments following President Obama’s re-election has been the number of ardent Republicans who have confessed that they believed the anti-Democratic propaganda from Fox News—and got so much wrong as a result.

The voting rights part of this fact-averse bubble had many dimensions: from who is and isn’t registered to vote, to when and where people wanted to vote, to what a voter must do at the polls to get a ballot, to how voter lists are updated—and who can be trusted to oversee the process.

What follows are 10 lies the Right pedaled during the 2012 campaign. Some GOP partisans, like this Nevada group, are already trying to resurrect some of these fake issues. You can be sure you’ll see more as states and Congress look at 2012’s biggest problems, such as people having to wait hours and hours to vote.

1. Non-Citizen Multitudes On Voter Rolls

Florida’s Tea Party Gov. Rick Scott was the worst offender, falsely claiming that there were 180,000 or more non-citizens listed on Florida’s voter rolls. It turned out that Scott and his hand-picked state election chief found 198 non-citizens among Florida’s 11 million voters before backpedaling from the claim. But other Republican top state election officials, in Colorado, Michigan and New Mexico, made the same claim in 2012 in an attempt to scare off legal non-white voters. This line was picked up by other GOP partisans who bought dozens of billboardsin communities of color in several swing states listing the penalty for illegal voting. The billboards came down after strong protests from civil rights groups.

2. Partisan Election Officials Are Trustworthy

Florida’s Rick Scott and Secretary of State Ken Detzner, Ohio Secretary of State John Husted, Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and a handful of other Republicans overseeing their state’s elections are only the latest partisans who have abused their constitutional office by tilting voting rules to give an advantage to their party. We saw the same thing in Ohio in 2004, when Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell followed Florida’s Katherine Harris from 2000. Both Republicans made many decisions that hurt Democrats and elected—and then re-elected—George W. Bush.

This conflict of interest is one of the biggest problems with American elections. But there are more fair-minded ways to oversee voting, such as in Wisconsin where an independent board of retired judges runs and referees that state’s elections. And it should be noted that in Florida this year, many county-level election supervisors (who are elected) pushed back on Gov. Scott’s edicts. That’s because they see their job as serving the public rather than being partisan activists.  

3. Dead People Are Voting (For Democrats)

This propaganda line came after the Pew Center on the States issued a reportshowing that 1.8 million dead people were on state voter roles. Some in GOP circles went nuts, saying dead people would be voting for Democrats. Some newspapers also ran with the “dead voters” angle, revealing that they have little knowledge of the fact that voter rolls are maintained in an ongoing manner and how local officials take many steps to update their rolls (as people register, move and die).

4. Tougher Voter ID Laws Are Needed

Voter ID laws have been on the books for years. You need to show ID to register to vote. New voters must show an ID to get a ballot. And established voters sign in at the polls (or sign their names on mail-in ballots) under penalty of perjury. But those precedents have not stopped GOP-controlled legislatures from enactingnew laws requiring voters to show a specific form of state photo ID to get a ballot. The GOP’s big rationale is that they’re fighting voter impersonation fraud—the claim someone else is voting under another’s name. Of course, their real agenda is preventing likely Democrats in key cohorts—young people, urban residents without driver’s licenses, poor people, etc—from voting.

What the 2012 election showed was that the biggest perpetuators of fraudulent voter registration schemes were Republicans, notably Nathan Sproul, a political consultant who was hired by several state Republican Parties to register voters. Sproul’s workers had a bad habit of throwing out forms from Democrats. State parties were forced to fire him after police opened investigations. This isn’t to say that there were no cases of Democrats tinkering with registrations. But almost all of the cases reported in 2012 involved the GOP’s consultants or lone actors. No one found registration fraud on a scale affecting thousands of votes, let alone hundreds.

5. Tougher Voter ID Laws Protect Minorities 

This absurd line was pedaled by two of the Right’s biggest voting propagandists, former Bush Administration Department of Justice attorney Hans von Spakovsky (now with the Heritage Foundation) and National Review columnist John Fund. They made this claim in their new book, Who’s Counting: How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote At Risk, in media commentaries, and at recruiting sessions for right-wing voter vigilante groups that obsess over the specter of illegal voters.

Von Spakovsky said that minority turnout in Georgia went up after it adopted a tougher voter ID law—a claim that handily overlooks how its Latino population has surged in recent years. But more to the point, tougher voter ID laws have given GOP groups a pathway to racially profile voters.

6. Federal Voting Rights Act Is Obsolete

This claim is really outrageous against the backdrop of all the race-based tactics the GOP used to try to defeat President Obama. In lawsuits still unfolding in federal court—and at the U.S. Supreme Court—Republican lawyers are arguing that the U.S. is now a post-racial society, which means that Civil Rights Era laws such as the federal Voting Rights Act are no longer needed.

This year, the two authorities under the Voting Rights Act—Justice Department and a federal appeals court in Washington—found that the new voter ID laws in Texas and South Carolina were racially discriminatory, preventing them from taking effect. The Washington court found that Texas’ congressional and state redistricting plan also was discriminatory—and rejected it. And the Justice Department was part of litigation in Florida over that state’s efforts to curb registration drives and limit early voting, all because the GOP-led measures disproportionately would impact those state’s minority voters.

Moreover, while some Republicans in the 16 states that are all or partly regulated by the Voting Rights Act—such as Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott—have led the attack on the Voting Rights Act and accused the Obama Justice Department of rampant partisan manipulation of the law, other Republicans in those same states have proposed changes in election law and procedures that have been approved by the Justice Department. So the GOP dislikes the law when it blocks their agenda but likes it when it doesn’t.   

7. Early Voting Is Not Wanted or Needed

This was another absurd claim that was made by top Republican election officials in Florida and Ohio—and was the subject of litigation that, at least in Ohio’scase, lasted until just days before the presidential election. Both Florida and Ohio saw efforts by Republicans, in their legislatures and by their secretaries of state, to limit weekend voting options in the final weeks of the 2012 election. In Ohio, a federal judge was so incensed by Secretary of State John Husted’s intransigence that at one point he ordered Husted to appear in his courtroom to personally explain why he ignored court orders.

In Florida, the GOP-controlled legislature has purposely limited the number of early voting locations—which was also a problem in 2008—and then tried to cut back on the total number of hours of weekend voting in 2012. After litigation led by voting rights groups, the state slightly adjusted the early voting schedule. However, these political decisions were directly responsible for the hours-long lines in both swing states this year.

8. Obama Disenfranschised Overseas Military Voters  

Another aspect of the Ohio litigation over early voting was the claim by Republicans and Fox News that the Obama campaign’s lawsuit to preserve early voting on the final weekend before Election Day disenfranschised overseas military voters. This lie was based on very twisted logic—if you could even call it that. Until 2011, all Ohioans could vote on the weekend before Election Day. But Ohio’s GOP-controlled Legislature passed a law that only allowed for overseas military members and their families to vote on that final weekend in November 2012. The Obama campaign sued, saying that did not treat all Ohio voters equally under the law.

Various Fox News on-air hosts said that Obama was seeking to prevent members of the military and their families from voting in the presidential election, a multi-dimensional untruth and smear. If anything, the Obama campaign lawsuit—which was victorious—would allow all Ohioans, at home and overseas, to have more voting options. (Ohio, like all states, gives troops overseas more time to return their ballots because of mail and delivery delays).

9. One Million GOP Poll Watchers Are Coming

The GOP’s voter vigilante squad, led by the new group, True the Vote, claimed that it would train and send 1 million polling place observers to swing states to be on the lookout for anything resembling (to them) voter fraud and to stop illegal voting. That didn’t happen. There was no invasion of Republican voting posses descending on thousands of local precincts in swing states.

True the Vote is not going away, but it needs to be seen for what it is—the front guard of the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party. Indeed, just as many Tea Partiers elected to the House in 2010 were unseated in 2012, this Republican cadre’s outsized claims should not be taken seriously.    

10. Obama Will Steal The Election Electronically

The Republican National Committee made this claim in letters to a half-dozen top state election officials in swing states one week before Election Day. A top RNC lawyer cited isolated problems with paperless voting machines as a sign that Democrats were poised to electronically flip votes from Romney to Obama to steal the election. State election directors in Nevada and North Carolina responded with forceful letters, saying the RNC’s concerns and theory was unsupported by facts and vote-counting procedures.

Of course, what the RNC was doing was seeking to undermine the public’s confidence in a process that was headed toward re-electing Obama.

h/t: Steven Rosenfeld at AlterNet

In the lead up to the 2000 presidential election, Florida’s Republican Secretary of State Katherine Harris hired a private company to create an error-laden “scrub list” of so-called ineligible voters, eventually wrongly purging as many as 7000 voters from Florida’s rolls — or 13 times George W. Bush’s post-Supreme Court margin of victory. Moreover, because Harris’ list “invariably target[ed] a minority population in Florida” that was overwhelmingly likely to vote for Al Gore, it is likely that her voter purge gave the presidency to Bush. Four years later, Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State Ken Blackwell engaged in similar shenanigans to suppress the vote in his crucial swing state — including at one point saying he would reject voter registration forms if they were not printed on 80-pound thickness cardstock.

This election, the role of Kathrine Harris and Ken Blackwell is played by Ohio’s new Republican Secretary of State, Jon Husted. Here are just a few of the steps Husted took to try to swing Ohio’s crucial electoral votes to Mitt Romney:

It does not have to be the way.

H/T: Ian Millhiser at Think Progress Justice

Voting rights advocates are asking a federal court to step in and stop what they call an eleventh hour move by the Ohio secretary of state that could disenfranchise thousands of Ohio voters. Lawyers representing plaintiffs in a case regarding how provisional ballots will be treated in Tuesday’s election filed an emergency motion challenging a directive to elections supervisors, issued by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted late Friday, after the court had closed.

Husted’s order requires poll workers to not count provisional ballots where voters make any errors in filling out their provisional ballot and affirmation, including the part of the form detailing what forms of identification they are presenting in order to vote. The problem: Ohio law states that filling out the ID portion of the form is the responsibility of poll workers, not voters. Ohio Revised Code Section 3505.181 (B)(6) states that “the appropriate local election official shall record the type of identification provided” by the voter.

“The voter is just supposed to write their name on the ballot form and affirmation and sign it,” Subodh Chandra, an attorney representing the plaintiffs in a case over how provisional ballots will be treated if voters are directed by poll workers to the wrong precinct told theGrio. “The election worker is not only supposed to write down the form of ID, they’re supposed to certify that they have told the voter what to do to verify that their vote counted. They’re supposed to provide guidance and they’re supposed to verify it.”

Husted changed the voter affirmation form, moving the portion where the ID information is entered above the signature line, despite the fact that by Ohio statute, it is supposed to be below the voter’s signature, in the section of the form to be filled out by a poll worker.

“I thought, this doesn’t make any sense, why he’s trying to disqualify ballots based on mistakes on ballot affirmation” Chandra said.

Voting rights activists fully expected Husted to issue a directive regarding how provisional ballots would be treated in the wake of the ruling, so Chandra sent a letter to Husted’s counsel, asking that Husted be sure to clarify in his order that an errors on the form made by poll workers not be counted against the voter. Chandra said Husted never responded to the request, or to a follow up telephone call.

“We were getting increasingly suspicious about what the directive would say, so we filed the emergency motion” requesting clarification from the federal court. “And then they issued the directive after business hours, without giving us any notice.” Chandra said.

In arguments before the Circuit Court, Husted deflected any concerns about potential voter disenfranchisement by reasserting that it is indeed the poll worker’s responsibility to ensure that the form of ID presented was recorded, adding that voters should not be disenfranchised due to a poll worker’s “failure to write something down.” Having made that argument, Husted nonetheless is now ordering elections supervisors to throw out provisional ballots where the ID is improperly recorded.

On Saturday, NEOCH, Progress Ohio and State Senator Nina Turner held an emergency press conference, in which they accused Husted of orchestrating a stealth form of voter suppression.

“Husted’s edict deliberately seeks to disenfranchise eligible voters whose votes should be counted,” a press release from Progress Ohio read. “In a close election, it could come down to provisional ballots and this 11th hour directive could be a game changer and is nothing short of voter suppression. Husted’s actions are now the subject of emergency motions which have been filed in federal court in Columbus by the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless.”

h/t: TheGrio.com