Tag Archives: Republican vote suppression

Make America Good Again

MAGA blue good again

I have to admit to being a bit tired from the firehosed gaslighting news of the week.  I am tired of explications of how Republicans in Georgia and North Dakota, being unwilling to submit their ideas to the voters of their respective states have decided instead to play untoward games with the electoral process.  Too many Black and other people of color voting? — just put their registration applications on hold, close their polling places, limit their voting hours…. Too many Native Americans voting?  Simple — require physical addresses for places that don’t have home mail delivery. Bonus: Rural voters may also be excluded from voting if they, too, “live” in their P.O. Boxes.

Here’s a clue. If it is necessary to play these kinds of games in order to win elections then it is quite possible the party doesn’t have a strong and appealing message for voters.

I am also tired of media whining about Democrats without messages.  I’ve no apologies on offer if the Democrats aren’t saying what the punditry want them to say, however I’m willing to guess that they must be saying something effectively or the GOP wouldn’t be fear mongering and vote suppressing to beat the band.

Democrats are talking about Health Care.  They are speaking about Republican plans to demolish the Affordable Care Act if they retain control of Congress.  They are speaking about Republican announced plans to shave Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid (in order to pay for their tax cuts.)  They are speaking about comprehensive immigration policy reform.  If they are not speaking is easily digestible sound bites and bumper sticker slogans, then why can’t the media spend the required one or two minutes to explain that there are some issues that don’t lend themselves to bumper sticker solutions?

What the media appear to bemoan is that Democrats aren’t “marketing” their ideas, not that they don’t have any.  Consider for a moment what happens when one side is all marketing and the other side wants to talk about governing.  Media loves media.  Marketing recognizes good marketing.  Few want to address the issues of governing, and thus we get Republicans who simply can’t govern.  They don’t like policy arguments, they don’t like nuanced discussions; they don’t like governing. They don’t like government.   They are rather like cooks, who once placed in a chef’s kitchen, want to do nothing more than make hamburgers.  They haven’t had many original ideas in decades.

Entitlement Reform?” That’s merely the latest marketing slogan/dog whistle for dismantling Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.  Once more with feeling: We are entitled to these programs because we’ve been paying into them all our working lives.

“Eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse?”  This is more “Starve the Beast.”  We’ve been listening to the Starve the Beast rhetoric for decades.  The GOP idea is to spend  the money on the military-industrial complex, shut down revenue by cutting corporate taxation, and then announce we “have to” cut social safety net programs because we can no longer afford them.  Heaven forefend they’d discuss raising corporate taxes or closing loopholes to secure additional revenue!  These hoary ideas are as old as Donkey Kong.

Instead of listening to the old, stale, ideas rehashed and re-marketed for the electorate, how about we keep repeating:

  1. Health care is essential.  No one “decides” to get sick or get hit by a car.  Everyone should be able to afford health care insurance which actually covers health care expenses.
  2. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are social safety net programs which have proven successful.  They are expensive, but they are also essential if we want to avoid our elders in dire poverty, our elders dying without health care because they are priced out of the private market, and our fellow citizens without health care services such that they do become a burden on their families and their communities.
  3. Immigration policy reform is possible if we take the fearmongering racism out of the discussion.  We actually had a proposal enacted by the Senate. However, after the radicals began bellowing “amnesty” every time someone mentioned the notion that people who’ve made their lives here, and became productive members of the community should have a path to citizenship, the plan failed.  If the racists and xenophobes would pipe down we could probably get to a workable solution.
  4. The economy could be better.  It would be a lot better if we would stop rewarding the top 0.1% for investing in whatever happens to be the Stock of the Quarter and start rewarding people who actually spend their money buying things and services … homes, vehicles, clothing, food, movie tickets, electronics, etc.  We know who these people are, they are working, they are middle class, they are everyday Americans, and for the most part they are good people.
  5. We can get back to being Good People.  No, we don’t separate children from their parents at our southern border!  No, we don’t countenance the harassment and abuse of women.  No, we don’t condone the murder of our journalists in a Saudi consulate in Istanbul — or anywhere else.  No, we don’t declare Canadian dairy farmers a “threat to our national security.”  No, we don’t think all the citizens of Mexico are drug dealers and rapists.  No, we don’t think neo-nazis are “very fine people.”

So, let’s Make America Good Again.  Vote.

 

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Filed under Immigration, Politics, Vote Suppression

The GOP went down to Georgia: A Cautionary Tale

Randolph County, Georgia is working hard to become the poster child for the cynicism of the Republican partisans who will stoop to seemingly ever lower machinations to depress voter turnout.

The county describes itself:

“Created in 1828, Randolph County encompasses 429 square miles in Southwest Georgia and is home to 7,719 residents. Randolph is an agricultural county and ranks as the top wheat and sorghum grower in the state. Peanuts, cotton, soybeans, and corn are also important crops for Randolph.”

This isn’t quite all the story.  The Census Bureau tells us that, yes, as of 2010 there were 7,719 residents, of whom 61.4% are African American, 37.1% of whom are white.  54% of the county’s residents are female.  11.2% of the residents under the age of 65 are classified as disabled.  These numbers are important.  Why?

The board of elections for a rural, southwest county in Georgia that consists of mostly black voters wants to eliminate all but two of the county’s polling locations just months before the midterm elections because they’re not in compliance with disabilities laws.

During a “courtesy” meeting Thursday night, the Randolph County Board of Elections, a county located near the Georgia-Alabama border, informed residents of the possibility that seven of the nine voting locations would be eliminated since the county did not have time to make them wheelchair accessible before the midterms, according to local media reports.

The seven locations they want to close are not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires wheelchair accessibility to all public buildings. As a solution, one board member suggested voters could still apply for an absentee ballot by mail.  [Newsweek]

How interesting!  Just at the point at which an African American woman is running for the governorship of Georgia against a white male … the county decides (between the primary and mid-term general election) that it’s time to enforce the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act.   The ACLU response is informative:

“If a government building is not ADA compliant, the solution is to make them ADA compliant. If you cut your hand, you don’t chop off your arm, you heal the wound,” he said. “They have had decades to fix these issues and have had elections in these polling places. The better question is why haven’t these issues been fixed? And why, instead of fixing them, are you shutting them down?” (emphasis added)

Why should we not consider the perfectly obvious: It’s a blatant attempt to suppress African American voting

“The closing of three-quarters of the polling places in the county would have a staggering effect on access to vote, according to the ACLU, as it would mean an additional 10-mile journey to the two remaining polling places. “If you don’t have a car and you want to vote in-person, you have to walk three-and-a-half hours,” Young said. One of the polls up for closure is Cuthbert Middle School, where nearly 97 percent of voters are black.” [Slate] (emphasis added)

So, if those non-ADA compliant polling stations were acceptable in previous elections, then why are they now to be closed for the general election in November?  I think we have the explanation right here:

Because of its history of racist voting laws, Randolph County was once required to seek federal permission before altering its election procedures. But after the Supreme Court gutted this oversight in 2013, the county was freed to crack down on the franchise. It is no coincidence that its election board chose this moment to shutter most of its polls: In November, the popular Democrat Stacey Abrams will compete for the governorship against Republican Brian Kemp, the current Georgia secretary of state. Kemp, who has devoted his time in office to a ruthless campaign of voter suppression, called upon Randolph County to abandon the plan when it spurred widespread outrage. That being said, the key figure in the Randolph County controversy is a Kemp ally who was handpicked by the secretary of state to close polls throughout Georgia. [Slate]

Kemp needs to suppress African American and female voting.  What Kemp doesn’t need is more publicity about this outrageous vote suppression initiative. However, he’s getting it.  From Slate, from Newsweek, from the Washington Post, from the Huffington Post,  from the New York Daily News.   Four days ago the county was trying to explain its rationale, yesterday there were soft signals of a possible walk-back.  However, the decision won’t be made until August 24th.   Four days more until we see if the “handpicked” Kemp ally is successful in fulfilling his role as facilitator for his white male gubernatorial candidate.

This is why we: (1) Pay attention to what has happened to the Voting Rights Act; (2) Pay attention to the candidates to be Secretary of State; (3) Pay attention to what is happening in small places with small populations, because once these vote suppression precedents are established the GOP will come back for second helpings. (4) Pay attention to local elections and local boards and commissions.  This is why we stay vigilant. Why we use social media and all the communication resources at hand. Why we remember that if vote suppression strategies and tactics will depress African American turnout, they will suppress turnout for women, for young voters, for elderly voters, for voters of Hispanic heritage, for any voter unlikely to support the Trumpian tendency toward autocracy.

These upcoming mid-term elections aren’t important — they are ESSENTIAL.  Register, check your registration, help other people register, help other people check their registration, then VOTE LIKE YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE DEPENDS ON IT.  The devil isn’t on the loose just down in Georgia.

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Filed under Politics, Vote Suppression, Voting

Losing Sins, Sacramental Cheating: Vote Suppression Issues in 2017

“A faith that makes losing a sin will make cheating a sacrament.” — Michael Gergen

Case in point: The incredibly petty assault on the election of state Senator Joyce Woodhouse by sore losers among the Clark County Republicans who think a ‘recall’ election on a trumped up issue will allow them to overturn election results.  And, this single sentence is about all the publicity the recall effort deserves.

Case in point:  The trumped up (literally) claims of vote fraud in the 2016 election, for which there is NO evidence whatsoever.  The vote suppression efforts rely on conflation and obfuscation.  First and foremost, it requires that we conflate issues of voter registration with actual incidents of voter impersonation fraud.  No one is arguing that periodically cleaning up voter registration lists to remove names of those deceased or moved from the precinct is necessarily a bad thing.  If done in a rational and professional manner such removal makes the lives of poll workers on election day a bit easier, and I, for one, am all for making their lives as easy as possible.  However, there are voices asserting that because there remain names un-removed, there is therefore the potential for fraud, therefore there must be evidence of fraudulent voting.  This is fear-mongering of the first water.  Please review the 3 instances of voting fraud in Nevada since 2012.  (More discussion here) An additional objection to this assertion is that the vote suppression advocates are personalizing the issue — “If there is One instance of fraudulent voting, then the vote thus cancelled out must be ‘yours.'”  Please.  “But! What happens in close elections?”  One instance repeatedly hauled out by the vote suppressors as an example of  a close loss blamed on illegal voting, the Rizzo case, has been thoroughly debunked.  It’s become an article of faith among the right wing that because Democrats might cheat, then “election integrity” requires that they be closely monitored to prevent “those people” from winning elections.  Election integrity should mean that every eligible voter in this country is treated equally as the ballots are cast.  However, this brings us to yet another sacrament of the vote suppressors.

Case in point:  The following report comes from the Indianapolis Star: (August 10, 2017)

“State and local Republicans have expanded early voting in GOP-dominated areas and restricted it in Democratic areas, an IndyStar investigation has found, prompting a significant change in Central Indiana voting patterns. From 2008 to 2016, GOP officials expanded early voting stations in Republican dominated Hamilton County, IndyStar’s analysis found, and decreased them in the state’s biggest Democratic hotbed, Marion County.   That made voting more convenient in GOP areas for people with transportation issues or busy schedules. And the results were immediate.”

Yes, how convenient, for Republican voters only.  This becomes yet another example of those for whom winning is an article of faith, and one’s sacramental duty is to cheat to gain an advantage.

Case in point:  North Carolina Republicans became the poster children for vote suppression tactics,  such as curtailing early voting, strict ID requirements, reduced polling hours, to such as extent that they’ve not managed to pass muster in the courts.   In short, the battle’s not over by a long shot.  States that manage to restrict voting hours, reduce voting sites, curtail early voting, and otherwise strive to make voting as difficult as possible are engaged in nothing less that organized disenfranchisement.  Nothing could argue more forcefully for the importance of state elections than these kinds of patently suppressive legislation.

Case in point:  We should focus for a moment on the closing of polling stations as an example of vote suppression. Arizona, Georgia, Florida, and (you guessed it) North Carolina all closed polling places in 2016 that were in predominantly Democratic areas. [Reuters]

Unreasonably strict voter ID laws, the closing of polling stations, the restrictions on early voting, the selective purging of voter rolls (Remember Florida in 2000?), the arbitrary lengthening or contracting voting precinct schedules, and the other schemes to restrict voting fly in the face of Madison’s observation in his Federalist 52:

“The definition of the right of suffrage is very justly regarded as a fundamental article of republican government. “

This, not the modern Republican version of disenfranchisement, ought to be the statement of faith that makes cheating so egregious.

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Filed under civil liberties, Nevada politics, Politics, Vote Suppression, Voting

Then and Now: Voter Intimidation

Compare to 2012:

“True the Vote’s founder, Catherine Engelbrecht, has said “we see again with this administration . . . it’s just stunning the assault on our elections that we’re watching gain steam with every passing day, so we found ourselves to be unwittingly on the front lines of an issue that I think will be the inflection point for this election.”

A reporter attending True the Vote’s Colorado State Summit described how one speaker told the crowd that “they should enjoy bullying liberals because they were doing God’s work. ‘Your opposition are cartoon characters. They are. They are fun to beat up. They are fun to humiliate,’ he intoned. ‘You are on the side of the angels. And these people are just frauds, charlatans and liars.’”  [Demos]

Inflection point? More like over the line back to the bad old days of voter intimidation and harassment.  Fun to beat up?  One could wonder if anyone was “having fun” during the following tragedies?

May 7, 1955 · Belzoni, Mississippi
Rev. George Lee, one of the first black people registered to vote in Humphreys County, used his pulpit and his printing press to urge others to vote. White officials offered Lee protection on the condition he end his voter registration efforts, but Lee refused and was murdered.

August 13, 1955 · Brookhaven, Mississippi
Lamar Smith was shot dead on the courthouse lawn by a white man in broad daylight while dozens of people watched. The killer was never indicted because no one would admit they saw a white man shoot a black man. Smith had organized blacks to vote in a recent election.

September 25, 1961 · Liberty, Mississippi
Herbert Lee, who worked with civil rights leader Bob Moses to help register black voters, was killed by a state legislator who claimed self-defense and was never arrested. Louis Allen, a black man who witnessed the murder, was later also killed.

June 12, 1963 · Jackson, Mississippi
Medgar Evers, who directed NAACP operations in Mississippi, was leading a campaign for integration in Jackson when he was shot and killed by a sniper at his home.

September 15, 1963 · Birmingham, Alabama
Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley were getting ready for church services when a bomb exploded at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, killing all four of the school-age girls. The church had been a center for civil rights meetings and marches.

January 10, 1966 · Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Vernon Ferdinand Dahmer, a wealthy businessman, offered to pay poll taxes for those who couldn’t afford the fee required to vote. The night after a radio station broadcasted Dahmer’s offer, his home was firebombed. Dahmer died later from severe burns.

April 4, 1968 · Memphis, Tennessee
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist minister, was a major architect of the Civil Rights Movement. He led and inspired major non-violent desegregation campaigns, including those in Montgomery and Birmingham. He won the Nobel peace prize. He was assassinated as he prepared to lead a demonstration in Memphis.
Sadly, there are many more listed here.

Some people don’t want to take their country back, they really want to take it backwards.

 

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Filed under 2012 election, Politics, racism

A Vote Supressed Is An Election Stolen

What makes this country truly exceptional, more exceptional than all the jingoistic, flag waving, bombastic rhetoric in any stump speech, is very simple. Americans have the RIGHT to vote.  Voting isn’t a privilege earned, it is a right protected.  There is no other way to maintain a republic than to protect voting rights.

There is nothing less “American” than seeking to suppress the votes of others.  We no longer tolerate abuses like the nefarious Poll Taxes of recent memory. We no longer tolerate night riders “warning off” individuals who might want to exercise their voting rights.  We no longer tolerate the fraudulent “literacy tests” for voting in which African Americans were asked exceedingly complicated questions on fine points of Constitutional law and failed for misspelling a word or misapplying punctuation.   The night riders, poll taxes, and literacy tests might be part of the recent past, but there are now new ways to accomplish the same insidious ends.

The List Purge Fraud

Florida leads the nation in this vestige of racism and elitism.  “Oh, they said, “We must purge our voter rolls of individuals who might not be eligible to vote in our elections, lest the votes of ‘real voters’ be diminished.”   Really?

The Orlando Sentinel reported that of 37,000,000 votes cast there were only 178 allegations of voting fraud. [link]  Do the math. The percentage of questionable votes?  0.0005%.   That’s precious little diminishment using anyone’s calculator.

Further, what’s  alleged and what’s prosecutable are two different things:

“David Iglesias, the Republican U.S. attorney for New Mexico who was fired by the Bush administration, said that he looked at over 100 claims of alleged voter fraud but found not a single prosecutable case. “We cannot prosecute on rumor and innuendo,” Iglesias told the Albuquerque Journal (3/15/07). (His refusal to prosecute cases that he felt were bogus was a central feature in his firing, as it was in the cases of nearly half of the 12 U.S. attorneys ousted by the administration—Washington Post, 5/14/07.) Iglesias’ findings are consistent with national data. Federal records “show that only 24 people were convicted or pleaded guilty to illegal voting between 2002 and 2005” (Project Vote, 3/5/07).   [Bybee]

The Bush Administration’s study should have been the end of the fraudulent allegations of “fraud:”

“You are more likely to be struck by lightning than to find a prosecutable case of voter fraud. An extensive analysis of data from all fifty states by the U.S. Justice Department under President Bush found that incidents of voter fraud are exceedingly rare and would not be solved by state photo ID. It is a solution without a problem.”  [TAProj]

The Problem is that Republicans believe that they aren’t getting elected because of “voter fraud.”  It has become an article of faith.  It has become a clarion call for outrage and action, all predicated upon the simple fears of gullible people.   Study after study has found that the newest incarnation of the Poll Tax-Literacy Test voting suppression tactics — the voter ID laws — primarily prevent members of ethnic minorities and the elderly from voting.

And the GOP response: “Better to deny a few women in black the right to vote than to let hundreds of illegals swarm the voting booths and assert their “rights” in America.  You liberals need an attitude adjustment.” [TFL]

There it is, the article of faith, faith that “illegals” will “swarm” into voting booths.  Note that the commenter doesn’t say that this has happened, there’s far too much proof to the contrary.  The commenter fears this “will” happen. It is a blind, irrational, unsubstantiated fear, but for the average xenophobic bigot it is part of their self constructed ‘reality.’

Members of ethnic minority communities have long been the targets of vote suppression, but why target the elderly?   Although it has been argued that the elderly are more likely to support popular programs like Social Security and Medicare and are therefore a target of vote suppression activities, they may also be unintended victims.   Blithe promises to “get everyone an ID” are hollow when the offices at which the identification cards can be obtained are far from an elderly non-driver’s home, or are not open when an elderly person could get transportation.  The promises are even more ludicrous when the forms of identification necessary are impossible or expensive for elderly persons to obtain.

Those who still might remain unconvinced that after elderly nuns being denied their voting rights, and an 86 year old World War II veteran was denied his vote,  a former four term member of Congress was denied voting, and an elderly widow in Kansas couldn’t get a voting ID, there isn’t a calculated effort to deliberately restrict voting for partisan advantage, then why not take the word of those doing the suppressing?

There’s Jim Greer, former head of the Florida Republican Party:

“Greer talked about how he was invited into many discussions as the head of the GOP in Florida, so he knows where some particularly rotten bodies are buried. There were discussions that early voting was going against Republicans, and so they should shorten it to prevent African American churches from organizing to bring out the vote for early voting. Greer had even given sworn deposition that there were discussions on suppression, but never once in his 3 1/2 years as GOP Chair of Florida had he seen a meeting on voter fraud; he went so far as to call it a “marketing tool of radical Republicans” in state government.” [HuffPo]

There’s Rep. Mike Turzai in Pennsylvania:

In June, Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai listed off a number of legislative accomplishments. “Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania: Done,” Turzai said. [DemN] [YouTube]

What To Do?

Stay Informed.  ALEC and its Republican allies rushed voter identification bills through state legislatures in preparation for the 2012 elections.  However, grass roots organization defeated some onerous measures in New Hampshire and Maine [YDA] and nothing so diminishes the possibility of passing vote suppression bills like a bit of daylight.

Be Prepared.  Know what the voting laws are in your state, and be prepared to vote.  Bookmark Project Vote for updated information.   If you are already registered to vote check your registration status with local election officials.   In the immortal words of the flight attendant: Put your own oxygen mask on first (check on your own voting status) and then be prepared to help others around you.

Be Aware: Of what constitutes voter intimidation.   Of what constitutes voter caging.  Of what is involved in No Match No Vote schemes.

Be Helpful. Check with elderly voters to see if they need assistance gathering the documentation necessary to vote, or who might need transportation to a registration office or polling station.   Check on disabled people you know who may have difficulty registering, or might need assistance getting to polling stations.  Find out what a disabled person who can no long write well enough for a signature match should do in your election district.  Check with young people you know who need information about voting, especially if it is their first time.

We are, indeed, in danger of having elections stolen in this country. However, the danger doesn’t come from imaginary waves of hypothetical swarming aliens all seeking to desecrate our polling stations with fraudulent votes.  The danger comes from the bigoted, the fearful, and the ignorant who have drunk the Kool-Aid and accept the right wing talking points as gospel, and who seek to influence elections by insuring that people unlike themselves are denied the RIGHT to vote.

*Previous –  post on this subject here, and here.

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Filed under 2012 election, conservatism, Republicans, von Spakovsky, Vote Suppression, Voting