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This week in the war on voting is a joint project of Joan McCarter and Meteor Blades

The House Republicans held their first hearing on the Voting Rights Act Thursday to consider what, if anything, might be done as a consequence of the Supreme Court's striking down Section 4. That section set formulas for figuring out which jurisdictions are required to "pre-clear" any changes in their voting laws because they discriminated against citizens of color in the past. As expected, some lawmakers don't want to do anything:

The two Republican witnesses at Thursday’s hearing were in complete agreement: Even with Section 4 struck down, the Voting Rights Act ain’t broke so there’s no need to fix it. In fact, Hans von Spakovsky, a former Bush-era Justice Department official who is now a scholar with the Heritage Foundation, said that the requirement to submit election law changes in advance had “led to a virtual apartheid system of redistricting,” because it bars changes that would have the effect of diluting minority voting power, not just the intention. [...]

Von Spakovsky compared the “preclearance” requirement in the Voting Rights Act to arresting someone and forcing them to prove their innocence rather than requiring the state to prove their guilt. As a rejoinder, Spencer Overton, a former Justice Department official who now teaches law at Georgetown University, said “when I came into this building today, I went through a metal detector, that’s not a due process violation.” The point, Overton explained, was that preclearance exists to address voting discrimination where it remains most acute.

The Pennsylvania GOP just keeps opening its collective big mouth, and admitting that voter ID has nothing to do with fraud, and everything to do with politics.
Now PA GOP party chairman Rob Gleason has set off a new round of criticism by crediting voter ID with helping narrow Obama's margin of victory last fall. In an interview broadcast on PCN-TV, Gleason was asked whether he thought the attention drawn to Voter ID affected last year’s elections. He replied."Yeah, I think a little bit. We probably had a better election. Think about this, we cut Obama by 5%, which was big. A lot of people lost sight of that. He won, he beat McCain by 10%, he only beat Romney by 5%. I think that probably Voter ID had helped a bit in that."
More war on voters below the fold.

North Carolina is one of several states where right-wing lawmakers have seen the Supreme Court's decision to gut the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as an opportunity to suppress the vote, though they will never, of course, call it that. Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina, examines the differences between a House and Senate photo I.D. bill:

The Senate bill takes a double swipe at college students, making it harder for them to vote. It refuses to accept student IDs from any college; the House at least accepts those from the UNC and community college systems. And it restricts the use of an out-of-state driver’s license to 90 days from the day of becoming a NC registered voter; the House accepts the out-of-state driver’s licenses as a legitimate government-issued photo ID. These are unnecessary, mean-spirited changes that target and punish college students who want to participate in the civic life of their college community. The Senate version keeps a House provision that will make the NC law one of the most restrictive in the nation—harsher than the ones in Florida, Idaho, Michigan and several other states with a photo ID requirement. Those states allow the voter who lacks or forgets to bring the photo ID to sign an attestation under penalty of perjury and, in some cases, provide an identifying number, such as a birth date or Social Security number, that the board of elections can verify before counting the ballot. The proposed NC law would make that voter come back another day and show the correct ID to have their provisional ballot count. This is significant: 70% of North Carolina voters say our law should also have that back-up provision for the voter without an ID who signs the attestation and gives an identifying number.
A federal judge in Ohio has made permanent a ruling that voters who are misdirected to incorrect polling places will still have their votes counted, even if they vote in the "wrong" location.
Last year, two organizations filed suit against Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) after he attempted to block the counting of provision ballots cast voters who vote in the wrong place within a polling place (often “right church,” but “wrong pew” voters) — even though they were incorrectly sent there by poll workers. A federal appeals court ruled against Husted in October, holding that such a practice violated the U.S. Constitution. U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley issued an injunction preventing Ohio from discarding those votes in November’s election.
That injunction is now permanent.

John Paul Stevens reviews Gary May's Bending Toward Justice: The Voting Rights Act and the Transformation of American Democracy:

Professor Gary May describes a number of the conflicts between white supremacists in Alabama and nonviolent civil rights workers that led to the enactment of the Voting Rights Act of 1965—often just called the VRA. The book also describes political developments that influenced President Lyndon Johnson to support the act in 1965, and later events that supported the congressional reenactments of the VRA signed by President Richard Nixon in 1970, by President Gerald Ford in 1975, by President Ronald Reagan in 1982, and by President George W. Bush in 2006. [...]

May’s book contains a wealth of information about the events that led to the enactment of the 1965 statute—and about the dedication and heroism of little-known participants in the events that came to national attention in 1964 and 1965. It includes both favorable and unfavorable information about well-known figures like Martin Luther King Jr. and J. Edgar Hoover, and about some of the methods used by whites to prevent blacks from voting and from registering to vote.

Republican who chucked voter registration forms goes scot-free:
A judge in Virginia dropped several misdemeanor charges against Colin Small on Wednesday, meaning the 23-year-old will not face any penalties for discarding a number of voter registration forms. Felony charges were dropped back in April, but Small was still facing five misdemeanor counts until this week.

During a four-hour court hearing on Tuesday, Small's lawyer John C. Holloran argued that Small simply made a mistake and wasn't trying to purposefully prevent anyone from registering to vote. [...]

Small had been registering voters on behalf of the Republican Party and was paid by Strategic Allied Consulting until the Republican National Committee ended its relationship with the firm.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Hans von Spak was a dunderhead back then (7+ / 0-)

    and he's a dunderhead now.
    Scholar my butt. Dumbass tool with a heinous disdain for the voter.
    Hyperpartisan Hans

    "He went to Harvard, not Hogwarts." ~Wanda Sykes

    Blessinz of teh Ceiling Cat be apwn yu, srsly.

    by OleHippieChick on Sat Jul 20, 2013 at 09:14:01 AM PDT

  •  Why not (4+ / 0-)

    have all Federal office elections be administered under Federal guidelines? A uniform code of qualifying voter eligibility and a larger voting window.

    "What really matters is what you do with what you have." H. G. Wells

    by spunhard on Sat Jul 20, 2013 at 09:21:00 AM PDT

    •  That is one idea. Quite probably (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Puddytat, micsimov

      Constitutional, by extending the logic of Oregon v. Mitchell.

      Of course, it is much better to extend the qualifications to ALL elections.  But, the costs of conducting separate elections (under state AND Federal guidelines for eligibility) would probably be prohibitive.  

      One more problem:  would the House GOP go along with it?

      With the Decision Points Theater, the George W. Bush Presidential Library becomes the very first Presidential Library to feature a Fiction Section.

      by Its the Supreme Court Stupid on Sat Jul 20, 2013 at 09:50:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree and would add pre-clearance (3+ / 0-)

        to every location and not just the ones with a history of voter suppression.  That way, the VRA would be uniform throughout the country and even states that get taken over by RWNJs wouldn't find themselves with a rash of new voter obstruction laws.

        There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

        by Puddytat on Sat Jul 20, 2013 at 10:21:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  While I would support pre-clearance (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          nationwide, it might run into difficulty under the logic of Black's opinion in Mitchell.

          With the Decision Points Theater, the George W. Bush Presidential Library becomes the very first Presidential Library to feature a Fiction Section.

          by Its the Supreme Court Stupid on Sat Jul 20, 2013 at 10:35:10 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm not a lawyer (2+ / 0-)

            Just a seeker of fairness.  

            And on the subject of voting, we're a country in which half of all eligible voters don't cast a ballot at all.  Other countries put us to shame with their large voter turnouts.  It would seem that we should be working to make voting easier, faster, and do anything else in out power to increase, and not decrease, voting percentages.

            If we don't, we can't beat our chests anymore and proclaim freedom, democracy, and we're #1.  We aren't and haven't been for a while.

            There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

            by Puddytat on Sat Jul 20, 2013 at 11:07:51 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Understood, and, in principle, I agree. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Puddytat, Eyesbright

              But, as a lawyer, myself, I want whatever is proposed to be able to stand up to Constitutional scrutiny.  While a nationwide expansion of pre-clearance might so stand up, I am uncertain, even with a less politicized Court than what we have at present.

              With the Decision Points Theater, the George W. Bush Presidential Library becomes the very first Presidential Library to feature a Fiction Section.

              by Its the Supreme Court Stupid on Sat Jul 20, 2013 at 11:14:23 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  at this point (5+ / 0-)

    I'd be happy if we could just get the law updated so any redistricting that results in the will of the majority being ignored would be blocked.  Electing more representatives to legislatures from the party that lost the statewide popular tally, as we saw in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania among others this past election, should be outlawed.

    ~ Nothing insightful to say ~

    by EagleOfFreedom on Sat Jul 20, 2013 at 09:28:58 AM PDT

  •  Ohio GOP may be caging voters again (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, mchestnutjr, Eric Nelson

    Hubs got a letter from the BOE asking him to verify by mail that he still lives at the same address we've been living at for over a decade now.

    They do this every election season.  If you don't reply to validate your address, you don't get to vote.

    "The international world is wondering what happened to America's great heart and soul." Helen Thomas

    by Betty Pinson on Sat Jul 20, 2013 at 09:33:36 AM PDT

  •  Tipped & rec'ed (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eyesbright, Eric Nelson, micsimov, LOrion

    nosotros no somos estúpidos

    by a2nite on Sat Jul 20, 2013 at 09:42:35 AM PDT

    •  BUT .. add this NO, Don't Be A..... (0+ / 0-)

      DO BE a  VOTER Everywhere

      BUT BE A VOTER EVERYWHERE... Here is how in your state get on it! If you don't vote you can't properly complain about government!

      ROCK the VOTE

      Proud to be part of the 21st Century Democratic Majority Party of the 3M's.. Multiracial,Multigender and MiddleClass

      by LOrion on Sat Jul 20, 2013 at 02:32:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Back in 2006 Arizona's Trent Franks was one of (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eyesbright, Eric Nelson, micsimov

    only 33 House Republicans (and no Senators) who voted against reauthorizing the VRA, although he said during a hearing last week, "protecting voting rights is important." Right.

    stay together / learn the flowers / go light - Gary Snyder

    by Mother Mags on Sat Jul 20, 2013 at 10:02:01 AM PDT

  •  Really liked the Stevens article (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eyesbright, Eric Nelson, micsimov

    and will be sure to buy that book.

    Thanks so much, MB, for highlighting that.

    I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

    by Satya1 on Sat Jul 20, 2013 at 10:03:07 AM PDT

  •  Is that the same GOP chair who before the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson

    election went through a checklist of things the GOP had done and included voting legislation to ensure Romney takes Pennsylvania ?

    He was roundly criticized for that. I can't believe the same idiot would do that again.

    The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy;the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness

    by CTMET on Sat Jul 20, 2013 at 10:50:09 AM PDT

  •  Out-of-state students? (4+ / 0-)

    So North Carolina wants out-of-state students to pay higher tuition AND forfeit their right to participate in the civics of the communities where they live while going to school?  Four years is longer than many people stay in a state for a career move within, say, Bank of America headquartered in Charlotte.

    Would the NC legislators be happier if the students established themselves as residents and qualified for in-state tuition?

    I want my government to be big enough to drown Grover Norquist in a bathtub.

    by sercanet on Sat Jul 20, 2013 at 11:18:08 AM PDT

  •  Jim Crow Again (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eyesbright, Eric Nelson, micsimov

    Thanks for this. We need to have more dialogues regarding the recidivistic efforts of the Republican party. Moreover, we need to discuss them in context of the historical maneuvers politicians have made to suppress the votes of socioeconomically and culturally disadvantaged groups such as people of color. When we continually juxtapose the currently unfolding Voter Rights Act fiasco with Jim Crow realities like the grandfather clause, more people may be able to make the connection regarding the zeitgeist behind these (white supremacist/class elitist) efforts.

  •  Half hearted indeed and fake, sound-good talk.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ..which could be taken a good sign all this "serious concern" coming from the right lately as a signal that the republicans, at least a scattered few who can see longer term, know that tight knit gerrymandered districts are primarying themselves to death.

    But let us Dems show otherwise - the truth at the core of all republicans; teabag & old guard elite

     This is still the foundation to the republican platform today - Robert's court ruling that gutted the VRA and the GOP reaction proves that.

     A Blast from the past:

    ALEC founding member  Paul  Weyrich beyond voter suppression stopping voting altogether
    One of the founder of the modern conservative movement – Reagan era
    Which really hasn't changed unless one counts MSM crafted rhetoric as change.

    If anything desperation at the national level has forced the GOP to erect voter suppression firewalls where they can - at the state level on down

    We shoudn't wait. Don't not leave them alone and comfortable. Weaken them with aggressive GOTV aimed at Dem voters who might be thinking 'what's the point, we're surrounded by RED?

    Weaken the GOP where they think they can't be touched  - imo

    50 state strategy to dig them out of their corrupt holdouts

    My idea for an ad campaign would sound like this - with enough $bucks that is:

    Republicans don't want you to vote if your not rich - that could appeal to all people, especially those (teabags too) who hate that wall street fat cats stole our money, and they'll do it again if you vote for republicans

    Nice round - up theme this week MB

    •  So it's really good news that this.. (0+ / 0-)

      republican; Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R)  got his corrupt ass kicked

      A federal judge in Ohio has made permanent a ruling that voters who are misdirected to incorrect polling places will still have their votes counted, even if they vote in the "wrong" location.

      ...That injunction is now permanent.

      Yeah - progress :)
  •  Sorry if I sound uninformed (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson

    I just don't understand why we pass laws with expiration dates.  Perhaps someone can explain for me why the VRA was originally passed with a time limit.  Thanks.

    •  My recollection and observation (0+ / 0-)

      In general, two situations come to mind.

      One case is a calculated gamble by both the proponents and opponents of a bill. It happens when both sides perceive they don't have enough committed votes to get their way without some compromise. Each side gambles that there will be more committed support or opposition when it comes up for renewal later.

      The other situation sometimes makes policy sense. Sometimes a policy addresses a situation that can be expected to go away or become obsolete.

      Lately, the first scenario seems to result in fighting the same battle repeatedly.

      Most models are wrong, but some are useful.

      by etbnc on Sun Jul 21, 2013 at 05:13:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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