May 5, 2010
A new law in the UK has made a late surge in voter registration possible and at the same time made the task of prognosticators and pollsters trying to predict likely election results much more difficult. This new law set the deadline for voter registration the eleventh day of the campaign. Previously on one could add his or her name to the electoral roll once a general election had officially been called by the Prime Ministers.
This has led to an enormous increase in voter registration across the United Kingdom. Pre-election polling shows the three parties locked in a tight race with no party favored to gain a governing majority. A large pool of new voters can only increase the unpredictability as UK voters go to the polls to choose a new Prime Minister. After 13 years of Labor Party rule it seems likely that change is in the air. It is uncertain what form this change will take. Read the rest of this entry »
August 28, 2009
Amidst all the eulogies for the “liberal lion” of the Senate — Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts — one important part of his legacy is often mentioned in passing, if it gets mentioned at all. That legacy is Senator Kennedy’s role in expanding and protecting voting rights for all Americans.
Because of Ted Kennedy’s work, millions of American voters are able to participate in the most basic function of a citizen in a democracy: they are able to make their voices heard at the ballot box and vote for the candidate of their choosing. Read the rest of this entry »
September 27, 2008
Because the Republican party has a long inglorious history of voter suppression (the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Rehnquist got his start politically as a GOP operative working to keep Democrats from voting in Arizona!) it should come as no surprise that they have gotten ever more sophisticated at it. Admittedly their attempts in 2000 and 2004 were effective to some extent but very transparent. Now they pretend to help you vote while ensuring that your vote will be thrown away.
Here’s how it works, step by step. And if you should happen to be the recipient of one of these McCain mailings, call your local elections office ASAP and verify that you are still registered to vote — and if tell the local officials about the mailing — you will be ensuring that your voter registration is current and performing a public service by letting the elections officials know what is going on. Read the rest of this entry »
September 14, 2008
From state after state come reports of massive mailings by the McCain campaign of absentee ballot requests that contain confusing, misleading or simply wrong information. Is the McCain campaign merely incompetent? Or is it engaged in a massive effort to create a database of voters to challenge at the polls? Is the McCain campaign orchestrating a voter caging campaign on a grand scale?
Given the track record of the GOP in Florida in 2000 there is no reason to give McCain and the Republicans the benefit of the doubt this time around. Greg Palast has provided extensive documentation of their success in denying the right to vote to thousands of legitimate voters. Go to http://www.gregpalast.com and read all about it if you have any doubts. So let’s assume that the mailings of absentee ballot requests to voters in swing states who did not request them is simply a new weapon in the Republican voter suppression arsenal.
How widespread is this? So far reports have come in from VA, OH, CO, NC, PA, FL, NM, WI, OR, CA and MN. Here’s a sampling of the info available so far. Read the rest of this entry »
We all thought/hoped that Jim Crow was buried once and for all with the passage of the 1965 Voting RIghts Act and subsequent court decisions affirming the right to vote without undue burdens being placed on voter. But it looks like there is a new incarnation of the Southern voter suppression known as Jim Crow. This time around it is being tagged ‘Jim Crawford’ after a notorious U.S. Supreme Court decision in Crawford v. Marion County (Indiana) Election Board.
In a recent Newsweek article Jonathan Alter describes the persistent effort by Republicans to keep blocs of likely Democratic voters from casting a ballot. http://www.newsweek.com/id/158392
…white Republicans in some areas will keep eligible blacks from voting by requiring driver’s licenses. Not only is this new-fangled discrimination constitutional, it’s spreading.
GOP proponents of the move say they are merely trying to reduce voter fraud. But while occasional efforts to stuff ballot boxes through phony absentee voting still surface, the incidence of individual vote fraud—voting when you aren’t eligible—is virtually non-existent, as “The Truth About Vote Fraud,” a study by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, clearly shows. In other words, the problem Republicans claim they want to combat with increased ID requirements doesn’t exist. Meanwhile, those ID hurdles facing individuals do nothing to stop the organized insiders who still try to game the system.
The motive here is political, not racial. Republicans aren’t bigots like the Jim Crow segregationists. But they know that increased turnout in poor, black neighborhoods is good for Democrats. In that sense, the effort to suppress voting still amounts to the practical equivalent of racism. Read the rest of this entry »
September 1, 2008
Courtesy of my colleague and friend in North Carolina, Joyce McCloy, comes this dire warning about a voter registration drive by a group called Women’s Voices Women’s Vote (WVWV) that is wreaking havoc in every state that they are targeting. So far 23 states have borne the brunt of WVWV’s efforts. One state election calls their mailings “purposefully deceptive” and vows to pursue legal means to stop them in that state.
Where does WVWV get their mailing list that they send registration forms to people who have been dead for over 4 years, or to elementary school age children, or to EAC Chair Rosemary Rodriguez? Will WVWV make robo calls again in KY, NC and other states?
There’s no word yet on the NC Atty Gen’s investigation into the April robo calls in NC. Will WVWV confuse voters during North Carolina’s early voting/same day registration period?
The DC non profit “Women’s Voices Women Vote” is at it again confusing voters & burying election officials in unneccesary paperwork. WVWV has even mailed voter registration forms to 6 & 14 yr olds, dead persons, registered voters, even the Chairman of the EAC – the federal agency that overseas elections. One way to disenfranchise voters is to “gum up” the system that enfranchises them. Read the rest of this entry »
July 28, 2008
Overlooked in the discussions of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and the bursting of the housing bubble is the plight of these formerly stable homeowners when it comes to being able to vote in the upcoming Presidential election.
The numbers of those who have lost their homes just this year is staggering. Almost a million homes lost in the first six months of this year:
Foreclosures are up 120%. Some 220,000 homes were lost to repossession in the last quarter, and another 739,714 entered foreclosure in the first quarter. That’s one in every 171 American homes involved in what Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson euphemistically calls the “housing correction”…. http://www.boomantribune.com/story/2008/7/28/142127/083 Read the rest of this entry »
July 13, 2008
Those who have been wounded in service to their country deserve better. The Veterans’ Administration has decreed that voter registration drives may not be conducted in VA facilities. The VA is putting unnecessary barriers between veterans and their right to vote. At any given time there may be 100,000 vets living in VA facilities — and the number is growing as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan drag on.
Who more than our wounded warriors deserves to have their right to exercise the franchise? Who indeed? These vets have put their lives on the line and now the VA says that voter registration activities would “interfere with” delivery of services at VA facilities.
Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz, expresses the frustration of many Americans when hearing of the VA policy against voter registration drives.
“The practice of banning voter registration drives at veterans facilities is a slap in the face to people who have served, put their lives on the line and sacrificed the most for our fundamental freedoms,” Connecticut Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, a Democrat, said in a Friday [July 12] news conference. http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080712/NEWS/80712006/-1/rss Read the rest of this entry »
July 5, 2008
Much ado is made about the increased participation of the 18-25 demographic in this year’s election but their participation still lags behind that of other age groups. Here are several ways to change election law to make their participation easier.
- Give the office of school guidance counselor in public secondary schools legal status as a designated voter registration agency. That way the voter registration forms can be handed out to students while they are signing up for their class schedule. Then the forms can be sent from the school guidance counselor to the election office. (Louisiana just passed H. 990 to make this happen in that state)
- Allow 16 and 17-year-olds to pre-register so that they are automatically registered to vote when they reach their 18th birthday. If high school juniors and seniors get their paperwork completed well in advance they will be ready and able vote when the next election rolls around. (Rhode Island just passed the “Youth Voting Bill,” H 7106 and S 2081and sent it to the governor for signature)
- Allow 17-year-olds who will be 18 by the General Election to also vote in the Spring Primary Election. This way their voice can be heard during a contested party primary when excitement is high and they are motivated to participate in support of their candidate. Maryland already has made this a part of their election law, largely because of the efforts of a 17-year-old student who wanted to vote for Barack Obama.
- Allow all voters, including high school and college students, to register to vote up until the close of polls on Election Day. Young people are often in transition during the run-up to election day — starting college, moving to a new city, starting a new job — and often do not pay attention to an upcoming election until the deadline for voter registration has passed. A handful of states (Wisconsin, Maine, New Hampshire and Minnesota) already allow Election Day Registration — and report the highest voter turnout numbers in the country coupled with virtually no problems with voter fraud.
- Allow high school juniors and seniors to work at the polls. If students can be appointed as official poll workers two problems can be solved at once — greater involvement by high schoolers in the electoral process — and trained replacements for the current crop of aging poll workers, whose median age is in the 70’s in most jurisdictions. (in Rhode Island, H 7833, which allows high school juniors and seniors to be appointed as election officials, has been sent to the governor for signature)
Rock the Vote, Project Vote and similar voter registration outreach efforts have done outstanding work but are frequently hampered by state election laws. If the five simple changes recommended above were to be enacted in all 50 states, their job would be much easier because they would be filling a much smaller gap and we would not have so much handwringing about the low rate of participation by the 18-25 year old demographic.
June 4, 2008
As previously noted on this blog, the Republican party has a long history of voter suppression, dating back at least as far as William Rehnquist’s activities in Arizona, long before he ascended to the U.S. Supreme Court. We have chronicled the effort by the Bush administration to foist Hans von Spakovsky on the Federal Election commission, an effort that, fortunately for American democracy, has come to an inglorious end with von Spakovsky’s withdrawal from consideration for the post.
One of the recent GOP tactics has been to push for legislation requiring voters to show ID in order to vote. To listen to many Republicans the greatest danger to the country is voter fraud, i.e., folks casting ballots they are not entitled to. Most often the boogie man is the specter of illegal aliens voting but no proof is ever offered. Read the rest of this entry »