Archive for Vote Suppression

Aug
17

Lying to themselves at you

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One hears repeatedly that questioning people’s motives is rude. Impolitic. Impolite. Paul Waldman a few years ago posted that motive questioning is toxic because it is akin to calling people liars and bad people. Then again:

I’m not saying that on certain occasions it isn’t reasonable to question someone’s motives. In fact, voter ID laws offer one such case. The idea that all these Republican legislatures set out to address the non-existent problem of people impersonating other people at the polls just because they care so deeply about the integrity of the ballot, and did so in a way that purely by accident has the potential to significantly reduce turnout by some of the people most likely to vote Democratic, is more than a little hard to swallow. I’ll absolutely grant that Democrats dislike voter ID laws primarily for the same political reason, because it means their voters may find it difficult to vote. But on the substantive merits, Democrats also happen to be right.

Perfect example. In fact, on several occasions federal courts have questioned the stated rationale behind passing these laws as without substance, including just days ago in the Texas case. But one of the most frustrating things about attempting to engage “a Republican argument” is precisely how often the arguments seem disingenuous. It is not as if rank-and-file activists are actively lying about their motives. It is that they have never questioned them themselves. They have simply heard and regurgitated the talking points so often that they believe their own bullshit and are beyond questioning it. The frustrating thing is not that they are lying to you. It is that in effect (to borrow a Colbert construction), they are lying to themselves at you.

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Aug
08

Having “a Republican argument”

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It could be weeks before U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder rules on whether North Carolina’s House Bill 589 violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The NAACP and the U.S. Department of Justice filed suit alleging that the law discriminated against racial minorities, the elderly and young people. In addition to requiring photo IDs for voting, H.B. 589 eliminated same-day voter registration, out-of-precinct provisional voting, preregistration for 16- and 17-year-olds, and reduced early voting from 17 to 10 days. (In advance of the trial, state legislators loosened the ID requirements.)

At Plum Line, Greg Sargent spoke with Chris Brook, one of the ACLU attorneys on the case, about “the mother of all voter suppression bills”:

PLUM LINE: What is the case against the North Carolina law?

BROOK: It makes it more difficult for all North Carolinians to vote, but in particular for racial minorities in our state. Beyond that, the legislature knew full well, when they passed this raft of voting restrictions, that it would make it more difficult for African Americans to vote. Yet they plowed forward despite that fact. We’re challenging these measures pursuant to the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as well as Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

PLUM LINE: The judge in this case is trying to determine whether the impact of the law is discriminatory or merely inconveniencing. It seems like proving discrimination is a high bar.

BROOK: There’s grounds for optimism, because over the course of the trial, we were able to put on a strong case featuring dozens of North Carolinians who were disenfranchised in 2014. These restrictions are not mere inconveniences. They resulted in many North Carolinians not being able to vote.

More than 1,000 North Carolinians cast out-of-precinct provisional ballots in 2014 that previously would have been counted and were not counted. Approximately 11,000 North Carolinians registered to vote during the same-day registration window in 2014. They were not able to participate. This is something that has kept North Carolinians from voting.

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Jul
10

“This is our Selma!”

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On Monday at 8 a.m. EDT, the North Carolina NAACP chapter takes NC Gov. Pat McCrory and the cheerfully nicknamed VIVA voter suppression act to court:

On July 13, a federal court in Winston-Salem will hear North Carolina NAACP v. McCrory, our lawsuit to reverse North Carolina’s unconstitutional and immoral voter suppression law. North Carolina’s law is the first and the worst since the 2013 Shelby v. Holder decision that gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Our voting rights, gained because people stood up despite great consequences in Selma and across the South, have been compromised. Now we must march!

The outcome of this historic case in North Carolina will have an impact on voting rights across the nation. This is a battle for voting rights for all of us. We will not surrender the most fundamental right of a democracy: the right to vote. 
 Just like in Selma, we must march!

Join us in Winston-Salem on July 13 at 5:00 p.m. for a Mass Moral Monday March for Voting Rights.  

This is Our Selma!

Activists believe Winston-Salem was chosen as the venue for hearing the case because its small size. Few observers will get inside and no audio or video feed will be available. The NAACP will nonetheless hold a press conference at 8 a.m. at the courthouse, plus other events during the day, prior to the planned march led by Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP and leader of the weekly Moral Monday marches.

Republicans in the legislature appear nervous about the case. After hundreds of citizens spoke against the law at State Board of Elections forums held across the state, the legislature amended the law to loosen the ID requirements just weeks ahead of the July hearing. Think Progress:

[V]oters who lack the an ID will still be able to cast a ballot, but only if they sign an affidavit swearing they fall into one of the acceptable categories of reasons they couldn’t obtain a government photo ID: a lack of transportation, disability or illness, lost or stolen photo ID, a lack of a birth certificate or other documents to obtain a photo ID, work schedules or family responsibilities. The voter would also need to present an “alternate form of identification,” the last four digits of their Social Security number, and their date of birth.

That is, they swapped out some of the barricades against voting for hoops.

Yet the voter ID provision — which does not allow for the use of student IDs — is just one piece of the sweeping voting law overhaul that the state passed just weeks after the Supreme Court struck down a cornerstone of the Voting Rights Act. The law also eliminated same-day voter registration, cut a full week of early voting, barred voters from casting a ballot outside their home precinct, ended straight-ticket voting, and scrapped a program to pre-register high school students who would turn 18 by Election Day.

University of California law professor Richard Hasen, of Election Law Blog, described the law in 2013, saying:

It rolls into a single piece of legislation just about all of the tools we’ve seen legislatures use in recent years to try to make it harder for people to register and vote.

On Monday, we’ll see if we can’t roll it back.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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Jun
24

Patching the Voting Rights Act

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The hole the Supreme Court’s 2013 Shelby County v. Holder ruling blew in the Voting Rights Act will get patched this session if Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Georgia’s Congressman John Lewis have anything to say about it. They plan to introduce legislation today to repair the damage. Ari Berman has this scoop at The Nation:

… The Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015 would compel states with a well-documented history of recent voting discrimination to clear future voting changes with the federal government, require federal approval for voter ID laws, and outlaw new efforts to suppress the growing minority vote.

According to the Washington Post:

The bill is the latest in what has been an ongoing effort to restore the preclearence provision of the Voting Rights Act, which required many southern states to have any change to voting laws cleared by federal officials. The Supreme Court, in its 2013 Shelby v. Holder decision, tossed the formula used to determine which states need preclearence, effectively ending the federal government’s role as a monitor to state voting changes until a new formula is approved by Congress.

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Jun
05

Clinton “lets rip” on voting rights

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County elections staff met here last night with party officials to discuss recruiting election judges and poll workers for the next two years.** It all went smoothly until a man in the back asked what was being done to prevent people from voting here and then voting absentee in another state. You might as well ask what North Carolina is doing to prevent its 10 million residents from robbing convenience stores in Florida.

The electoral paranoia behind that question — and the Republican-sponsored voting restrictions spawned nationwide by it — was on Hillary Clinton’s mind yesterday when she called for universal, automatic voter registration at a speech in Houston yesterday. Reporters knew the speech would be about voting rights, Rachel Maddow noted last night, but nobody knew Clinton was about to “let rip” on the subject of voting rights:

[W]e have a responsibility to say clearly and directly what’s really going on in our country—because what is happening is a sweeping effort to disempower and disenfranchise people of color, poor people, and young people from one end of our country to the other.

[snip]

North Carolina passed a bill that went after pretty much anything that makes voting more convenient or more accessible. Early voting. Same-day registration. The ability of county election officials to even extend voting hours to accommodate long lines.

Now what possible reason could there be to end pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds and eliminate voter outreach in high schools?

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Jun
04

NC State Board of Elections Public Hearings on Voter ID Rules

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This post stay on top thru Thursday. New material below.

From Democracy NC:

NC State Board of Elections Public Hearings on Voter ID Rules

June 10th: Boone 5:00-7:00 @ 814 West King Street, Boone
June 11th: Sylva 5:00-7:00 @876 Skyland Drive, Suite 1, Sylva

RSVP for the Sylva Photo ID Public Hearing

RSVP for the Boone Hearing

These are the only hearings that will occur on the “Voter ID” (HB589) rules that will come into effect in 2016. Democracy NC is seeking individuals to attend the hearing & make public comments.
We will organize car pools or possibly get shuttles out to Sylva.
Please email Darlene@democracy-nc.org or call (828)216-3430 to RSVP

Some key facts are:
– The bill not only requires government-issued ID at the polls, but takes away one week of early voting, eliminates pre-registration of 16-17 year olds,terminates out-of-precinct voting, and eliminates same-day voter registration during the early voting period.
-These rules are said to impact at least 210,000 North Carolinians- and these are only the folks that the DMV lists generated; 40% of these individuals are students.
-There are only 9 hearings throughout the state, 2 of which are in Western NC. In fact, Dem NC just lobbied to get another location added in the “black belt” and it worked- they added a site in Tarboro.
-This is likely to be the only opportunity that citizens will have to speak out about the rules that have been drafted as a result of the Monster Law.

We are looking for folks to make public comments. If people know of an individual who has encountered problems with getting an ID, please urge them to speak- as these are the stories we need the SBOE rule-makers to hear. Other folks that have a powerful stance include, but certainly aren’t limited to: individuals who don’t have easy public transportation to the DMV; high school teachers (per the removal of pre-registration for 16-17 year olds); college teachers (per the impact on college students given the complications with the state ID requirement/student IDs not being accepted); employees of the DMV; employees of social agencies; individuals who have been involved in voter registration drives; and last but certainly not least, passionate citizens who see this legislation as an unnecessary barrier to exercising a critical civic duty.

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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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May
13

Proposed Photo ID Rules – Do You Have Your Papers?

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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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