What it's like to register to vote in states with voter suppression law


Leroy Switlick, a 67-year-old visually impaired man who has voted in every election for the last 40 years may not get to vote this year, because he lives in Wisconsin, where Republican governor Scott Walker passed a voter-suppression law that requires people like Switkick, who've never traveled and never held a driver's license, to show photo ID (like a passport or driver's license) to vote, and the DMV has failed in its duty to issue him a non-driver ID. Read the rest

Black voter registration is inversely correlated with black death at police hands


Correlation is not causation, and the data-set is awfully small (39 incidents), but computational epidemiologist Maimuna Majumder is working with what's available, because the federal government won't fund research into gun fatalities, and does not require states to gather data on police use of force. Read the rest

Candid Republican operators admit that voter ID laws are about disenfranchisement


The Brennan Center has rounded up a rogues' gallery of candid, on-the-record admissions from Republican politicians, officials, and operators about the true nature of the unconstitutional voter restriction laws that were cookie-cuttered across the Tea Party state governments: they don't fight voter fraud (because that's not a thing), but they do disenfranchise traditional democratic voters: people of color and students. Read the rest

North Carolina's voter suppression law struck down as "racist"


The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has invalidated parts of North Carolina's voter suppression laws, ruling that the requirement to show photo ID was enacted "with racially discriminatory intent." Read the rest

DoJ: Supreme Court ruling means only 5 states will have federal election observers this November

When the Supreme Court struck down the Voting Rights Act in 2015, we learned that the 2016 election would be the first in two generations without the basic protections for equal voting rights for all people. Read the rest

UK Labour's dirty trick excludes 130,000 members from leadership vote


At a meeting of the UK National Election Committee on the upcoming Labour Party leadership race, Labour grandees waited for Corbyn and his supporters to leave the room, then put forward a motion -- not on the agenda -- to exclude recent Labour Party members from participating in the upcoming leadership vote, disenfranchising 130,000 new Party members, mainly Corbyn supporters. Read the rest

2016: the first presidential election in 50 years without Voting Rights Act protections


Three years ago, the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, a 50-year-old piece of civil rights legislation that ended the Jim Crow practices of poll taxes and other restrictions that disproportionately denied people of color and poor people the right to vote. Read the rest

David Byrne wants you to register to vote, and wants everyone else to, too


Former Talking Heads frontman and happiest of all the mutants David Byrne has a great post up about voter suppression, voter registration, and the state of American politics. Read the rest

California Democratic primary voters: don't accept "provisional ballots!"


If you're a Californian registered Independent/No Party Preference, you are entitled to cast a ballot in the Democratic primary on June 7, but some Orange County poll workers report that they've been instructed to give independent voters "provisional ballots," which, in practice, are rarely if ever counted. Read the rest

How to vote in the New York Democratic primary (please share!)


The New York State Democratic primary is a "closed primary" that excludes anyone who isn't a registered Democrat from casting a ballot. Many people say they are registered Democrat but have been purged from the list, or had their affiliations changed to Republican or Independent. Some have posted images of what they say are forged signatures on voter registration cards. Read the rest

Voter suppression: targeting the poor, the old, and students

The Atlantic's Andrew Cohen describes the seven-hour early voter lines at polling stations in Democratic strongholds like Miami, where Republican officials like Governor Rick Scott has reduced the number of early voting days, making it harder than ever for working people with marginal incomes to vote.

When the remaining restrictions were challenged in federal court, a George W. Bush appointee said there was no proof that the reduced hours would "impermissibly burden" minority voters. How many hours in line must a Florida voter wait before the burden upon her becomes an "impermissible" one? If Florida's election officials, and its Republican lawmakers, and its state and federal judges, all were required to stand in line for seven hours to vote those long lines would go away forever. You know it, I know it, and so do those officials.

How about Ohio, another "battleground" state governed by partisan fiat. Its election rules are administered by a secretary of state, Jon Husted, who just a few years ago was the GOP speaker of the state house. Like their counterparts in Florida, Ohio's Republican lawmakers sought to restrict wildly popular early-voting hours around the state. And again the federal courts blunted the impact of their new rules. So what has Husted done? He's focused his energy this weekend ginning up ways to justify discarding provisional ballots cast by his fellow citizens.

These are just two recent examples. There are more. But they all have a few core things in common. In each instance, elected officials are making it harder for American citizens to vote and to have their votes counted.

Read the rest

Voter fraud is a fraud

The New Yorker's "Voter-Fraud Myth" by Jane Mayer is a good, fair, investigative piece tracking the rise of the Republican orthodoxy that says that voter fraud is rampant, and that it favors Democrats. Mayer makes a reasoned, factual case to show that there is no substantial voter fraud problem (much-vaunted incidents like the scores of dead voters in Georgia were later revealed to not have a single verifiable instance of a dead person voting). Mayer also shows how anti-fraud measures disproportionately target young people, poor people, and visible minorities. This is a great piece to refer to when discussing the subject with friends who've been convinced that voter ID laws amount to anything other than partisan voter suppression.

Von Spakovsky offered me the names of two experts who, he said, would confirm that voter-impersonation fraud posed a significant peril: Robert Pastor, the director of the Center for Democracy and Election Management, at American University, and Larry Sabato, a political-science professor at the University of Virginia. Pastor, von Spakovsky noted, had spoken to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights about being a victim of election fraud: voting in Georgia, he discovered that someone else had already voted under his name.

When I reached Pastor, he clarified what had happened to him. “I think they just mistakenly checked my name when my son voted—it was just a mistake.” He added, “I don’t think that voter-impersonation fraud is a serious problem.” Pastor believes that, compared with other democracies, America is “somewhere near the bottom in election administration,” and thinks that voter I.D.s make sense—but only if they are free and easily available to all, which, he points out, is not what Republican legislatures have proposed.

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68,000 Texans no longer have to prove they're not dead in order to vote

68,000 Texans will no longer have to prove that they aren't dead in order to vote in the next election. The state of Texas has settled a suit brought on behalf of 68,000 "potentially deceased" Texas voters who shared a birthdate and a partial Social Security match with a person appearing on a federal death register. These people will now be able to vote, unless Texas can prove they're dead. Another 12,000 voters will still have to prove that they're not dead before casting a ballot. More from Lowering the Bar:

Under the previous rules, voters were identified as "potentially deceased" if there was at least a "weak match" (such as a birth date plus a partial Social Security number) between their information and the federal death records the state was consulting. The weakly matched dead made up 68,000 of the 80,000 people who received a letter from voting officials telling them they would be removed from the rolls if they didn't speak up. Under the settlement, the burden shifts to officials to prove those people are really dead; the remainder ("strong matches"), who are much more likely to be dead, will still have to prove otherwise if they can.

"Today's order [approving the settlement] is another step toward improving the integrity of the election system," said Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who had unsuccessfully tried to defend the state's original plan. I think it's actually the same step, but 85% smaller.

Texas Settles With Previously Dead Voters Read the rest

Study: Republican state voting laws "will disenfranchise 10,000,000 Hispanic US citizens"

Today, a civil rights group called Advancement Project will publish a report on the new voting laws passed in 23 Republican-led states. The report (not named in Patricia Zengerle's Reuters article and not yet up on the Advancement Project site) claims that 10,000,000 Hispanic voters will be disenfranchised by the new laws, which place hurdles between voters and the ballot box, such as presenting certain types of ID. The rubric for these laws has been that "everyone" has the types of ID specified in the statutes, and the common refrain in response to critics is "Who doesn't have a [driver's license|passport|non-driver ID|etc]?" The Advancement Project's point appears to be that these specific 10 million citizens, who are otherwise legally entitled to vote, don't have the necessary papers or can't meet the qualifiers imposed by the state governments.

According to Reuters, national polls show 70 percent or more support for Obama among Hispanic voters.

The new laws include purges of people suspected of not being citizens in 16 states that unfairly target Latinos, the civil rights group Advancement Project said in the study to be formally released on Monday.

Laws in effect in one state and pending in two others require proof of citizenship for voter registration. That imposes onerous and sometimes expensive documentation requirements on voters, especially targeting naturalized American citizens, many of whom are Latino, the liberal group said.

Nine states have passed restrictive photo identification laws that impose costs in time and money for millions of Latinos who are citizens but do not yet have the required identification, it said.

Read the rest