True the Vote is one of the most influential groups working to make it harder to vote by pushing for restrictive voter ID laws and launching challenges against people it thinks might be ineligible to vote, tactics which are supposedly directed at preventing voter impersonation fraud and double voting — crimes that in reality are exceedingly rare.
In order to cover up the fact that voter ID laws keep many times more people from the polls than the miniscule number of voter impersonation cases that they might prevent, groups like TTV try to conflate in-person voter fraud — the only thing actually targeted by voter ID laws — with faulty voter registration and with rare but persistent kinds of small-scale voter fraud by elected officials that they have no intention of actually combating.
A great example of this happened yesterday, when TTV reprinted a short blog post by former Bush Justice Department official and conservative activist J. Christian Adams linking to a story about “Three PA Elected Officials Charged With Voter Fraud.”
Adams offers his commentary, implying that this story proves that the numerous studies discrediting the voter ID push are just wrong:
I am curious to see if this barely reported case of voter fraud ever makes it onto one of the ‘academic’ studies purporting to demonstrate very little voter fraud. Those studies are characterized by false negatives.
A quick look at the story in question, however, shows that what happened in Pennsylvania has nothing to do with voter ID or any so-called “voter integrity” laws that Adams and TTV are promoting.
Pennsylvania requires that people requesting an absentee ballot provide a reason, which can be “illness or physical disability” that makes the voter “unable to attend his/her polling place or to operate a voting machine.” Those voters must also provide a copy of their photo ID.
The case that Adams and TTV are touting is that of three township supervisors who were charged with violating election laws in 2011, two for helping 13 elderly voters to apply for and fill out absentee ballots , despite the fact that all were physically able to go to the polls on Election Day and were thus ineligible to obtain absentee ballots in Pennsylvania. One of the supervisors is charged with helping an eligible absentee voter fill out a ballot but failing to report that he had assisted the voter.
None of this would have been prevented by a voter ID requirement. Instead, this is an instance of, at best, a misunderstanding and at worst, public officials using their insider influence to tinker with ballots.
If it’s the latter, all sorts of laws are currently on the books to prevent such instances of election fraud. But it is not something that so-called “voter integrity” activists have shown any interest in addressing, perhaps because it’s already against the law and policed. As the Brennan Center wrote in a 2007 report, such conduct “has been an issue since Senators wore togas” and is a completely separate issue from the kind of supposed fraud that groups like True The Vote claim to be fixing with suppressive voting restrictions.
It is extremely rare for individuals to vote multiple times, vote as someone else, or vote despite knowing that they are ineligible. These rare occurrences, however, are often conflated with other forms of election irregularities or misconduct, under the misleading and overbroad label of “voter fraud.” Some of these other irregularities result from honest mistakes by election officials or voters, such as confusion as to whether a particular person is actually eligible to vote. Some irregularities result from technological glitches, whether sinister or benign: for example, voting machines may record inaccurate tallies. And some involve fraud or intentional misconduct perpetrated by actors other than individual voters: for example, flyers may spread misinformation about the proper locations or procedures for voting; thugs may be dispatched to intimidate voters at the polls; missing ballot boxes may mysteriously reappear. These more common forms of misconduct are simply not addressed by the supposed “anti-fraud” measures generally proposed.
h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW
Georgia GOPer Complains About Early Voting, Excessive Black Voting [TW: Racism, Voter Suppression, White Privilege, Ethnocentrism, Voter Intimidation]
The news was flagged by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In a longwinded email state Sen. Frank Millar (pictured) rants that Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal “appointee Interim CEO Lee May has disappointed those of us that hoped he could help bring the county together.”
Millar goes on to note that DeKalb county happens to include a number of African American mega churches.
"Now we are to have Sunday voting at South DeKalb Mall just prior to the election," Millar wrote in the email. "Per Jim Galloway of the AJC, this location is dominated by African American shoppers and it is near several large African American mega churches such as New Birth Missionary Baptist. Galloway also points out the Democratic Party thinks this is a wonderful idea – what a surprise. I’m sure Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter are delighted with this blatantly partisan move in DeKalb."
Millar’s vow comes in response to news that DeKalb plans to reserve Oct. 26 for early voting. He ends the email saying he’s spoken with other lawmakers.
"I have spoken with Representative Jacobs and we will try to eliminate this election law loophole in January. Galloway summed it up, ‘Democrats are showing their hand on how they might boost their numbers.’ For this to be called a ‘non-partisan opportunity’ by Interim CEO is an insult!"
(H/t: Rick Hasen)
If Judge Peter Economus’ reasoning is ultimately upheld by a higher court, that would be a serious blow to efforts by many state lawmakers to enact laws restricting the franchise.
Ohio’s attempt to reduce the number of days voters may cast an early ballot is unconstitutional and violates the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act (VRA), according to a decision handed down Thursday by a federal court in that state. Though the decision has a difficult road to travel before Ohio voters can be certain that it will stand — it will appeal to the Sixth Circuit, which has a conservative majority, and ultimately to the same Supreme Court that struck down a key provision of the VRA — Judge Peter Economus’ decision may be the strongest voting rights decision handed down since the justices’ attack on the VRA. Or, at least, it may be the strongest decision in the sense that it calls for a very strong shield to be erected around the right to vote. If his reasoning is ultimately upheld by a higher court, that would be a serious blow to efforts by many state lawmakers to enact laws restricting the franchise.
Much of Judge Economus’ opinion is devoted to explaining how limits on early voting disproportionately impact African-American voters. Many black churches, for example, conduct “Souls to the Polls” events that encourage churchgoers to vote after attending Sunday services — as an Ohio NAACP leader explained, “Sunday was a focal point also because many churches already provide transportation to take people to church, and carpools are also arranged so that everyone is together” — yet the new restrictions on early voting limit these churchgoers’ opportunities to vote on Sunday. Additionally, the new early voting schedule eliminates “Golden Week,” a period when voters can register and vote on the same day. The same NAACP leader testified that African-Americans are especially likely to take advantage of this period because “people in the African-American community in [his community] move frequently, especially since the 2008 recession.”
Empirical data also demonstrates that black voters are more likely to take advantage of early voting. Indeed, according to University of Florida Research Professor Daniel Smith, an expert witness who testified in this case, the rate of early voting in areas that are entirely African-American is more than twice the rate in areas that are entirely white. Additionally, Smith explained that “there is strong empirical evidence in Ohio that a greater proportion of blacks not only cast [early] ballots than whites but do so on early voting days that have been eliminated by” the new voting schedule.
This data matters because, under one of the provisions of the Voting Rights Act that was not struck down by the Roberts Court, “[n]o voting qualification or prerequisite to voting or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision in a manner which results in a denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.” Moreover, as a precedent cited by Judge Economus explains, this provision of the VRA “does not require proof of discriminatory intent. Instead, a plaintiff need show only that the challenged action or requirement has a discriminatory effect on members of a protected group[.]”
The VRA prohibits laws that abridges black people’s right to vote. Restricting early voting abridges black people’s right to vote. Therefore it violates the VRA. Q.E.D.
Yet, while this is the strongest argument presented by Economus’ opinion, that doesn’t mean that it will be upheld on appeal. For one thing, as Sean Trende, a political analyst for the news site Real Clear Politics explained in expert testimony on behalf of the state, “’Ohio maintains one of the most expansive systems of early voting in the country,’ with an early-voting period twice the national median.” Though reducing the number of early voting days in Ohio reduces the opportunities for African-Americans to vote from its previous baseline, it is far from guaranteed that a Supreme Court which has been hostile to the Voting Rights Act in the recent past will hold that Ohio is required to maintain its prior baseline.
Indeed, just last month a George W. Bush-appointed judge in North Carolina refused to suspend cuts to early voting in that state, arguing that it was “speculative” to assume that black voters will not shift their voting patterns to other days when voting is allowed. This argument could resonate with a conservative Supreme Court.
Nevertheless, it this decision stands it will be a very important victory for voting rights. Among other things, as Attorney General Eric Holder noted in a press conference Thursday afternoon, Economus’ decision uses some of the “same legal reasoning that underlies the Department’s pending challenges to voting measures” to states like Texas and North Carolina, where lawmakers and state officials are aggressively taking advantage of the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down much of the VRA.
Source: Ian Millhiser for ThinkProgress
This weekend, the Dallas Morning News ran a long investigative piece exposing for the first time an armed raid that state Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office ordered on a Houston voter registration operation, Houston Votes, back in 2010. The aftermath played out like ACORN in miniature: Despite the fact that nobody at Houston Votes was charged with any wrongdoing, the organization folded under the pressure of Abbott’s investigation.
The story provides an interesting look at the mechanics of the GOP’s obsessive search for certain types of extraordinarily rare voter fraud in order to justify extreme measures making it harder to cast a ballot. And it also stars two people who have since become familiar names in the national effort to make it more difficult to vote: Abbott, who is now the GOP nominee for governor of Texas, and Catherine Engelbrecht, who now runs the national group True the Vote, but who got her start running a Texas Tea Party group called King Street Patriots.
The raid on Houston Votes was part of a larger campaign by Abbott to uncover what he calls an “epidemic” of voter fraud, in an apparent effort to build support for a restrictive Voter ID law in Texas. Abbott’s campaign hasn’t exactly been a success: According to MSNBC’s Zach Roth, “over the 13 years of Abbott’s tenure, his office can only cite two fraudulent votes that might have been stopped by the ID law.” In the meantime, Abbott’s effort has resulted in some strangely zealous prosecutions, including those of a group of Tea Party activists who tried to cast protest votes in a resident-less utility district.
Dallas Morning News reporter James Drew explains how a racially charged speech by Engelbrecht led to Abbot’s investigation of and raid on Houston Votes:
On an overcast Monday afternoon, officers in bulletproof vests swept into a house on Houston’s north side. The armed deputies and agents served a search warrant. They carted away computers, hard drives and documents.
The raid targeted a voter registration group called Houston Votes, which was accused of election fraud. It was initiated by investigators for Attorney General Greg Abbott. His aides say he is duty-bound to preserve the integrity of the ballot box.
His critics, however, say that what Abbott has really sought to preserve is the power of the Republican Party in Texas. They accuse him of political partisanship, targeting key Democratic voting blocs, especially minorities and the poor, in ways that make it harder for them to vote, or for their votes to count.
A close examination of the Houston Votes case reveals the consequences when an elected official pursues hotly contested allegations of election fraud.
The investigation was closed one year after the raid, with no charges filed. But for Houston Votes, the damage was done. Its funding dried up, and its efforts to register more low-income voters ended. Its records and office equipment never were returned. Instead, under a 2013 court order obtained by Abbott’s office, they were destroyed.
Fred Lewis formed Texans Together in 2006.
The nonprofit community organizing group used volunteers to register voters in 2008 under the name Houston Votes. It registered only about 6,000 people that year.
For the next big election, in 2010, Lewis wanted to register 100,000 new voters in Harris County. He knew he couldn’t hit that number with volunteers. Houston Votes decided to use paid workers.
By that summer, Houston Votes had come to the attention of the King Street Patriots, a Houston-based tea party group. At the group’s regular meeting in Houston, its leader, Catherine Engelbrecht, talked about the New Black Panther Party. She then played a Fox news clip of an unidentified black man saying: “We have to exterminate white people off the face of the planet.”
The clip was 5 years old. It came from a forum in Washington about media coverage of Hurricane Katrina. But after the clip ended, Engelbrecht showed a picture of a house in Houston. She said it was the office of the New Black Panthers, at Main and Dowling streets.
Dowling Street is infamous for a 1970 gun battle between police officers and African-American militants, one of whom was killed.
“Houston has a new neighbor,” Engelbrecht said. She added that a person outside the house appeared to be an employee of Houston Votes.
The house shown on the screen was the office of Houston Votes. It had nothing to do with the New Black Panther Party. And it was about 9 miles from Dowling Street.
Two weeks later, the King Street Patriots held another meeting. Paul Bettencourt, the former Harris County tax assessor-collector, was a guest speaker.
He said Houston Votes was worse at registering voters than ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. Dozens of ACORN employees across the nation were convicted of voter registration fraud.
The next day, Bettencourt’s successor as tax assessor-collector, fellow Republican Leo Vasquez, held a news conference.
“The integrity of the voter roll of Harris County, Texas, appears to be under an organized and systematic attack by the group operating under the name ‘Houston Votes,’” he said.
Houston Votes had submitted about 25,000 voter registration applications. Vasquez said many were duplicates, or already registered. Only 7,193 were “apparently new voters,” he said.
Houston Votes later pointed to public records showing that at the time of the news conference, about 21,000 of the 25,000 who applied to register were already validated by the county and pending final approval by the secretary of state. Among those 21,000, the state had already given final approval to 7,193.
Vasquez announced he was referring the matter for “investigation and possible prosecution” to the Texas secretary of state and the Harris County district attorney.
The secretary of state, who advises local election officials on election laws, forwarded Vasquez’s information to the attorney general’s office on Sept. 14, 2010.
Abbott’s office opened a criminal investigation soon after.
h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW
A Republican congressman and his party’s nominee for Iowa Secretary of State are accusing Democrats of a secret plan to rig the upcoming election. But rather than take this warning of impending election fraud to the police, they took it to their fundraising email list.
Democrats and Republicans have paid close attention to Secretary of State campaigns, especially in swing states, ever since the disputed presidential election of 2000. After all, Secretaries of State from Katherine Harris in Florida 2000 to Ken Blackwell in 2004 showed just how influential the office can be in close races.
That’s why Republicans in Iowa are pulling out all the stops to keep control of the Secretary of State seat, especially in advance of the 2016 presidential election.
In an email sent on July 28th on behalf of Republican Secretary of State nominee Paul Pate’s campaign, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) accused Democrats of rigging Minnesota’s 2008 Senate election on behalf of Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), using their control of the Secretary of State office. The result was razor-thin, with Franken ultimately topping then-Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) by just 312 votes. Though King didn’t make a specific accusation, Politifact has rated similar claims of fraud as “false.”
“This wasn’t a fair recount,” King wrote Pate’s supporters. “This was a democrat plan put into action two years in advance of Coleman’s re-election campaign.”
However, rather than just re-litigating a close election in the past, King used the episode to warn about Democrats’ supposed intentions for Iowa’s upcoming elections. “There is an important U.S. Senate race in Iowa this year, and Senator Grassley will be up for re-election two years from now,” King wrote. “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see what they are up to.”
Read an excerpt of the email here:
Ironically, the most pernicious developments in election law over the past few election cycles haven’t been organized election fraud like King describes, but Republican-led efforts to suppress votes. These measures have ranged from requiring photo identification to vote to rolling back state laws that permit voter registration on Election Day. While supporters of these voting restrictions often argue they are necessary to prevent voter fraud — a virtually nonexistent crime — the laws tend to make it harder for minorities, seniors, students, and poor people to vote. After the 2012 election, Republican officials in Florida admitted that their slew of election law changes were intended to target Democrats.
Pate said he supports bringing voter ID to Iowa, a move that could disenfranchise thousands of Iowa voters, but said he hopes it will be a bipartisan initiative. Implementing voter ID has long been a goal of Pate’s; in 2010 he endorsed (and chaired) current Secretary of State Matt Schultz’s (R) campaign by noting that “He will stop voter fraud by instituting a photo ID, reforming same-day registration, and creating a crime stoppers hotline for voter fraud in Iowa.”
Nationwide, a conservative PAC was recently formed to boost conservative Secretary of State candidates. The organization, SOS for SoS, is preparing to spend $10 million in nine states this year, including in Iowa. A liberal PAC, SoS for Democracy, is looking to provide a counterweight this year.
Justin Levitt: “I’ve been tracking allegations of fraud for years now, including the fraud ID laws are designed to stop. In 2008, when the Supreme Court weighed in on voter ID, I looked at every single allegation put before the Court. And since then, I’ve been following reports wherever they crop up.”
"To be clear, I’m not just talking about prosecutions. I track any specific, credible allegation that someone may have pretended to be someone else at the polls, in any way that an ID law could fix. So far, I’ve found about 31 different incidents (some of which involve multiple ballots) since 2000, anywhere in the country."
That’s not 31 in one election, that’s 31 cases in separate elections over a span of nearly a decade and a half. That’s 31 out of more than one billion.The idea that in-person voter fraud is influencing the outcomes of elections is a ridiculous and absurd lie.
Voter ID laws are meant to keep legal voters away from the polls. There is no way that voter fraud is anything even approaching an actual, real problem for the integrity of our elections.
Voting is our most basic right and duty as citizens. The fact that Republicans don’t seem to care that they’re taking that freedom from legal voters — and they are — is proof enough that all their flag-waving and freedom talk and poseur love for the Constitution is bullshit. The enemies of democracy are the enemies of freedom.
And Republicans have proven themselves again and again to be no friends of democracy.
"Voters will more vulnerable this November than they have been in decades."
Just over a year after the Supreme Court ruled that the nation has made so much progress on voting rights that key legal protections are no longer needed, a coalition of civil rights groups released a report documenting hundreds of voter discrimination and suppression cases. The organizations also called on Congress to rewrite the gutted section of the Voting Rights Act.
“Voters will more vulnerable this November than they have been in decades,” said Barbara Arnwine, Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, in a conference call with reporters. “Contrary to the Supreme Court’s assertion, voter discrimination is still rampant, and states continue to implement voting laws and procedures that disproportionately affect minorities.”
The report, released this week on the 49th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act, counted 332 cases in the last two decades in which voters successfully sued for violations of their voting rights, or when the U.S. Department of Justice blocked a state or county’s attempt to change their voting laws in an unconstitutional way. They counted another ten instances in which aggrieved voters settled out of court.
Tellingly, the majority of the violations happened in a small handful of states — Texas, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi, with South Carolina close behind — that were covered by the very Voting Rights Act formula that the Supreme Court ruled outdated and unconstitutional. As a result of the Court’s Shelby County decision, the Justice Department may no longer deploy federal observers to the formerly covered states to deter and report race-based voter suppression. The civil rights advocates that the loss of this federal monitoring program will result in “a substantial increase in voter intimidation.”
Dolores Huerta, a longtime civil and labor rights activist who organized farmworkers with Cesar Chavez, told reporters the study indicates another trend she called “appalling.”
“As the Latino community grows in numbers and their influence grows in the political process, discrimination also seems to be growing,” she said. “It is sad to see how legislation and practices have continued unabated against people of Latino descent.”
Huerta and others involved in the National Commission on the Voting Rights said their research found that modern day voter suppression takes a variety of forms, and not all of them have received the kind of media and political attention garnered by controversial gerrymandering and voter ID laws.
Huerta pointed to states that disenfranchise former felons after they have served out their sentences, or charge them hefty fines to have their voting rights restored. Arnwine also mentioned dozens of documented violations involving the local government’s failure to provide ballots and information in other languages, which they are required to do by law.
Vice-Chair Leon Russell of the NAACP added: “When I attended hearings [on voting rights] in Florida and Mississippi, we saw continuing barriers to equal participation. We saw long lines created intentionally, either by not having enough polling places in certain areas, or not having enough machines at those places. Some counties in Florida even got rid of bathrooms at the polls, which makes it harder not just for people with disabilities, but for everyone.”
The report comes on the heels of another study debunking the main justification used for passing many of the controversial voting laws in question: fraud.
Harvard Professor Justin Levitt surveyed more than a billion votes cast in general, primary, special, and municipal elections across the US from 2000 through 2014, and found only 31 credible instances of voter impersonation. And many of those 31 were never confirmed and prosecuted.
Source; Alice Ollstein for ThinkProgress
Appearing on C-SPAN this afternoon, former Pennsylvania Senator and perennial presidential candidate Rick Santorum, told host Tucker Carlson that not all countries were ready for democracy and that the Founding Fathers were right when they limited voting rights during the creation of the United States for the sake of “continuity.”
Responding to a question from Carlson about whether it would be good for the United States if countries like Saudi Arabia or Jordan became democracies, Santorum stated that it wasn’t a matter of whether “this is better for us or not.”
“I think the ideal and goal is a good one. The question is: how do you get there?,” Santorum explained. “And how long do you take, and what measures do you take. And, you mentioned Egypt, I don’t think Egypt was ready for elections.”
In 2012 Egyptian voters elected Mohamed Morsi, a candidate backed by the Muslim Brotherhood, considered by some to be a terrorist organization.
Santorum noted that one need look at history of the U.S.
“Were we ready for an election when the United States was formed to have everybody in the United States vote? Well, our Founders didn’t think so, ” he stated. “They limited the people who could vote in an election. Now you could say that’s horrible, that’s terrible. Well, maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. But it was a decision that was made to make sure that there was some continuity and stability within the government that was consistent with the values the government was founded upon.”
At the time of the first U.S. Elections, only white men with property could vote.
Returning to Egypt, Santorum continued, “We can’t go out and say the objective is a free election, that should never have happened. Democracy is something that comes when it is appropriate to come.”
Santorum conceded that it may take “100 years.”
From the 06.29.2014 edition of CSPAN2’s BookTV:
Poll watchers in Democratic precincts in Mississippi? What could possibly go wrong with that? But that is exactly what will happen on Tuesday for the runoff between Thad Cochran and Chris McDaniel.
As Senator Thad Cochran, the veteran Republican, fights for his political life in Mississippi by taking the unexpected step of courting black Democrats, conservative organizations working to defeat him are planning to deploy poll watchers to monitor his campaign’s turnout operation in Tuesday’s runoff election.
Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, president of the Senate Conservatives Fund, a political action committee that has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars backing Mr. Cochran’s Tea Party opponent, State Senator Chris McDaniel, said in an interview on Sunday that his group was joining with Freedom Works and the Tea Party Patriots in a “voter integrity project” in Mississippi.
The groups will deploy observers in areas where Mr. Cochran is recruiting Democrats, Mr. Cuccinelli said. J. Christian Adams, a former Justice Department official and conservative commentator who said he was advising the effort, described the watchers as “election observers,” mostly Mississippi residents, who will be trained to “observe whether the law is being followed.”
In a fundraising email today, the voter-fraud mavens at True the Vote claim that a proposed bipartisan update to the Voting Rights Act is in fact a “move toward race-based segregation” that would “exclude millions of Americans from the full protection of the law — based solely on the color of their skin” and “turn our elections over to Eric Holder and Barack Obama.”
The Voting Rights Amendment Act is a bipartisan bill that would replace the formula that determines which areas are subject to Justice Department preclearance for changes in their voting laws. The previous formula was struck down by the Supreme Court last year, although the rest of the law remained.
The proposed formula, like its predecessor, would require states and counties with a history of voting restrictions targeting minority voters to obtain preclearance from the Justice Department before changing their voting laws. The preclearance provision, enacted to stop rampant Jim-Crow-era racial discrimination at the polls has for decades helped stem attempts to disenfranchise minority voters.
But according to True the Vote founder Catherine Engelbrecht, the very fact that the Voting Rights Act and the proposed coverage update are meant to stop racial discrimination at the polls means that they are the product of “race baiters” who want to “divide voters into color blocks for partisan gain” and “move toward race-based segregation.”
I’m sending you this message on the most urgent of topics!
Congress is considering a bill that could ultimately turn our elections over to Eric Holder and Barack Obama.
The bill is HR 3899. Bill sponsors have named it the Voting Rights Amendment Act, but we’re calling it what it really is- the Voting Rights Segregation Act. If it is not stopped, HR 3899 will fundamentally and intentionally change American elections into race-reliant battlefields where, for the first time in our history, the United States would EXCLUDE millions of Americans from the full protection of the law – based solely on the color of their skin.
HR 3899 also targets five states that will immediately be put under the authority of Holder’s Dept of Justice, requiring that they pre-clear election activities with Holder’s DOJ, effective immediately upon passage of the bill! The currently targeted states are Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia and North Carolina. The Bill also gives Eric Holder the exclusive right to target other states for any reason he sees fit, including the passage and implementation of photo Voter ID laws.
This Country has gone through too much and come too far to now watch silently as the professional race baiters in Congress, like Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner and Sheila Jackson Lee, divide voters into color blocks for partisan gain.
Will you please help support True the Vote’s effort to kill this terrible race based bill?
Earlier this week True the Vote led a group of pro-liberty election integrity organizations in requesting GOP House Majority Leader Eric Cantor to meet with our organizations to discuss the reasons this bill is an ill advised move toward race-based segregation. Last night, Cantor’s constituents let him know what they thought of his position on HR 3899- by voting him out of office. But make no mistake, the battle for HR 3899 is far from won.
h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW
Just How Anti-Gay Is The Texas GOP's 2014 Platform? 'Ex-Gay' Therapy Just The Beginning [TW: Extreme Anti-LGBT Bigotry & Discrimination, Extreme Homophobia/Biphobia/Transphobia]
On Saturday a right wing Tea Party group achieved its goal: support for so-called “ex-gay” therapy became an official plank of the Texas Republican Party’s 2014 platform. But that’s just the beginn…
On Saturday the right wing Tea Party group Texas Eagle Forum achieved its goal: support for so-called “ex-gay” or “reparative” therapy became an official plank of the Texas Republican Party’s 2014 platform. The Texas Eagle Forum is a state affiliate of the Eagle Forum, a far-right wing anti-gay, conservative, anti-women, anti-feminist organization bordering on white supremacy, founded by Phyllis Schlafly.
“Pray away the gay,” “ex-gay,” or “reparative” so-called therapy has been deemed harmful or dangerous by major medical associations worldwide, including the American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Medical Association, Royal College of Psychiatrists, and the Pan-American Health Organisation (World Health Organisation), among others.
The draft version was largely approved, and voted upon only in a voice vote in which the 7000 delegates were not given copies of the document but rather, heard a reading of parts before voting.
Within the extensive draft are far-reaching and outlandish planks, including these containing support for ex-gay therapy, and other extremely anti-gay positions:
Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable alternative lifestyle, in public policy, nor should family be redefined to include homosexual couples. We believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin. Additionally, we oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values. We recognize the legitimacy and value of counseling which offers reparative therapy and treatment to patients who are seeking escape from the homosexual lifestyle. No laws or executive orders shall be imposed to limit or restrict access to this type of therapy.
We oppose any government agency to force faith-based adoption or foster care organizations to place children with same-sex couples.
We support the definition of marriage as a God-ordained, legal and moral commitment only between a natural man and a natural woman.
• We support withholding jurisdiction from the Federal Courts in cases involving family law, especially any changes in the definition of marriage.
• We shall not recognize or grant to any unmarried person the legal rights or status of a spouse.
• We oppose the recognition of and granting of benefits to people who represent themselves as domestic partners without being legally married.
• We urge the Legislature to rescind no-fault divorce laws and support Covenant Marriage.
Covenant Marriage is defined as a “legal union of Husband and Wife that requires premarital counseling, marital counseling if problems occur, and limited grounds for Divorce.”
And more anti-gay language:
We support the enforcement of the State and Federal Defense of Marriage Act and oppose benefits for partnerships outside of marriage provided by political subdivisions.
We oppose government regulations which would coerce religious business owners and employees to violate their own beliefs and principles by affirming what they consider to be sinful and sexually immoral behavior.
We oppose the assault on marriage by judicial activists.
The plank that lambasts so-called “activist judges,” without definition, presumably those who strike down same-sex marriage bans.
And this one against ENDA.
We call Congress and the President to use their constitutional powers to restrain activist judges. We urge Congress to adopt the Judicial Conduct Act of 2005 and remove judges who abuse their authority. Further, we urge Congress to withhold Supreme Court jurisdiction in cases involving abortion, religious freedom, and the Bill of Rights.
The platform supports a medical record computer database or registry to track people living with HIV.
Yet another plank would make voting exceptionally hard:
We support restoring integrity to the voter registration rolls and reducing voter fraud. We support repeal of all Motor Voter laws; re-registering voters every four years; requiring photo ID of all registrants; proof of residency and citizenship, along with voter registration application; retention of the 30-day registration deadline; and requiring that a list of certified deaths be provided to the election administrator in order that the names of deceased voters be removed from the list of registered voters.
And the Texas GOP platform even supports the repeal of the historic landmark Voting Rights Act:
We urge that the Voter Rights Act of 1965 codified and updated in 1973 be repealed and not reauthorized.
The plank adds, “affirmative action reintroduces race as a divisive force in American life. The Republican Party of Texas believes in equal opportunity for all citizens without regard to race or gender. Affirmative action casts doubt on minority achievement making such achievement as seemingly unearned. We believe that true minority advancement will come from a demand for personal responsibility, accountability and competitive excellence.”
And then, bring on the real crazy:
The Republican Party of Texas should expose all United Nations Agenda 21 treaty policies and its supporting organizations, agreements and contracts. We oppose implementation of the UN Agenda 21 Program which was adopted at the Earth Summit Conference in 1992 purporting to promote a comprehensive program of sustainable development projects, nationally, regionally and locally. We oppose the influence, promotion and implementation of nongovernmental organizations, metropolitan and/or regional planning organizations, Councils of Government, and International Council for Local Environmental initiatives and the use of American (Texas) citizen’s taxes to promote these programs.
“We support objective teaching and equal treatment of all sides of scientific theories.” Creationism and climate change “should be taught as challengeable scientific theories subject to change as new data is produced.”
If all this weren’t enough, the Texas GOP wants to use this platform as a litmus test — all Republicans running for office in Texas must support every plank, or else:
Every Republican is responsible for implementing this platform. Party candidates should indicate their positions on platform planks before their acceptance on the ticket and such information should be available on the Party website.
English should be the official language of Texas:
We support adoption of American English as the official language of Texas and of the United States.
The platform also calls for mandatory drug testing for all welfare recipients.
It is anti-vaccine:
“All adult citizens should have the legal right to conscientiously choose which vaccines are administered to themselves, or their minor children, without penalty for refusing a vaccine.”
“Students should pledge allegiance to the US and Texas flags daily to instill patriotism.”
Abstinence-only sex ed:
We oppose any sex education other than the biology of reproduction and abstinence until marriage.
And even more crazy:
“We believe the Minimum Wage Law should be repealed.”
“We support the withdrawal of the United States from the United Nations and the removal of U.N. headquarters from United States soil.”
Hat tip: TPM
The 5 Craziest Planks In Draft Texas GOP Platform: Ban Morning After Pill, Ending Direct Election Of Senators, Defunding ACORN
According to a draft party platform obtained by the Houston Chronicle, the Texas Republican Party is ready to support a sweeping right-wing agenda with planks related to the “Benghazi cover up,” the elimination of the minimum wage and “the myth of separation of church and state.”
Not only does the draft platform advocate for the abolition of the Federal Reserve, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Transportation Security Administration and the Departments of Education and Energy, but it also calls for an end to the direct election of U.S. Senators:
Full Repeal of the 17th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution: Return the appointment of U.S. Senators by the State Legislatures.
While the state GOP wants Texas voters to lose their right to elect their U.S. senators, the party does on the other hand “support our right to select our judges by direct vote.”
The party also wants to make it more difficult to register to vote and urges Congress to repeal the Voting Rights Act:
Voter registration: We support restoring integrity to the voter registration rolls and Registration reducing voter fraud. We support repeal of all Motor Voter laws; re-registering voters every four years; requiring photo ID of all registrants; proof of residency and citizenship, along with voter registration application; retention of the 30-day registration deadline; and requiring that a list of certified deaths be provided to the election administrator in order that the names of deceased voters be removed from the list of registered voters.
VRA: We urge that the Voter [sic] Rights Act of 1965 codified and updated in 1973 be repealed and not reauthorized.
Science And Education
The draft platform also targets schools, calling evolution a “controversial theory” that should be challenged in the classroom, demanding that schools restrict access to “community organizers” and encouraging schools to embrace “subjects with emphasis on the Judeo-Christian principles upon which America was founded and which form the basis of America’s legal, political and economic systems.”
The platform also includes climate change denial: “While we all strive to be good stewards of the earth, ‘climate change’ is a political agenda which attempts to control every aspect of our lives. We urge government at all levels to ignore any plea for money to fund global climate change or ‘climate justice’ initiatives.”
The draft describes Agenda 21, a nonbinding United Nations agreement on sustainable development, as a threat to America and calls for “the withdrawal of the United States from the United Nations and the removal of U.N. headquarters from United States soil.”
Along with supporting “reparative therapy and treatment to patients who are seeking escape from the homosexual lifestyle,” [link to previous post] the state party also wants to repeal Texas’ hate-crimes statute (or at least its “sexual orientation category”), block non-discrimination laws and seeks a “prohibition of the manufacturing and sale of abortifacients (e.g. morning after pill).”
The draft also calls for bans on “any form of reparation” and Sharia law, and limits to data gathering by the U.S. Census. It opposes “the use of Radio Frequency Identification Chips (RFID) on humans,” while reaffirming opposition to “any direct financial support of special interest organizations, such as ACORN and the ACLU, by any level of government.” ACORN, of course, hasn’t existed since 2010.
Unsurprisingly, the Texas GOP believes the state should be able to ignore federal gun laws:
All federal acts, laws, executive orders, and court orders which restrict or infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms shall be invalid in Texas, not be recognized by Texas, shall be specifically rejected by Texas, and shall be considered null and void and of no effect in Texas.
Just to clarify that they mean business, the party supports “the establishment and maintenance of a volunteer Constitutional State Militia with assistance from County Sheriffs.”
To cap it off, Texas Republicans also have an anti-vaccination stance:
Immunizations: All adult citizens should have the legal right to conscientiously choose which vaccines are administered to themselves, or their minor children, without penalty for refusing a vaccine. We oppose any effort by any authority to mandate such vaccines or any medical database that would contain personal records of citizens without their consent.
H/T: Brian Tashman at RWW
Two years ago, the nation was introduced to Viviette Applewhite, a 93-year-old widow in Pennsylvania who had marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Applewhite has voted in nearly every election for the last-half century – right up until 2012, when the state told this African-American woman she wouldn’t be allowed to cast a ballot because Republicans policymakers had created a voter-ID law to combat voter fraud that didn’t exist.After Applewhite’s story garnered national attention, election officials helped get her situation straightened out – and more recently, the law itself was struck down as unconstitutional – but the incident was a reminder about the real-world impact of unnecessary voter-ID laws.Two years later, Zachary Roth introduces us to a similar face – of the same age – in the “war on voting.”Willie Mims, 93, showed up to vote at his polling place in Escambia County Tuesday morning for Alabama’s primary elections. Mims, who is Africa-American, no longer drives, doesn’t have a license, and has no other form of ID. As a result, he was turned away without voting. Mims wasn’t even offered the chance to cast a provisional ballot, as the law requires in that situation.Jenny McCarren of Empower Alabama, a progressive group that gave Mims a ride to the polls, recounted the story for msnbc. McCarren said Mims’s voter file showed he has voted in every election since 2000, as far back as the records go.How many Alabamans lack ID isn’t known – in part because the state made no effort to find out before the ID law. But nationwide, most studies put the figure at around 11%, and as high as 25% for African Americans.Up until last year, there’s no way Alabama’s voter-suppression law would have been cleared by the Justice Department, but because a narrow Supreme Court majority gutted the Voting Rights Act, Alabama’s voter-ID law was never subjected to federal scrutiny.It’s against this backdrop that the Alabama Republican Party is “so desperate” to prove imaginary voter fraud exists, GOP officials are offering cash rewards.Tuesday is the first test of Alabama’s voter ID law – and the state’s Republicans are desperate to dig up some voter fraud. So desperate, in fact, that they’re offering a $1,000 reward to anyone who helps them find any. […]Bill Armistead, the Alabama GOP chair, wrote on the party’s website Monday that Republicans will fork over the cold hard cash to anyone who provides “information that directly leads to a conviction of a felony for voter fraud.” Signs saying “Reward – Stop Voter Fraud,” and directing people to call a toll-free hotline, will be placed at polling sites around the state both for Tuesday’s primaries and November’s general election, Armistead added.I can appreciate the degree to which party leaders are eager to substantiate their reckless voter-suppression tactics. These laws, the harshest voting restrictions seen in the United States since the Jim Crow era, are impossible to defend if they address a problem that doesn’t exist.But there’s no reason to believe the Alabama Republican Party will have to pay up anytime soon – voter fraud is still a problem that exists solely in the minds of far-right imaginations.As for 93-year-old Willie Mims being turned away before he could participate in his own democracy, now would be an ideal time for Alabama officials to feel ashamed of themselves.
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
Yesterday, Accuracy In Media published a report by James Simpson alleging that voter fraud is a massive, “existential threat to our American Republic,” and the result of Democratic election tampering. Like other right-wing reports on voter fraud, the article is highly speculative and fails to offer any actual evidence of large-scale fraud.
In fact, legislative “fixes” to combat the non-existent voter fraud epidemic recently lost in courts in Pennsylvania, Arkansas and Wisconsin due to the inability to find any actual evidence of voter fraud.
The only “proof” of voter fraud that Simpson lists is college students voting in the state where they attend school, which is legal, and the findings of the extremely unreliable “crosscheck” system, which checks to see if voters in more than one state have similar names and birthdays. He writes said that the campaign to replace the electoral college with a national popular vote and efforts to restore felons’ right to vote are will also increase voter fraud, mainly because he thinks such steps will benefit Democrats.
Simpson alleges that “Democrats’ attitude toward voter fraud is the voting version of reparations for slavery,” pointing to a case in Port Chester, New York, where the town switched to a new voting method following a court case on lack of Latino representation in government.
He claims that “Hispanics were allowed to cast six votes” in Port Chester’s council races.
However, the method known as cumulative voting (where each voter can cast multiple votes, including more than one to the same candidate), applied to all voters, not just Hispanic voters as Simpson suggests.
The Brennan Center notes that “the Department of Justice filed a complaint alleging Port Chester’s at-large system of electing its board of trustees diluted the voting strength of its Hispanic citizens” in 2006, under the Bush administration.Democrats’ attitude toward voter fraud is the voting version of reparations for slavery. Some Democrats have even said that because minorities and the poor have little influence, “extraordinary measures (for example, stretching the absentee ballot or registration rules) are required to compensate.” Democrat election officials do this all the time, and a form of it has actually become official Justice Department policy in its effort to boost Hispanic representation.
Hispanic voters in Port Chester, New York were allowed to use something called “cumulative voting” in an election for village trustees. There were six trustee seats and Hispanics were allowed to cast six votes in any way they chose, for example, casting one vote for each of six candidates or all six for one candidate. Cumulative voting has also been used to elect a school board in Amarillo, Texas, the county commission in Chilton County, Alabama, and the city council in Peoria, Illinois.
Having rationalized the moral high ground with their “voter suppression” charge—Democrats go on the warpath. In recent years this has involved lawsuits, organized slander and a nationwide campaign to resist election reform. Under the Obama presidency, it has also included using federal agencies to attack private citizens and organizations.
So who is doing the suppressing? By thwarting efforts to clean up the voting process, Obama and the Democrats are suppressing every single legitimate vote stolen by voter fraud. By cheating conservatives of their ability to organize and communicate with the voting public, Obama’s IRS is denying their rights to free speech. By denying conservatives’ right to educate the public, for example, regarding candidates’ records on Obamacare, the IRS is preventing voters from being informed. Obama and the Democrats are not battling voter suppression, they have institutionalized it.
Voter fraud, and the corrupt political infrastructure that facilitates, or at best ignores it, is an existential threat to our American Republic. The only answer is to elect principled conservative leaders willing to recognize and confront this threat.
h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW