Archive for Vote Suppression
“We think that voting actually is not just a private vote for the person who gets the vote, but a public good, and that the more people who vote, the more legitimate the elected officials are, and that they represent the actual values of the electorate.”
– Colorado Senate Majority Leader Ken Gordon (D-Denver)
On the other hand, some people really don’t want you to vote. Every couple of months, their agents (figuratively) fling smoke bombs into newsrooms and yell “voter fraud.” By the time the smoke clears and reporters realize there’s no fire — and no fraud — all viewers remember are hearing the words “voter fraud” over and over again, and the eye-popping crawlers on the news at six about dead people voting. Thus is spread an urban legend.
This urban legend is brought to you by the same people who warned Americans about Iraqi aluminum tubes and yellowcake uranium, about mushroom clouds and mobile bio-weapons labs and stockpiles of WMDs, people who looked America in the eye and said, “We know where they are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.” They were lying then. They are lying now.
Rick Hasen, a professor of law and political science at the University of California, Irvine names names behind the voter fraud lie for Talking Points Memo in The Fake Voter Fraud Epidemic and the 2012 Election. Susie Madrak at C&L presents this handy video on the subject from The Young Turks. One name in particular stands out: Hans von Spakovsky, the Republicans’ point man. Spakovsky is the GOP’s Professor Harold Hill — a traveling Voter ID salesman — and just as good at conning innocent townspeople. He’s successfully duped almost three-quarters of Americans into believing the voter fraud crisis he’s ginned up is a real problem. Like The Music Man, he’s arrived to sell you a solution to your imaginary problem. Never mind that his solution aims at disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of American voters so his party can hold onto power.
Dragon bones? But isn’t the point of Voter ID to keep invisible gnomes from voting?
Wow! That’s terrific bunny.
John Scalzi: A Self-Made Man Looks At How He Made It
I know what I have been given and what I have taken. I know to whom I owe. I know that what work I have done and what I have achieved doesn’t exist in a vacuum or outside of a larger context, or without the work and investment of other people, both within the immediate scope of my life and outside of it. I like the idea that I pay it forward, both with the people I can help personally and with those who will never know that some small portion of their own hopefully good fortune is made possible by me.
I don’t have time this morning to comment further, but recommend this post at the Brad Blog. ACLU attorneys representing Minnesota’s League of Women Voters brought suit to stop a fall ballot initiative that would require voter ID in Minnesota. It is a narrow challenge to language used in the ballot measure that the League’s attorneys argue is deceptive and misleading:
Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require all voters to present valid photo identification to vote and to require the state to provide free identification to eligible voters, effective July 1, 2013?
At the links above, you can read more details about why the ballot language is misleading. Even though a recent poll suggests that 80% Minnesotans support photo ID restrictions, in arguments this week before Minnesota’s Supreme Court this week, one of the justices felt that more is at stake than the narrow issue of ballot language when “fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution” are at stake. Even if most voters support the measure, “strict scrutiny” by the court is required:
California attorney Ernest A. Canning, writing for Brad Blog [emphasis mine]:
Under classic equal protection analysis, a statute that impairs a fundamental right is subjected to what is called “strict scrutiny.” That means, the proponents of a statute, which may affect that fundamental right, must establish that the legislation is narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling government interest.
In cases, like Weinschenk v. State (2006), it was impossible for the GOP in the state of Missouri to meet that high burden because cases of in-person impersonation — the only form of voter fraud that can be prevented by polling place Photo ID legislation — were demonstrated by the opponents of the ballot measure to be about as scarce as hen’s teeth. Indeed, the MO Supreme Court, in that case, expressly found that there had not been a single case of in-person voter impersonation in The Show Me State between the 2002 adoption of the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) and their 2006 decision.
Proponents of similarly crafted GOP restrictions in other states have been forced to admit the same thing: They are unable to cite a single instance of fraud in their respective states that might have been deterred by their attempted new restrictions on voting rights.
The zombies are back. It seems like only yesterday (okay, it was January) they were walking the sand hills of South Carolina.
The Nation reports from Michigan:
“Some 1,500 people voted under dead people’s and prisoners’ names from 2008-11, according to Michigan’s auditor general. Many might be clerical errors, but this illustrates the need to ensure accurate voter rolls.”
Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson wrote this in a July 2 Times-Herald column, and she lied.
From Common Cause:
Robo calls telling voters in Wisconsin that if they signed the recall petition, they did not need to vote in the election… Election Day emails falsely informing Virginia college students that voting was postponed 24 hours… Text messages alerting Florida students that Tuesday voting was for Republicans only… 100,000 robocalls telling Maryland Democrats their candidate would win without their votes…
These are all real-life voter suppression case studies exposed in a shocking new Common Cause report . And they’re just a taste of the onslaught of bullying, misinformation and sabotage voters may face in 2012. Common Cause has a plan to fight back — and protect the fundamental right to cast a ballot for hundreds of thousands of voters across the country — but your involvement is essential.
You can sign up as a poll worker or a poll monitor, and volunteer anywhere from two hours to 14 hours. Once you do, we’ll direct you to all the support, information and training you’ll need.
That’s a good start, but most of the vote suppression efforts will take place long before Election Day. The time to get aggressive about fighting it is now. Litigating the results after the polls close won’t change the turnout, people!
Get ‘em registered! Turn ‘em out!
 “Deceptive Election Practices and Voter Intimidation: The Need for Voter Protection” [PDF], July 9, 2012, Common Cause and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
It just has to be the Texas GOP: No More Critical Thinking in Schools:
Teachers, you may want to be sitting down for this one.
The 2012 Texas Republican Party Platform, adopted June 9 at the state convention in Forth Worth, seems to take a stand against, well, the teaching of critical thinking skills. Read it for yourself:
We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.
As a top commenter on a Reddit thread wrote about the language, “I was absolutely sure this had to be an elaborate fake … .” It’s not.
Demon of Critical Thinking, Come Out and BE GONE!
Republican Party of Texas (RPT) Communications Director Chris Elam told Talking Points Memo the economical “critical thinking” verbiage should not have been in the final platform draft, saying, “I think the intent is that the Republican Party is opposed to the values clarification method that serves the purpose of challenging students beliefs and undermine parental authority.”
That euphemism is a mouthful. (Eat your heart out, John Kerry.)
Texas Republicans want the Real ID Act repealed, Voter ID enforced, Motor Voter laws repealed, and for Texans to have to re-register to vote every four years. They also want the Voting Rights Act repealed, the EPA abolished, and specifically oppose the fairness doctrine that, their platform observes, was “terminated” 25 years ago.
What about it, North Carolina? Speaker Tillis? Senator Phil Berger? Are you going to let those Texans make you look like girly men?
“Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.” — Mike Turzai, Pennsylvania House Majority Leader
Maddow blog: Accidental candor about voter ID
The Republicans in attendance cheered, and I suppose that’s to be expected — the disenfranchisement of traditional Democratic voters is bound to make Republicans applaud.
But but the state lawmaker’s candor was a reminder that Pennsylvania’s voter-ID law isn’t about the integrity of the process; it’s about ensuring Republican victories by rigging the game.
That’s not exactly news, is it?
[h/t Crooks and Liars]
Dropped this as a comment last night, but it deserved better placement.
For the last couple of years there’s been much debate over Republican efforts across the nation to restrict voting. Whether it’s the thousands of people who would be affected by VoterID, or the way your County Commission votes were restricted right here in Buncombe, many Republicans seem intent on compromising the power of the people to elect their representatives.
This latest budgetary move really drives home the message that leaders won’t prioritize the foundation of our democracy, ballot access. We know that high turnout is usually bad for Republican chances, so what’s the plan? Under The Dome:
“Absent from the proposed budget is a previously-included $664,000 appropriation that would automatically release $4 million in federal funds to maintain and improve [North Carolina's] election system.”
Florida Gov. Rick Scott got his wrist slapped over recently passed H.B. 1355. The bill places criminal restrictions on third-party voter registration:
U.S. District Court Judge Robert L. Hinkle blocked most of the FL law’s new registration requirements today, finding they accomplished little more than suppressing the registration of new voters without serving any legitimate state interest. “If the goal is to discourage voter-registration drives and thus also to make it harder for new voters to register, this may work,” wrote Hinkle in his frequently scathing decision [PDF].
The Brennan Center quotes from Hinkle’s ruling this way: “Together speech and voting are constitutional rights of special significance; they are the rights most protective of all others, joined in this respect by the ability to vindicate one’s rights in a federal court. … [W]hen a plaintiff loses an opportunity to register a voter, the opportunity is gone forever … And allowing responsible organizations to conduct voter-registration drives — thus making it easier for citizens to register and vote — promotes democracy.”