The Republican fight against voter rights has garnered the lions share of press attention, but as The Nation reports, the fight for voting rights extends well beyond the fight over Voter ID and includes the fight over who gets to raise the question over who is eligible to vote.
In at least twenty-four states any random person is authorized, if they feel so inclined, to question individual voters and ask them to “prove” their eligibility to vote. As restrictive and complicated Voter ID laws have passed state-by-state, conservative groups have realized there’s good leveraging in voter registration challenges and poll watcher trainings.
Tea Party loyalists have created True the Vote, an advocacy group which pushes Voter ID laws and training “patriots” to protect the polls. But as a new report from the Brennan Center for Justice, “Voter Challengers” spells out, these groups rely on American’s historical amnesia when it comes to race in order to promote their activities. Poll-watching can’t be divorced from its racially motivated roots, and groups like True the Vote understand that, even if they won’t acknowledge it.
“This history of discriminatory voter challenges casts doubt on the fraud-prevention arguments traditionally used to justify these laws,” writes Nicolas Riley, author of the Brennan Center report.
As it stands, thirty-nine states allow private citizens to challenge voters at the polls. According to the Brennan study, election officials in those states are “under immense time pressure to decide challenges quickly in order to avoid voting delays.” True the Vote is aware of this, but they put it differently, saying at a recent poll watcher training that election officials are “under immense pressure to do the wrong thing”—namely let undocumented immigrants vote, and let people vote multiple times.
As detailed in The Nation, even in 2012 voting restrictions are intimately tied to our collective history of racial segregation and discrimination.
In those states, people can make up a reason to challenge a voter’s rights without any evidence backing them up, and do so with impunity. It’s the same as when people drum up charges of voter fraud to pass voter ID bills and go unpunished when it’s revealed that no such fraud exists. You can’t fabricate a police report by saying you were mugged if you weren’t; you can’t file a false claim saying you lost possessions in a disaster. In both cases, you face jail and fines for bearing false witness, but not if you fabricate voter fraud or voter ineligibility in many states.
The Brennan report points out that South Carolina and Virginia allow people to challenge voters even if it’s nothing but a whim. Consider that both South Carolina and Virginia both have passed voter ID laws. In South Carolina, that law is currently being challenged in a federal court, where it was discovered that the law’s author Representative Alan Clemmons made racist comments about black voters in an e-mail while discussing how to pass the legislation.
Both states have strong True the Vote connections. In South Carolina, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Cibby Krell, is a True the Vote volunteer with the Spartanburg Tea Party. In Virginia, the Virginia Voters Alliance is a group that trains Tea Party groups in challenging voters while pressuring Virginia election officials to engage in reckless purging processes.
Like other forms of evolved and modern discrimination, poll watching has become more sophisticated. But that doesn’t make it any less toxic to our democracy.
A new CBS poll has found that a majority of Americans disapprove of the GOP’s plan to cut off funding for health care reform. Fifty-five percent do not want the funding eliminated, while just 35 percent said they approve of the Republican idea.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) “expressed little sympathy” for federal workers who may lose their jobs due to Republican budget cuts. “If some of those jobs are lost, so be it.” Politifact reports that Boehner also falsely stated the number of new federal jobs that have been created since President Obama took office.
Former Wisconsin senator Russ Feingold (D) announced today that he will be forming a new political action committee (PAC) based around empowering progressive candidates and battling corporate influence in politics. Feingold said the PAC, which will be called Progressives United, will support candidates when they uphold our progressive ideals.
The Bush administration’s main Iraqi source that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had biological weapons in the run-up to the 2003 invasion admitted that he fabricated his story . “I had the chance to fabricate something to topple the regime,” said Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, code-named “Curveball.” “I and my sons are proud of that, and we are proud that we were the reason to give Iraq the margin of democracy.”
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) declined to denounce a proposal to honor a founder of the KKK on state license plates. Pushed by the state’s NAACP chapter to denounce the Sons of Confederate Veterans project, Barbour said yesterday, “I don’t go around denouncing people.”
While reporting from Tahrir Square in Egypt last Friday, CBS chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan was “separated from her crew” and “suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating” by “a dangerous element” of more than 200 people. According to CBS, Logan was “saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers” and is now recovering at home in the U.S.
While many of the nation’s governors are proposing draconian spending cuts to curb deficits, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D), who replaced Tim Pawlenty, has called for raising taxes on the richest 5 percent of Minnesotans , which would pay down half of the state’s deficit. The move fulfills an explicit campaign promise of Dayton’s.
And finally: GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum ”has a Google problem.” Gay sex-advice columnist Dan Savage sought to mock the former Pennsylvania senator’s hateful comments towards gays several years by coining Santorum’s name to represent a vulgar anal sex term. It now appears prominently on Google searches as such. Santorum “sounded slightly defeated when asked about it recently,” telling Roll Call, “It’s one guy. … It’s unfortunate that we have someone who obviously has some issues.”