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Archive for the ‘voting rights’ Category

Vote theft 2012, updated 6:45 Eastern

Posted by Charles II on November 6, 2012

I’m going to use this post to link to stories about how the right is trying to block voting. Please feel free to add your own. I should add that if the experience of 2000 and 2004 is repeated, these represent a small fraction of instances of voter harassment, with many more emerging after the election or never being reported at all.

Florida: In Hillsborough Co., Republicans file last-minute challenges against a list of (mostly black Democrats to force their ballots to be filed provisionally. In Tampa, they prevent handing out water to voters standing in long lines and challenge.

Around the country. In Virginia, Hurricane Sandy interfered with filing absentee ballots. In Colorado, Arapahoe Co. is using unreliable touchscreen machines, and there has been a last-minute purge. In Fulton Co. Georgia, a huge backlog of voter registration applications and delays in sending absentee ballots that could cost people their vote. The Pennsylvania ACLU filed suit to prevent the state from continuing to circulate false information that voter ID is required. Poll workers in Nevada demand ID on specious grounds. In New Mexico, the so-nonpartisan-it’s barely-useful League of Women Voter’s guide has been banned from polling places. Riverside Co., CA Democrats were signed up as Republicans using phony petitions. Southern CA Edison is planning power outages to LA County on Election Day.

In Cincinnati [that’s Ohio, ‘Wege], voters who have come to the wrong polling place are told to file provisional ballots, rather than being told where their polling place is.

Around the country. Allegheny Co., PA: Republicans demand photo ID from voters are ordered to cease their activities. Milwaukee police block voting over a hit-and-run investigation, but stop interfering after Election Protection is called.

In NY and NJ, Hurricane Sandy is seriously interfering with voting in many places. While those states are attempting to compensate by loosening voting restrictions (e.g., letting rescue workers vote where they’re working rather than at their home address), expect lots of late provisional ballots. If Romney has a “majority” on Election Day, remind people that hundreds of thousands or even millions of provisional ballots, either due to the hurricane or to Republican Jim Crow remain to be counted.

Pinellas Co., FL: Secretary of Elections makes robocalls telling people they have until 7PM Wednesday to vote. Even Charlie Crist’s wife got a robocall.

Pennsylvania: Voting machine will not record votes for Barack Obama.

Bowling Green, OH: Volunteers are prevented from providing water to people standing in line to vote. Some people leave.

Palm Beach, Florida: Voting place is moved without prior notice.

Wisconsin: Romney trains poll workers to prevent rehabilitated ex-cons from voting. State law allows them to vote. (This link is especially encouraging because it’s on Maybe some of their idiot reporters will read it.

Pueblo, Colorado: Sheriff’s deputies accost GOTV workers, run their IDs, and tell them they should “call it a day.”

Columbus, Ohio: An ABC affiliate of Sinclair Broadcasting airs slanted news broadcast.

Pennsylvania: Republican efforts to confuse people about Voter ID have succeeded.

Connecticut: Linda McMahon airs ads made to look like Democratic ads saying I support Obama and McMahon

Miami, FL: Teahadist Pamela Evans Rhodenbough files allegations of discrepancies in voting addresses and of felony convictions. Since these are filed under oath, she could face prison time if they’re found to be frivolous.

Houston, TX: True-the-Vote interferes with handing out water to people standing in line. Bible text for the day, Matt. 10:42.

Philadelphia, PA Tens of thousands may be disenfranchised due to slow registration processing. Some will vote on provisional ballots. Some may not be able to vote at all.

Posted in 2012, Republicans as cancer, voting rights | 8 Comments »

God bless the American people standing in lines

Posted by Charles II on November 5, 2012

I think the signs point to an Obama win large enough that it will be hard to steal. But even if that victory happens–especially if that happens– let’s not forget what people are going through to accomplish it. Chris McGreal, The Guardian:

Florida Democrats have accused the swing state’s Republican leadership of impinging on the fundamental rights of Americans amid growing voter anger at lengthy queues to vote, the shutting down of early voting and chaos in Miami over absentee ballots.

The state’s Democratic party filed a lawsuit on Sunday to keep polling places open until election day as the Republicans stood accused of attempting to disenfranchise its opponents with new limits on early voting that contributed to waits of more than seven hours to cast ballots in Democratic strongholds such as Miami.

The Miami-Dade elections headquarters shut it doors on Sunday to people attempting to request absentee ballots because so many people showed up. Outside, would-be voters protested, shouting: “Let us vote”.

This is shameful. Ann Coulter can vote any place that she finds convenient, even if it breaks the letter of the law. But millions of people are forced to take time off from work or arrange for child care, stand in long lines, and endure “voter challenges” from what amount to white supremacist vigilantes in order to exercise their right to vote. And then, after they have endured this, many ballots will not be counted because they’re “provisional”… or even tampered with by dishonest vote counting as we saw in Clackamas County, Oregon.

Those people standing in long lines and putting up with so much hardship and injustice deserve a much better government than they have or will have. As Yoolooloo said at DK:

You see, in all my voting life, I’ve never had to wait longer than 15 minutes, tops….

So why were we so angry? It’s because we both realized all over again that voting should be this easy, this casual, this much fun, for every single American.

To those of you who haven’t had it as easy as I have, who’ve had to wait for hours or come back another day with the right documents, or deal with any other Republican nefariousness, I offer my profound respect — and my sheepish apologies for not appreciating nearly enough just how fortunate I’ve been. And let’s just say that election reform has moved up several places on my list of critical issues for activism and advocacy.

God bless the people who stand in lines for simple justice, and also those who get angry enough to do something to put an end to this system of oppression. For they shall be called the children of heaven.

Posted in voting rights | Comments Off on God bless the American people standing in lines

PPP: Minnesota Voter Suppression And Marriage Suppression Amendments Look Doomed

Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 5, 2012

Here is very good news from Public Policy Polling. In addition to reporting that Obama leads Romney comfortably in the state, 53% to 45%, there is also good news on the two crummy amendments the state GOP wanted to shove down our throats:

The more interesting findings on our final Minnesota poll deal with the state’s high profile amendments to ban gay marriage and require voter identification. We find both narrowly trailing. 45% of voters say they’ll vote for the gay marriage ban, compared to 52% who are opposed to it. And 46% say they’ll support the voter ID amendment to 51% who are opposed.

Not only is the “Voter ID” voter suppression amendment losing (46% to 51%), so is the marriage suppression amendment, 45% to 52%. Since amendments to the state constitution need not just a plurality, but a majority of the votes cast, this bodes well for Tuesday.

Now, the marriage amendment never got much more than 50%, and it’s been below 50% for some time now, so it’s not surprising to see that it’s now in the mid-40s. What surprises the local punditti is that the voter suppression amendment is also losing — it had started out with between 70% and 80% support, so much support that various big local Democratic-affiliated groups didn’t want to waste time and money fighting it. But Sally Jo Sorensen, the best blogger in the State of Minnesota and one of its top five journalists, period, noticed that a lot of county governments were expressing to their local papers their absolute horror at the damage this massive unfunded mandate would do to their already-stressed budgets. We are literally talking about counties having to forego fixing roads or hiring cops because of this amendment.

Over the months, as winter turned to spring and spring to summer, more of these county governments started speaking out about this — and more to the point, they started to compare notes, aided in large part by Sally Jo’s publicizing of the issue (a publicizing I did my small bit to aid), even as both the StarTribune (the Minneapolis paper of record) and the Pioneer Press (the Saint Paul paper of record) largely ignored this. Soon, a critical mass of note-comparing turned into the production of a few studies, studies that confirmed the counties’ worst fears as to the costs and complexities that would be forced upon them by this amendment.

This hit home with the vote suppressors. Even as the Republicans laughed off efforts to condemn the voter suppression amendment as racist — the racist intent would appeal to a lot of Minnesota voters, so the GOP was quite happy to see Democrats talk it up — they didn’t laugh off efforts to enumerate the cost to rural counties. They sent out the attack bozoes at the Center of the American Experiment to create some numbers purporting to show that the amendment wouldn’t cost as much as feared, but Sally Jo’s good friend, Gustavus Adolphus professor and elections expert Max Hailperin, shot down their numbers right quick. Finally, the voter suppressors turned to running TV ads — but by that time the various movers and shakers in Minnesota’s Democratic establishment and allied groups had started running TV ads of their own, ads featuring guys like former Republican governor Arne Carlson and current Democratic governor Mark Dayton.

Again, keep your fingers crossed. And I’m knocking on wood with one hand while I type this with the other. But if what I think will happen does happen, a good chunk of the credit for doing the early, unglamourous spadework will go to my friend Sally Jo Sorensen, who in a just world would be entrusted with the editorship of a big daily paper or the media operations of AFSCME or SEIU or the DFL.

Posted in 2012, Minnesota, voting rights | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

A word in favor of the electoral college

Posted by Charles II on October 31, 2012

The storm on the East Coast gives one more reason why the Electoral College is a good idea. Very likely many people in that region will be unable to vote due to the storm. That will be especially true in the poorest towns and rural areas. If there were no Electoral College, the Eastern Seaboard would have a lessened influence on the choice of the next president–and that would be wrong. The same would be true if a hurricane slammed Mississippi, Alabama, and Texas just before an election.

But because presidents are elected by the Electoral College and not by popular vote, the influence of the Eastern Seaboard will not be diminished by the storm.

There is at least one other benefit of an Electoral College system. If the popular vote is close, there would be a temptation to stuff the ballot box across the nation–especially where the cheater is strong. But with an Electoral College, that wouldn’t work. Very specific ballot boxes would have to be stuffed… and that would increase the chances of catching the cheater.

There’s no question that the power of the smaller states has to be diminished. The system is so rigged, with gerrymandered House districts and excessive Senatorial power to small states, that the division of power established by the current Electoral College is another slap in the face to the majority of Americans.

The Electoral College: the worst possible system, except for the alternative.

Nate Silver thinks I’m wrong, that the effect on the popular vote margin is likely to be 0.2-0.3%. But that could be the difference between a victory and not, especially since many votes may have to be counted by hand, as one town is reportedly (Maddow) planning to do–meaning those votes could come in late.

Rachel Maddow tore Romney a new one over his pledging not to hold campaign events, then holding a “Storm-Related Event” in which everything was the same as the Romney Victory Rally which was canceled, except where Romney did a photo op collecting canned goods. As Maddow noted, the Red Cross says it does not want people to donate things, they want money:

Some donations, though well-intentioned, have hidden costs and pose many complications.
These include such items as clothing, furniture, toys and canned goods or small, individual donations of items of any sort. The Red Cross can’t accept these unsolicited, spontaneous donations
because: [etc.]

So, if we’re lucky, Romney’s donations will end up at the soup kitchen Paul Ryan invaded for his photo-op. They’re not going to help anyone along the storm-ravaged East Coast, at least not if they’re given to the Red Cross.

The statement does not appear on the main ARC web pages, so it’s not clear to me whether it’s general policy. But it certainly does not make sense to collect bags of soup and blankets when what’s needed is food and shelter for thousands.

Posted in voting rights | 5 Comments »

Malevolence or incompetence? You decide. (mass purge in LaPorte Co., Indiana)

Posted by Charles II on October 25, 2012

Via Don Briggs at DK.

Matt Fritz, The News Dispatch:

Back in 2011, some 800 voters were supposed to be purged from the La Porte County [of Indiana] voter registration system.

Instead, more than 13,000 got the boot and now the voter registration office is scrambling to get them online before Nov. 6.

Was it deliberate? Ask yourself what the GOP would say if the situation were reversed. Matt Fritz:

The Democrat party chair is asking the federal government to get involved in the wrongful purge of 13,000 voters in La Porte County last year.

Chairman John Jones said in a press release that he will be asking the U.S. Department of Justice Election Integrity Task Force to investigate exactly how the purge happened, which he said was an “effort led by Republican voters’ appointee Donna Harris, the wife of county Republican chairman Keith Harris.”

Malevolence or incompetence. You decide.

Posted in Republicans acting badly, voting rights | 5 Comments »

Preventing Disenfranchisement — Except Not

Posted by MEC on October 2, 2012

Pennsylvania judge Robert Simpson has issued an injunction against the new law requiring voters to present government-issued photo ID in order to vote. Except, he hasn’t issued an injunction against the entire law, only against enforcing the “language” regarding provisional ballots.

From the ruling: “I will not restrain election officials from asking for photo ID at the polls; rather, I will enjoin enforcement of those parts of Act 18 which directly result in disenfranchisement.” The injunction only delays (until after the November election) enforcement of the provision that voters without ID can only have provisional ballots and must present valid ID within six days or their ballots won’t be counted. There is no requirement, however, to inform voters who don’t have ID that they cannot be denied a regular ballot.

The stated purpose of the injunction is to prevent disenfranchisement, but Judge Simpson painstakingly justified leaving intact the provisions that will deter people from trying to vote. The ruling explicitly rejects the petitioners’ request to enjoin “outreach and education efforts required” by the new law. How many voters will stay home because they’ve been “educated” that they need ID and don’t know that the requirement won’t be enforced? How many elections officials will tell voters, “The law requires you to show ID to get a ballot,” but neglect to explain, “But we can’t enforce it, so you can have a ballot anyway”?

Even if voters without ID know that they can’t be denied a ballot and persuade elections officials to give them a ballot, prevailing over confusion and contradictions this injunction creates will waste time, create conflict, and generally make voting more difficult for all voters, not just voters without the required form of ID.

The injunction is not a victory for voting rights. It does as little as possible to prevent disenfranchisement.

Posted in Republicans as cancer, voting rights | 5 Comments »

The operative word is “tyranny”

Posted by Charles II on September 24, 2012

Elizabeth Drew, New York Review of Books:

Having covered Watergate and the impeachment of Richard Nixon, and more recently written a biography of Nixon, I believe that the wrongdoing we are seeing in this election is more menacing even than what went on then. Watergate was a struggle over the Constitutional powers and accountability of a president, and, alarmingly, the president and his aides attempted to interfere with the nominating process of the opposition party. But the current voting rights issue is even more serious: it’s a coordinated attempt by a political party to fix the result of a presidential election by restricting the opportunities of members of the opposition party’s constituency—most notably blacks—to exercise a Constitutional right.

This is the worst thing that has happened to our democratic election system since the late nineteenth century, when legislatures in southern states systematically negated the voting rights blacks had won in the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution.

Posted in totalitarianism, voting rights | 3 Comments »

Voter ID is no problem–if you’re a multimillionaire celebrity

Posted by Charles II on September 11, 2012

Thanks to Rachel Maddow for bringing this to attention. Jim Cramer is a well-known CNBC celebrity, the host of Mad Money:

But suppose Jim Cramer’s Dad didn’t have a multimillionaire celebrity son. Think that he would have been allowed to get his ID?

I wonder if this can make the issue intelligible to conservatives who aren’t complete a–holes?

Rachel also noted that media stories have been documenting that so-called “free” ID can cost $50-$100 and take 6 hours. Assuming you’re healthy enough to travel to the DMV and stand in line and you actually do have a birth certificate.

Posted in 2012, voting rights | 5 Comments »

The Courage of their Convictions

Posted by Charles II on December 17, 2011

One of the grimly ironic activities of observing politics is separating out what the parties fundraise over vs. what they actually do. Here’s an advertisement from the Guardian of 12/17 and the link to which it leads.

Ad placed by the Democratic Governors' Association in The Guardian

What you get if you follow the link:

And this is what you get if you look through their press releases, news, and so on on voter suppression:

Yes, this is the sum total of what the Democratic governors are doing to end voter suppression: using it as a wedge issue and fundraising tool. And even this is narrowcast to readers of a left-wing British newspaper. They don’t even have the courage of their convictions to stand up and say what needs to be said publicly–that denying the vote to significant numbers of people destabilizes a country, leaving those who are disenfranchised with no stake in the nation. They aren’t taking steps in states where they have control to extend the franchise as widely as possible. Nothing forbids California, for example, from automatically registering every US citizen who pays taxes; buys a license from the state; has a child enrolled in the schools; or otherwise interacts with the state.

Nor are Democrats safeguarding the vote. In one of the most notorious cases of suppression of minority votes, a Democratic Secretary of State (later indicted, though not convicted as of this date) acting under a Democratic Governor had to be sued to get the state to address ballot spoilage rates vastly higher than those in Anglo-majority areas. Why should citizens have to spend the enormous amounts of money required to sue a state just to get voting machines that work? Is it really controversial that votes should be counted?

Maybe the Democratic Governor’s Association will do something to make me believe that they take the issue of the franchise seriously. But so far, the courage of their convictions extends only as far as their strong belief that they need more money.

Posted in Democrats, voting machines, voting rights | 1 Comment »

Legacy of shame

Posted by Charles II on September 20, 2011

Via Avedon, Al Jazeera published a piece by Digby that everyone should read for the first three paragraphs. It is about how Republicans will (not may, will) steal the 2012 election because Democrats are not prepared for it:

In the 1964 presidential elections, a young political operative named Bill guarded a largely African-American polling place in South Phoenix, Arizona like a bull mastiff.

Bill was a legal whiz who knew the ins and outs of voting law and insisted that every obscure provision be applied, no matter what. He even made those who spoke accented English interpret parts of the constitution to prove that they understood it. The lines were long, people fought, got tired or had to go to work, and many of them left without voting. It was a notorious episode long remembered in Phoenix political circles.

It turned out that it was part of a Republican Party strategy known as “Operation Eagle Eye”, and “Bill” was future Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist. He was confronted with his intimidation tactics in his confirmation hearings years later, and characterised his behaviour as simple arbitration of polling place disputes. In doing so, he set a standard for GOP dishonesty and obfuscation surrounding voting rights that continues to this day.

MEC and PW know how I identified the Florida 2000 election as a critical, pivotal moment in American history where we either stood as a nation for the principle that elections are sacrosanct or we became a banana Republic. And, yes, there’s always been cheating at the margins LBJ’s first Senate race, for example) and, yes, we survived Tilden-Hayes, where the presidency was stolen. But when these things happen, they reflect the decision by the elites of a nation that the consent of the governed no longer matters, and that always has serious consequences.

The first example was, of course, the decision by the Founders not to include slaves (or women, or the landless) among “the governed.” The consequences were a Civil War that almost destroyed the country. Tilden-Hayes led to a century of Jim Crow and a nation divided by bitterness to this day. The Bush presidency led directly to financial ruin and disastrous foreign entanglements that have already gravely weakened the American empire. By contrast, when people were included in governance, the nation boomed.

There is a direct connection between sharing of power and national success.

* Tyranny, of course, is the end product of the concentration of power: one person or a small group holds all power. Since they cannot engage the talents and energy of the population, things fall apart.
* At a lesser level of concentration of power, oligarchy, the wealthy enjoy impunity from the laws, but some semblance of participation in the national life is tolerated. Oligarchies tend to be corrupt, and the national energy is dissipated through waste and outright crime. Honduras is a good example of an oligarchy, one that is likely headed for outright tyranny.
* Even nominally democratic republics have degrees of functionality. Exempting certain people from laws, as happened with the pardon of Nixon, the refusal to impeach Reagan, and the failure to prosecute torture in the Bush Administration, undermines the rule of law. Excluding people from elections, as many southern states do to felons, leaves those people with no real stake in how the country is run. The effects depend on how many people are excluded. Southern states tend to be more corrupt because so many people are powerless.

The Republicans now are attempting to exclude most poor, elderly, or disabled people, university students, people who are forced to move frequently, people who carry more than one job, and other classes of voters.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in election theft, voting rights | 2 Comments »

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