Nearing the final stretch, voters fight to overcome suppression; a few potential nightmare scenarios for Election Day voting preview themselves as Early Voting wraps up; and we look at a number of Secretary of State contests on Tuesday that could have big (and good!) consequences for voting rights before the 2020 Presidential election.
Among the stories covered on today's BradCast [Audio link to show posted below]...
Internet outages across Wisconsin are causing problems for voters hoping to get information on candidates and polling places from the state website. And voters in Rutherford County, Tennessee were unable to vote for an hour on the final day of Early Voting, due to the reported failure of a "primary data storage system" in the county that left polling places unable to verify registrations on electronic-pollbook systems which access voter files across the Internet. These situations, including reliance on the Internet voting at the polls, would result in havoc if they occur next Tuesday. What could possibly go wrong?
A federal judge in North Dakota denies an emergency motion filed by Native American voting rights groups to lift the state's new law requiring street addresses on IDs. Thousands of Native Americans living on reservations do not have such addresses. The George W. Bush-appointed judge claims federal precedent bars most last minute changes to election laws in order to avoid chaos, though the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the new GOP law to stand just weeks ago, despite it having been stayed during the state's primary in June (by the same judge). Chaos has reigned ever since, as tribes scramble to assign addresses and print new IDs, and the GOP Secretary of State refuses to say whether those new addresses will be accepted for voting purposes on Tuesday;
Georgia's Republican Secretary of State and gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp loses again in court, as a judge rules he may not bar thousands of voters wrongly flagged by the state as non-citizens from voting on a normal, non-provisional ballot, when they present documents proving their citizenship at the polls.
Then, we're joined by Mother Jones' voting rights journalist ARI BERMAN to discuss his recent New York Times article on the extraordinary voter suppression playing out across the country in several GOP-controlled states, and a potentially available antidote for some of those problems before 2020: electing Secretaries of State who will expand the right to vote rather than restrict it.
Berman, author of Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America, details a number of Democratic candidates who could pick up SoS offices next week in several key states, including Iowa, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia and others where Republicans currently enforce (and abuse) voting laws. Of course, voters will have to overcome voting roll purges and other suppression methods at the polls on Tuesday in order to see those important changes before 2020.
He suggests the scope of the suppression we're seeing this year is broader, because "it's happening in so many states," in no small part because there are "a lot of elections in states that normally aren't competitive." Add to that bad laws in many of those states which have "created a really toxic combination for suppression."
Much of it, Berman explains, would have been blocked from ever happening, had the U.S. Supreme Court not gutted Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act in 2013. "Texas, Georgia, a bunch of these Southern states, basically they kind of feel like they can do whatever they want. You can try to stop them if you want, but they don't have to worry about the federal government or the Voting Rights Act anymore" when it comes to federal preclearance for racially discriminatory laws.
"If Democrats are able to take back Governor's seats and Secretary of State races, and all of these other important down-ballot offices in key states, they can do the reverse. They can start passing things to expand voting rights, and that sort of takes the Supreme Court out of the ballgame somewhat," he tells me, before we wade through some of the currently held GOP Secretary of State seats that may see Dem takeovers this year, and in some surprising places. "I hope all this focus on voter suppression --- because it's been getting a lot more coverage in 2018 than 2016 --- will actually lead to some changes in policy, especially if some of these key states flip."
We also discuss some of the initiatives on the ballot next week in several states that could dramatically help to expand the electorate, make registration easier, and end partisan gerrymanders entirely in some states.
Finally today, third-party candidates pull out of two different closely watched and very tight U.S. Senate races in Arizona and Montana. That's likely good news for Democrats in one state, good news for Republicans in the other. But, in both cases, those former candidates will remain on Tuesday's actual ballot, since they dropped out so late in the game...
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