Archive for Voting Rights Act

Another CA city sues over voting rights law

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voter suppression voting rights

Voting rights, schmoting rights. Who needs 'em in this post-racial day and age? We've clearly evolved, says the Supreme Court. Says Republicans. Says anyone who doesn't want Democrats to have voting rights. After all, if you can't win on the merits of your arguments, on your policies (or lack thereof), your talent, or on your powers of persuasion, then hey, cheat.

It's the 'Murican way!

the american way

Unless, of course, you get called out. The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the city of Bellflower, right here in my home state of California, is getting sued. Why? Voting rights are being violated... allegedly:

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and two law firms filed a Superior Court complaint Monday afternoon, on behalf of three minority Bellflower residents alleging the city is in violation of the California Voting Rights Act.

The act seeks to ensure that minorities have an opportunity to elect leaders of their choice.  The suit alleges that Bellflower's practice of electing council members citywide instead of by geographic districts has hindered Latino and African American candidates.

The plaintiffs said they have found patterns of racially polarized voting in the southeast Los Angeles County city of about 77,000. They want the city to switch to by-district elections to give voters in strongly minority neighborhoods an opportunity to elect at least one representative to the City Council.

What? Restricting the rights of not-white voters? In this day and age of GOP outreach? Don't be ridiculous...

It's not like Bellflower's population is 66% Latino and African American, but the council members are monochromatically pale. Come on.

Bellflower's population is 52% Latino and 14% African American, according to the city's website.  All five council members are white.

Oh.

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VIDEO: The most important election you haven't heard of

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Chris Hayes:

In August, [the mayor of Pasadena, Texas] started pushing a plan to shrink the number of districts from eight to six, and replace those two with at large seats to be voted on by everyone in Pasadena.

And by everyone, we mean the town's white voting majority.

One of two Hispanics on the council, Cody Ray Wheeler.:

He decided to make a full power grab and he didn't care who you'd have to step over to get it.

Hayes:

To the community, the goal of the plan was clear: Dilute the power of the Hispanic vote and hand two seats to the majority white voting population, ensuring the citywide majority white voting population could band together and retain their power.

Wheeler:

What this effectively does is give the south part of town, the Anglo part of town, the majority of the council.

Hayes:

It turns out this is precisely the sort of thing Section Five of the Voting Rights Act was designed to block. In fact, Ruth Bader Ginsburg cited this precise type of discrimination from a pre-Section Five world when the Voting Rights Act came before the court earlier this year.

Justice Ginsburg:

These second generation barriers including racial gerrymandering, switching from district voting to at-large voting...

Hayes:

Did you hear that? At-large voting. It's the oldest trick in the book and it's so immediately recognizable that when a neighboring Texas town of Beaumont cooked up a similar at-large plan, it was blocked by the Justice Department in December 2012.

But then, the Supreme Court killed Section Five of the Voting Rights Act...

Now that Section Five is dead, there are thousands of potential Pasadenas all across the South.

voting rights ginsburg comment

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"Today James Crow wears a suit and tie and is much more sophisticated."

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jim crow voter suppression smaller

By limiting the number of minority voters, which gutting the Voting Rights Act does, it is likely that fewer Democratic voters will be able to cast ballots. Minority voters, young people, and the poor tend to vote Democratic, so of course, Republican-run states are doing everything they can to eliminate that little problem.

Several states are already moving forward with voting restrictions after the Supreme Court decision. As Think Progress notes, "If these states are any evidence, they may have just opened the door for massive disenfranchisement."

Voters are now seeing that they will be kept from the polls, and they're starting to speak out. The Los Angeles Times is reporting about North Carolina's strict new ID laws that requires papers that are not easy for many people to get. They tell the story of Alberta Currie whose mother gave birth at home, assisted by a midwife. Because of that, there was no birth certificate issued, just an announcement handwritten into the Currie family Bible.

For the first time since 1956, Currie, who is 78, may have to sit out an election.

Even though the ID itself is free in North Carolina, trying to get one means coming up with money to acquire a certified birth certificate, plus getting to a state driver's license office, waiting in line, and showing the possibly unattainable proof of birth and an original Social Security card.

And even if they do provide documents, they have to wait 10 to 20 days to have their IDs mailed to them.

The Times:

[B]ureaucratic obstacles are a part of a blatant attempt to make it difficult for Democratic-leaning voters — particularly African Americans, students and the elderly — to obtain IDs needed to vote.

Most of those same people voted for President Obama. He won because of them.  Currie:

"They're trying to make it as hard as possible for people like me to vote. It takes two IDs to get the ID I need, but how can I get it if I don't have those two IDs?"

Jeremy Collins, a lawyer with the Southern Coalition, said this: "Today James Crow wears a suit and tie and is much more sophisticated."

And Rob Christensen, a reporter for the News & Observer of Raleigh who has covered state politics for four decades, wrote this: "So Republicans moved to Plan B — if you can't win over young people, make it hard for them to vote."

The law also cuts early voting by a week and eliminates same-day registration, early registration by high school students and straight-ticket voting. In previous elections those procedures have been used disproportionately by African Americans and students. [...]

Republicans have produced no evidence of voter fraud. Nor have they explained how cutting early voting and registration combats fraud. Republicans also added provisions to the law unrelated to voter integrity, such as raising campaign contribution limits and making it easier for big-money donors to hide the amount and source of contributions.

More than 600,000 registered North Carolina voters are without a state driver's license or state-issued ID, mostly young, poor, African American or elderly voters. Which means mostly Democratic voters.

One 92-year-old African American woman, Rosanell Eaton, has a driver's license, but there was a typo, so her name didn't match her voter I.D. card. Now she'll have to jump through hoops to get that fixed.

So Republicans, how's that reachy-outy reinvention thing workin' for ya?

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Cartoons of the Day- Roadblocks To Voting

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Matt Wuerker

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Joe Heller

roadb

Mike Luckovich

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Video- The Daily Show: Sharknado of Voter Supression

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Worried about non-existent voter fraud? Fine. Make Voter IDs free and easy to obtain.

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jim crow smaller jimmy

The Los Angeles Times put out an editorial today called "The Voting Rights Disaster." "Disaster" is an understatement. Weakening the Voting Rights Act was a punch in the gut to democracy, to civil rights, especially to minority voters, the elderly, younger voters, and anyone who can't afford transportation to providers and the costs of accessing a Voter I.D. card.

As soon as the Supreme Court ruled, Republican-run states sprinted toward passing strict Voter I.D. laws that would make it very difficult, if not impossible, for thousands-- maybe millions-- of Americans to cast ballots. No wonder Atty. Gen. Holder is challenging states on voting rights.

And those voters tend to support Democrats. No coincidence there.

The L.A. Times:

It is worth exploring whether the notion of "covered" states should give way to a nationwide system requiring pre-clearance whenever a court is convinced a state has adopted laws or procedures that have the effect of discriminating against minorities.

Finally, Congress might want to specifically address the issue of photo ID. There is ample evidence that such identification requirements disproportionately inconvenience not only racial minorities but poor, elderly and younger voters as well. On the other hand, photo ID requirements are popular ... It would be consistent with Congress' responsibility under the 14th and 15th Amendments to enact legislation requiring states that insist on photo IDs to make them free and easy to obtain.

... [P]re-clearance provisions also have prevented states from engaging in subtler forms of discrimination such as the drawing of district lines that prevent minority voters from electing representatives of their choice. The result has been the increase in minority political participation that (ironically) the Supreme Court cited in striking down the law's coverage formula. Congress must not allow that progress to be reversed.

"Make them free and easy to obtain" has been my mantra for years. We Dems have nothing against requiring proper identification. What we find so unjust is making mandatory identification tantamount to a poll tax.

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VIDEO: Atty. Gen. Holder to challenge states on voting rights

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THANK you:

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As Pete Williams just said on MSNBC, the cop is still on the beat, and you don't get a free pass now, despite the Supreme Court ruling. Watch out North Carolina, you're next (ohpleaseohpleaseohplease).

Via an email news alert:

U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder announced today that the Justice Department is opening a new front in the battle for voting rights in response to a Supreme Court ruling that dealt a major setback to voter protections.

The attorney general said the Justice Department is asking a federal court to require the state of Texas to obtain advance approval before putting voting changes in place.

It is the department's first action to protect voting rights following the Supreme Court's decision on June 25, "but it will not be our last," Holder said.

For the latest information go to www.latimes.com.

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