November 5, 2007

Voting rights — not a partisan issue, but an issue for all Americans

Posted in Barack Obama, DOJ, Elections, FEC, politics, Von Spakovsky, Voting Rights tagged , , , , , at 5:24 pm by bluebanshee

It is rare that another writer ties everything up in such a neat package such that I want to quote the entire thing. But today’s NYT editorial links several newsworthy items in a very cogent way so I will include the entire piece here.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/05/opinion/05mon2.html?ex=1194930000&en=4aea085a96fcccbe&ei=5070&emc=eta1

A House Judiciary subcommittee was the site of a sad spectacle the other day: John Tanner, who heads of the Justice Department’s voting section, trying to explain offensive, bigoted comments he made about minority voters. It was a shameful moment that crystallized the need for immediate steps to fight for the rights that Mr. Tanner has been working so hard to undermine.

The administration should, of course, fire Mr. Tanner. Congress should pass a bill to criminalize deceptive campaign practices. And it should reject a pending nominee to the Federal Election Commission, Hans von Spakovsky.

The Justice Department has a long history of protecting the voting rights of minorities. In the Bush administration, the department’s voting rights section has been taken over by ideologues most interested in denying the ballot to minorities, poor people and other groups likely to vote Democratic.

The Justice Department endorsed a Georgia law that would have required many voters to pay for voter IDs, a requirement that a federal judge rightly likened to a poll tax. Mr. Tanner said publicly that blacks are not hurt by ID requirements as much as whites because “they die first.” He was assuming that ID laws disadvantage elderly voters, because they are less likely to have driver’s licenses. And in Mr. Tanner’s world, blacks are likely to die before they become elderly.

As Representative Artur Davis, Democrat of Alabama, made clear in pointed questions, Mr. Tanner had no factual basis for making this claim. Mr. Davis noted that in Alabama, data from the 2004 election showed that blacks over 60 voted at a higher rate than whites over 60.

Mr. Tanner also suggested that black people are likely to have an ID because they need it when they go to check-cashing stores. Again, Mr. Davis showed that Mr. Tanner relied on stereotypes. Then a former employee of the voting section testified that Mr. Tanner regularly used “broad generalizations” and misused statistics.

There have been calls for Mr. Tanner to be removed, and he should be, but that is not enough. The Senate must refuse to confirm Mr. von Spakovsky, an anti-voting-rights advocate cut from the same cloth as Mr. Tanner, to the F.E.C. Based on his record, Mr. von Spakovsky would use the job to undermine the right to vote.

Congress should also pass the Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act, sponsored by Senator Barack Obama, which would criminalize misleading and intimidating actions used to prevent voters, particularly minority voters, from casting ballots.

This administration seems to believe that the right to vote is something only Democrats should care about. It is too important to be reduced to a partisan issue.

The only comment to make at the end of this is a resounding “AMEN!” Let the Hallelujah Chorus begin …

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October 21, 2007

Blaming the victims — no compassion from DOJ Civil Rights chief

Posted in DOJ, Elections, politics, Voting Rights tagged , , , at 1:20 am by bluebanshee

It used to be that the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ was interested in helping eligible American citizens exercise the franchise. Now the message is just “a shame”.

 

VIDEO EXCLUSIVE: DoJ Voting Rights Chief Says ‘It’s a Shame’ Elderly May be Disenfranchised by Photo ID Laws, But Minority Voters ‘Don’t Become Elderly, They Die First’

Incredibly, John Tanner Argues Restrictive Photo ID Laws at the Polls Actually Give Minorities a Greater Voice!

Rest of Panel, Audience Members at 2007 National Latino Congresso in Los Angeles Strongly Disagree…

 

http://www.bradblog.com/?p=5145Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer with additional reporting by Brad Friedman

Unbelievably, the Chief of the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, John Tanner, contends that while it’s “a shame” that elderly voters may be disenfranchised by new Photo ID restrictions at the polls because many don’t have driver’s licenses, minorities don’t have to worry quite as much. Why? Because “minorities don’t become elderly the way white people do. They die first.”

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