Trump forms new ‘voting integrity’ commission to legitimize voter suppression


Voter Suppression: Right after he appeared to commit obstruction of justice by firing FBI Director James Comey to derail an investigation of collusion with Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump once again resorted to phony voter fraud claims to change the subject. On Thursday, Trump issued an executive order to create a voting integrity commission. But by having Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach chair it, the commission’s true purpose was obvious: to issue a predetermined finding that uses bogus evidence to legitimize voter suppression.

This new commission will ostensibly be tasked with investigating “confidence in the integrity of the voting processes,” but unlike past bipartisan commissions, its leaders aren’t members of both parties who are respected for their independence. Instead, it’s two partisan Republicans with a history of crusading to suppress votes. In October of 2016 when Pence was governor, Indiana state police raided the offices of a group that was trying to register black and low-income voters, confiscating tens of thousands of voter registration forms over ten suspected improper applications in a likely effort to intimidate those who might attempt voter-registration drives.

Meanwhile, Kobach’s voter suppression record in Kansas could fill a book. Convincing legislators to empower him to prosecute voter fraud, Kobach had also pushed a law that forced Kansans to provide proof-of-citizenship documentation to register to vote, documents that many can’t readily provide when canvassers conduct registration drives. This law had suspended one in seven new registrations even though Kobach himself had successfully prosecuted exactly one non-citizen voter. Courts later blocked that requirement and have repeatedly rebuked Kobach, most recently ordering him to surrender documents from his meeting with Trump last year over voter suppression measures.

This commission is unnecessary for studying the prevalence of voter fraud because the entire wealth of evidence that already exists unequivocally indicates that fraud is so extremely rare that it’s practically nonexistent, contrary to Trump’s claim that there were 3-to-5 million illegal voters. Ironically, Trump’s own lawyers argued that fraud was essentially negligible when they successfully persuaded a court to halt a post-election recount in Michigan.

Instead, this GOP-led commission will merely serve to lend credibility to a voter suppression campaign that Republicans have already planned. Indeed, a photo of Kobach’s November meeting with Trump shown at the top of this post revealed him holding a document that proposed changing the National Voter Registration Act, possibly to require proof-of-citizenship and conduct mass purges of the registries. While this commission will supposedly include Democrats, any self-respecting party member who believes in democracy should refuse to take part because participating will only add a false veneer of bipartisanship to this witch hunt.

Voter Suppression

Nebraska: Just as they repeatedly have done in recent years, Republican legislators once again failed to advance a voter ID proposal, even though they hold just over two-thirds of the seats in the unicameral legislature. On a 25-17 vote in favor, Republicans attained just a bare majority in the 49-seat chamber, but that was far shy of both the 33 votes needed to overcome a Democratic filibuster and even the 30 needed to actually refer their proposed constitutional amendment to the voters in 2018. Nebraska is one of the rare few red states without any voter ID law, and it will remain that way for the time being.

Texas: Republican legislators recently used their state House majority to approve a bill on a near party-line vote that would eliminate the straight-ticket voting option. Because Texas holds partisan elections for a whole slew of non-legislative offices such as judges, many statewide executive positions, and county officials, there are often several dozen partisan races on the ballot each year. Eliminating this option, which most voters used in 2016, could lead to more voters skipping downballot races. This could also make it take much longer to vote, which could subsequently cause long lines that may deter voters from participating.

Undervoting and long voting lines are probably exactly what Republicans are counting on, since heavily Democratic demographics like Latinos and especially black voters are more likely to use straight-ticket voting than whites. If the similarly heavily Republican state Senate and GOP Gov. Greg Abbott pass this bill into law, opponents will have no recourse save litigation. They may have decent voting rights legal case after a 2016 court ruling blocked the Michigan GOP’s attempt to eliminate the straight-ticket option because its racially disparate impact violated federal law.

Wisconsin: The major Democratic super PAC Priorities USA unveiled a new study on Tuesday from the progressive data science firm Civis Analytics on the impact of Republican-passed voter ID laws on the 2016 election. This study sparked a firestorm of debate over its bombshell finding that the Wisconsin’s GOP voter ID law suppressed roughly 200,000 disproportionately Democratic-leaning and black voters. Their postulated 6 percent drop in turnout likely would have handed the long-time blue state to Trump, who prevailed there by just 22,748 votes, or 0.8 points over Hillary Clinton.

However, several political scientists and data analysts have urged interpreting this study with caution due to qualms over its methodology. While Civis has a wealth of fine-grained information such as voter-file data, they conducted their analysis at the state and county level, making it highly difficult to control for certain confounding variables. Civis’ study still has value, but far more research on the subject is needed precisely because studying the effects of such laws is so difficult. Many scholars believe that voter ID laws can depress turnout, but the exact impact remains quite uncertain and one widely shared study from earlier in 2017 fell apart under scrutiny.

Civis finding a large 6 percent turnout drop in Wisconsin might seem too large to believe based on past research, but even a much smaller impact may have still proved decisive given Trump’s razor-thin victory margin. And of course, Republican legislators wouldn’t have passed voter ID in state after state if they didn’t believe it helped their party—indeed, many have occasionally slipped up and said so out loud. Regardless of whether these laws help elect Republicans, disenfranchising disproportionately black and Latino eligible voters to combat nearly non-existent voter fraud is itself a deep perversion of democracy.

Voting Access

California: The Democratic-run California state government has recently made great strides toward making it easier to vote, including passing automatic voter registration and a dramatic expansion of vote-by-mail, where the state mails voters a ballot instead of staffing polling places. However, a recent report from the group Asian Americans Advancing Justice details how California isn’t doing enough to address a challenge that most other less-diverse states don’t face: making sure many voters whose primary language isn’t English can receive assistance when casting a ballot.

As part of the 1975 expansion of the Voting Rights Act designed largely with Latinos in mind, federal law requires states to provide multilingual voting assistance such as sample ballots and instructions in locations where language minorities form a substantial share of the population. California has its own complementary statute from the 1980s, but the report finds that it hasn’t been able to keep up with the subsequent surge of immigration that has brought a vast array of different linguistic groups to California, leaving many polling places without adequate non-English material for Asian Americans in particular, but even for many Latino voters.

This problem could become even more acute as California transitions to casting an even larger proportion of its votes by mail, a process intended to make voting more convenient and accessible. Some Democratic legislators are now sponsoring a bill that would require non-English sample ballots if voters request them and mail them relevant procedural information in their language, although it remains to be seen if legislators will pass the proposal.

Felony Disenfranchisement

Nebraska: State senators in Nebraska’s unicameral Republican-majority legislature failed to override GOP Gov. Pete Ricketts’ veto of a bill that would end the two year waiting period for those with past felony convictions to regain their voting rights following the completion of their sentences. A bipartisan group of legislators originally passed the bill 27-13, but could only muster a 23-23 tie on override, demonstrating just how far away proponents were from securing the 30 of 49 votes needed to overcome Ricketts’ opposition.

This reform would have only restored voting rights to roughly 7,000 citizens, but it would have been a laudable step toward ending a racially discriminatory policy that disenfranchises black adults at five times the rate of whites. With Republicans likely to remain firmly in power in this dark-red state, those seeking to curtail this historically racist policy in Nebraska might have a better chance of future success by sidestepping the governor entirely via a ballot initiative, which is what activists in Florida are currently attempting.

Redistricting

Alabama: The Republican-dominated state House has approved a bill to redraw its own districts following a federal court ruling earlier in 2017 that struck down a dozen legislative seats across both chambers for illegally packing black voters into too few districts to dilute their influence in surrounding seats. The House bill will now head to the similarly GOP-heavy state Senate, while the Senate had passed a new map for its own chamber’s districts a week earlier, which the House is now considering.

Republican legislators have until a May 25 court deadline to pass new maps into law, and the court will get to review the ultimate changes before 2018’s elections, when every seat will be up. Despite having little real legislative power, Democrats and black legislators argue that the new maps still do little to remedy the harm against black voters that prompted the court to invalidate the existing maps, and they will undoubtedly push for the court to step in and draw its own districts instead of just allowing Republicans to pass another gerrymander.

Maryland: Despite being one of the few states Democrats actually got to gerrymander after 2010, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan unsurprisingly vetoed a Democratic-backed bill that would create a nonpartisan redistricting commission in Maryland. The reason: The Democratic proposal would only take effect if five nearby states also set up their own nonpartisan redistricting systems, including a handful of Republican-drawn states. Democrats passed the bill with narrowly veto-proof majorities, and they could override Hogan’s veto if they can limit any further defections.

Hogan has attacked the Democratic plan as a stalling mechanism to thwart his own proposal for Maryland to reform redistricting unilaterally, which the legislature recently rejected. However, given the severe national bias toward Republicans in congressional redistricting, Maryland Democrats have good reason not to want to enact a unilateral reform in one of the rare Democratic-drawn states while scores of GOP-controlled states don’t follow suit. Doing so would only further entrench the GOP’s unfair advantage nationwide, calling into question whether Hogan’s motivation for unilateral reform is really just a cynical partisan ploy.

The Daily Kos Elections Voting Rights Roundup is written by Stephen Wolf and edited by David Nir.

To advertise in the Voting Rights Roundup, please contact advertise@dailykos.com.

“The Act Has Not Failed”: A Call to Extend the Voting Rights Act of 1965 -nixon


Ultimately, on June 22, 1970, President Richard M. Nixon signed into law a bill that extended the Act’s provisions—including Section 5—for five additional years, and in addition, lowered the voting age throughout the country to 18.

 

The Voting Rights Act of 1965—called “the most successful civil rights law in the nation’s history” by Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights—was enacted in order to force Southern states and localities to allow all citizens of voting age to vote in public elections. Although the 15th Amendment, ratified in 1870, guaranteed citizens the right to vote regardless of race, discriminatory requirements, such as literacy tests, disenfranchised many African Americans in the South. In 1965, following the murder of a voting rights activist by an Alabama sheriff’s deputy and the subsequent attack by state troopers on a massive protest march in Selma, President Lyndon B. Johnson pressed Congress to pass a voting rights bill with “teeth”. The Act, signed into law on August 6, applied to states or counties where fewer than half of the citizens of voting age were registered in 1964—Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Virginia, and numerous counties in North Carolina. For these areas, the law banned literacy tests, appointed Federal examiners to oversee election procedures, and, according to the Act’s controversial Section 5, required approval by the U.S. Attorney General of future changes to election laws. In the following letter to a 1969 Senate subcommittee hearing on extending the Act, New Jersey Senator Harrison A. Williams, Jr., provided statistics to show the law’s effect. The position described in the letter was Attorney General John Mitchell’s proposal to replace Section 5 with an oversight mechanism more amenable to the white South. Ultimately, on June 22, 1970, President Richard M. Nixon signed into law a bill that extended the Act’s provisions—including Section 5—for five additional years, and in addition, lowered the voting age throughout the country to 18.

Voting is a Right NOT a Privilege ~~ The Struggle continues


votingTime to pass the Voting Rights Act, change redistricting rules and make it easier for ALL Americans to VOTE

Dear America

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” -George Santayana (16 December 1863 in Madrid, Spain – 26 September 1952 in Rome, Italy) was a philosopher, essayist, poet and novelist.

 On March 7, 1965, hundreds of brave unarmed nonviolent women and men dared to March for African Americans right to vote.

The fact is that less than 1% of eligible Blacks could vote or register to vote.

People organized a Peaceful Protest March from Selma to the state capitol in Montgomery. However, as these protesters crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge to Montgomery the police, some riding on horses had, looking back, a predetermined  tactical intervention against protesters, police proceeded to engage in “excessive use of force” brutally beating protesters such as #RepJohnLewis   some of these officers actually killed using their nightsticks,  sprayed water cannons while others used tear gas. These kids had no weapons, they did NOT fight back, but showed courage and strength. We must never forget that some of our fellow  Americans died for the right to vote in an adverse harmful environment, hastily retreated while journalists and photographers became witnesses to the violence and suffering .

The brutal reaction by the police was not only caught on tape it forced then President Johnson, who was once against civil rights programs as a Senator to call on Congress for equal voting rights for all on March 15.

SelmaMarch

The Voting Act of 1965 was signed into law on August 6; is a landmark piece of national legislation in the United States that outlawed discriminatory voting practices that had been responsible for the widespread disenfranchisement of African Americans in the U.S.

A day that started out peacefully quickly descended into an awful johnlewisbeatwithknightstickugly March of death for the right to vote called ,”Bloody Sunday”.

Now, some 48 years later, a new “Jim Crow” era has emerged with a major step backward in the fight for civil and voting rights. There are conservative states targeting not only African Americans but also Senior citizens, first time voters, early voting, Students, low income, immigrants and the undocumented though Republicans call them (illegals) Dreamers. In addition, Governors from Republican controlled States are allowing election officials to purge voters, people without birth certificates were given limited or completely denied access to the voting booth failing to meet new voter ID regulations in time and were treated like possible (illegals). This  is the 21st Century; we should be on a progressive path toward equality for all not one that will re-engage folks in the act of racism or exclusion leading to suppressing participation in the election process. This year, new stricter voter ID legislation is pending in thirty-one states. This includes, voter ID proposals in thirteen states with proposals to strengthen existing voter ID laws in ten states, and eight states that will amend the new voter ID laws passed in 2011.

We need to push back  on all attempts to suppress the right to Vote.

With so much at stake, it is time to stop sitting on the sidelines. If we are going to succeed, Conservative lawmakers NEED to hear our Voices.

We cannot let the naysayers turn back the clock on Voting Rights or the next generation.

Thank You for Taking Action

     Takeaction2

How many use “the Media” for voting information


voter-suppression_petition

Just another rant …

The President says the time for talk is over; I agree, but if you read or listen to the media who interview folks on the right often characterize this President’s actions as frantic furious regarding health care reform; in the end it got done.  Now, use nasty rhetoric that should question the oath that these men&women took before taking their seats in Congress.  I would say maybe those who did not have healthcare are thankful whether it is called ACA, Obamacare or any alias given by their states along with those that accepted the expansion of Medicare funding. Our President has made it possible to help a fellow American have a chance at living. The hospitals, Drs., Nurses and the other healthcare providers are only as good as the Hospital Officials in control of how, who, the care being given to their clients and ACA is doing it, though Republicans certainly want it to stop.   We all know the media engages in the spin; trying to set the public mood is definitely offensive; Americans have been talking about health care reform for a long time, Congress has avoided voting let alone talk about reform for over 40 years. It is time to move this a long get it done and create more jobs for everyone for our economy that is at risk yet again.  The fact is, Republicans continue to block , hold up bills that have jobs attached to it and have held enough hearings using taxpayer funds that could have funded so many things to help “we the People”

The so-called Obamacare aka ACA, is a jobs creator, though the Media has yet to comment on how it would and or how many jobs are possible; fact is that an additional 31million will need help; the current work force would be unable to handle the workload.  Is it possible that the Media prefers to give out selective information as viewers watch wonder and are still unable to challenge these people who rake in the big bucks telling just enough truth to sedate

Most if not all of us know Republicans have done almost everything, they can to stall any progress; which includes the Presidents nominees, health care and many bills that the Senate passed and sent to the House, only to be stalled and or blocked by more filibusters than any time in the past. The government might be broken like the Media and some Senators have said but it still needs to work for “We the People” … wouldn’t it be great if Republicans let the governing party do the work they seemed to have left or weren’t interested in  when they had a Republican President for 8 years ago.

There are reports from conservative writers, that this is a frantic furious moment for the President. this is just absurd. The notion that the public is weary over what is going on in Congress and Democrats are wavering has led the public to believe in rumors falsehoods and that this is a new behavior. Unfortunately, this is how Congress works, though to be sure NOT on this level NOT obstruction solely based on who is in the Whitehouse.  Yes, Health Care Reform  is President Barack Obama’s baby, it’s not only a historic moment but one that will change the lives of Americans all over the country and in a good way because as we all know the last eight years have been good … For The Rich.  Don’t get me wrong being or wanting to be rich is great … the problem is how folks are using their riches …for themselves ok but are they manipulating the system holding the mid or lower classes down controlling them with their riches.  In a time when some probably knew the end of spending without paying for it would finally rear its ugly head, no one seemed to want to put the brakes on back when the House of Bush was saying … charge it! and if you take notice … the shutdown the hearings have cost Americans millions … all created by Republicans

  I say vote for 21st Century living and that means letting go of Tea Party and Republican ideology.

 The fact is that they believe in exclusion or at least that 47% of us should be punished….

Lest we include … Vets, Seniors, Students, Minorities, The Poor, Gays, those on Social Security, Medicare/caid

on this day … 7/20


1801 – A 1,235 pound cheese ball was pressed at the farm of Elisha Brown, Jr. The ball of cheese was later loaded on a horse-driven wagon and presented to U.S. President Thomas Jefferson at the White House.

1810 – Colombia declared independence from Spain.

1859 – Brooklyn and New York played baseball at Fashion Park Race Course on Long Island, NY. The game marked the first time that admission had been charged for to see a ball game. It cost $.50 to get in and the players on the field did not receive a salary (until 1863).

1861 – The Congress of the Confederate States began holding sessions in Richmond, VA.

1868 – Legislation that ordered U.S. tax stamps to be placed on all cigarette packs was passed. 

1871 – British Columbia joined Confederation as a Canadian province.

1881 – Sioux Indian leader Sitting Bull, a fugitive since the Battle of the Little Big Horn, surrendered to federal troops. (Montana)

1917 – The draft lottery in World War I went into operation.

1935 – NBC radio debuted “G-men.” The show was later renamed “Gangbusters.”

1942 – The first detachment of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, (WACS) began basic training at Fort Des Moines, Iowa.

1944 – An attempt by a group of German officials to assassinate Adolf Hitler failed. The bomb exploded at Hitler’s Rastenburg headquarters. Hitler was only wounded.

1944 – U.S. President Roosevelt was nominated for an unprecedented fourth term of office at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

1947 – The National Football League (NFL) ruled that no professional team could sign a player who had college eligibility remaining.

1961 – “Stop the World, I Want to Get Off” opened in London.

1969 – Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr. became the first men to walk on the moon. 

1974 – Turkish forces invaded Cyprus.

1976 – America’s Viking I robot spacecraft made a successful landing on Mars.

1982 – U.S. President Ronald Reagan pulled the U.S. out of comprehensive test ban negotiations indefinitely. 

1985 – Treasure hunters began raising $400 million in coins and silver from the Spanish galleon “Nuestra Senora de Atocha.” The ship sank in 1622 40 miles of the coast of Key West, FL.

1992 – Vaclav Havel, the playwright who led the Velvet Revolution against communism, stepped down as president of Czechoslovakia.

1998 – Russia won a $11.2 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund to help avert the devaluation of its currency.

2003 – In India, elephants used for commercial work began wearing reflectors to avoid being hit by cars during night work