It is becoming increasingly obvious that the Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which eviscerated the Voting Rights Act, is leading to a new era of voter suppression that parallels the pre-1960s era—this time affecting not just African-Americans but also Hispanic-Americans, women, and students, among others.
The reasoning employed by Chief Justice John Roberts in Shelby County—that Section 5 of the act was such a spectacular success that it is no longer necessary—was the equivalent of taking down speed cameras and traffic lights and removing speed limits from a dangerous intersection because they had combined to reduce accidents and traffic deaths.
In North Carolina, a post-Shelby County law not only includes one of the most restrictive and punitive voter-ID laws anywhere but also restricts early voting, eliminates same-day voting registration, ends pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, and bans many provisional ballots. Whatever flimsy voter-fraud excuse exists for requiring voter ID disappears when it comes to these other obstacles to voting.
Read more. [Image: Gary Cameron/Reuters]
A bulldozer. A radio. A pencil. A Koran. These are just a few of the candidates vying to win Afghanistan’s upcoming presidential election.
For each of the 10 candidates expected to be on the ballot for the April 5 vote, there is a symbol. And those symbols will be printed on ballot papers alongside the name and photograph of each candidate to help voters choose their preferred candidate.
The idea is to make voting easier for the many eligible voters in the country who cannot read. Only 39 percent of Afghanistan’s adult population is literate.
In keeping with elections dating back to 2004, the country’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) initially assigned a symbol to each potential candidate assuming that there would be a high number of contenders to choose from.
Read more. [Image: Omar Sobhani/Reuters]
Does loneliness make people less politically active? For decades, social scientists have been questioning the relationship between social isolation and political participation, but understandably, it’s somewhat difficult to quantify.
A new article in the American Journal of Political Science gives this challenge a try by looking at how the death of a spouse affects voting behavior over time. Using census data, voting records, and information from the ominously named Social Security Death Master File, they measured the voting habits of 5.86 million Californians before and after the 2009-2010 statewide elections. What they found is that widows and widowers were much less likely to vote after their significant other died. Based on their predictions, 11 percent of people who would have voted if their spouse were alive failed to make it to the polls even a year and a half after the death.
Read more. [Image: Mike Segar/Reuters]
Posters from more than a half century of political activism
Ballot integrity measure. That’s what Republican officials in Texas call SB 14, the voter identification measure designed to make it measurably harder for people there to vote. Not all people, mind you. Just people who don’t own or drive cars, and people who can’t afford to take time off from work to travel long distances to state offices that are not open at convenient times for working people, and elderly people who are ill and young people who cannot afford to pay the cost of new IDs they have never before needed. People, everyone acknowledges, who are more likely to vote Democratic than Republican even in the still Red State of Texas.
So the headline alone — United States v. Texas — tells you a great deal about what you need to know about the new civil rights lawsuit filed by the Justice Department last Thursday in federal court in Corpus Christi. It tells you that the battle over voting rights in the wake of Shelby County v. Holder, the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in late June that struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, has become the latest keynote in the nasty national debate between the Obama Administration and its most ardent conservative critics. And it suggests that things are likely going to get worse before they get better.
Read more. [Image: Mike Stone/Reuters]
Since the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Shelby County v. Holder in June, conservative governments in the South and elsewhere have raced to introduce new voting restrictions. Most prominent in the attacks is the comprehensive vote-restriction law passed by the Republican majority in the North Carolina legislature. The law cuts back early voting, restricts private groups from conducting voter-registration drives, eliminates election-day voter registration, and imposes the strictest voter ID rules in the country. There is evidence that Republican legislatures elsewhere will follow North Carolina’s lead.
Neither the American people nor the federal courts would tolerate restrictions of this sort if they were imposed on free speech, free assembly, freedom of religion, or freedom to petition government for redress of grievances. For that matter, many Southern states—and probably a majority of the Supreme Court—would reject far less onerous restrictions on the right to “keep and bear arms.” Yet each of those rights is mentioned only once in the Constitution. The “right to vote” is mentioned five times—and yet the Court has brushed it aside as a privilege that states may observe at their convenience. Even an overwhelming majority of Congress—which is given the power to enforce the right in no fewer than four different places in the Constitution—cannot protect this right more strongly than the Court feels appropriate.
What would happen if we took the Constitution’s text on this matter seriously?
Read more. [Image: Keith Bedford/Reuters]
Within 20 minutes of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning a portion of the Voting Rights Act, the attorney general of Texas tweeted a message signaling that strict voter-ID laws would go into effect there immediately.
“I’ll fight #Obama's effort to control our elections,” Greg Abbott, who just announced he’s running for governor of Texas, tweeted June 25, the day the 5-4 decision in Shelby County v. Holder was released. Unless the law can be successfully challenged in court, Texas residents will now have to show a state- or federal-issued form of photo identification to vote. The list of acceptable forms includes a concealed-handgun license but not a state university student ID. The omission suggests it is not voter fraud but voters unfriendly to the GOP that Abbott and other Texas Republicans are trying to thwart.
Other states — like Mississippi and Arkansas – that have GOP-controlled legislatures and a history of racial discrimination, and whose election laws have been supervised by the Department of Justice since the VRA’s passage in 1965, have also wasted no time moving forward with new voting restrictions in the wake of the Shelby County decision.
Read more. [Image: Gerry Broome/Associated Press]
So long as lawmakers focus upon protecting against voter fraud that doesn’t exist, there will be no quick remedy for the federal law. So long as lawmakers downplay the disastrous impact of restrictive voter identification laws upon the poor, the elderly, and the ill, there will be no urgency to restore what the Court has eliminated. So long as officials undercut the premise of the Voting Rights Act by contending that federal law should be “color-blind,” and that the Fifteenth Amendment must bow to the Tenth Amendment, we are in for an ugly fight if Section 4 is to be revised.
In a perfect world, Congress would acknowledge what we all see — that the current generation of voter suppression efforts is not limited to the South. The new “coverage formula” under Section 4 of the law would thus expand, not restrict, federal oversight over such practices. It would still block racially discriminatory voting practices now occurring in those jurisdictions long covered by the voting law. But it would also block partisan ruses occurring in states that aren’t — like Ohio and Pennsylvania. Indeed, this very week a trial is underway over the fate of Pennsylvania’s restrictive new photo identification law. Our federal voting law should be clear: no state anywhere can get away with the suppression attempted before the 2012 election.
Read more. [Image: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]
Gehrke isn’t saying which states the project might initially target. He says he’d like to see the plan implemented in every state, not just the ones where clever redistricting has given Republicans an edge, and he justifies it in policy, not political terms.
A presidential voting system where the electoral college was apportioned by congressional district might not be perfectly fair, he says, but it would be better than what we have now. It would bring democracy closer to the people, force presidential candidates to address the concerns of a more varied swath of the American populace, and give more clout to rural areas that are too often ignored.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
- I want to raise $6.5 million to build and grow my new company: TheBoostle.com
During the last millennia, many popular new media properties have...
- Intellect, n.
The ability to use reason and other functions of the brain in human beings, including doubt and curiosity — in essence thinking. Not...
- “You will hate Los Angeles." That’s what English people said to me when they heard I was heading west, to the land of low-fat milk and sugar-free...”