Archive for Vote Suppression
There is enough crazy (and crazies) in NC to fill several wildlife refuges. Still, Gov. Pat McCrory is rated one of the most vulnerable Republican governors seeking reelection this fall. With state agencies allegedly dragging their feet over complying with federal voter registration laws, activists are not sitting around waiting for Bernie or Hillary to swoop in and save the day. The North Carolina NAACP and Democracy North Carolina are mounting a multi-pronged get-out-the-vote effort across the state. Rev. Dr. William Barber, president of the state NAACP and leader of the Forward Together Moral Monday Movement came to Asheville, North Carolina this week to promote the “It’s Our Time — It’s Our Vote” campaign. The coalition announced the campaign on December 1, the 60th anniversary of Rosa Parks’ protest on a Montgomery, Alabama bus. Mountain Xpress reports:
“Others have had their time over past few years to vote on regressive policies. It’s our time now,” Barber commented. “In North Carolina, we have been fighting the worst voter suppression law in the country.” In partnership with other organizations, the NAACP has challenged new voting laws passed in 2013, including voter identification requirements, the elimination of same-day voter registration and the elimination of out-of-precinct voting. Barber asked attendees to spread the word about a July 2015 change in the North Carolina General Assembly statute which allows voting without ID in the case of a “reasonable impediment” to obtaining identification.
“Go and vote,” urged Barber. “The law has not been fully adjudicated. They had to water it down because they knew what they had passed was totally unconstitutional. That came from our efforts and those of our partners.”
Give me that old time religion. Or at least, that old time franchise. Bring back the good old days when white, Christian men could run this great democracy the way God intended when he handed down the U.S. Constitution on tablets to George Washington in 1776.
Writing in the Washington Post, William H. Frey of the Brookings Institution examines the latest rearguard effort to stave off white political obsolescence. The Supreme Court earlier this month heard arguments in Evenwel v. Abbott. At issue: whether government exists to represent all the people or just eligible voters. As Dahlia Lithwick explained:
If the court sides with Evenwel and accepts the view that only voters or even registered voters are to be counted when drawing district lines, children, legal residents, and people who have committed felonies or the mentally ill—all of whom are certainly affected when legislators legislate—are not to be counted for apportionment purposes. In the words of the Obama administration, which sides with Texas in this case against the two plaintiffs, whole swaths of the population become “invisible or irrelevant to our system of representative democracy.”
And your point is? Read More→
At an event Saturday night in eastern Tennessee, an organizer brought up the meme that poor people tend to “vote against their best interests,” for Republicans who vote to slash safety net programs that keep them afloat. This complaint, as I have written, is an old pet peeve. First, because it’s a lefty dog whistle for saying those voters are stupid — which they hear clearly even if we cannot. And second, as liberals do we really want our neighbors to go into the voting booth to vote what’s best for No. 1 rather than for an America that aspires to something better? But Saturday night, the same organizer offered a new twist from a New York Timesarticle by ProPublica’s Alec MacGillis:
In eastern Kentucky and other former Democratic bastions that have swung Republican in the past several decades, the people who most rely on the safety-net programs secured by Democrats are, by and large, not voting against their own interests by electing Republicans. Rather, they are not voting, period. They have, as voting data, surveys and my own reporting suggest, become profoundly disconnected from the political process.The people in these communities who are voting Republican in larger proportions are those who are a notch or two up the economic ladder — the sheriff’s deputy, the teacher, the highway worker, the motel clerk, the gas station owner and the coal miner. And their growing allegiance to the Republicans is, in part, a reaction against what they perceive, among those below them on the economic ladder, as a growing dependency on the safety net, the most visible manifestation of downward mobility in their declining towns.
This is perhaps a manifestation of the “last place aversion” I wrote about in February. It is the need to have someone to look down on so you do not see yourself on the bottom rung of life’s ladder: Read More→
In which Latino voters flex their American muscle. And in which I agree with Team Trump. Politico reviews the part Latino voters will play in the 2016 elections:
Hispanic activists have two words for Donald Trump — thank you.
“I think the greatest thing to ever happen to the Hispanic electorate is a gentleman named Donald Trump, he has crystalized the angst and anger of the Hispanic community,” U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Javier Palomarez told POLITICO in an interview. “I think that we can all rest assured that Hispanics can turn out in record numbers.”
Let’s hope that’s true.
The Trump camp is not worried, and it says it sees more Hispanic voters as a good thing.
“I don’t hear any empirical evidence that that is going to happen,” campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said about the idea that more Hispanic voters could hurt his chances. “The more people that take part in the election process, the better, and I think it’s clear that Mr. Trump has invigorated people who aren’t traditionally participating in the process.”
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.
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.
On July 13, a federal court in Winston-Salem will hear North Carolina NAACP v. McCrory, our lawsuit to reverse North Carolina’s. 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.
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.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.
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.)
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.
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.
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?
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
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.