tagged w/ Voting Rights Act
In 2011 and 2012, 180 new voting restrictions were introduced in forty-one states. Ultimately, twenty-five laws and two executive actions were passed in nineteen states following the 2010 election to make it harder to vote. In many cases, these laws backfired on their Republican sponsors. The courts blocked ten of them, and young and minority voters—the prime target of the restrictions—formed a larger share of the electorate in 2012 than in 2008.
Despite the GOP’s avowal to reach out to new constituencies following the 2012 election, Republican state legislators have continued to support new voting restrictions in 2013. According to a report by Project Vote, fifty-five new voting restrictions have been introduced in thirty states so far this year. “The 2013 legislative season has once again brought an onslaught of bills to restrict access to the ballot, including proposals to undercut important election laws that have recently opened the electorate to more voters,” writes Erin Ferns Lee. These measures include “strict photo ID policies…voter registration restrictions; voter purges; [felon] disenfranchisement; and policies to cut back or revoke voting laws that have made voting more convenient.” By my count, 235 new voting restrictions have been introduced in forty-four states over the past three years.
Here’s the breakdown of where such laws have been introduced in 2013.
• Mandating a government-issued photo ID to cast a ballot: Arkansas, Connecticut, Iowa, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Washington, Wyoming
• Restricting voter registration drives: Illinois, Indiana, Montana, New Mexico, Virginia
• Banning election-day voter registration: California, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska
• Requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote: Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia
• Purging the voter rolls: Colorado, Indiana, New Mexico, Texas, Virginia
• Reducing early voting: Arizona, Indiana, South Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin
• Disenfranchising ex-felons: Virginia.
(On the plus side, thirty states have also introduced measures to make voting easier by adopting online voter registration, election-day registration, expanded early voting and the restoration of voting rights for ex-felons.)
Most of these measures are still pending before state legislatures, but Virginia, which has gubernatorial and legislative elections this year, is leading the way in enacting new voting restrictions. On January 21, 2013, as Virginia State Senator Henry Marsh, a longtime civil rights activist, attended President Obama’s second inauguration on Martin Luther King Day, the deadlocked Virginia Senate took advantage of Marsh’s absence to pass a new redistricting map that reduced Democratic seats by diluting black voting strength in at least eight districts. The measure was ultimately defeated in the Virginia House, but the move set the tone on voting rights for the legislative session.
On Tuesday morning, as the nation followed the debate over Proposition 8 at the Supreme Court, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell signed a strict voter ID bill. In the last election, Virginians could vote by showing a number of different IDs, including a utility bill, a Social Security card or, this being the South, a concealed handgun permit. The new law restricts the forms of acceptable ID to a driver’s license, a passport, a state-issued photo ID card, a student ID with a photo on it or an employee photo ID. The Commonwealth Institute, a progressive research group, estimates that 869,000 registered voters in Virginia may lack these forms of photo ID, and says the new law will cost the state anywhere from $7 to $21 million to implement.
McDonnell’s spokesman called the photo ID law “a reasonable effort to protect the sanctity of our democratic process.” Yet the measure will likely only exacerbate the existing problems in Virginia’s election system, according to voting rights experts. In the last election, Virginia voters waited up to seven hours to cast a ballot. “Long lines across the state were a result of insufficient resources, poor allocation of resources that did exist, and frequent breakdowns of aging voting equipment,” according to a post-election report by the Election Protection coalition.
Moreover, study after study has shown that voter ID laws disproportionately impact young and minority voters. Not only are these constituencies less likely to have photo ID, but even in states without ID laws, black and Hispanic youth were significantly more likely than whites to be asked to show ID. According to a Politico write-up of a new report by political scientists at the University of Chicago and Washington University, “17.3 percent of black youth and 8.1 percent of Latino youth said their lack of adequate ID kept them from voting, compared with just 4.7 percent of white youth.” Mamie Locke, chairman of the Virginia Black Legislative Caucus, called the ID law “a continuation of attempts by Republicans to suppress the vote of individuals who are not likely to support their right wing agenda.”
Nor is voter fraud a rampant problem in Virginia, as supporters of the voter ID law suggest. There have been only thirty-five cases of alleged election fraud since 2000 in the state, according to an exhaustive survey by News21, and only five cases led to plea deals or convictions. Ironically, the one major case of election fraud in the state last year concerned a GOP firm charged with dumping voter registration forms.
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Virginia must receive approval for its election change from the federal government under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The new voting restrictions enacted in Virginia and introduced elsewhere across the country show why Section 5 is still very much needed. If anything, the statute should be expanded in light of contemporary voter suppression efforts, not eliminated.
Virginia is quickly becoming the new Florida when it comes to electoral dysfunction. Like Florida, Virginia also passed new laws this year to restrict voter registration drives and to purge the voter rolls of alleged non-citizen voters. In Florida, such measures forced groups like the League of Women Voters to halt voter registration efforts and wrongly labeled thousands of eligible voters as non-citizens. All of this is happening, coincidentally, in a crucial election year for the Commonwealth.
The continued push to restrict the right to vote reveals the extent to which conservative power remains deeply embedded in the states, thanks to the 2010 election and subsequent aggressive gerrymandering by GOP state legislatures to protect their majorities. To combat this imbalance, Howard Dean’s group Democracy For America is launching a new effort to flip state legislatures from red to blue. The group will start, fittingly, in Virginia this year, and then expand to Iowa, Michigan and Pennsylvania in 2014. DFA plans to spend $750,000 targeting five seats in the Virginia House of Delegates in 2013. Jamelle Bouie explains why this is savvy politics:
http://www.thenation.com/blog/173562/new-voter-suppression-efforts-prove-voting-rights-act-still-needed#In 2011 and 2012, 180 new voting restrictions were introduced in forty-one states.... more
The Supreme Court is hearing arguments on the Voting Rights Act, and the justices are divided on the issue.
The Voting Rights Act requires states with a history of racial discrimination in voting to seek federal approval before making changes to election laws.
Opponents argue that the requirements for those nine mainly southern states are outdated and all states should be treated equally. Supporters of the legislation say the legacy of discrimination continues to make the provisions in Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act necessary.
Should changes be made to the Voting Rights Act? What, if anything, should change?
See what our hosts have to say about the Voting Rights Act, starting with 'The War Room' tonight at 6E/3P.The Supreme Court is hearing arguments on the Voting Rights Act, and the justices are... more
Joseph McEvoy, CJE – In the article below, Shannon Goessling speaking in absolutes, illustrates just how much white privilege, white ignorance, white apathy, selective history and latent racism affects journalism.
Shame on you Shannon Goessling; The Voting Rights Act and challenges to it, are about RACE! - Always has been and is now. Cover it in “States Rights” as you will…
States rights as they pertain to this issue; that being to challenge provisions of the Voting Rights Act, is a means to an end, so are any fiscal arguments. (How much money is the State spending to challenge the VRA?) The end being to hinder, impede or block “Black Folk” and minorities from voting. Your argument ( Pundits are making this case racially charged…) is weak at best. Your evidence ( no evidence of a systematic attempt to intimidate or suppress voting was presented to Congress when it was considering reauthorizing…) is immaterial.Joseph McEvoy, CJE – In the article below, Shannon Goessling speaking in... more
Fifty years after marching in Macon, Georgia with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to achieve the right to vote in the United States, the 93 year old Ms. Applewhite has been reliving the fight to overcome discriminatory voting practices in her current home city of Philadelphia.
http://veracitystew.com/?p=41216Fifty years after marching in Macon, Georgia with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to... more
Another Victory to Curb GOP Voter Suppression! --
Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act requires that the United States Department of Justice, through an administrative procedure, or a three-judge panel of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, through a declaratory judgment action “pre-clear” any attempt to change “any voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting…” in any “covered jurisdiction.” Since several counties in Florida are covered by Section 5, the U.S. Justice Department exercised its right to block the following legislative changes in five of the state’s 67 counties...
http://veracitystew.com/?p=41156Another Victory to Curb GOP Voter Suppression! --
Section 5 of the 1965 Voting... more
Liberals have long suspected a systematic suppression of liberal votes going on in Florida, ever since the George W. Bush vs. Al Gore Presidential race controversy in 2000, and here is evidence that those suspicions were correct.
http://veracitystew.com/?p=39936Liberals have long suspected a systematic suppression of liberal votes going on in... more
Texas is the very example of why we can’t have nice things in this country, and the election of Barack Obama has simply exacerbated their insanity.
http://veracitystew.com/?p=38161Texas is the very example of why we can’t have nice things in this country, and... more
In a way, I can see the point that it might be unfair to hold some states to more stringent evaluations of laws governing voting, it does make sense that prevent Jim Crow from rearing up again in places that traditionally created barriers to voting for some groups of people.
Article points out:
South Carolina and Texas are "covered jurisdictions" under Section 5, while Indiana, which has a worse voting record, is not. As Williams pointed out, none of those three states are among the top ten worst offenders on voting rights. So the coverage formula needs to be reconsidered, Williams concluded. The coverage formula of Section 5 is the ankle bracelet for southern states and counties (and a few northern counties) that have been placed on house arrest for repeated voting rights violations mostly throughout America's Jim Crow era. States like Alabama, Texas and South Carolina want courts to take that ankle bracelet off.
Interesting and pertinent conundrum in our current climate of GOP controlled legislatures in many non-covered jurisdictions putting requirements in place that do, in fact, make it more difficult for particular demographic groups to exercise their franchise.In a way, I can see the point that it might be unfair to hold some states to more... more
WWH – The above Headline was not written by MIKE NORMAN or anyone at the star-telegram . Actually we aren’t really sure who wrote it, (Although Winston has been smiling a lot lately.) or how it relates to the main article.
WWH is not responsible for unclaimed Headlines .
Opinions expressed in Headlines do not reflect those of WWH or our friends. – Well, maybe sometimes. – You can’t expect me to ask all of my friends their opinion on every Headline, after all!
As far as we know this mockery of the judicial system. This plague under a black robe, may like kittens, and may never have bitten the heads off of any! And his owning a two headed blow up Koch Brother doll? Just rumor! But did you hear about his Wife?WWH – The above Headline was not written by MIKE NORMAN or anyone at the... more
by Catherine A. Traywick, Media Consortium blogger
Immigration reform activists suffered a disappointing setback this week. The Senate failed to muster enough votes to move forward with an annual defense authorization bill that would have included both the DREAM Act and a repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as amendments. At Feet in Two Worlds, Sarah Kate Kramer has a good breakdown of the floor action.
As Kramer notes, not all is lost. The defense bill—and the DREAM Act with it—are certainly stalled, but Democrats say they plan to try again after midterm elections. The DREAM movement, for its part, seems invigorated by the close call.
Reform activists are hoping to channel that new energy into getting out the Latino vote this November, which will increase the chances of moving forward with the act after elections. But, given the obstacles Latinos are expected to face at the polls, it will be an uphill struggle.
The DREAM continues
While many DREAM activists are disappointed by the vote’s outcome, they remain steadfast in their resolve to provide hard-working immigrant youth with a path to citizenship.
As Julianne Hing of Colorlines reports, the DREAM Act has galvanized youth activists to an unprecedented degree. In one week, supporters of the measure made a record 25,000 calls to their senators, matching the usually overwhelming vigor of nativist callers one-to-one.
Such support for the bipartisan act isn’t surprising. The measure is popular with the public and has even been endorsed by former secretary of state Colin Powell, a self-proclaimed moderate Republican. The DREAM Act also retains the full support of the Defense Department, which included the bill in its 2011 strategic plan in the hopes that it will increase military enlistment during war time.
The new plan is to use the DREAM Act’s popularity to make immigration reform a key issue this election season, thus bringing more Latinos to the polls. Their votes will be crucial to keeping DREAM advocates like Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) in office and ensuring that the measure is put back on the table after elections.
Latinos struggling to get out the vote
But Latinos bent on motivating voters in swing states this November will meet some significant obstacles.
According to a report by election watchdogs Demos and Common Cause, several swing states are expected to roll out a number of roadblocks that would effectively stifle minority votes. Art Levine at Truthout reports that Arizona has a long history of discriminating against Latinos, in direct violation of the Voting Rights Act:
Besides a legacy of flouting the Voting Rights Act by failing to do outreach to Hispanic voters or to provide sufficient translators, [Arizona] features a draconian voter registration requirement for a government-issued birth certificate that’s already barred over 30,000 people from voting between 2004 and 2008, although 90 percent of them, court documents indicate, were native-born Americans.
On top of all that, apparent election mismanagement is so widespread that in the state’s largest county alone, Maricopa (home of Phoenix), nearly 30,000 voters – at a rate three times the national average – had their “provisional ballots” discarded as invalid in 2008…
While the findings bode ominously for Arizona’s midterm elections, they are vindicating in a way. Arizona politicians have long argued that they are able to elect anti-immigrant officials because the state’s Latino citizens simply don’t vote—in spite of the fact that they make up 30 percent of the population.
The new report, in combination with Truthout’s investigation, reveals just the opposite. Minority populations in Arizona do vote, but they are actively and frequently disenfranchised by a system set up to impede their suffrage.
Voting against Arizona’s immigration detention system
And, naturally, corruption at the polls begets corruption in government. The Latino votes that were invalidated last election season were a boon to the private detention industry, which is now profiting from the slew of anti-immigrant laws it helped to write.
As Elyse Foley of the Washington Independent notes, Arizona’s SB 1070 was written by a lobbying group funded by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the single largest provider of private detention facilities in the country. Arizona governor Jan Brewer (R) has particularly close ties to CCA, as two members of her staff either work, or used to work, for the company.
Obviously, CCA stands to benefit considerably by any legislation that increases the immigrant detention population—regardless of how that goal is achieved.
Getting people to the polls is essential to fixing the broken immigration system. With the country deeply divided over the immigration, hundreds of thousands of people languishing in detention, and countless youth waiting to become part of the system, those who can vote, must.
Undocumented student and DREAM activist David Cho said it best when he urged young people to vote in a video for Campus Progress. “While members of congress may have the power to vote for or against important legislation like the dream act,” he said, “we have the power to vote for or against every one of them.”
This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Diaspora for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Pulse . This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.by Catherine A. Traywick, Media Consortium blogger
Immigration reform activists... more
Voting rights groups on Thursday sued Secretary of State Karen Handel on behalf of a Cherokee County man who they said has been the victim of a methodical effort to deny him the right to vote.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta, seeks to halt the state’s attempts to verify the identities and citizenship of registered voters so close to the Nov. 4 election. Attorneys for the plaintiff, Jose Morales, also want the suit to become a class action.
U.S. District Judge Jack Camp scheduled a hearing for Friday morning on a request for a temporary restraining order.
The suit comes the day after the U.S. Department of Justice said the state’s actions to verify identity and citizenship appear to violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The law requires states with a history of discriminatory voting practices to get approval from the federal government before making certain changes to voting and election policy.
“The Voting Rights Act and the National Voter Registration Act were intended to protect voters from ‘October surprises,’ the last-minute purging of registered voters on questionable data,” said Neil Bradley, associate director of the ACLU Voting Rights Project, one of the groups representing Morales.
Secretary of State Karen Handel said in a press release issued Thursday night that she is “disappointed” with the lawsuit.
“Unfortunately, some groups appear to want to open the door to allow non-citizens to register and vote in the General Election,” she wrote.
County election officials still have more than 100,000 voter registration applications to process, Handel said. Her office will ensure that all applications are processed and verified for election day, she said.
As for the dispute with the Department of Justice, Handel’s spokesman, Matt Carrothers, said in a telephone interview Thursday night that his office is working with the attorney general to address the Justice Department questions. “We hope to have the answers soon,” he said.
Morales, who will graduate from Kennesaw State University in December with a bachelor’s degree in international affairs, became a U.S. citizen in November 2007.
He registered to vote last month, but about two weeks later, he received a letter from Cherokee County indicating he would not be able to vote unless he provided evidence of his citizenship, the lawsuit said. The letter also indicated Morales would be eliminated from the voter list if he did not prove his citizenship.
Morales went through the steps needed to prove his citizenship, including making a visit to the county Elections and Registrations Office and showing his passport to the clerk, the suit said. He was told he would soon be receiving his voter registration card in the mail. He received the card Oct. 3, the lawsuit said.
But on Tuesday, Morales received another letter from the office indicating he may not be qualified to vote because he may not be a U.S. citizen, the lawsuit said. It said if Morales did not contact the Cherokee Elections and Registration Office before Oct. 15 or appear at a court hearing on the same date, his name would be removed from the list of registered voters, the suit said.
“Despite all the steps he has gone through, Mr. Morales’ right to vote is still being threatened,” the lawsuit said. “Mr. Morales wants to vote, particularly in the upcoming election, and wants to make sure his vote is counted.”
(more at the link)Voting rights groups on Thursday sued Secretary of State Karen Handel on behalf of a... more