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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, February 6, 2023
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By Ernest A. Canning on 2/29/2012 3:35pm PT  

Guest editorial by Ernest A. Canning

Last September's hearings before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights established that polling place photo ID restriction laws have nothing to do with eliminating "voter fraud."

They are, instead, part of what Judith Browne Dianis, a civil rights litigator at The Advancement Project, described at the time as the "largest legislative effort to roll back voting rights since the post-Reconstruction era" --- part of the partisan, multi-state effort by the billionaire Koch brothers-funded, Paul Weyrich co-founded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-fueled GOP exercise in voter suppression. Her testimony established, yet again, that such laws have a disparate impact upon minorities, the poor, the elderly and students (all of whom happen to have the unfortunate tendency of voting Democratic).

Despite the national nature of this coordinated, well-documented and well-funded assault on minority voting rights, so far the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) has confined its legal response to such newly-enacted laws to only the small number of "covered" jurisdictions, for example, South Carolina, that are subject to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). That section of the law requires federal preclearance for new election-related laws in those "covered" jurisdictions, since they each have demonstrated a long history of racial discrimination.

The narrow action taken by the DoJ to date, as based only on Section 5 of the VRA, could all change if they took the time to study the content of the new complaint, Jones v. Deininger [PDF], as filed last week in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. The complaint alleges that Wisconsin's new polling place photo ID law ("Act 23") "is a voter suppression law that burdens African-American and Latino voters most heavily [which]...results in them having 'less opportunity than other members of the electorate to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice,' and, thereby, constitutes a denial and abridgment of their right to vote in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act."

The complaint in Jones, which was signed by attorney Charles T. Curtis, Jr. of Arnold & Porter, LLP, seeks to enjoin the implementation of Wisconsin's Act 23 and a declaration that it violates Section 2 of the VRA. When asked whether he contemplates seeking a preliminary injunction on the new law prior to the next election, Curtis was only able to tell The BRAD BLOG at this time that they "want to move the case as quickly as the Court will allow, and plan to request a pretrial conference to discuss motion and briefing schedules."

The additional question remains, however, will the U.S. DoJ defend federal law by opting to join this lawsuit as a plaintiff?...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Vet told Veteran's ID invalid for voting, others completely disenfranchised in first roll-out of Republican anti-voter law...
By Brad Friedman on 2/23/2012 2:55pm PT  

Well, golly, who coulda seen this coming? And I suspect it's just the beginning...

Tuesday was the official launch of Wisconsin’s new Voter-I.D. law, with citizens now required to present a photo-identification card in order to cast a ballot in the primaries for local elections. And as it turns out, one man refused to vote, because he was so angry that his card from the Department of Veterans Affairs was not on the approved list.

As the Racine Journal Times reported, 69-year old veteran Gil Paar was shocked when poll workers told him his photo I.D. from the V.A. wasn’t on the accepted list. They then asked him if he had a driver’s license — which he did — but he instead refused to show it and left the precinct. “Basically I was trying to make a point,” Paar told the paper. “I gave them four years of my life, why shouldn’t I be able to use my vet’s card?”

As the paper reports, the state election officials explain that the way the law was written, a military-related I.D. must be issued by a uniform service — which does not include the Department of Veterans Affairs. The bottom line: For whatever the reason might be, whether intentional or an accident, V.A. cards were not included on the list.
...
Paar also explained that he sees a serious problem: “There’s a possibility that a veteran could have only this type of I.D., because he’s had a stroke, let’s say, up at the V.A. hospital. And because of that, he had his driver’s license taken away. So case in point, he would have only this Veterans Administration I.D. through the hospital.

“And they’re telling me I can’t use it, I couldn’t use it. this is not right. you’ve got a guy who serves, does his time in the Air Force, or Army or the Navy, and then he comes home and can’t vote? What the f—- did I go in for?”

There were other similar stories Tuesday, during the first full roll-out of the Wisconsin GOP's new anti-voter law, passed disingenuously under the guise of curbing "voter fraud". And Tuesday's was just a tiny election. For example, this from Isthmus' The Daily Page...

Melanie Sax and other poll workers recognized the longtime voter. They also found her name and address in the poll book. But she did not have a photo ID for Tuesday's primary so she could not vote.

"She was fairly recently in a car accident and couldn't make it to the DOT to get a Wisconsin ID," said Sax, the chief elections inspector at the polling location at Trinity United Methodist Church on Vilas Avenue. The woman, who does not drive, has neither a driver's license nor a state ID.

That woman was Marge Curtin, 62, who has been living and voting in the Vilas Avenue area for some 40 years. In fact, one of her good friends, whom she met while a nursing student at St. Marys in the 1960s, was working the polls Tuesday.

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




By Brad Friedman on 12/23/2011 3:25pm PT  

No time to detail this one for the moment, as I'm preparing to guest host the nationally-syndicated Mike Malloy Show tonight, so I'll just link to TPM's breaking coverage for the moment. I'll almost certainly have more to say on this on the show tonight, but for now, it looks like we've got still more good news this Christmas!

The Dept. of Justice has denied preclearance [PDF] of the South Carolina GOP's new polling place Photo ID restriction law, finding it was likely to disenfranchise voters, particularly minority voters, as "the state’s own statistics demonstrated that the photo identification requirement would have a much greater impact on non-white residents, DOJ said in a letter to the state on Friday," according to TPM.

The racial disparity seen by the DoJ is similar to the hardships, from such laws, to students and elderly voters (you know, the ones who tend to vote for Democrats, which is why the GOP is instituting these voter suppression laws in the first place.)

The GOP has long used the lie about an an epidemic of "voter fraud" by voter impersonation at the polling place, though they have failed to document virtually any instances of it. Nonetheless, they've been using such false claims to institute these types of laws around the country after Republicans took over a number of state legislatures in 2010. States that are covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 must receive preclearance for such laws before they can be enacted, given the history of racism in the covered jurisdictions.

The BRAD BLOG's own crack legal analyst, Ernie Canning, detailed the concerns that the DoJ had about the disenfranchising affects of the law back in September, noting that they seemed to be signaling at the time that preclearance would be unlikely, given many serious flaws in the state law.

A final decision on DoJ preclearance is still pending in Texas where the agency has also indicated they are likely to reject the new Photo ID laws. Meanwhile, in states not covered by Section 5, such as Wisconsin, it's fallen to non-governmental organizations, such as the ACLU, to challenge the new laws in the court system, as they did earlier this month.

All of this follows on Indiana's first-in-the-nation Photo ID restriction law, approved by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008. Ironically enough, yesterday in the Hoosier State, the Republican Secretary of State Charlie White, now facing seven criminal felony counts, including three of them for voter fraud, was ordered removed from his post by a circuit court judge who found he was not eligible to vote or be on the ballot at all in 2010. The judge has ordered White be replaced by the second-highest vote-getter, Democrat Vop Osili. Our coverage of that incredible "White Christmas" story is right here.

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State AG vows to litigate 'up to U.S. Supreme Court'...
By Ernest A. Canning on 9/2/2011 8:35am PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

In an Aug. 29, 2011 letter, T. Christian Herren, Jr., Chief of the Obama DOJ's Civil Rights Division, not only demanded that South Carolina, within 60 days, provide additional information about its recently enacted polling place photo ID restriction law, but stated that if SC failed to provide a timely "response...the [U.S.] Attorney General may object to the proposed changes consistent with the burden of proof placed upon the submitting authority."

Herren noted that SC has the "burden of demonstrating" that the new polling place photo ID law was neither enacted "for a discriminatory purpose nor will have a retrogressive effect."

SC's Republican Attorney General, Alan Wilson, in an apparent recognition that pre-clearance is likely to be denied, told those in attendance at a GOP fundraiser that he had "no faith" that the DOJ "will do the right thing." He vowed to litigate the matter "up to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary."

As The BRAD BLOG previously reported, on Aug. 5 the ACLU submitted a 15-page letter to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) seeking a denial of pre-clearance under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of South Carolina’s polling place photo ID restriction law. The letter argues that proponents’ unsubstantiated claims of "voter fraud" were but a pretext for unlawful discrimination and that statistics suggest that the new law would operate as an illegal poll tax, especially for the disproportionate number of African Americans who live below the federal poverty level in the state.

Last Friday, SC's Senate Democrats weighed in as well, asking the DOJ to deny pre-clearance for what they contend is the nation's harshest polling place ID restrictions, which could potentially disenfranchise, for example, someone whose driver's license has been suspended.

While denial of pre-clearance due to the retrogressive effect of photo ID restrictions in SC would be a positive step, it will not serve to protect democracy and the sanctity of the vote in other jurisdictions not subject to pre-clearance under the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

As described by John Nichols in The Nation (see video below), and again by Ari Berman in Rolling Stone --- as we detailed yesterday --- state-after-state across the nation has come under a well-coordinated assault by the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and GOP legislators bent on rigging electoral outcome as part of their war on the middle class...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




By Ernest A. Canning on 8/7/2011 7:44pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

Last Friday, Aug. 5, in a 15-page letter [PDF], the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) asked the U.S. Department of Justice to deny pre-clearance of South Carolina's photo ID law, as signed into law by Gov. Nikki Haley (R), pursuant to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Pre-clearance must be denied if the law was enacted for a discriminatory purpose or if it has "the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color."

As the Voting Rights Act of 1965 addressed specific barriers to voting that had been enacted by the Jim Crow South, the ACLU letter, of necessity, focuses upon the disproportionate impact upon South Carolina's African-American electorate who are amongst the 178,175 registered South Carolina voters who do not possess the forms of photo identification required by the state's new polling place Photo ID restriction law. However, the ACLU's discussion of pretextual justifications for the Palmetto State's new law exposes a GOP intent to suppress the vote on the basis of class as well as race not only in South Carolina but in the spate of similar photo ID laws that are being pushed in state after state by the GOP, and supported by their paid partisan shills in the right-wing media...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




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