Archive for Vote Suppression

A lecture last night by Rev. Dr. William Barber, II at Appalachian State. Worth the hour. Embed seems not to be working. Stream it here. Lecture begins at timestamp 9:45.

Inspiring. Feels like a movement.

[h/t TJ Amos]

Watson: God! You’re just like Don Quixote, you think everything’s always something else.

Playfair/Holmes [Laughs]: Well he had a point. Of course, he carried it a bit too far. He thought that every windmill was a giant. That’s insane. But, thinking that they might be… well… all the best minds used to think the world was flat. — But, what if it isn’t? — It might be round — and bread mold might be medicine. If we never looked at things and thought of what they might be, why, we’d all still be out there in the tall grass with the apes.

They Might Be Giants (1971)

After a local election recount last fall, a colleague observed that tea party members are convinced that if they lose an election it must be because their opponents cheated.

Thus, the Voter Integrity Project of NC (VIP-NC) held a tea-party sponsored “boot camp” for voter fraud sleuths in Asheville over the weekend. About 40 people attended – no one under 30 years-old. Like Justin Playfair, the mental patient who believes he’s Sherlock Holmes, when VIP-NC’s amateur sleuths uncover discrepancies in the state’s voter file, they are certain of this: it might be voter fraud.

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The judge who wrote the ruling in the Indiana Voter ID case (later approved by the U.S. Supreme Court) admits he got it completely wrong:

I plead guilty to having written the majority opinion (affirmed by the Supreme Court) upholding Indiana’s requirement that prospective voters prove their identity with a photo id—a law now widely regarded as a means of voter suppression rather than fraud prevention.

Brad Friedman writes:

Now, the very judge who wrote the ruling in the original case later approved by the U.S. Supreme Court is abandoning ship, and directly admitting he got it completely wrong. That the only case of note used by supporters of this kind of voting restriction has now been pretty much disowned by the judge who wrote its majority decision is simply a remarkable development in this years-long battle.

A battle that continues today in North Carolina.

(Cross-posted from BlueNC.)


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The suit, set to be filed in Greensboro, N.C., will ask that the state be barred from enforcing the new voter ID law, the source said. However, the case will also go further, demanding that the entire state of North Carolina be placed under a requirement to have all changes to voting laws, procedures and polling places “precleared” by either the Justice Department or a federal court, the source added.

Huffington Post:

The lawsuit, which will be filed on Monday and announced at a press conference featuring Attorney General Eric Holder, challenges four provisions of the voting law, known as House Bill 589 and signed by North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) last month. Voter advocates have criticized the law as one of the most restrictive voting measures passed since the civil rights era.

News & Observer:

The Rev. William Barber II, head of the state NAACP, which has filed lawsuits in federal court and the North Carolina courts, challenging the law, said Sunday that he was glad to have assistance from the federal government. “We need every resource, including the federal Department of Justice, to stand against the fundamental attack on democracy,” Barber said. “This law went beyond the pale and all North Carolinians should be repulsed by this effort to turn the clock back on voting rights in this state.”

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ATF Form 4473

Didn’t you know, Kansas requires new voters to provide proof of citizenship when registering to vote?

The law took effect in January, backed by Secretary of State Kris Kobach and fellow Republicans, who view it as a way to prevent non-citizens from voting improperly. But more than 15,000 legal Kansas residents’ voter registrations are on hold because they have yet to provide proper documents, meaning they can’t legally vote.

From the Brad Blog:

Wow. 15,000 legal voters stopped from voting. Kansas must have a terrible problem with non-citizens voting! After all, that’s all the state’s Republican Sec. of State Kobach (who also wrote Arizona’s “Papers Please” law) ran on in 2010: stopping “voter fraud”! In fact, his own personal website warns even today: “In Kansas, the illegal registration of alien voters has become pervasive.”

Pervasive, no less. How many is “pervasive”?

“We identified 15 aliens registered to vote.”

Brad Friedman continues,

And did any of those 15 alleged “aliens” actually vote in any Kansas election? Or, like so many similar cases where GOP Sec. of States are playing the same game (like in Colorado and in Florida), was it simply a clerical error, where the registered voter in question never even cast an actual vote or was actually a citizen after all? Who knows? Kobach didn’t say as much, so…draw your own conclusions. After all, Kobach says the problem “has become pervasive”. He just can’t identify it as such, even though, as Secretary of State, he has immediate access to all voting records and can refer cases to prosecutors for arrest. I wonder why he hasn’t?

Imagine the response if we started erecting hurdles to buying guns because someone could document 15 cases (maybe even a few more?) of crimes committed by legal gun owners, or by felons who bought guns illegally, or by buyers who lied on their ATF Form 4473.

You think we’d see the kind of zealous citizen activism and dedicated junior sleuthing from groups like the True the Vote and the Voter Integrity Project to put a stop to something as pervasive as that?

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First Texas, Then NC

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The Brad Blog looks at the prospects for the Texas Voter ID bill surviving multiple court challenges and it doesn’t look good.

In both United States v. Texas, the DoJ’s newly filed legal challenge to the Texas Photo ID restriction law, and in Veasey v. Perry, a separate federal lawsuit filed by Rep. Marc Veasey (D-TX) and later joined by Dallas County, the plaintiffs not only set forth allegations but facts already found to be true last year by a unanimous three-judge U.S. District Court panel.

Those already established facts reveal that the state’s Photo ID law (SB 14) violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution because it imposes unreasonable, and often impossible, burdens upon the right of the poor to vote that would likely result in disenfranchisement. The three judge panel further found, via “undisputed record evidence”, as they described it, that a disproportionate percentage of poor Texans who would be subject to such disenfranchisement are Hispanic and African-American.

Circumstances in North Carolina have lots of parallels with the Texas, and North Carolina’s “everything but the kitchen sink” approach to restricting voting access are more restrictive then the law at issue in Texas. Stay tuned.

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[The following is satire enhanced for the humor-impaired.]

This week former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told a CEO Forum in Raleigh that North Carolina’s sweeping election law changes would push away blocks of voters that Republicans should instead be wooing.

“What has come out of the legislature is that fraud is widespread and undetected,” Powell said. “How is fraud widespread if it’s undetected? How can it be undetected if it’s widespread?”

How? Hans Von Spakovsky, the GOP’s point man on spreading rumors about widespread voter fraud, knows how, even if he himself cannot say how big a problem it really is.

“It is impossible to answer,” Spakovsky told the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer. “We don’t have the tools in place.”

Or as voter ID advocates claim, “How do we know, if we’re not looking?”

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Screenshot 2013-08-22 at 11.01.11 PM

Under The Dome:

Moments after Gov. Pat McCrory left the stage, former Secretary of State Colin Powell took aim at North Carolina’s new voting law Thursday, saying it hurts the Republican Party, punishes minority voters and makes it more difficult for everyone to vote.

“I want to see policies that encourage every American to vote, not make it more difficult to vote,” said Powell, a Republican, at the CEO Forum in Raleigh.

“It immediately turns off a voting block the Republican Party needs,” Powell continued. “These kinds of actions do not build on the base. It just turns people away.”
In one comment, he seemed to rebuke McCrory for suggesting that voter fraud likely exists but is hard to detect. The governor had compared it to insider trading.

“You can say what you like, but there is no voter fraud,” Powell said. “How can it be widespread and undetected?”

Powell, who served under President George W. Bush, also said the new sends the wrong message to minority voters. “What it really says to the minority voters is … ‘We really are sort-of punishing you,’” he said.

UPDATED with video.

Not to be outdone by the Republican-led state legislature’s efforts to limit student voting, Watauga County targeted Appalachian State students this week, with Kathleen Campbell, the lone Democrat dissenting:

Amid shouts and boos from an audience of about 60 people, the board — with Campbell’s disapproval — eliminated the early voting site on the ASU campus and recombined the Boone precincts into one with 9,340 registered voters and one polling place.

They also approved a new public comment policy that accepts feedback only in writing and assigned new rules to Board of Elections Director Jane Ann Hodges and employees.

Republicans also looked to further restrict the equal treatment of college-aged voters on the east end of North Carolina, this time at Elizabeth City State University.

Tuesday, the 2-1 Republican-majority on the Pasquotank County Board of Elections voted to disqualify Elizabeth City State University students who live in the country from running for local office. The board ruled that Montravias King, a student at the university who lives on campus, had not established permanent residency. The county’s Republican chairman had challenged King’s eligibility and vowed to challenge the residency of other students in Pasquotank County and around the state — a process made easier under McCrory’s new suppression law.

Someone trolling on Facebook the other day asked why a student with a California driver’s license should be able to vote in North Carolina. Uh, Symm v. United States, 439 U.S. 1105 (1979)?