Archive for Vote Suppression

May
18

Omission accomplished

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Since elections that gave the GOP control of North Carolina’s legislature (2010) and governor’s mansion (2012), creating jobs hasn’t exactly been Job One. But keeping theirs has. That has meant election changes from soup to nuts, or rather, from gerrymandering to photo identity cards. The cherry on top? Voter registrations state agencies must offer clients by the National Voter Registration Act dropping by 50 percent since Gov. Pat McCrory took office. Plus regular voter fraud snipe hunts designed to generate public support for even more election “reforms.”

For all their amateur data-sleuthing, what the state’s voter fraud vigilantes lack in quality, they make up for in quantity. Yet documenting non-anecdotal cases of fraud has proven difficult. Finding real victims of the voting restrictions they advocate, less so, as the Institute for Southern Studies found:

Jerome Roberts and his daughter Diana battled nearly unbelievable odds to become U.S. citizens. And one of the first things they wanted to do after becoming naturalized was to cast votes in North Carolina’s 2014 elections.

In the 1990s, they had fled their native Liberia during the West African country’s deadly civil wars, which claimed the lives of both of Jerome’s parents. After living in a U.N. refugee camp in Ghana for several years, the family was moved in 2000 by the U.S. government to a resettlement in Charlotte, where Jerome has worked as a service technician for the city for eight years.

They were excited about voting as full citizens in their first general election in November 2014. And then?

On the morning of the elections, Jerome picked Diana up from high school, where she was an 18-year-old in her last semester, and they headed to their precinct at Druid Hills Academy. When they arrived, however, they discovered that Diana — despite being a naturalized citizen, and a registered voter since September — had been flagged as a potential non-citizen by state election officials. According to state law, only naturalized citizens can vote.

Diana was apparently on a list of 1,454 names the N.C. State Board of Elections gave to local election officials shortly before the 2014 elections, identifying registered voters whose “citizenship status was in question.” More than 300 names had been sent to Mecklenburg County.

According to Jerome and Diana, their voting experience went downhill from there. A poll worker told them to wait while precinct officials “called downtown” to address Diana’s citizenship status. They waited more than two hours, to no avail. In the meantime, Jerome — unfamiliar with the voting process — asked the same poll worker for help understanding his ballot; according to Jerome, she became impatient and dismissive, saying, “We can’t help you.”

In the end, Jerome cast a ballot, but Diana, frustrated and tired, did not. Asked if she planned to try again next election, she said no. Jerome added, “Is this how people vote in this country? Because these are the things that make people not want to vote.”

As President George W. Bush once said of his administration’s custom-designed fiasco, “Mission accomplished.”

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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May
17

It takes a criminal mind

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After signing the credit card draft, the customer asked for his carbons back. (That tells you how long ago this was.) The waiter (moi) must have gotten a puzzled look on his face.

“Nobody ever asked you that before?” the customer asked.

Nope.

The customer explained that dumpster-diving thieves would steal carbons to get credit card numbers.

“Huh? That never would have occurred to me,” I said.

“That’s because you don’t have a criminal mind,” the man said.

Which brings us to this piece in the New York Times. It seems Republican PACs are making a concerted effort to “inhabit the liberal role” on social media and dupe lefties into sharing anti-Hillary Clinton memes. Bill McKibben (350.org), the A.F.L.-C.I.O., and others have fallen prey to the tactic:

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The NCSBE’s has issued proposed rules for applying NC’s new photo ID law. Democracy NC summarizes:

WHAT ARE THE RULES: Democracy NC believes the rules are relatively good in the context of a very bad law. Here are some highlights:

  • The address on the ID does not matter; it can be different from your registration address.
  • Names on the ID and registration roll should be “substantially similar.” Variations are okay, such as: parts of the name in different order or missing or with hyphens, or a maiden and a married name on the ID and voter roll.
  • Changes in your appearance from the photo are expected – hair color, weight, aging, etc.
  • The three top precinct workers at the poll (called judges) must ALL agree that the ID does not resemble the voter for it to be rejected. If any one of those precinct judges says it is OK, then it’s OK.
  • A voter may provide additional documents to help the judges decide in the voter’s favor.
  • If the ID is rejected, the voter can cast a pro-visional ballot, but it won’t count unless the voter presents a photo ID within a few days. (This is the worst part of the ID law.)
  • Curbside voters who vote from a car may use a wider range of IDs, such as a utility bill or document from a government agency with their name and address. Curbside voters must swear they can’t stand in line or walk to the poll due to their “age or physical difficulty.”
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May
10

The missing 40,000 NC voters

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An analysis posted Thursday at Daily Kos found that since Pat McCrory moved into the North Carolina governor’s mansion, voter registration applications received through state public service agencies (as required by the National Voter Registration Act of 1993) have fallen off drastically. DocDawg and colleagues did some data mining:

Finding 1: A systematic sharp decline in new voter registrations originating from Public Assistance (PA) programs began on or about January 2013 and continues to this day
Figure 1, below, summarizes statewide new voter registrations originating from PA programs, by month, and compares these with new voter registrations originating from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
Fig. 1: North Carolina new voter registrations originating via Public Assistance programs (top panel) and via the Dept. of Motor Vehicles (bottom panel) from May 2010 through March 2015. Red and green horizontal lines indicate overall averages for the periods May 2010 through December 2012 (green lines; “Pre-McCrory Average”) and January 2013 through March 2015 (red lines; “McCrory Average”). Months for which reports are missing, or contain incomplete data, are excluded from these averages (5/2010, 9/2010, 3/2011, 5/2011, 8/2011, 5/2012, 6/2012, and 3/2015).

In all, “an overall deficit of 39,177 ‘missing voters’ (i.e., NC citizens who would have been registered had this decline not occurred).” Checking for benign explanations, the study finds that the decline does not appear to be connected to an improving economy and “occurs statewide, not merely in a handful of counties.”

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From Progressive Pulse:

A new analysis of voter registration data shows that under the McCrory administration, North Carolina may be systematically failing to provide state residents with the opportunity to register to vote when they apply for public assistance — such as food stamps or welfare — in violation of the National Voter Registration Act.

Commonly called the “Motor Voter Law,” the Act requires public assistance agencies and motor vehicle offices to provide voter registration services whenever someone applies for benefits, renews or recertifies benefits, or changes an address with the agency, unless the person declines these services in writing.

Affected programs include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (“TANF”), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (“WIC”), the Medicaid program, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (“CHIP”).

Go figure.

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Mar
14

A duty and a privilege

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At the Daily Beast, Eleanor Clift explains why Wisconsin Republican Jim Sensenbrenner’s bipartisan effort to repair the Voting Rights Act is going nowhere. Sensenbrenner’s H.R.885, co-sponsored by Democrat Rep. John Lewis of Georgia and forty others (including eight Republicans), was introduced on February 11. The bill is “going nowhere,” Clift believes, in spite of the observance last weekend of the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday at Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge. John Lewis was among the civil rights marchers famously beaten there by Alabama State troopers.

It is worth noting that H.R.885 specifically exempts laws requiring “photo identification as a condition of receiving a ballot for voting in a federal, state, or local election” from actions that trigger federal jurisdiction over state efforts to abridge the right to vote. The price of that bipartisanship, no doubt.

Clift quotes David Bositis, formerly with the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies:

Asked whether the symbolism of Selma fifty years later might move Congress to act, Bositis said flatly, “It’s not going to happen, nothing’s going to happen…. On balance this is more of a problem for the Republican Party than the Democrats because the people who are being disenfranchised view the Republican Party as hostile to them. It’s hurting the Republican Party.”

The Supreme Court 5-4 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder in June of 2013 opened the door to a spate of voter ID laws. “Voter suppression, that’s the intent, but so few people vote in the United States,” says Bositis, “so all they’re doing is reinforcing the idea that Republicans are hostile to minority groups.” The GOP did very well in 2010 and 2014, but it had nothing to do with voter suppression, he says. Young people and minority voters typically have low turnout in non-presidential years.

[snip]

No election outcomes will be changed with or without the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act, he declares. Still, it’s important. “The fact that one of the two major political parties is hostile to the rights of minority citizens is a very big deal—and a lot of that hostility is in the center of gravity of the party, which is Southern whites.” They’re not wielding clubs and hoses anymore, he says, and they may not say anything overtly racist. They cloak their objections in states’ rights. But Republicans not only have no incentive to update the VRA, they have a disincentive, he explains.

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Mar
07

50 years later, it’s always something

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Edmund Pettus Bridge, Selma, Alabama. (photo, Library of Congress)

President Obama will speak in Selma, AL today to observe the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday voting rights march that began at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. It will be streaming live here at noon EST (9 a.m. PST).

Even as civil rights groups gather at the bridge, a Change.org petition started by Student Unite has gathered 150,000 signatures from people who want the name Edmund Pettus removed from the Edmund Pettus Bridge, now a national landmark and part of the Selma To Montgomery National Historic Trail. It dawned on somebody that the name of a Civil War general and Alabama U.S. senator/Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon is “a symbol of oppression.” Really.

This is happening in Montgomery:

The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday passed a bill that would prevent clergy, officials and faith-based groups with religious objections to certain marriages from being forced to officiate them, or being sued over their refusal.

Although the legislation does not directly address the issue, same-sex marriage supporters said the bill would effectively give state officials and religiously affiliated organizations, such as hospitals, homeless shelters and food banks broad powers to deny services and benefits to same-sex couples.

This is also happening:

The ACLU of Alabama; the Southern Poverty Law Center; the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Americans United for Separation of Church and State asked U.S. District Judge Ginny Granade to add all Alabama couples seeking same-sex marriage licenses as plaintiffs in an ongoing lawsuit in Mobile County, and to add all of the state’s probate judges who may enforce orders barring or resist rulings allowing same-sex marriage as defendants.

The groups also want Granade to issue an injunction that the probate judges “refrain from enforcing all Alabama laws and orders that prohibit same-sex couples from marrying or that deny recognition of the marriages of same-sex couples.”

[snip]

On Tuesday, the Alabama Supreme Court ordered probate judges to stop issuing the licenses, saying its powers to interpret the U.S. Constitution were equal to Granade’s. The seven-justice majority said that the bans did not violate the 14th Amendment, arguing that the laws did not target gay and lesbian couples and that the state had a legitimate interest in promoting traditional marriage.

And you thought it was some kind of article of faith that “government shouldn’t pick winners and losers.”

It’s always something.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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It’s a cliche anymore to say that people who get distraught when women they don’t know want an abortion show much less concern for other people’s children once they’re born. But a headline from the inbox yesterday reminds me this is not the only area of public policy where such behavior holds.

One of the state’s GOP websites regularly reproduces in whole press releases from the Voter Integrity Project, North Carolina’s spinoff of True the Vote. This week’s 10-alarm headline? Curbside voting. Did you know that “there is no actual ‘proof’ of disability required” for the disabled or aged to use curbside voting? That you don’t have to show a photo ID at curbside voting? And that George Soros-backed groups will use this “curbside loophole” to help “drive-by voters” circumvent the state’s new voter ID law?

No code-speak there, huh?

But it strikes me that all the alarmism over the integrity of elections by people who devote themselves to undermining public confidence in them dissipates like morning fog once candidates take office. Ensuring only their preferred candidates come to term is what’s important. The integrity of those electeds and the actual legislative process afterwards? Not so much.

People whose only power is at the polls are a threat to democracy. Money wielding unprecedented influence in the halls of government at both the state and national level is much less of a concern.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

Categories : Vote Suppression
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Jan
26

Maybe night vision goggles?

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The voter fraud frauds are at it again:

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Supporters and opponents of a Nebraska voter identification bill packed a public hearing Friday for a fierce debate over the measure.

The Legislature’s Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee heard heated arguments on a bill by Sen. Tyson Larson of O’Neill. The legislation would require voters to show a driver’s license or state identification card at a polling place. Fifteen other states have such a law.

[snip]

Doug Kagan of Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom testified in support of the measure, saying it protects the sanctity of the system and compared voter ID laws to a vaccination preventing polio.

Because America’s Most Sanctimonious don’t want their elections tainted by diseased Others — infected with too much poor, too much melanin, or too much not-one-of-us.

Talking with a newly minted ex-Republican over the weekend, I recounted attending a 2013 “boot camp” for training T-party sleuths how to purge voter rolls. I wrote at the time that,

… they emphasized the need for getting dead and inactive voters off the rolls because of the possibility of widespread voter fraud — or was it a widespread possibility? — for which they never seem to produce evidence. Basically, T-partiers are convinced that if they lose an election it must be because their opponents cheated. What else could it be? Zombies? Bigfoot?!

Much of the day focused on dead and inactive voters who remain on the rolls (by law) too long for the T-party’s liking. So they employ crowd-sourced data-matching to get voters removed. Two women described perusing the MLS listings for homes for sale and foreclosures. Then they drive by, taking geocoded photos of the properties and any empty houses they find to prove to the local Board of Elections that people registered there no longer live there. They scour the daily obituaries for the freshly dead, then take the notices down to the local Board of Elections and try to have them removed from the voter rolls.

Of course, Board of Elections professionals could do all this with enough manpower and enough money from enough taxes … oh, right.

Not once in seven hours, I told my new friend, did anyone suggest expanding the franchise or registering new voters and encouraging them to exercise their right to vote. It was utterly defensive, aimed at keeping the imagined, invisible hoards of THEM  from casting ballots.

Her eyes grew wide in shock as she said, “That’s so sad.”

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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Nov
12

A gated democracy

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Graffiti in the Tenderloin, San Francisco. Image by Almonroth via Wikimedia Commons

The Worst Voter Turnout in 72 Years the New York Times declares this morning, condemning continued efforts to suppress turnout among poor, minority and younger voters. They don’t even bother to add qualifiers anymore when calling out Republicans for voter suppression.

Sean McElwee at Huffington Post runs down some preliminary analysis of new voting restrictions. Photo ID laws, eliminating same-day registration, and felon disenfranchisement were contributing factors in the low turnout.

More than 600,000 in Texas could not vote this year because they lacked the newly required documents. How many tried and were turned away? The nonpartisan Election Protection Voter help line received over 2,000 calls in Texas, according to the Brennan Center’s director of its Democracy Program, Wendy Weiser. A federal judge had determined that the Texas law was purposely designed to suppress minority votes.

As Ari Berman wrote last week, “Since Republican legislatures across the country implemented new voting restrictions after 2010 and the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, it’s become easier to buy an election and harder to vote in one.”

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