May 24, 2009
With the speed of a Texas drawl, the Texas legislature finally got around to ratifying the 24th Amendment. Footdraggingly they acted 45 years after the amendment was ratified by sufficient states to become the law of the land. Read the rest of this entry »
September 14, 2008
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 »
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 »
June 18, 2008
Every election cycle in the U.S. there are votes that never get counted –but not because of computer glitches on paperless voting machines, as if often assumed. The computer glitches happen and no paper trail is there to give silent evidence of the missing votes. Much energy has been devoted to replacing paperless voting machines with systems that have a voter verified paper record without also considering the other source of missing votes.
What am I talking about? What other type of missing vote is there besides the ones lost inside the electronic world of computerized voting machines? The answer, of course is that the other type of votes that never get counted are the ones that never get cast. Tragically millions of votes are never cast in jurisdictions across America each election cycle for a wide variety of reasons –partisan dirty tricks, voter suppression, voter intimidation, purged voting rolls, misinformation campaigns targeted at certain groups of voters, or simply voting machine shortages in inner city precincts. It is these uncounted votes that never show up in the winning (or losing) margin but in close races can mean the difference between victory or defeat. Read the rest of this entry »
February 18, 2008
Eliminating unnecessary barriers for young voters
Word came recently from Maryland that one barrier to voting by young citizens had been removed — at least in that state. The Washington Post headline says it all: “One Teen’s Campaign to Restore Voting Rights.”
Last month, Boltuck, along with her father and a sympathetic state senator, persuaded Maryland‘s top legal minds to restore the right of suffrage to at least 50,000 teens who will turn 18 between the Feb. 12 primary and the Nov. 4 election. http://tinyurl.com/2pp3fl
Sarah Boltuck fought all the way to the state election board and then the attorney general’s office to attain the right to vote in the February Maryland primary. The problem that caused all the controversy was that the high school senior had not yet attained the age of 18 by the February primary date. But Boltuck would be 18 in time to vote in November and felt she should be able to participate in the process of selecting the candidates whose names would appear on the general election ballot come November.
“I thought that was one of my rights as a citizen of Maryland,” said Boltuck, who will be 18 in July. “I had assumed that when I registered to vote, it’d be no problem.”
She called attention to a little-noticed change in interpretation of state law. Maryland was one of nine states, including Virginia, that allowed 17-year-olds to vote in primaries if they reached 18 by the general election. (The District does not.) But the Maryland State Board of Elections quietly halted the practice in December 2006 in response to a state court ruling. http://tinyurl.com/2pp3fl Read the rest of this entry »
January 12, 2008
I have fond memories of the 1979 movie “Being There” starring Peter Sellers. It is a skillful dissection of politics and power where the audience is “in” on the joke from the beginning.
For those who aren’t familiar with this last Peter Sellers flick here’s a brief synopsis: the story revolves around Chance, a simple gardener who has spent his entire life with “the old man” in a big house where he tends the garden and watches TV. After the death of “the old man,” Chance, is evicted and wanders the streets of Washington D.C. where he encounters Rand, a wealthy business man. Rand takes Chance under his wing. Through a series of mis-understandings, Chance becomes known as Chauncey Gardener, whose utterances about gardening are interpreted as evidence of deep wisdom and understanding. Chauncey becomes a media darling who is touted by political power brokers to become the next president
So what does this movie have to do with politics today? Nothing, really — except that it illustrates the role of the media and political spinmeisters in creating a political candidate.
However, it also provides an interesting frame for thinking about citizenship and the demand for Real ID at every turn in our daily lives, including the vote in some states. Read the rest of this entry »