Showing posts with label voter suppression. Show all posts
Showing posts with label voter suppression. Show all posts

Jan 25, 2013

Bottom Line: Republicans Are Against Democracy

Update II: Civil Rights icon Lewis' backed bill would automatically register most to vote

Update: Wisconsin's Scott Walker is not repulsed by the GOP notion -- proposed to be enshrined in law -- that a minority of voters ought to legally defeat a majority of voters for president. Walker says he’s open to considering the GOP electoral college vote rigging scheme

The voter obstruction programs of the Republican Party across the nation in the last election ought to have made clear Republican Party's hostility to the democratic foundation of the our republic.

The Republican Party has tried to prevent as many undesirable people from voting, as it could for years.

The Democratic Party has no such voter disenfranchisement program.

For the Democrats, a citizen's right to vote is sacred.

Now, Republicans in Virginia and other battleground states are pursuing an effort to rig the election for GOP presidential nominees by dismantling the majority-of-citizens'-votes-prevails practice in states' electoral college votes.

Republicans gerrymand the congressional districts and then allocate electoral votes based on gerrymandered maps. Statewide popular votes total would no longer matter.

So, Obama winning the popular vote in Republican-rigged states would nevertheless result in Obama gaining a substantially less electoral vote total, throwing the election to the Republicans.

This is unAmerican; and one hope for a backlash against this shameful and unAmerican effort.

Dec 5, 2011

84-Year-Old Wisconsin Woman May Need $200 to Cast Legal Vote

Update: State Senator Jim Holperin (D-Eagle River): Birth record free if needed for voter I.D.; Holperin legislation says

Obstructing an 84-Year-Old Wisconsin Woman?

Jim Crowing African Americans in Milwaukee County?

Really?

Hey, Republican Party, is this what you really want to be in our country?

What's next, guys?

Armed guards at the polls? I mean Ms. Frank does look pretty dangerous.

And to the Civil Rights division of the U.S. Department of Justice, you know: Get off your ass and enforce - I don't know - civil rights?

Via Tanya Somanader at ThinkProgress, and Brad Friedman


Brokaw, Wisconsin - Population 310
For 63 years, Brokaw, Wisconsin [Northern Wisconsin, population-310] native Ruthelle Frank went to the polls to vote. Though paralyzed on her left side since birth, the 84-year-old “fiery woman” voted in every election since 1948 and even got elected herself as a member of the Brokaw Village Board. But because of the state’s new voter ID law, 2012 will be the first year Frank can’t vote. Born after a difficult birth at her home in 1927, Frank never received an official birth certificate. Her mother recorded it in her family Bible and Frank has a certification of baptism from a few months later, along with a Social Security card, a Medicare statement, and a checkbook. But without the official document, she can’t secure the state ID card that the new law requires to vote next year.“It’s really crazy,” she added. “I’ve got all this proof. You mean to tell me that I’m not a U.S. citizen?” But state officials have informed Frank that, because the state Register of Deeds does have a record of her birth, they can issue her a new birth certificate — for a fee. And because of a spelling error, that fee may be as high as $200

Add Frank's to the stories of 96-year old Dorothy Cooper in TN who has voted in every election since woman were granted the right to vote, but who may longer be able to cast her vote on Election Day next year, and 86-year old WWII veteran Darwin Sparks in the same state; along with hundreds of thousands of others who are likely to find themselves unable to cast their legal vote on Election Day next year thanks to new voter suppression laws implemented in about a dozen states by GOP legislatures and governor's since they took control in 2010.

In Wisconsin, where "an estimated 177,399 Wisconsin residents 65 and older do not have a driver’s license or state photo ID — 23 percent of that population", and where Frank may have to pay as much as $200 to cast her legal vote under the GOP's new anti-democratic and anti-Democratic polling place Photo ID restrictions, the non-partisan League of Women Voters has filed suit charging the law to be in violation of the state's constitution, as The BRAD BLOG detailed in October. That case is still pending.

Oct 5, 2011

Updated - Obama Flack on Voter Suppression: No, We Can't

Big government is pretty big when it halts your right to even vote.

Update: Ed Kilgore offers an excellent overview of Republican voter suppression. Civil rights; if we can't count on this administration to act on this, what can be count on?

In a signal the White House is for now backing away from challenging state voter suppression laws following revelations that President Obama (Berman) told a Philadelphia radio host last week he has "made sure that our Justice Department is taking a look at what’s being done across the country to ensure that people aren’t being denied access to the franchise."

A leading Democratic flack [Marshall] suggests today that federal recourse to the Republican efforts to suppress the vote is limited to a few high-hurdle challenges under the Voting Rights Act.
 
Just a crazy idea, but doesn't the 24th Amendment [which bars poll taxes] of the United Constitution frown upon poll taxes?

How about that big ole' 14th amendment?
 
To take Wisconsin as one example, as John Nichols writes, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation head directed DMV employees to:
 
refrain from actively informing the public about the ability to receive a free identification card for the purposes of voting. ...

In 1966 the U.S. Supreme Court used the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to rule that poll taxes were unconstitutional for state and local elections.

And a lot of people thought that poll taxes would be buried along with the rest of the “Jim Crow” restrictions.

That was not to be the case.

The poll tax argument has been renewed with the national push by secretive right-wing groups, such as the American Legislative Exchange Council, to pass voter suppression laws such as Wisconsin’s voter ID bill.
Apparently, Marshall and the Obama administration are afraid of protecting civil rights under the 14th and 24th Amendments, and wish to avoid a fight with the states' rights and voter suppression crowd, aka the White Power folks embodied in the Republican Party.

How about a concerted political response?

Times have changed for the Civil Rights Movement.

And a broad array of skeptics remain weary of President Obama again abandoning principle in favor of an ill-conceived retreat.

One hopes wiser heads prevail.

Oct 4, 2011

Obama Denounces New GOP Voting Laws, Says DoJ Is Investigating

Big government is pretty big when it halts your right to even vote.

By Ari Berman

In an interview with Philadelphia radio host Michael Smerconish last week, President Obama for the first time denounced the wave of new laws passed by Republicans designed to restrict the right to vote for millions of Americans.

Said the president:
I will say that my big priority is making sure that as many people are participating in our democracy as possible. Some of these moves in some of the other states that we’ve seen try to make it tougher to vote, restricting ballot access, making it hard on seniors, making it hard on young people.

I think that’s a big mistake, and I have made sure that our Justice Department is taking a look at what’s being done across the country to ensure that people aren’t being denied access to the franchise.
The fact that Obama invoked the Justice Department is very important, since the department has the authority under the Voting Rights Act to approve, deny or modify these laws. “The Justice Department should be much more aggressive in areas covered by the Voting Rights Act,” Congressman John Lewis told me recently.

There are signs that is starting to happen. The Justice Department recently sent pointed letters to Texas and South Carolina, two states that have strict new photo ID requirements, asking for more information on what kind of impact the laws will have on minority voters. And last month, the department found that Texas’s new redistricting maps for the state house and US House of Representatives violated the Voting Rights Act by shortchanging Hispanic residents. (A three-panel federal district court in Washington, which also has authority under the VRA, is now reviewing the Texas maps.)

Career lawyers in the civil rights division of the Justice Department, who were frequently sidelined and overruled during the Bush Administration, are reasserting their authority and independence under Obama. They may be the only ones who can halt the GOP’s war on voting.

May 10, 2011

Stop GOP Voter Obstruction Bill

Freedom Riders - 1961

Tax and Obstruct

Black people voting—the horror.

Students voting—worse.

The GOP is prepared to spend millions of Wisconsin tax dollars to make it more difficult to vote—targeting Democratically-voting citizens.

Among some, 2011 is occasion to celebrate the 1961 Freedom Riders who fought for justice against the white power structure that worked to preserve segregation, Voter Disenfranchisement, and generally keeping blacks in 'their place.'

Now-a-days, it's different: Much less "Nigger jokes" told out loud. No burning buses.

But blacks voting, and other non-GOP voting citizens are voting the wrong way.

In other words, many Wisconsin voters are getting right in the way of the Republican Party holding onto power. So Wisconsin voters must be obstructed to the extent possible.

That's where the GOP Voter Obstruction bill comes in.

No one really believes the obstruction bill is anything but an attempt to suppress the non-GOP vote, with racist appeals echoing the ugly past.

On the bright side, the "voter ID" bill will be litigated and likely prevented from taking effect. And at least some of its noxious provisions (again likely) will be ultimately struck down as unconstitutional under the Wisconsin Constitution. See Wisconsin Voter ID Legal Challenge Likely.

Turns out the Wisconsin Constitution and subsequent statutes place a high value on Wisconsin citizens marching to the polls, vested with this franchise of deciding what to do with our state.

Democracy does tend to get in the way of today's Republican Party lording over its would-be subjects. And that's the way things ought to be.

Look up Roth v. LaFarge School District Board of Canvassers in 2004. And a hat tip to Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi for her opinion in 2008—tossing out of Court the last major GOP attempt at voter suppression—for pointing the case out.

Jan 15, 2011

New GOP National Chair Is Voter Obstruction Operative from Wisconsin

The Republican National Committee selected a new leader on Friday, Reince Priebus of Wisconsin, the NYT reports. So who is Reince Priebus? Priebus is a partisan, voter obstruction operative from Wisconsin who lost his bids to roll back Wisconsin's historically progressive tradition to open and fair elections.Priebus is the outgoing chair of Republican Party of Wisconsin and a partner with the GOP-heavy law firm, Michael Best and Friedrich (LLP), recently retained by the new GOP-led Wisconsin state legislature to redraw and gerrymander national and Wisconsin legislative districts. (The GOP legislature is not allowing democrats to have the counsel of tax-financed law firms to redraw districts.)

The Michael Best and Friedrich firm includes another partner, former Bush-Cheney, corrupt and disgraced U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Steven M. Biskupic, infamous for his prosecutions of the innocent DOJ-VA-persecuted veteran, Keith Roberts, the innocent Georgia Thompson, and several overturned voter fraud cases [see also Voter-Fraud Complaints by GOP Drove Dismissals].
Voter obstruction

Priebus is known in Wisconsin political-journalistic circles for his dedicated (and so far unsuccessful) efforts to obstruct Wisconsin voters, suppressing the wrong kind of votersblack, old, and disabled. The Priebus-led voter obstruction programs are consonant with national GOP efforts to obstruct Democratically leaning voters.

In October 2008, it was reported by Mark Pitsch (Wisconsin State Journal) and WisPolitics that Priebus and Republican Wisconsin Attorney General (and McCain-Palin co-chair) J.B. Van Hollen (and Van Hollen's top aide) met before and at the 2008 National Republican Convention in St. Paul to discuss voter obstruction efforts which would be employed by the Van Hollen-headed Wisconsin Department of Justice during the late stages of 2008 presidential campaign and on election day.

GOP allegations of organized voter fraud has been shown to be a fiction, by the Brennan Center for Justice and by a Wisconsin-federal committee looking into past GOP allegations of voter fraud in the 2004 election.

After contacts with Priebus, Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen filed a lawsuit (Van Hollen v. Government Accountability Board)demanding that the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB) use the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) to obstruct Wisconsin voters.

Van Hollen had denied any contacts with the Republican Party and the McCain campaign about this voting rule lawsuit, a denial that was contradicted by WisPolitics' reporting of an audio recording revealing Van Hollen promising legal action to Priebus on alleged "voter fraud" during an address at the Republican National Convention held in St. Paul.

Several civil rights and public interests groups submitted their amici curiae brief in support of the Wisconsin General Accountability Board's (GAB) successful motion to dismiss the Attorney General's legal petition. The Van Hollen-Priebus suit was subsequently tossed out of court by Dane County (Wisconsn) Judge Maryann Sumi.

In some many words, Priebus and Van Hollen lost their efforts to obstruct voters in Wisconsin in 2008.

Sumi ruled on October 23, 2008, citing precedent and federal and Wisconsin law: "'It is evident that this court has consistently placed a premium on giving effect to the will of the voter.' ... 'the will of the voter in terms of the ability to go to the polls, vested with the franchise' (to vote)." ... "Nothing in state or federal law requires that there be a data match (among bureaucratic listings of names) as a prerequisite for a citizen's right to vote." [Opinion - Order and Hearing Transcript (Case No 08CV4085)]

The GOP searches for other tools to obstruct.

2011 and on

After the GOP retook the Wisconsin legislature in 2010, one of the Party's first bills introduced in 2011 is a photo ID bill that would "mean folks without driver's licenses - disproportionately poor, minority, or elderly, would not be able to vote." (Neil Heinen, WISC TV)

Reince Priebus must be proud.

Sep 21, 2010

GOP and Tea Party Team Up to Obstruct Voters in Wisconsin - Plot Caught on Tape

- CAUGHT ON TAPE: Wisconsin GOP and Tea Party Target to block Minorities and College-age Voters in Voter Caging Plot -

Those high Wisconsin election turn-out rates just drive the GOP and the self-proclaimed liberty-loving Tea Partiers crazy.

Listen to the voting-obstruction tape: Download the audio of the Tea Party meeting. Read documents detailing voter suppression plan, read transcript of Tea Party meeting audio.









Plot begs question: Is Wisconsin alone in Tea Party-GOP voter obstruction plot?

From One Wisconsin Now and Save Wisconsin's Vote:
The Conspirators of the Voter obstruction plot

Wisconsin GOP

Republican Party of WI


WISGOP will allegedly provide training for 'poll watchers' and an army of lawyers to support the caging efforts. WISGOP would also allegedly provide the voter database to create the caging list.

Americans For Prosperity

Americans for Prosperity


AFP of Wisconsin will allegedly provide the funding for the mailer to be sent to voters targeted for caging.

Tea Party Groups

WI Tea Party Groups


Various Tea Party groups would provide volunteers who will act as poll watchers on

GOP- Tea Party Coordination on Voter Caging, Targeting Minorities, College Students Outlined in Documents, Tea Party Meeting Recording

A coordinated plot by the Republican Party of Wisconsin, Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin and organizations in the so-called Tea Party movement targeting minority voters and college students in a possibly illegal "voter caging" effort for voter suppression has been uncovered in evidence we have obtained.

Based on what we have heard, the Republican Party of Wisconsin, the Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin and leading Tea Party organizations are in collusion in an effort to suppress the ability of minorities and university students in Wisconsin to exercise their right to vote this November. We will be providing all of the evidence we have received on this wrongdoing to federal and state authorities so that they can investigate to ensure justice and democracy prevail."

One Wisconsin Now has filed formal requests for investigation with the U.S. Attorney's Office, as well as the Wisconsin Attorney General's Election Integrity Task Force and the Government Accountability Board demanding a full investigation to ensure the right to vote is not stolen by these plans.
The non-partisan Brennan Center for Justice outlines the process of voter caging:
Voter caging is the practice of sending mail to addresses on the voter rolls, compiling a list of the mail that is returned undelivered, and using that list to purge or challenge voters registrations on the grounds that the voters on the list do not legally reside at their registered addresses. Supporters of voter caging defend the practice as a means of preventing votes cast by ineligible voters. Voter caging, however, is notoriously unreliable. If it is treated (unjustifiably) as the sole basis for determining that a voter is ineligible or does not live at the address at which he or she registered, it can lead to the unwarranted purge or challenge of eligible voters. ...Moreover, the practice has often been targeted at minority voters, making the effects even more pernicious. [Brennan Center, "A Guide to Voter Caging," 6/29/07]One Wisconsin Now obtained an audio recording it has verified as authentic from a June 12, 2010 meeting between the leaders of the state's Tea Party movement, led by Tim Dake, head of the GrandSons of Liberty. Dake serves as a regular spokesperson for Wisconsin's Tea Party organizations and is widely viewed as the movement's Wisconsin leader. The full audio, available at One Wisconsin Now's voter protection website, http://www.savewisconsinsvote2010.org/, details the plans for a coordinated voter suppression efforts, which is anchored in challenging voter eligibility on Election Day this November 2.

THE PLOT
According to the statements made on the recordings, Dake lays out the plans, detailing contact between himself and Reince Preibus, the Republican Party of Wisconsin Chair and Mark Block, state director of Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin:

• The Republican Party of Wisconsin will use its "Voter Vault" state-wide voter file to compile a list of minority and student voters in targeted Wisconsin communities.

• Americans for Prosperity will use this list to send mail to these voters indicating the voter must call and confirm their registration information, and telling them if they do not call the number provided they could be removed from the voter lists.

• The Tea Party organizations will recruit and place individuals as official poll workers in selected municipalities in order to be able to make the challenges as official poll workers.

• On Election Day, these organizations will then "make use" of any postcards that are returned as undeliverable to challenge voters at the polls, utilizing law enforcement, as well as attorneys trained and provided by the RPW, to support their challenges.

According to the recordings, Dake told the assembled Tea Party members he leads:

So, what we're hoping is that the various groups in the coalition plus Americans for Prosperity and Mark Block, who has been in on this, and the Republican Party, and this is coming all the way from the top: Reince Priebus has said, "We're in." And there's a reason why these guys are volunteering to work with us. They have access to what they call Voter Vault, you know the records of voting. They can go in there and look for lapsed voters. They can go in and compare lists of voters and say, "Oh look at this. This person is registered in this county, this county, this county, and this county." And do something about this. So we're talking about a broad based support behind this idea. What they're offering is training.Dake continues in the recording to outline the plan:

[RPW is] offering to do the training; it's not going to cost anything, but what we're looking at is statewide getting our groups involved, getting people, like my group has a 2,700 person email list. We want to hit that and see how many of these people we can get involved in this one project. The idea being at some point to go in on September 14 and November 2 and have these people involved and doing poll watching and checking. There are some consultants that have offered to step up, "We're Watching" is stepping up; attorneys from the Republican Party.Later in his presentation, Dake adds:

Okay, poll watchers what you can do is you can call in a lawyer. The Republican Party, this is one of the things they're offering, they're saying they'll have their lawyers standing by so that if you call, let's say you're poll watching in say Hales Corners and you see something really fraudulent, they will send a lawyer out right away and be able to say, "Here's the deal, here's the law, this is what we expect." Bring the police in and make your complaint that sort of thing. So, we've got that. You can challenge voters through the precinct captains. This is one of the things they will teach you how to do and anybody can challenge a voter. And since the voter law did not get passed this year that could hit you with $100,000 and three years for unsuccessfully challenging a voter, we can still do this.Dake is interrupted at this point by an unidentified coalition member who shouts, "Hallelujah." Dake adds, "Yes, everybody gets to take credit for that." He goes on to outline Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin's role and how to target law enforcement:

So we're talking about AFP is willing to fund doing a mass mailing to registered voters on this, about getting them involved with this, making sure that their information is current, because people periodically need to go back and check. I found, before we bought the house we lived in. Four years ago I lived in a brand new condo, the first people to live in it. I went to vote and found twelve people registered at my address. My wife and I are the only people to have lived there. Yet, there were twelve people registered to vote. I couldn't believe it. They said, "Wow, you must have a big family." And I'm looking at names and going, "No, there's nobody named 'Nguyen' and 'Din' and that sort of thing in my family." So that's the kind of thing we need to clean up and people need to be aware of. Go in and check who else is registered at your place and ask to have them tossed off. Work with the media on this and district attorneys. Try to get them involved early and fired up about this and say look, "We know you're shorthanded, we're hands, we're boots on the ground. We will help you, just bring the weight of the law behind us." One of the things we're going to do is take these addresses that people give and we want to send out a postcard that says, "You need to call and confirm this. And if you haven't called, well then it could get tossed out." We're also looking for when you send these cards out is they'll come back if it is an undeliverable address.THE QUOTES: Among some of the discussion also captured on the audio:

"[Y]ou run into the racial thing. You have people screaming, 'Oh, you're denying the minorities the right to vote.' No., we're denying their right to vote multiple times." [Tim Dake, GrandSons of Liberty]"Work with the media on this and the district attorneys. Try to get them involved early and fired up about this and say look, 'We know you're shorthanded, we're hands, we're boots on the ground. We will help you, just bring the weight of the law behind us." [Tim Dake, GrandSons of Liberty]"I was a poll watcher from 2000 to 2006 and if you've got a university in your county, or your city, students will come down in droves and then they will all vouch for each other. I had this one kid come in five times with five separate groups of people and this person brings in students, they're usually from Minnesota or wherever up by Eau Claire, and you go, 'Do you live here?' 'Yes.' 'Well do you have anything that shows your address?' 'No.' Then that one student says, 'I vouch for her, I vouch for him.' And they all vote. [Shane McVey, Eau Claire Tea Party]"This is apparently a very effective deterrent, just having people standing there. Poll watching tends to discourage people when they know someone is looking." [Tim Dake, GrandSons of Liberty]"It's just having people who have the courage and conviction because in our society we have been 'wussified'.... [T]hey try to claim intimidation and they'll bring a whole bunch of people. If you do challenge a vote like three people will surround you and they'll all start getting in your face and threatening you with legal action and all that stuff. You just have to be strong willed and be able to take that stuff." [Shane McVey, Eau Claire Tea Party]

THE REQUEST FOR INVESTIGATION

The possible illegality of the RPW-AFP-WI-Tea Party plot that One Wisconsin Now lays out in the requests for investigation to law enforcement officials assert:

• Federal law prohibits racially targeted caging operations. Statements made during the June 12 meeting make clear that race is a motivating factor in the planned caging and challenge effort. Any efforts to deter qualified electors from voting based on their race must be immediately investigated and, if substantiated, stopped. [42 U.S.C. §§ 1973(a); 1973gg]

• The organizations' Election Day plans could put the state at possible risk of violating federal law. Federal law makes clear that elector challenges cannot be based solely on returned mail. The organizations' plans to recruit individuals to become poll workers in order to conduct challenges based on the returned mail would result in individuals acting unlawfully under color of state law. [42 U.S.C. § 1973gg; Tiryak v. Jordan, 472 F. Supp. 822, 824 (E.D. PA 1979)]

• Federal law also makes clear that private actors are similarly prohibited from challenging voters based solely on undelivered mail. Even if a challenge comes from a volunteer election observer, the challenge is unlawful if it is based on the voter's failure to respond to the mailing. Any challenge to an elector's eligibility based on such unreliable grounds is an abuse of the right to challenge and violates state and federal law, subjecting the challenger to removal and other sanctions. [42 U.S.C. § 1973gg]

• Disturbingly, the mail program described by the Tea Party members will contain false and misleading information. The Tea Party plans to tell certain voters that their name may be removed if they fail to call the telephone number provided. It would be illegal to remove a voter from the statewide database based on this reason. [42 U.S.C. § 1973gg]

• The deceptive nature of the planned mailing is particularly troubling because the mailing described would almost certainly would appear to be an official governmental mailing. For the same reasons that it is unlawful to use official attire to challenge a voter at the polls on Election Day, it is unlawful to send a mailing that appears to be an official action of the governmental. [18 U.S.C. § 242; 42 U.S.C. § 1973i(b)]

Based on our discussions with legal counsel, we believe certain statements made at this Tea Party meeting clearly outline a plan by these organizations to engage in what may potentially be illegal conduct. The voter caging and challenge plans outlined by the Tea Party could result in an apparently illegal effort to deter qualified citizens from voting. As described, their plan would deter qualified citizens from voting in a manner that is coercive and without sufficient basis. All of these activities raise serious concerns and should be investigated further to determine whether illegal activity has occurred.

The full recordings, as well as a transcript and other information, is available at One Wisconsin Now's voter protection website: http://www.savewisconsinsvote2010.org/.

Jun 5, 2009

Georgia Voter Obstruction Halted by Obama DOJ

The GOP will use most any tactic to obstruct the wrong kind of voter from voting.

Via Election Law at Moritz, news from Georgia on GOP voter obstruction (echoing the failed attempt by the Wisconsin GOP last year).

DOJ Issues a Finding on Georgia Program

On Monday (6/1), the Department of Justice rejected Georgia's voter verification program, which included the use of Social Security numbers and driver's license data to determine citizenship (See the AP story from the Atlanta Journal Constitution for more details). The Georgia Secretary of State has also issued a press release commenting on the decision.
Similar voter obstruction efforts in Wisconsin in the GOP and former McCain-Palin co-chair and Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen's obstruction suit last year were tossed out of court here.

From the AP on the Georgia obstruction program:

In a letter released on Monday, the Justice Department said the (Georgia) state's voter verification program is frequently inaccurate and has a 'discriminatory effect' on minority voters. The decision means Georgia must halt the citizenship checks,
although the state can still ask the Justice Department to reconsider, according to the letter and to the Georgia secretary of state's office.

'This flawed system frequently subjects a disproportionate number of African-American, Asian and/or Hispanic voters to additional, and more importantly, erroneous burdens on the right to register to vote,' Loretta King, acting assistant attorney general of the Justice Department's civil rights division, said. King's letter was sent to Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker on Friday.
And from the decision tossing J.B. Van Hollen's obstruction suit that misstated the mandates of federal law (HAVA):

With respect to maintenance of this list, HAVA is explicit that removal of names occurs only in accordance with state law for states, like Wisconsin, which permit voter registration at the polls on the day of election. HAVA is also quite clear on each state's discretion. For purposes of HAVA's election technology and administration requirements, which include the voter list requirement, the law provides, HAVA provides, 'The specific choices on the methods of complying with the requirements of this subchapter shall be left to the discretion of the state.' ...

On November 4th each qualified voter in Wisconsin will go to the polls, as our Supreme Court said ... vested with the franchise. It doesn't matter if the DOT has misspelled his name or if her middle initial is missing on the voter list.

Neither HAVA nor state law require a database match as a precondition to voting. Nor do they require that the voter show any proof of eligibility, essentially to
reregister, in the event of a mismatch.

Hundreds of pages of paper have been filed and they boil down to this one reality. Nothing in state or federal law requires that there be a data match as a condition on the right to vote. HAVA does not supplant Wisconsin's constitutionally protected
right to establish its own voter eligibility standards.

May 12, 2009

Diane Wood for SC Already Under Attack

The National Review (NRO) hates that Diane Wood acclaimed the humanity of gays in questioning the Christan Legal Society, an anti-abortion and anti gay outfit, during oral arguments in Christian Legal Society v. Walker, No. 05-3239.

Wood, a justice on the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Seventh District is considered a leading candidate for Justice Souter's seat.

Bigotry and discrimination are not "about hatred, it is about love. To tell something, somebody something that's wrong is right is not loving, and that's what this chapter would be doing," said the CLC attorney. The NRO's Ed Whelan writes this exchange shows Wood "displayed a hostility to orthodox Christian beliefs."

Trying to fire up the religious right just maybe.

This nomination fight is going to be more fun than I thought, and I thought it was going to be a lot fun!

The NYT has a profile on Diane P. Wood who is drawing attention as a leading candidate to fill Justice Souter's expected vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Wood famously (in Wisconsin) voiced disgust towards Stephen Biskupic, former U.S. Atty for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, who launched several political prosecutions during his tenure with the Bush administration's Department of Justice, including the political prosecution of an innocent woman, Georgia Thompson, and GOP-inspired voter fraud prosecutions.

"It strikes me that your evidence is beyond thin; I’m not sure what your actual theory in this case is,” said Wood to Biskupic.

Of the GOP voter fraud obsession, the New York Times reported Wood saying of a Biskupic prosecution (many of which were overturned): "I find this whole prosecution mysterious. I don't know whether the Eastern District of Wisconsin goes after every felon who accidentally votes. It is not like she voted five times."

Reads the NYT profile

WASHINGTON — When President Bill Clinton had a rare opportunity in 1995 for a Democratic president to fill a vacancy on the federal appeals court based in Chicago, a bastion of conservative thinking, he received an unusually strong recommendation from Senator Paul Simon.

Mr. Simon, an outspoken liberal from Illinois who died in 2003, told the president the new judge should be a reliable progressive who would be cerebral enough to go up against the court’s two formidable conservatives, Judges Richard A. Posner and Frank H. Easterbrook. He said it should be Prof. Diane P. Wood of the University of Chicago law school.

May 9, 2009

GOP Can't Win Without Suppressing Votes

Writes Eliza Newlin Carney in The National Journal:

Judging by the tone of oral arguments in Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Holder last week, the Supreme Court appears poised to strike down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act.

It couldn't come at a worse time.

Several justices gave the impression during questioning on April 29 that they regard discriminatory election practices as ancient history. In fact, a wave of restrictive voter ID and citizenship requirements, both pending and enacted at the state level, threaten to erect a new generation of barriers to minority voters.

Polls show that a majority of voters favor voter ID laws, but it's not the mainstream majority of voters who are at risk.

Controversial voter ID laws have been taken up in nine states this year, including Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas -- all states covered by the section of the Voting Rights Act now facing constitutional challenge. Some state legislatures are also considering laws requiring voters to show proof of citizenship before registering and/or voting. ...

State legislators pushing for the restrictive ID and citizenship requirements -- all of them Republicans -- ostensibly want to fight voter fraud. But research shows that in-person voter impersonation -- the only type of fraud that voter ID laws could possibly block -- is virtually nonexistent. The real reason that GOP-controlled legislatures want to throw up new barriers to voting, say civil rights lawyers, is to depress turnout in Democrat-friendly voting blocs.

'I think Republicans understand that it was the increased registration and turnout in 2008 that seriously damaged them in the polls,' said Laughlin McDonald, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Voting Rights Project. 'And this is a way to try and reverse that.'

For the Republican Party that for the last 50 years has been the enemy of civil rights and voting rights efforts, their continued obstruction of minorities' voting is to be expected.

The GOP sees the 2008 electoral data on the wall and it spells trouble for its overwhelmingly white, xenophobic base.

See the Pew Research Center data in the Dissecting the 2008 Electorate: Most Diverse in U.S. History report.

For the good of the Party, the wrong-voting population must be obstructed, and real Americans ought to decide elections, the GOP believes.

The opposite of this voter suppression initiative is central to democracies of course.

And people voting to decide the future of their country ought to be a central message of the Obama administration reflected in virtually every visual impression received from the presidency.

By the way, don't be surprised if in Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Holder, we get a decision that congressional authority reigns in this instance. But no one knows, Kennedy has already proven himself a corrupt jurist (in Bush v. Gore) who will do what the Party needs.

See Edward B. Foley's Out from the Shadows of Bush v. Gore, a discussion of the Minnesota Senate race that the GOP is trying to steal in the federal courts after their anticipated loss in the state supreme court in June [Kennedy was the deciding vote in Bush v. Gore]:


If all the evidence and arguments for the Contestant and Contestee in Coleman v. Franken were the same and only the parties were reversed—so that Franken were the Contestant and Coleman the Contestee—there is virtually no doubt whatsoever that the same three-judge panel [that favored Franken] would have decided the case in exactly the same way. This strong confidence in the impartiality of the panel is the highest accolade one can bestow on a tribunal tasked with adjudicating a dispute in a major statewide election, particularly one involving significance to the two national political parties of this U.S. Senate seat.

It is, regrettably, not a judgment that one confidently could make about the U.S. Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore. The queasiness that many observers have about that case, even still more than eight years later, is that the Court majority would have rejected the Equal Protection claim there had Gore been the candidate making it. Thus, whatever else one says about the relationship of Coleman v. Franken and Bush v. Gore, the three-judge panel’s ruling is distinguishable for the simple reason of its evident impartiality. ...

In a memorandum accompanying its final order, the three-judge court has written considerably—and conscientiously—about Bush v. Gore and its relevance to Coleman v. Franken. Much scholarly commentary undoubtedly will be devoted to the court’s analysis (Rick Hasen has already offered a thoughtful summary), and I plan to return to it myself after contemplating it more. But even in the first few hours after the release of this decision, it seems fair to say that the court’s rejection of Coleman’s Equal Protection claim—in addition to being impartial in the critical sense that the result would have been the same even had Franken been making the claim—cannot be characterized as an obvious misunderstanding of Bush v. Gore. Indeed, it might well be the correct understanding, the one that any other impartial tribunal would reach on the same facts.

May 8, 2009

GOP Won't Give Up on Voter Obstruction

The GOP calls itself the enemy of government getting in the way of people.

But it won't halt its nationwide GOP effort to compel government bureaucracies to make voting as difficult as possible.

Rhode Island, Missouri, Texas, the list of states is long where the GOP continues to employ its suppression tricks.

From Erin Ferns at MyDD, Voter Fraud Myth Used to Push Voting Policies that Harken Back to the Jim Crow Era:

In swing state Missouri (and this sounds a lot like our own corrupt Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen's efforts last year (who knows what else this guy will come up with)):

Last week, Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan spoke in defense of the 230,000 eligible voters in the state who would be disenfranchised because they lack the necessary ID required under pending House Joint Resolution 9. The effort to pass a strict voter ID law continues despite a similar bill's failure to pass last year as well as a recent report by Carnahan's office that showed there were no instances of voter impersonation at the polls during the last three elections. ...

Recent studies show that a more diverse electorate turned out last November, including historically underrepresented young and minority voters. Since the election, Republican operatives have continued to use the specter of voter fraud to loosen regulations on voter suppression activities while pushing policies to make voting more difficult for the crop of new voters.

Last week we reported how the Republican National Committee (RNC) had quietly filed a motion to dissolve a consent decree prohibiting them from practicing voter caging and other voter suppression activities. The decree had been established in the 1980s after so-called 'ballot security programs' to prevent voter fraud resulted in wrongful voter disenfranchisement of largely low-income and minority voters.

To monitor voter ID and other election bills, visit http://www.electionlegislation.org/%20or subscribe to the weekly Election Legislation digest, featuring election bills in all 50 states, by emailing Erin Ferns at eferns [at] projectvote.org.

Apr 29, 2009

Voting Rights Argued Today

Update: Jon Greenbaum, legal director, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights: "As Congress found just a few years ago when it underwent a searching inquiry into the continuing need for key provisions of the VRA, Section 5 continues to be a critical element in preventing discrimination in voting across the country. While Section 5 has done a tremendous job at empowering all eligible voters to participate in the democratic process, its work is not complete."
And from SCOTUSblog:

Early on in the discussion of the 'bailout' option, Justice Kennedy commented that the Court has 'some latitude' in interpreting the law, and hinted that the Court might use that discretion to find a way to make it more practical for a government unit subject to the law to conduct its elections. He also suggested, later, that if the 'bailout' provision were found to be 'an illusion,' the Court might make 'a construction of the Act' that would make it work.

A focus on Kennedy’s reaction was evident, after other Justices clearly seemed to be lining up — perhaps in equal but opposing blocs — on Congress’ power to keep Section 5 on the books for another generation.

If, in fact, it turns out that there are four votes to strike down the extension of Section 5, the question would remain whether Justice Kennedy would be willing to put himself in the position of providing a majority to invalidate a statute that even he conceded had been 'very effective.' He provided some reasons to doubt that he would — if there were an acceptable alternative . And, in the past, he had said that racial bias is a continuing problem in American society.

Suddenly, I feel less optimistic on this case than at the beginning of the day.

---The U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments in a potentially landmark case challenging Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and its 2006 congressional reauthorization.

Most Republicans hope for a Court decision that would declare certain voting districts free of the mandates of Section 5 helping to fight racial discrimination.

The plaintiffs challenge the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006) (reauthorizing Section 5) in Northwest Austin (Texas) Municipal Utility District Number One v. Gonzales (08-322)).

Many argue more broadly that since we just elected a black president, we don't need voting rights protection.

Those taking this position [Not Rep. James Sensenbrenner. See Voting Rights Act has passionate, strong advocate in Sensenbrenner (Marrero, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel).] take it without any sense of history, like the last presidential election.

GOP voter suppression

The GOP used every voter suppression trick in the book to obstruct voters, like blacks, who looked likely to cast their lot against the GOP.

And the GOP tried to cover the suppression program with outlandish cries of "(perpetrat(ion) of) one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy," as John McCain ludicrously asserted. See Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Greg Palast's Drinking the Kool-Aid: How Cries of Voter Fraud Cover Up GOP Election Theft.

In Wisconsin, we had Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen's (John McCain 2008 co-chair) voter obstruction program.

Van Hollen's obstruction suit was tossed out of court, with the judge noting (p. 13) that federal election law still recognizes the force of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, much to the chagrin of Republicans. That judge also ruled that voting was not conditional on bureaucrats' lists matching perfectly, as the Republicans argued here.

Some 50 percent of blacks in Milwaukee County would fail that GOP-desired mandate, forcing them to cast provisional ballots.

From Andrew Hacker's piece in the New York Review of Books (September 25, 2008).


A Wisconsin survey published in 2005 was more precise (in the GOP effort to prevent Democratically-voting blacks from voting). No fewer than 53 percent of black adults in Milwaukee County were not licensed to drive, compared with 15 percent of white adults in the remainder of the state. According to its author, similar disparities will be found across the nation. [1] [[1] John Pawasarat, The Driver License Status of the Voting Age Population in Wisconsin (University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee Employment and Training Institute, June2005), p. 1.]
Voting Rights Act

When Congress reauthorized the Voting Rights Act in 2006, it found an array of obstacles to minority voting nationwide.

As a New York Times editorial notes today:



The election of the first African-American president last year was an undeniable sign of racial progress. But even that breakthrough cannot ensure that legislative districts will not be gerrymandered, voting rolls purged or election procedures modified at the state and local levels in ways that diminish the rights of minorities. For that, as Congress wisely recognized, we still need the Voting Rights Act.

The GOP knows it cannot win without obstructing the American people from voting. That its attempts are failing will not stop their shameful assault on Americans.

The case before the Court today may be decided on a more abstract question of congressional authority (and not on a Test of History v. Progress), or a Justice Roberts-imposed changed standard of judicial scrutiny that would weaken civil rights protection. but it looks likely that the latest foolish endeavor to weaken civil rights legislation will fail.

See SCOTUSBlog for updates.

Apr 9, 2009

Michael Steele Keeps Up ACORN Lie

ACORN did it.

Yeah, new Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele, is steering the GOP in a new direction.

This is business as usual on the right, see Lies and the Lying Liars Exposed.

And read this nonsense circulated in an e-mail through Human Events:

... It seems the Obama Administration has plans to rig the Census results.

President Obama's old friends from ACORN, the leftist, urban ‘community’ organization with a long history of promoting vote fraud, has been chosen by the Administration as a ‘partner’ with the Census Bureau to determine population counts in cities around the country.

With this group's track record of coming up with countless fraudulent voter registrations in heavily Democrat areas to sway elections to ultra-liberals, you can be sure they'll be manipulating population numbers as well.

And after receiving millions in political payback from the Democrats' recently passed ‘Stimulus’ Bill, ACORN's community organizers are eager to once again take action to aid their old friend in the White House.

Why is this important? The U.S. population has shifted in the last ten years. States like Illinois, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania (all states Obama won in 2008) have smaller populations, and states like Arizona, Georgia and South Carolina (all states that John McCain carried) have gained population.

The trend illustrates that urban strongholds, which favor Democrats, continue to lose population to more decentralized areas in states more likely to lean Republican.

If the Democrats and their friends at ACORN have their way, the Census will only ‘estimate’ state populations and therefore be subject to political calculations. And surely their estimate will be far higher than the actual number of people, and voters, present.

We must not let the Democrats and their radical leftist allies falsify the U.S. Census and manipulate elections in their favor. Our democracy, and the principle of ‘One Person, One Vote’ are in jeopardy.

Apr 2, 2009

Salon Looks at 1960s Civil Rights Movement

Lauren Hermele has a photo essay on 1960s civil rights veterans in Salon. Great stuff.

A lot of the people comprising the civil rights movement have names that history will not record.

And quite a few live in Wisconsin today.

Registering voters, demanding jobs, risking their lives, enforcing democracy; that's what they did.

Today's Republican Party, like Wisconsin attorney general J.B. Van Hollen, and know-nothing GOP bloggers still don't get why so many were incensed by last year's voter suppression efforts. It's likely that they never will.

The American civil rights movement lives on today, knowing that they changed the course of history and stood up for their brothers and sisters.

Some were killed, blinded for life, maimed, but they put their bodies on the line against racists and know-nothings and we salute them today.

Oct 28, 2008

Van Hollen Not 'Valid'

Update: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Greg Palast: Drinking the ACORN Kool-Aid: How Cries of Voter Fraud Cover Up GOP Elections Theft - While Republicans had the media searching for links between Obama and ACORN, RNC operatives were busily completing one of the most massive voter suppression and purging efforts in American history.

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen's voter suppression suit was tossed because he misread a federal law and tried to use it to suppress votes fighting the spectre of voter fraud, the opposite of the law's public policy rationale. You would think he would be embarrassed.

Civil rights groups, labor unions, voting rights groups, good government groups - all came together to protect Wisconsin citizens from their attorney general and his political party.

Now, "Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen says he'll deploy more than 50 assistant attorney generals and state agents around the state Nov. 4 to guard against election fraud." - AP

What crap.

"... The reality is, if the Government Accountability Office would have followed the law earlier, I believe it would have made our current election more valid," Van Hollen said to News 12 Milwaukee.

But as Judge Sumi who dismissed Van Hollen's lawsuit last week demonstrated, Van Hollen has no idea what the law is and legal observers are laughing at the spectacle of the bush-league jurist, Van Hollen.

Van Hollen is a corrupt public official not fit to serve office, especially the Attorney General's office.

Who knows what other crap he is capable of.

One thing is certain: Van Hollen cannot be trusted by the people of Wisconsin and is deserving of no respect by the citizens who he has betrayed.

Oct 27, 2008

Voter Suppression Incidents 2008

The Brennan Center for Justice is compiling a comprehensive synopsis of current voter suppression incidents around the country of which McCain co-chair and Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen' suit comprises just one of many.

The Voter Suppression Incidents 2008 is an excellent resource, please check it out.

And spread the word: The nonpartisan Election protection coalition (http://www.866ourvote.org/) is fighting voter suppression and is a great resource. Look them up with any problems or concerns: Call 1 866 OUR VOTE (1 866 687 8683).

Oct 24, 2008

Bush Seeks Forced Provisional Voting in Ohio

Incredible! Bush wants the US DOJ to look into the Ohio voting controversy, seeking forced provisional voting that suppresses legal voters.

After being shot down by the US Supreme Court on using the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) for the purpose of declaring eligible voters to be tentatively ineligible because of database mismatches - a purpose that the text of HAVA expressively forbids - Bush and the Republicans will not give up.

As the Milwaukee Branch of NAACP and the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association write in their amicus brief in the Van Hollen v. GAB Wisconsin case, provisional voting is inherently suppressive, and many provisional voters will not be able to come back the next day to further corroborate their legal voting status, and will leave the polling place not knowing if their votes count.

A provisional ballot is a second-class vote. The voter leaves the polling place not knowing whether his or her vote will count. He or she will only find out by calling a toll-free number or checking a website. If the answer is that the vote was not counted, the voter will be given a reason, but by then it will be too late to correct. That voter will have been directly and absolutely deprived of the right to vote without a meaningful remedy. (Link to brief filed by Milwaukee Branch of NAACP and the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association in Van Hollen v. GAB.)

This will not be a problem in Wisconsin, but the GOP is not giving up on stealing Ohio, again.

From RollCall:
President Bush is asking the Justice Department to look into whether 200,000 Buckeye State poll-goers must use provisional ballots on Election Day because their names do not match state databases.

White House spokesman Carlton Carroll confirmed Friday that the president will forward a letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey from House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), requesting that the Justice Department look into whether the state’s voter rolls comply with the Help America Vote Act.
In a letter dated on Friday, the House GOP leader wrote that with Election Day 'less than two weeks away, immediate action by the Department is not only warranted, but also crucial.'


Folks, we have a major political party, the Republicans, who will do almost anything to stay in power. It's time for mass civil disobedience, something, to disrupt this outlaw element in the American political body. This is not a Party that is deserving of any respect whatsoever in our democracy.

Oct 23, 2008

Voter Suppression Case Today

Update II: Judge tosses lawsuit challenging voter registration checks

Update: GAB opinion for Milwaukee Election Commission: Database mismatch insufficient basis to challenge and/or disqualify voters. HAVA does not authorize changing voter eligibility because of database mismatches.

The GAB opinion is significant because the Wisconsin Republican Party has signaled that it will challenge Milwaukee voters on election day, and many Milwaukee minorities lack currently updated drivers licences.

Obama brought out 1,000s of casually political blacks in the February primary.

The GAB opinion runs counter to the complaint by Attorney General Van Hollen and the Wisconsin GOP that is being argued today.
---

The legal fight that is being heard today before a Dane County judge will draw the eyes of the nation's voting rights community on the issue of voter suppression and how the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) should be used by states.

At issue:

Whether the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB) has met its obligations to bring Wisconsin into compliance with state and federal election laws, including the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). Specifically, the Attorney General is seeking to require that the GAB run HAVA checks on voter registrations received prior to August 6, 2008. (Moritz Law).

The case will hinge on whether HAVA says what the Republican Party and Van Hollen interpret it to mean on the question of establishing the eligibility of voters vis a vis what the text of the statute reads and the GAB's interpretation.

Nationwide, the GOP is attempting to suppress Democratically leaning voters to stave off a landslide defeat, and is unquestionably attempting to use HAVA to this purpose.

Oct 21, 2008

Van Hollen: Corrupt and Inept

A political talking point is an alleged fact or emotive illustration intended to support an argument or position.

It’s superficial as any observer of talking heads has observed.

A legal brief, on the other hand, is a more rigorous presentation of facts, evidence, statutes, relevant past cases and how the law applies to facts.

A legal brief contains arguments supporting a position to persuade a trial judge or appellate court. There are strong legal arguments that are fact-supported and grounded-in-law, and weak arguments that are defective in these respects.

One would expect that in the highly politicized J.B. Van Hollen vs. Government Accountability Board et al case in which Wisconsin’s Attorney General seeks an extraordinary mandamus order demanding action that could result in 10,000s of citizens being disenfranchised during a historic presidential election that Van Hollen and the Republican Party would present rigorous arguments—full of facts, careful readings of relevant statutes, and a meticulous following of judicial procedures.

But the Government Accountability Board and civil rights organizations show that Attorney General Van Hollen and the Wisconsin Republican Party have filed briefs that read like political talking points (lacking evidence)—composed of poorly reasoned arguments, reckless reading of statutes, and fatally defective procedural steps that voting rights advocates hope will prove both a legal embarrassment for our partisan attorney general and a political club to be used against Van Hollen for what he has become: Corrupt and disdainful of Wisconsin citizens.

For some late-night reading of the legal briefs in this case, see Election Law-Moritz.

A decision on some motions may come as early as Thursday and Friday.

Oct 20, 2008

Obama Fights Voter Suppression Efforts

Obama is assembling 1,000s of attorneys to fight the McCain/GOP/Van Hollen voter suppression.

The voter suppression efforts will likely not be enough this year but the attempt tells you everything to know about today's Republican Party: Corrupt and anti-democratic.

From James Rowley in Bloomberg:

Legal battles unfolding in Ohio, Indiana and Wisconsin provide fresh evidence of the potential fights to come over ballot access in an election marked by unprecedented spending to increase the number of voters in strategically important states. ...

Bob Bauer, the general counsel of Obama's campaign, charged that Republican efforts like the Ohio party's lawsuit, are 'grounded simply in an effort to intimidate voters and suppress the vote.'

In a conference call with reporters, Bauer vowed to mount 'ferocious response' to any effort to purge voter rolls, such as the lawsuit by Wisconsin's Republican attorney general, J.B. Van Hollen.

Van Hollen, who co-chairs McCain's presidential campaign in Wisconsin, sued to force the state agency overseeing elections to perform database searches to check the validity of all voters registered since Jan. 1, 2006. A decision is expected next week.