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Posts tagged "Voter Suppression"

h/t: Scott Keyes at Think Progress Elections


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.

(via recall-all-republicans)


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with South Carolina close behind — that were covered by the very Voting Rights Act formula that the Supreme Court ruled outdated and unconstitutional.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:

h/t: Tom Boggioni at The Raw Story


Right Wing Extremists Sending Poll Watchers To Tuesday's MS Runoff

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.

New York Times:

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.”

read more

h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW


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.

Anti-science abounds:

“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

H/T: Brian Tashman at RWW

h/t: Steve Benen at MSNBC’s Maddow Blog 

h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW

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. 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

Bad news out of Springfield: The A Better Illinois-backed Illinois Fair Tax Act is NOT headed to the ballot in November. 

Also, the issue of term limits for state legislators and resizing the House [118 to 123] and Senate [59 to 41] (supported by BOTH Rauner and incumbent Gov. Quinn) being on the ballot is a no-go (for now). 
Legislators total in Illinois (BOTH House and Senate) 177 currently, 164 if proposal somehow passes.

How bills in Illinois will pass (Simple Majority/60% Supermajority/66%/75% Thresholds) under the current and new proposals to resize the House and Senate: 


h/t: Aricka Flowers at Progress Illinois