Republicans and their allies nationwide are taking the gloves off when it comes to voting. In 2017, at least 99 bills to restrict access to registration and voting have been introduced in 31 states, according to the Brennan Center.
It’s important to remember a decade ago not one state had one of these type laws on the books. In addition to legislative efforts, there are executive actions and judicial challenges underway.
Why is this happening? Because they can. Demographic trends are dooming the traditional conservative voting base, and, thanks (in part) to apathy on election days, the GOP now has the political power to suppress the voting rights of those who don’t fit their image of what a citizen should be.
And if these ploys fail, a significant number of these folks are open to the possibility of just canceling elections altogether. The repetitive falsehoods disseminated by right wing media have created enough cynicism to question the need for democracy itself.
The Washington Post is touting a survey of Republicans, claiming half would favor postponing the 2020 elections if President Donald Trump were to say such a move was necessary to make sure that only eligible American citizens can vote.
Critics of President Trump have repeatedly warned of his potential to undermine American democracy. Among the concerns are his repeated assertions that he would have won the popular vote had 3 to 5 million “illegals” not voted in the 2016 election, a claim echoed by the head of a White House advisory committee on voter fraud.
Claims of large-scale voter fraud are not true, but that has not stopped a substantial number of Republicans from believing them. But how far would Republicans be willing to follow the president to stop what they perceive as rampant fraud? Our recent survey suggests that the answer is quite far: About half of Republicans say they would support postponing the 2020 presidential election until the country can fix this problem.
Conservative advocates at Judicial Watch are promising a lawsuit in the wake of California Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s reluctance to share voting data with the White House vote ‘integrity’ panel, born out of Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of mass voter fraud in the 2016 election,
A recent study by Priorities USA indicates Republican-led voter suppression tactics– overly strict voter ID laws– led to a 3.3% decrease in turnout in Wisconsin. This decline meant an additional 200,000 voters could have voted in the 2016 general election.
Clinton lost to Trump in Wisconsin by only 20,000 votes. States with no change to voter identification laws witnessed an average increased turnout of +1.3%from 2012 to 2016.
Despite the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1971, lowering the voting age to 18, this week Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R-Crazy) promised to raise the voting age to 21 after lawmakers overrode his veto of legislation that increased the age limit to buy tobacco products.
The Chicago Tribune reported today on a lawsuit filed by the Indiana State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People opposing a state scheme to force the forced consolidation of voting precincts with fewer than 600 voters.
The lawsuit claims consolidation would target 294 of the county’s 522 voting precincts, according to court documents, and those slated to be combined are in northern Lake County, specifically “minority-majority” Gary, East Chicago and Hammond.
“By eliminating precincts in northern Lake County in particular, the law will cause voter confusion and force voters to travel longer distances to vote, severely burdening the right to vote for precisely those voters least likely to be able to carry that burden,” the lawsuit said.
Voters in Kansas City overwhelmingly (68%) approved an increase in the minimum wage this week, but their ballots won’t matter, since Missouri’s Republican controlled state legislature passed a law forbidding cities from weighing in on the issue. Some workers in St. Louis, which had already passed an increase, will see their pay rates drop from $10 to $7.70 an hour on August 28.
The end goal desired by the White House (and was written into the Republican Platform in 2016) is mandated participation in a system operated by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who just happens to be co-chair of President Trump’s election integrity commission.
The Crosscheck program touted by the GOP uses comparisons of first and last names from different state’s voter registration lists as a first line of defense against potentially fraudulent voters. It’s wrong 99% of the time (there are a lot of people with the same names) and has been proven to be most often used against minority communities.
From Rolling Stone:
…African-American, Latino and Asian names predominate, a simple result of the Crosscheck matching process, which spews out little more than a bunch of common names. No surprise: The U.S. Census data shows that minorities are overrepresented in 85 of 100 of the most common last names. If your name is Washington, there’s an 89 percent chance you’re African-American. If your last name is Hernandez, there’s a 94 percent chance you’re Hispanic. If your name is Kim, there’s a 95 percent chance you’re Asian…
…This inherent bias results in an astonishing one in six Hispanics, one in seven Asian-Americans and one in nine African-Americans in Crosscheck states landing on the list. Was the program designed to target voters of color? “I’m a data guy,” Swedlund says. “I can’t tell you what the intent was. I can only tell you what the outcome is. And the outcome is discriminatory against minorities.”
Every voter that the state marks as a legitimate match receives a postcard that is colorless and covered with minuscule text. The voter must verify his or her address and mail it back to their secretary of state. Fail to return the postcard and the process of taking your name off the voter rolls begins.
There is a competing system to Cross Check, used by 19 states plus the District of Columbia, called the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC).
This system hasn’t been mentioned by Kobach and his cronies thus far, probably because it draws on a much wider array of data sources, including motor vehicle registration data, Social Security death records, and Postal Service data..
From the Washington Post:
Because of the breadth of data it draws on, ERIC can identify errors in voter files — it’s identified over 6 million incorrect or outdated registrations to its member states so far.
Unlike Crosscheck, it also helps states sign up people who are eligible to be registered to vote but aren’t. From a political standpoint, that alone makes the program much less controversial than its competitor.
But the naming of Kobach to President Trump’s voter fraud commission ensures that Crosscheck will continue to have a role in the spotlight this year. And if the Republican Party has its way, Crosscheck will expand — the 2016 GOP party platform called for “every state to join the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program to keep voter rolls accurate and to prevent people from voting in more than one state in the same election.”
I could go deeper here, like writing about the recent Def Con 2017 in Las Vegas, one of the largest hacker conferences in the world, where every single one of the voting machines available was compromised, some within minutes.
Or I could remind readers about Alabama, where the state acted within hours following a 2013 Supreme Court decision gutting much of the Voting Rights Act to enact requirements for voters to have a state-issued ID from the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Later, the Governor’s mistress suggested closing every DMV office in the ten “Black Belt” counties, meaning the predominately African American voters living there couldn’t get the forms needed without an extraordinary effort.
Public outcry and legal action caused the decision on closure of the DMV offices to be reversed. Here’s the final twist to the story, via AL.Com:
Governor Robert Bentley’s former top advisor and secret paramour Rebekah Mason led a politically-motivated effort in 2015 to close 31 driver’s license offices in mostly black counties, a move that embarrassed the state and was later reversed.
The decision also led to a federal investigation and drew civil rights protesters such as Jesse Jackson to the state.
Mason’s role was highlighted in a 131-page report released Friday by the investigator leading impeachment efforts against Gov. Bentley, a report largely focused on the relationship between Mason and Bentley.
I think you get the point by now. These people are not patriots.
Looking for some action? Check out the Weekly Progressive Calendar, published every Friday in this space, featuring Demonstrations, Rallies, Teach-ins, Meet Ups and other opportunities to get your activism on.
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