Could African-American Women Voters Win the Election for Obama?
In the 2008 election, voter turnout among African-American women surged and helped in part to elect President Obama. In response, Republicans have pushed restrictive voter ID bills designed to throw hurdles up between minority voter turnout and actual votes cast.
Not surprisingly, a lot of black women are not having it.
The Washington Post reports that the wave of new voter restrictions designed to tip the scales in the GOP’s favor has inspired African-American women to go out and register voters in order to make sure they are not disenfranchised in November. Featuring a group of women in Ohio, the piece details how African-American women are finding their voice and their power in this new political economy.
Judith Browne-Dianis, co-director of The Advancement Project, said black women showed in 2008 they can turn out in record numbers. But in 2010, “we sat home and while we were sitting at home, there were others that were plotting and what they decided to do was to change the rules of the game.”
The women invoke the name of abolitionist and women’s suffragist Sojourner Truth, and repeat civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer’s famous line — “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired” — as a rallying cry. They talk strategy about checking to see who’s been purged from voter rolls or locating documents that voters need to get photo identification. All along, they remind voters of the time, before the Voting Rights Act of 1965 became law, when black people were kept from voting.
Barbara Arnwine, executive director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said a voter hotline set up by several groups already gets a thousand calls a day. Callers are typically people who don’t know if they can vote, whether their felony conviction keeps them from voting or what ID is required in their state, if at all.
Her organization has created a computer app that allows people to verify their registration status, get help registering online, learn about voting requirements in their state, find polling places and receive other assistance.It is this coordinated effort with an understanding of the personal civil rights struggle and victory that voting represents among African-Americans that can truly push back against the tide of cynicism and lust for power driving the voter ID rush. It is offensive, at its core, to target populations that have been historically and systematically oppressed for nothing more than the color of their skin. With some hard work and a little luck all that cynicism from the right will be for nothing.
In a blatant attempt to mislead Americans, Mitt Romney is falsely accusing the Obama campaign of trying to restrict military voting in Ohio. In fact, the opposite is true: The Obama campaign filed a lawsuit to make sure every Ohioan has early voting rights, including military members and their families.
What happened to early voting in Ohio?
In the 2008 presidential election, more than 93,000 Ohioans utilized early voting in the three days before the election.
Earlier this year, Ohio’s GOP-controlled legislature passed an election reform law that cut off early voting three days before the election.
More than 300,000 Ohioans signed a petition to secure a referendum on the November 6th ballot in order to repeal this law. Rather than face the referendum, the legislature, at the urging of Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted, decided to repeal the law.
However, “in an unusual turn of events,” Ohio Republicans managed to keep a technical provision of the bill that shortens the early voting process and eliminates the last three days of early voting for all citizens except military personnel and their families.
What does that mean for voters?
In addition to reducing Ohioans’ access to the polls, the legislature created inequality between military voters who can cast early ballots in person through the day before the election and all other voters who only have until 6 p.m. on the Friday before the election to vote in-person absentee.
Why is there a lawsuit?
These restrictions are a violation of the equal protection guarantees in the U.S. Constitution. The lawsuit seeks to make sure that all Ohioans, including military members and their families, can exercise their right to vote early. “This lawsuit seeks to treat all Ohio citizens equally under the law,” said Obama for America attorney Bob Bauer. “We want to restore the right of all to vote before Election Day.”
The facts show that Romney’s claim about restricting military voting is a blatant distortion. The purpose of the lawsuit is to ensure that every Ohioan—including military voters—has the right to make their voices heard at the polls.
Reblogging to correct an unknown falsity I blogged earlier.
I ran into this when I accidentally left my drivers license at the bank when I went in to cash a travel check. The bank calls you, but if you don’t pick up the license in 24 hours, they shred it. As I was out of town at a conference, I did not get the call and couldn’t have gotten to the bank in 24 hours regardless.
I could not get a new license without a birth certificate, but mine had been destroyed in a flood years earlier. My birth certificate is from a different state and they wanted a copy of my drivers license to process my request for a new copy of my birth certificate. It took $120.00 and 3 months to get it all straightened out.
|—||Eugene Robinson in his column, Eugene Robinson: The GOP’s crime against voters - The Washington Post (via bohemiansouth)|
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) announced support for his state’s controversial voter purge effort on Wednesday, saying it was hard to disagree with the push to clear supposed non-citizens from the electoral rolls.
“How can you argue against a state identifying people who are not rightfully on the voter rolls?” he said at a Bloomberg event, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Rubio’s comments put him in line with Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) who on Tuesday declared the debate on the merits of the purge “over,” because the probe had supposedly turned up more than 50 non-citizen voters who had cast ballots.
The Department of Justice didn’t agree. Later Tuesday, it announced it was launching a federal lawsuit against Florida over complaints that the purge was taking place within 90 days of its August 14 primary election, as well as over its alleged violation of a voting rights law meant to prevent states from suppressing voters.
Concerns over the purge have largely been spurred by reports showing that the effort disproportionately targets minority and Democratic-leaning voters. According to a Miami Herald study, Hispanic voters accounted for nearly 60 percent of the names on the list, while they make up only 13 percent of the overall 11.3 million active registered voters.
While the controversy rages, Scott continues to maintain that the move is a “no-brainer,” necessary to maintain fair elections in the state.
h/t: Huffington Post
In a letter sent tonight, Florida Governor Rick Scott said the state will continue to purge registered voters from the rolls despite the Department of Justice’s warning that the effort is illegal. The Miami Herald reports, “the letter all but dares the Justice Department to sue Florida for allegedly violating the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the 1993 National Voter Registration Act.” You can read the full letter here.
Floridians, you are not alone! Texas is getting on the disenfranchisement game too.
“Eligible voters were threatened with removal most often because they failed to respond to generic form letters or because they were mistaken for someone else, which is even more worrisome given that there is a high incidence of voters sharing a name in Texas, particularly among Hispanics. Across Texas, 21% of voters who received purge letters later proved that they were eligible to vote.”
Florida will defy a federal warning to stop purging people the state suspects aren’t U.S. citizens from voter registration rolls.
Despite a Justice Department letter, objections from county elections officials and evidence that a disproportionate number are voters of color, Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner’s office planned to continue scrubbing the election rolls, a spokesman said Friday. Gov. Rick Scott (R) ordered the search for potentially ineligible voters.
|—||Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr., quoted in Darkness in the Sunshine State - NYTimes.com (via bohemiansouth)|
From David Firestone, New York Times
“Florida Republicans have gone so far in trying to tilt the voter rolls to their advantage that two higher powers were forced to step in yesterday to right the balance.
In 2008, registration drives brought thousands of young, black, Hispanic or low-income voters to the polls, many of whom helped President Obama win the state. To prevent that from happening again, the Republican-dominated legislature passed a law last year that could have imposed heavy fines or criminal penalties on volunteers if they accidentally registered an ineligible voter. That put a quick end to the drives.
On Thursday, Federal Judge Robert Hinkle said the limits on voter drives were unworkable, served no legitimate purpose, and appear to violate the National Voter Registration Act. He blocked them until there can be a trial on the issues. The League of Women Voters, which by current Florida standards is a radical band of outlaws, cheered the ruling and vowed to return to the dangerous business of helping people participate in democracy.
State officials, meanwhile, had found another way to reduce the participation of minorities and the poor, who tend to vote Democratic. A few months ago, Gov. Rick Scott expressed deep concern that non-citizens might be poisoning the political system by daring to vote, though there wasn’t the slightest indication that was a widespread problem. To prevent that from happening, he ordered that the voter rolls be checked against driver’s license records to ferret out renegade voters.
That process produced hundreds of errors and drew widespread criticism, but none as effective as the letter that arrived from the Justice Department late yesterday. It said the purge violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which requires the department to pass judgment on all voting changes in certain areas with a history of discrimination against minorities, including parts of Florida. As a result, the department said, the purge was legally unenforceable.
Immediately, county election supervisors across the state (many of whom always hated the idea of a purge) said they would stop trying to scrub the rolls. That left Mr. Scott sounding rather alone, denying any discriminatory intent and saying the state would review the letter from Washington. “We want fair elections,” he said. As long as the right people do the electing.”
Dear Rick Scott: If you oppose democracy, you oppose America.
Governor Rick Scott (R) has ordered the state to purge all “non-citizens” from the voting rolls prior to November’s election. But that list compiled by the Scott administration is so riddled with errors that, in Miami-Dade County alone, hundreds of U.S. citizens are being told they are ineligible to vote, ThinkProgress has learned exlusively.
According to data from the Miami-Dade County Supervisor of Elections obtained by ThinkProgress:
- 1638 people in Miami-Dade County were flagged by the state as “non-citizens” and sent letters informing them that they were ineligible to vote.
- Of that group, 359 people have subsquently provided the county with proof of citizenship.
- Another 26 people were identified as U.S. citizens directly by the county.
- The bulk of the remaining 1200 people have simply not responded yet to a letter sent to them by the Supervisor of Elections.
You can see a similar letter sent to alleged “non-citizens” by the Broward County Supervisor of Elections HERE. (“The Supervisor of Elections… has received information that you are not a citizen of the United States.”) If recipients of the letter do not respond within 30 days — a deadline that is mere days away — they will be summarily removed from the voting rolls. The voters purged from the list, election officials tell ThinkProgress, will inevitably include fully eligible Florida voters.
In short, an excess of 20 percent of the voters flagged as “non-citizens” in Miami-Dade are, in fact, citizens. And the actual number may be much higher.
Poetic justice would be a Dickensian nighttime visit by the Ghosts of Memorial Days Past, with veteran after veteran lining up to explain to Rick Scott that they didn’t die so some vampire freak of a would-be dictator could pick and choose the voters most likely to vote for his party.
Of course, that’s impossible. So I guess I’ll have to settle for Scott being dragged out of the Florida Governor’s Mansion in chains — preferably by his ankles — to the nearest courthouse to answer for treason in this attempted bloodless coup.
Wait, that’s unlikely too? What the fuck kind of country are we running here these days, anyway?