Nel's New Day

November 4, 2018

Voter Suppression, Tricks: ‘We Lie All the Time’

Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA) bragged on the campaign trail that he and his GOP legislative leaders “lie all the time.” And boy, does he lie! Here’s a list from PolitiFact Virginia. He even sent out a press release lying about a WaPo fact check on his opponent by using a a fact check of an attack ad in a completely different race, against GOP Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA). And that’s just one way to get Republicans elected.

In the past, black people in the South went to the polls to cast their votes. The idea, called “Souls to the Polls,” was quashed in many states including North Carolina and Florida because Republican lawmakers decided that GOP candidates could win only if the black vote was stopped. Forty percent of states don’t allow workers time off to vote on Election Day, and many other states are restrictive in permission.

Georgia’s Secretary of State and candidate for governor Brian Kemp, poster child of the nation’s voter suppression, has lamented votes by blacks. The master vote registration purger who declines to process registration forms from blacks registered to vote said he was afraid he would lose the election “if everybody uses and exercises their right to vote.” He’s also afraid of absentee ballots, “especially if everybody uses and exercises their right to vote … and mails those ballots in.” He added that his opponent, a black woman, could win thanks to “the literally tens of millions of dollars that” her campaign is “putting behind the get-out-the-vote effort to their base.”

If voting didn’t make any difference, Republicans wouldn’t go to such extreme lengths to keep people from voting. Updates and new tricks to keep people away from the polls on November 6:

Materials are being sent out with the wrong date to vote, like this “friendly” postcard in Arizona, with a date ten days past Election Day.

Montana Republicans have joined the states falsifying information about voting. The GOP sent a mailer lying about absentee ballots being accepted ten days after Election Day if they were postmarked by 8:00 pm on that day. Wrong. Absentee ballots must reach their destination by Election Day.

A judge denied Native Americans in North Dakota the right to vote without a street address just this past week, and voter suppression continues with the GOP fear that Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) will be reelected. One woman who went to the county auditor’s office in Sioux County to ask about early voting was told that there was no early voting, unlike most other North Dakota countries. The auditor didn’t mention an absentee voting option. The same auditor ordered a woman filling out an absentee ballot to use blue ink in order for the ballot to be counted; the directions on the state website mandates black ink. A great deal of time was required until someone from the secretary of state’s office said either color of ink was acceptable—that will hopefully be accurate.

A non-partisan election official in Dallas County (TX) said that voter intimidation is the worst she’s seen in 30 years with name calling and voter interrogation in lines waiting to vote, partisan poll watchers looking over voters’ shoulders as they cast their ballots and question voters on their politics, harassment, and verbal abuse with a person driving by and yelling about “baby killers.” Reports of this intimidation have not stopped it although the police removed one “poll watcher.”

In Kansas, people can’t get a passport if they aren’t born in a hospital even if they have a birth certificate. The same probably goes for getting a voter ID. The only way to get permission is to pay money to go to trial with a large number of documents.

The Rachel Maddow Show sent a production crew to Dodge City (KS) after the news that the only polling place for 13,000 voters will be moved far out of town away from a bus stop. County Clerk Debbie Cox [visual] made the excuse of construction at the former place in town [map below], but no construction was found. The venue was also booked on November 4 and November 17 of events. Cox put three polling places in the rest of her county for the remaining 1,300 voters. In addition, she mailed new registrants an official statement of registration with the wrong voting address. Even if the largely Latinx voters working in the meat-packing industry can get a job to the new polling place, they may not have enough time off work to actually vote.  The 22-minute segment provides more details.

Cox forwarded a letter from the ACLU offering voter assistance to the office of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach with the attached message “LOL” (lots of laughs). In control of voting, Kobach is also a candidate for governor. An 18-year-old high school student, Ashley Romero, sued for more polling places that are accessible to Dodge City voters. A judge ruled against Romero, stating that changing anything now would be too confusing but promising to look into the case after the election.

Last week, reports of voting machines flipping votes in Georgia for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams to her opponent, Kemp, and in Texas from Democratic senate challenger Beto O’Rourke to incumbent Ted Cruz led to thoughts of hacking. Some machines even registered Kemp’s name before a person voted. Despite the GOP trying to blame the voters for these flips, it happens if machines aren’t properly calibrated. In addition, Secretary of State and gubernatorial candidate Kemp refused to provide a paper trail for votes in Georgia. Preparing for a possible loss because of Abrams’ popularity, Kemp declared today that he was investigating Democrats’ hacking into the vulnerable voting computers although he has no evidence. He has been warned for years about the problems with this machines but said nothing as long as he supervised the winning of Republicans.

Voting machines bought almost two decades ago were meant to last no more than 15 years, manufacturing companies have gone out of business or don’t make the computers, and most spare parts are available only on eBay or Craigslist from other discarded computers. Even if voting machines work, they work slowly, meaning long lines with people not staying to vote in a form of voter depression. In 2012, over 500,000 people didn’t vote because of extremely long wait lines. Some states use provisional ballots to solve problems in computers but don’t count them after the election. Three privately held companies, subject to little oversight and put convenience over security, control over 90 percent of all the nation’s election systems. The Associated Press reports three privately held companies sell and service more than 90 percent of the nation’s election systems.

When Republicans aren’t admitting that they want to suppress the votes of minority and lower-income people, they claim laws beginning in 2005 are to stop voter fraud. Between 2000 and 2014, evidence found 35 credible voter fraud allegations among the 834,065,926 ballots. Yet voter ID laws in the red states block about 5 million people from casting ballots—many of for specific groups such as Native Americans in North Dakota, Latinx in Arizona and Kansas, students in New Hampshire, and people of color in Wisconsin. Conservative judge Richard Posner has apologized in his 2013 memoir by writing that the ID law is “now widely regarded as a means of voter suppression rather than of fraud prevention.” In 2018, voter ID laws, polling-place closures or changes, and state legislation to stop voter registration have replace Jim Crow laws of poll taxes, literacy exams, and property deeds. Paul Weyrich plotted Ronald Reagan’s win in 1980:

“I don’t want everybody to vote . . . our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

It’s still a miracle if people vote this year—or ever again. But not all is lost:

A federal judge ordered Georgia’s Secretary of State Brian Kemp, also running for governor, to stop throwing away absentee ballots without giving the voters advance notice and a chance to rectify any issues. Kemp’s workers had been making determinations about whether a signature matched the one on file without any scientific reason. Kemp’s “exact match” requirement threw out voter registrations even if the mistake was only an extra space. The judge used Kemp’s words that absentee voting is “a privilege and a convenience,” not a right by describing the staying of an injunction—that she refused—is also not a right.  The 11th Circuit Court refused Kemp’s appeal to the judge’s order keeping absentee ballots.

In Ohio, provisional election ballots previously purged from voter rolls between 2011 and 2015 must be counted if voters still live in the same county of their last registration and if they are not disqualified from voting because of a felony conviction, mental incapacity, or death.

Overall, two-thirds of the public (67%) says “everything possible should be done to make it easy for every citizen to vote,” while only about a third (32%) say citizens “should have to prove they want to vote” by registering in advance.  [visual voting]

After 80 percent of voters said that healthcare is extremely or very important to their vote, GOP members of Congress lied to the public that they supported pre-existing conditions–even if they voted to do away with the Affordable Care Act. The 78% importance for the economy is lower than in any recent midterm.

Roxanne Gay encouraged everyone to vote:

“Every single day there is a new, terrifying, preventable tragedy fomented by a president and an administration that uses hate and entitlement as political expedience. If you remain disillusioned or apathetic in this climate, you are complicit. You think your disillusionment is more important than the very real dangers marginalized people in this country live with.”

Republicans claim that the GOP wants freedom, but they want freedom only for themselves, not for minorities, women, and lower-income people. (Below: a sign that police forced a woman to remove from her yard.)

All voter polls are open until at least 6:00 pm, some later. Here’s a list by state.

Vote as if your life depends on it. It might.

October 11, 2018

United States, A Banana Republic

“Banana Republic” is a term to describe governments with countries that suffer from lack of democracy and corruption. How the United States fits the description of a “banana republic”:

An extremely stratified social class with a large impoverished working class and an ultra-rich ruling-class plutocracy with a lack of a middle class and lack of upward mobility: The U.S. has had the highest income inequality and lowest upward mobility of any country in the developed world for several years, and it keeps worsening.

Government’s corrupt connection with big business: As in fascist countries, U.S. conservative politicians have supported the merger of state and corporate power by removing regulations, giving corporations billions of dollars in tax cuts and subsidies, and putting banks and corporations above the law. The person occupying the Oval Office is profiting with millions—possibly trillions—from domestic groups and foreign government encouraged to use his businesses despite his constitutional violation of the Emoluments Clause.

A male business, political, and military elite controlling the nation: In a circular pattern, politicians take money from business for campaigns in exchange for subserviency, and conservative politicians vote for increased military expenses to keep money flowing into their states. Lack of regulations moves wealth offshore while workers suffer. Conservative politicians put white conservative males into control on the courts, protecting only white males and big business and permitting illegal tax evasion. All new DDT judicial nominees are male, recognizing that “we the ruling males” are in charge instead of the constitutional “we the people.” Less than one-third of the U.S. population is white male, but they still control the nation.

Police corruption and expanding police state: The frequent pattern of using military equipment for police actions is like military actions in Iraq, and law enforcement increasingly kill people in “accidents” or badly orchestrated sting operations. Laws since 9/11 permit warrantless wiretapping and other tactics common in dictatorships.

Highest incarceration rate in the world: The 716 prisoners per 100,000 residents in the U.S. far exceed the 114 in Canada, the 79 in German, and even the 162 in Saudi Arabia. Privatized prisons have greatly increased the number of prisoners because the government gets kickbacks from these businesses for their campaigns that keep them the ruling party.

Lack of access to healthcare: Despite the Affordable Care Act, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) created a path to health insurance that doesn’t provide for pre-existing conditions, hospitalizations, maternal care, and other health needs by conning them into believing that they save money. DDT’s newest plan is like a person paying less for a car that doesn’t run. People in the U.S. pay more than most developed countries for healthcare expenses and are reduced to medical bankruptcies but are convinced that universal health care is evil.

Much shorter life expectancy in poor than wealthy: In one West Virginia county, life expectancy for males is 63.9 years compared to 81.6 years, 17.7 years higher, in affluent Fairfax County (VA)—a difference of 27 percent. Bangladesh life expectancy is higher than McDowell County (WV). U.S. women’s life expectancy was #41 in 2010.

Hunger and malnutrition: Banana republics are associated with food insecurity, but the need for food stamps in the U.S. has increased from one in 50 during the 1970s to one in eight with 50 million people, including 12 million children, suffering from food insecurity.

High infant mortality: Fifty-seven countries have a smaller infant mortality rate than the U.S. In first-day death rate, babies dying the day that they are born, the U.S. has the highest rate in the industrialized world, twice as many as in the European Union.

One idealistic view of saving the United States is to vote, and millions of people want to exercise their right to select their representatives in this republic. Yet conservative politicians block the ability for millions to vote. Beyond white males rigging the districts so that a state with a majority of Democrats will elect almost all Republicans for state and federal elected officials, voter ID laws that prevent people from voting. The following states have created these ways to keep people from voting:

Arizona: Secretary of State Michele Reagan won’t be required to update voter registration addresses of 384,000 Arizonans who moved since the last election, even if the Motor Vehicle Division system won’t change addresses until people “opt-in” to update their information in conflict with the National Voter Registration Act. When people show up at the wrong polling place because of Reagan’s inaction, the voter can go to the new address and cast a provisional ballot. The state, however, has a record of destroying these without recording them. Reagan said that she’ll fix the system sometime next year—after the midterm election. Maybe.

Florida: Whether prisoners and released felons can vote is dependent on state law. A few states don’t have restrictions against voting after the felons serve their sentence, but a few rely on “individual petitions.” Of the 6 million people with felony convictions permanently barred from voting, about 1.5 million of them are from Florida, and over 20 percent of them are black. Gov. Rick Scott is in charge of deciding whether each one can be permitted to vote, and he has granted only 8 percent of those requesting the right to vote with a backlog of over 10,000 not yet reviewed.

Georgia: Brian Kemp is the state Secretary of State and in charge of elections. Kemp is also running for governor. He is keeping 53,000 voter applications from being processed because of typographical errors. The list has a disproportionately high number of black voters. Kemp’s opponent is Stacey Abrams, a black woman. Because Kemp is in charge of elections, there is no proof that he legitimately won the primary to become candidate in the general election, especially after indications of voting corruption within the past few years. Kemp is also being sued for using a racially-biased methodology to purge 700,000 voters from the rolls in the past two years and failing to send notices of the removal to voters. That’s ten percent of registered voters. Kemp also kept the state from having a paper trail to its woefully inadequate digital voting system, allowing him more election corruption.

North Dakota: A state law, challenged but approved in court, mandates that all voter IDs have residential addresses. Even the Supreme Court thinks that people without street addresses should not have the right to vote. This law takes voting rights from the homeless and people living on Native American reservations who lack the “residential address.”

Texas: Delivering a letter demanding that Waller County address its problems with rejecting registrations of students at Prairie View A&M resulted in the arrest of the campaign staffer presenting the missive to a clerk. Jacob Aronowitz, a field director for Democratic congressional candidate Mike Siegel, photographed the clerk taking the letter, and the clerk objected. When he was arrested, Aronowitz called Siegal who heard Aronowitz asking why he was being held and telling the detaining officer that his lawyer, Siegel, was running for office. Aronowitz was asked for Siegel’s political party, and the officer kept Aronowitz’s phone with his records when he was released. The county gave students the address to use for registration because all students use one post office box and then refused to accept it on the last day to register, jeopardizing the registrations. The letter demanded that the county update the existing registrations because students had followed the county’s direction. Waller County is uncomfortable with students voting because the student body is 82 percent black while the county is 70.5 percent white. It opposed students’ right to vote until a 1979 case in the U.S. Supreme Court upheld students’ right to register at their college address. The county wouldn’t obey the high court ruling, declaring in 2004 that students were ineligible to vote because they failed to meet the residency requirement. The campus did not get a polling place until 2013. So the county, which does not want the students to vote, gave them the wrong address for registration, refused to accept the address they gave students, arrested a person obtaining verification that he delivered a letter of complaint, lied about his not identifying himself, asked for the political party of the person objecting, and refused to return the arrested party’s possessions when he was released.

Voting could help move the United States from a banana republic—if citizens get the permission to cast a ballot and their ballots are counted. Until that time, the U.S. will remain a banana republic.

August 23, 2018

Voter Fraud: Perpetuated by Government Officials

Perhaps worried that legislation could keep Russian from winning Republicans in the upcoming election, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is blocking election security legislation from moving through the Senate. The bill had bipartisan support from co-sponsors James Lankford (R-OK), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Conservative Roy Blunt (R-MO) had scheduled a markup before DDT’s action postponed it.

At the same time, Reality Winner, who leaked information about the Russians’ hacking at least 100 elections systems, was sentenced to 63 months in federal prison for leaking security documents. Her sentence is the longest in history for providing classified information to the media.  has been sentenced to 63 months in federal prison for leaking government documents regarding Russian attempts to hack voter registration databases.

While the federal government ignores Russia’s cyberattacks into the U.S. election, Microsoft found and disabled six malicious websites created over the past several months and trying to provide expanded cybersecurity protection for campaigns and election agencies using Microsoft products. Two attacks are on conservative think tanks that have broken with DDT.

Less than two weeks ago, organizers for a “voting village” at the annual Def Con hacker convention in Las Vegas set up voting machines and invited 50 participants between the ages of 8 and 16 to hack facsimile websites of 13 battleground states. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/aug/22/us-elections-hacking-voting-machines-def-con  An 11-year-old girl broke into a website within ten minutes before convention participants moved to a new state’s website every 30 minutes with the typical break-in time at 15 minutes.

Flaws in the states’ election systems:

  • A voting scanner and tabulator, which 24 states use, have no password or software verification to keep it from being overridden.
  • A touchscreen voting machine can easily be reprogrammed to play music and animated clips.
  • An electronic poll book machine that signs in voters on Election Day was hacked in five seconds, potentially exposing “unencoded” personal information on voters.
  • If the database isn’t secure, a hacker can delete every tenth registration which turns people away from polling stations.
  • Even if a voting machine is not hacked or ever connected to the internet, there are ways to affect the results, researchers say.
  • The election winner can be changed in 22 seconds by taking a single disc from a polling place even if machines were never connected to the internet.
  • Almost one out of three candidates for the U.S. House have a security error on their campaign websites.
  • Vote totals on a replica election night results page show that a candidate’s name has been changed by remote access.
  • Changing the election’s winner using a single disc with malicious software brought back from a mock polling place, where the machines were never connected to the internet, can take only 22 seconds.

University of Michigan’s J Alex Halderman stole a mock election in front of his audience during his 30-minute talk on the weaknesses of voting machines. He pointed out that hackers don’t need to change all the votes, just enough to swing a close election in favor of the opposition—in Russia’s case the Republicans. The centralization of the voting system comes from the connection of individual voting machines to PCs used to program individual elections. “One large vendor codes the system for 2,000 jurisdictions across 31 states,” Halderman said. His solution is to have paper ballots, something that five swing states don’t have. Even those with paper ballots refuse to execute a statistically valid check of paper ballots, requiring counting only a few hundred.

Federal officials were defensive about the hacking discoveries, claiming it was just a mock effort, but Village co-founder Harri Hursti said:

“Every voting machine in this room is in use in [the] next election [in] 2018. Every single one, every single model, is a model still in use.”

In Maryland, Russian oligarch Vladimr Potanin, close friend of Vladimir Putin, is the biggest investor in the company that hosts the state’s voter registration system, candidacy and election management system, online ballot delivery system, and unofficial election night results website. AltPoint’s largest investor is Vladimir Potanin, who is reportedly close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Other methods of voter fraud from officials:

Las Vegas District Court Judge Susan Johnson ordered at least two defendants who pled guilty to felony charges to complete their probation requirement and “vote for Trump” in 2020. Evidence about this voter fraud appears in both court transcripts and from interviews from “multiple criminal defense attorneys” who said that the judge gave this directive to at least four defendants. She suspended a 28-month prison sentence although he admitted to assault and battery with a deadly weapon so that he would have his voting rights restored in “plenty of time” to cast his ballot for the president. Another man was told to withdraw his plea and admit to a misdemeanor instead. Johnson said that she was just joking.

San Juan County (UT) Clerk John David Nielson helped falsify and backdate an election complaint to disqualify Democrat Willie Grayeyes from the County Commission race and claimed Grayeyes was ineligible to run because he didn’t live in the county. A U.S. district judge had to right the wrong that Nielson executed on the part of GOP candidate Wendy Black. Nielson admitted under oath that he had lied to keep Grayeyes off the ballot. Grayeyes, a Navajo, was able to run only because the tribe went to federal court to redraw commission boundaries for equal educational opportunities, fair treatment in the justice process, access to the ballot box, and their rightful share of oil and gas royalties.

Illinois GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner blocked legislation that would have required corrections officials throughout the state to help people detained in jails and prisons understand whether they can vote. Election and correction officials would have been mandated to offer ballots to people in jail before their trial if they want to vote and voter registration forms to people being released from jail with information about their voting rights. Minority groups disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system would have been many of the beneficiaries of the bill. Illinois alone has 4 million people with an arrest record who might have been affected by the legislation.

In an attempt to keep districts with large immigrant population smaller, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross inserted a question about a person’s citizenship status into the 2020 census. A number of courts have ruled against Ross’ decision since it was announced earlier this year, the most recent a federal court in California that is permitting two lawsuits to go forward against the federal government. This decision rejects the claim that federal courts cannot supervise the decision to add a citizenship question.

In a Virginia case, aides to GOP Rep. Scott W. Taylor forged signatures to get an independent candidate on the ballot to split the vote with the Democrat to help Taylor win. In New York, a campaign worker for Michael Grimm filed an extra petition for opponent Rep. Dan Donovan (R-NY) with no cover sheet, hoping that the violation would invalidate the entire filing and giving the race to Grimm. The scheme was uncovered, and Donovan ran in the primary, beating convicted felon and former representative Grimm almost two to one.

The Hopewell (VA) Electoral Board decided to put some candidates’ names in all uppercase because the candidates wanted this style although state election officials stated this was not permitted.

The U.S. Supreme Court contributed to the ability of states to commit voter fraud with a 5-4 ruling permitting massive purging of voter rolls. The federal National Voter Registration Act prevents states from eliminating voter registrations because people don’t vote. Ohio decided to mail a card, only in English, to people who didn’t vote for two years. If the card is not returned and the person doesn’t vote for another four years, the name is removed from the rolls. There is no proof that the person no longer lives at that address. The decision in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute permits that process.

Excuses for purging and mandated photo voter ID are voter impersonation, people voting twice, vote buying, absentee fraud, and voter intimidation. A study found 0.000003 alleged cases of fraud for every vote cast, but at least 5 million people are disenfranchised, the vast majority being minorities, women, elderly, and poor.

Approximately 25 percent of black voting-age citizens lacks a government-issued photo ID, compared with 8 percent of white voting-age citizens. Only 50.8 percent of white voters ages 18 to 29 were asked for ID compared to 72.9 percent of young black voters and 60.8 percent of young Hispanic voters. Minority voters are less likely to have flexible work hours or own transportation, creating a greater struggle to get IDs and cast ballots.

Republicans managed to destroy ACORN, a community organization that advocated for low- and moderate-income families in social issues such as neighborhood safety, voter registration, health care, and affordable housing. Conservative activist James O’Keefe secretly filmed staged and edited misleading interactions to portray low-level personnel as encouraging criminal behavior, and ACORN lost its funding.

Negative publicity from these videos led to punitive laws in at least 23 state for strict photo ID, limits on early voting, elimination of same-day voter registration, closures of polling places, restrictions on student voting, purging voter rolls, etc. The Supreme Court decision striking down part of the Voting Rights Act limited oversight of the new laws designed to limit votes to whites. A DOJ report explained the reasoning provided by Rep. Sue Burmeister, sponsor of Georgia’s voter restriction law:

“If there are fewer black voters because of this bill, it will only be because there is less opportunity for fraud. [Burmeister] said that when black voters in her black precincts are not paid to vote, they do not go to the polls.”

In North Carolina, Republican consultant Carter Wrenn admitted that the myth of voter fraud is only an excuse, “Of course it’s political. Why else would you do it?” He explained that the Republicans want to protect their majority.

Wrenn calls it “political”; I call it fraud.

August 22, 2018

‘Voter Fraud’: Gerrymandering, Officials Controlling Their Elections

After Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) lost the popular vote for his current position, he persuaded many of his followers that over three million undocumented immigrants had illegally voted for Hillary Clinton, coincidentally the number of votes he was short. To prove his point, he set up a special commission to find evidence to prove his claims. Only DDT’s true believers were allowed any information about the commission’s work, and one of its members sued to get documents as simple as times, agendas, and minutes of the meetings held in secret. He said that the documents show “a pre-ordained outcome to this commission to demonstrate widespread voter fraud, without any evidence to back it up.”

The commission became nationally known when it demanded extensive personal information about every voter in the nation. In at least one state, Colorado, people dropped their voter registration in response. Documents indicated that the commission was considering a demand for all information of people excluded from jury duty. The commission’s plan was also to promote the faulty Crosscheck program that promised but failed to identify duplicate registration.

The leader of the task force, also the leader of the voter suppression legislation across the United States, is Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Despite the judgments against him in court, including one judge ordering lawyer Kobach to take remedial legal classes, he initially garnered 191 more votes for governor in the GOP primary than opponent in an election with over 300,000 votes for the seven GOP candidates. At least until 100 votes appeared for Kobach’s opponent, gubernatorial incumbent Jeff Colyer, when a county clerk pointed out an error in Kobach’s reporting, making the difference between the two only 121 votes with 8,000-10,000 outstanding provisional ballots. Meanwhile county clerks reported that totals posted by the office of the Secretary of State, Kobach’s office, were missing votes for his opponent. Yet Kobach proceeded with campaigning for the general election, comfortable that he will win. The deadline for the final count was to be August 21, less than two weeks. The debacle continued for several days with other violations.

Public outrage forced Kobach out of any voters’ counts so he appointed his assistant Eric Rucker to certify the final election results. A donor to Kobach’s campaign, Rucker formerly served as top aid to an earlier Kansas AG during the AG’s investigation for misleading judges and a grand jury in the probe into the murder of Dr. George Tiller who performed abortions in Overland Park. The state suspended the AG’s law license for professional misconduct, and Rucker was admonished for not correcting misleading information he provided to the state supreme Court. Last year, a former employee sued Rucker after he told her grandmother that she had been fired because she didn’t go to church. All the ballots submitted after the election pushed the number of votes to Kobach, and Colyer conceded the primary a week ago.

Kansas is a red state, but Sam Brownback, the evangelical Catholic governor until DDT appointed him for U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom this year, drove the state into massive debt with his huge tax cuts. GOP voters are concerned about people not turning out for Kobach because they don’t want to return to Brownback’s problems.

Kobach isn’t the only state official controlling his own election by setting policies for people who can vote and then announcing the actual count. Governor of Florida Jeb Bush, when his brother George W. was the subject of controversial votes in the state that gave Bush the presidency with the help of the U.S. Supreme Court, promised to “deliver Florida” to his brother. Katherine Harris, Florida’s Secretary of State and co-chair of George W.’s state campaign, was more help to Jeb. In George W.’s 2004 run, and Ohio GOP Secretary of State Ken Blackwell co-chaired W.’s state campaign while overseeing the election that gave W. his second term. After Blackwell’s voter suppression activities during that election, he stayed secretary of state while running for governor. Ohio GOP Secretary of State Jon Husted, candidate for lieutenant government, purged over two million people from voter rolls since 2011.

In Georgia, Secretary of State Brian Kemp won the primary to be the GOP gubernatorial candidate in this fall’s general election. His history shows a number of voter violations (aka fraud). After 670 ballots were cast in a county with 276 registered voters, the number of registered voters magically changed to 3,704 after a federal lawsuit. Georgia has no paper record of votes, and the computers were erased the day before watchdogs were authorized to examine them in a legal proceeding. In the past, husband and wife registered at the same address were assigned different polling places and districts, and a voting machine provided a ballot for another congressional district. In one district, a results tape from a computer showed that it had not collected any votes at the close of the election, and in another precinct a race in a congressional district were omitted from a results tape. In response to the investigation of his failing to process registration applications of minority voters, Kemp investigated voter advocacy groups.

Kemp is known for being sloppy as secretary of state: three years ago, he released personal identifying information, including Social Security numbers for six million people to the media, political parties, and other paying subscribers who legally buy voter information from the state. Kemp called it a “clerical error.” He knows that Georgia’s computers are vulnerable to Russian hacking but refuses to accept a paper record for voting. His argument is that it could “subvert the Constitution to achieve the goal of federalizing elections under the guise of security.” Only five states, including Georgia, cannot be audited because the voting machines have no paper trail. Kemp also uses Exact Match to eliminate voter registrations if a typographical error occurs; twice as many blacks as whites were blocked from the rolls. In a state where population increased, the number of voter registrations decreased.

County officials appear to be helping Kemp with potential fraud: officials in a largely black Georgia county, population 7,000, closed seven of nine polling places with no justification for its claim of inaccessibility to people with disabilities.

Like GOP state officials in other states, especially secretaries of state, Kemp has the ability to commit voter fraud, that Kobach is supposedly fighting, such as easily-hacked computers at polls, purges of voter rolls, failure to register voters until after an election, investigations to intimidate groups registering minorities, etc. For the first time in the state’s history, a black woman is running for governor—against Brian Kemp. And he has control of the voting. The legislature stays white and Republican in a state with fewer than 40 percent white population because of gerrymandering.

In another case reflecting voter fraud through districting to favor Republicans, Democrat Danny O’Connor is fighting to win a special election for the U.S. House in the badly gerrymandered Ohio District 12. GOP Troy Balderson has been ahead since August 7, but some found votes, reminiscent of the magical discovery of 7,500 votes in Wisconsin in 2011 that elected GOP state Supreme Court justices, appeared after reports of election results. As provisional and absentee ballots dribble in, Balderson has maintained enough lead to win but perhaps not to avoid a recount, mandated if he wins by .5 percent or less, about 1,000 votes difference. With about 3,000 ballots left, O’Connor is behind by 1,781. The deadline is August 24. No matter the result, the two candidates will oppose each other in the upcoming general election. (Right, Ohio District 12)

Kobach maintained that voter fraud matters in close contests and asserted immediately after the August 7 election that he didn’t know how many non-citizens voted in his primary. Once Colyer conceded, he said, “It is highly unlikely that voter fraud changed the outcome.” He bragged about the new Kansas law that made the state with “the most secure election laws in the country” although a federal judge struck down the law last June. Until Colyer conceded, Kobach criticized the judge’s ruling as a concern for Kansas voter fraud. Winning seems to have erased any of Kobach’s concerns about voter fraud, especially when he’s in a position to help facilitate it. Now he can campaign for the general election and start worrying about voter fraud again.

July 20, 2017

Voter Suppression Goes National

A distraction from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) yesterday was his threats to the DOJ top personnel and the special investigator in charge of tracking Russian collusion with DDT and his associates. Today’s shocker was the revelation that he’s checking into the possibility of using his “presidential pardon” for his staff, his family, and himself. A vital issue for democracy in the United states, however, is his new voting commission which met in public for the first time yesterday.

An obsession with big numbers led DDT to claim that the Hillary Clinton would not have bested him by almost three million votes if the nation didn’t have three to five million illegal votes cast in the election. In his fits of pique, he supports the Republicans who use voter suppression to win elections, state by state, through draconian laws and voter registration purging. Several days ago, the commission riled up secretaries of state across the country by demanding voter roles, including birth dates, addresses, Social Security numbers, and individual voting records.

Across the nation, those requested to send information have primarily said that they would provide the same information that they would to any request for public information. After one lawsuit, the commission must stop collecting voter information until a court makes a ruling. Another suit addressed privacy concerns, especially because the storage computer lacks security.

Amazed at the backlash to the commission, DDT had an official rollout with its chair, VP Mike Pence, and its mastermind and vice chair, Kris Kobach, presenting its goals in what has been called its first meeting. The real first meeting was done just among the members in private. Kobach is known for creating and disseminating the most unreasonable voter ID laws in the country as well as purging voter registration lists in Kansas where he is secretary of state. In the past, Kobach has been one of the strongest defenders of states’ rights.

One stated reason from the commission is to study voter fraud. It has been studied ad infinitum since states started passing laws to prevent minorities, women, and low-income people from casting votes. Women are easily disenfranchised if they have married because names on current identification don’t match the birth certificate. They are also a larger percentage of the elderly who sometimes have no birth certificates. One comprehensive study of every federal election between 2000 and 2014 found 31 credible instances of voter impersonation out of over one billion votes cast. Only four cases of voter fraud were identified in the 135 million votes cast last November.

Wisconsin was one of 14 states last year implementing new voting restrictions for the first time. Voter turnout fell in that state to a 20-year low, especially among poor and black residents. According to federal court records, 300,000 registered voters, 9 percent of the electorate, lacked strict forms of voter ID in Wisconsin.  An analysis of states with and without strict voter ID laws, the number of voters, primarily black and poor, was suppressed in all the states that passed restrictive laws.  This comparison showed that Wisconsin’s voter-ID law reduced turnout by 200,000 votes. Donald Trump won the state by only 22,748 votes. Voter suppression has been confirmed by other studies.

Like officials in 31 other states, Kobach uses Crosscheck to purge voters from registration lists and hopes to use the program with all 50 states. The program is known for huge numbers of false positives, but these people are disenfranchised. The ACLU has sued Kobach four times for voter suppression; he lost all four cases. With great investigative zeal, he found only nine cases of fraudulent voting out of 1.8 million votes. In describing registration and voting by noncitizens as “pervasive,” Kobach could find only one of these cases in Kansas. Requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote in Kansas has blocked one of seven Kansans since 2013.

Pro-commission people constantly use the term “voter fraud” for registrations for one person in multiple states and for deceased people.  Yet registering in multiple states is legal; it is the act of voting in more than one state that is a felony. Jared Kushner, DDT’s son-in-law and adviser with high-level security clearance, is registered in more than one state. The same is true for Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, senior adviser and white supremacist Steve Bannon, and Press Secretary Sean Spicer. And probably many of DDT’s officials. Gregg Phillips, creator of the app VoteStand to help people report potential voter fraud, is registered in Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas. DDT called Phillips a guru on voter fraud. One study shows 2.75 million people registered to vote in multiple states, usually because of recent moves. In just Clark County (NV), over 150,000 of the county’s 700,000 active registered voters within one year.

The commission claims to be “bipartisan,” but it is run by two seriously partisan Republicans and packed with strong supporters of the voter fraud myth. Another member is Ohio’s former secretary of state Ken Blackwell who ordered county clerks not to accept voter registration on anything less than paper the thickness of a postcard. He also accidentally distributed voter lists with full Social Security numbers for the state’s voters.

House Republicans seem unconcerned about voter fraud. They are attempting to defund the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, the only federal agency that exclusively works to make the voting process secure. The move comes after the EAC worked with the FBI to investigate Russian hacking. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also fired its cyberattack expert.

For over a decade, computer experts have issued warnings about the vulnerability of equipment used for voting, especially the direct-recording electronic (DRE) machines. At least five states lack any paper trail for votes, and another 24 use a mixture. Thus only 21 states in the nation have a system for verifying votes. After the Bush/Gore debacle in 2000 when punch cards were unreadable, the Help America Vote Act provided states with $3 billion in 2002 to purchase modern equipment. Most of the states used the money for DRE machines that provided to paper trail.  Russian hackers tried to access election computers in at least 21 states last year, and that may be a conservative estimate.

About states’ reaction to submitting personal information about voters, DDT delivered a line that should have brought laughs: “If any state does not want to share this information, one has to wonder what they’re worried about. And I asked the Vice President, I asked the commission: What are they worried about? There’s something. There always is.”

Yes, DDT, if you are hiding your tax returns, your visitor logs, your conversations with an adversarial country, your—it goes on and on—you must have something to hide.

Courts have determined that voter suppression laws, including but far beyond voter IDs, are “passed with racially discriminatory intent.” GOP legislators admit that the purpose of these laws is to reduce the number of Democrats at the polls. But DDT’s new commission claims that it is “fighting voter fraud” and “protecting election integrity.” The commission ignores the fact that ten percent of people eligible to vote lack the identification to satisfy these new GOP laws. DMVs necessary to obtain IDs and early-voting places close in non-white, non-rich, and non-GOP neighborhoods. Commission members claim that no one ever complains about their disenfranchisement. They do, but they have no effect on the process outside the courts.

Republicans need the new voting commission to stay in power. They will divert attention from the democracy of paper trails for computer voting, enfranchising all eligible voters, early voting, and simplified voter registration. Republicans hate mail-in voting popular in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington because voting is made easier. They hate the automatic voter registration because any eligible voter can easily access the process. They hate a paper trail because the votes can be recounted. The sole goal of most GOP legislators is to keep their party in power at any cost to democracy. The United States doesn’t suffer from voter fraud–it suffers from GOP fraud.

June 30, 2017

Federal Commission Wants All the Voting Registration Data

Filed under: Voting — trp2011 @ 10:25 PM
Tags: , , ,

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has been furious since his election last November that he missed getting the majority of popular votes by at least three million. He spent the first few months claiming voter fraud by undocumented immigrants, but white supremacist may have given him a solution for punishing people who disagreed with him. On May 11, DDT signed one of his executive orders, examining both voter fraud and suppression. Toward that end, he appointed Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to be vice-chair of DDT’s commission who stated that the commission’s sole objective is to support DDT’s lie that voter fraud was involved in the 2016 election.

DDT has claimed that the commission would be bipartisan, but among Democrats are a West Virginia county clerk and a former Arkansas state legislator who doesn’t know why he was chosen. Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap and New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner hope to look into Russia’s interference in the election, but that was not part of the commission’s charge.  Nor is the growing number of voter suppression laws across the nation since the Supreme Court gutting of the 1965 Voting Rights Act in 2013.

Kobach has an illustrious history in voter suppression throughout the nation.In 2010, the Kansan started providing states with bills to prevent a nonproblem when he  provided Arizona with its language for demanding citizenship papers, citizenship proof to register to vote, and strict photo ID requirements for voting. The Arizona “show your papers”  law failed in the Supreme Court, but Arizona can still require citizenship proof for state elections. People have to register twice—once for federal candidates and the other for state/local elections.

In 2011, Kobach introduced the Kansas law requiring residents to give proof of citizenship to be registered as a voter. Lawsuits against the law are still in court because the federal National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) requires only “the minimum amount of information necessary” to verify citizenship. Last April the court demanded documents to prove Kobach’s claims that enough citizens are registering to force higher standards from NVRA.  The ACLU claims that these show that he lobbied DDT to change the law, indicating that he knew his process was inconsistent with current federal law. Last week, a federal judge fined him $1,000 for making “patently misleading representations” about these documents.

In 2015, Kobach, he created a system suspending tens of thousands of eligible voters from the rolls but claimed that “nobody’s being disenfranchised.” He is the only secretary of state in the country with the power to prosecute people for committing voter fraud. Kobach’s office also compared voter rolls to temporary driver’s licenses for non-citizens and commissioned outside firms to poll non-citizens about voting habits using these driver’s licenses. He also asked the Department of Homeland Security to compare a list of suspected non-citizen voters against a list of naturalized citizens.

In Kansas, Kobach used a database called Crosscheck to look for voters registered in two states and plans a similar process with the data that he collects from the 50 states. It supposedly matches voters’ names and dates of birth to flag people who are double registered. Unfortunately experts have found that it finds 200 false positives for every one legitimate result. Kobach could find almost 1 million false positives. Other states have dropped the program because it flagged one in six Latinos, one in seven Asian Americans, and one in nine African Americans as potential double registrants in the states examined.

This week, Kobach sent letters to all 50 secretaries of state requiring “publicly-available voter roll data” including ten types of sensitive information within two weeks. One of these is the last four digits of the registrants’ Social Security number. There was no indication of how Kobach or the commission chair, Vice President Mike Pence, plans to use the information—or keep it secure. Kobach may be on the way to setting up a national system like the one he developed in Kansas.

The majority response to Kobach’s letter was “no.” He can’t even get Social Security numbers from Kansas because state law prevents it. Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson, a commission member, said that she would provide only voters’ names and their congressional district assignments. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said in a statement that he will “not provide sensitive voter information to a commission that has already inaccurately passed judgment that millions of Californians voted illegally.” Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill said that she would be “withholding protected data.” She added:

“In the same spirit of transparency, we will request that the commission share any memos, meeting minutes or additional information as state officials have not been told precisely what the commission is looking for. This lack of openness is all the more concerning, considering that the vice chair of the commission, Kris Kobach, has a lengthy record of illegally disenfranchising eligible voters in Kansas.”

Mississippi’s Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann hadn’t gotten the letter when he formulated his response:

“As all of you may remember, I fought in federal court to protect Mississippi voters’ rights for their privacy and won. In the event I were to receive correspondence from the commission requesting (what the other state received) … My reply would be: They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi is a great state to launch from.”

In Missouri, however, the secretary of state said that he will cooperate. Jay Ashcroft is the son of former U.S. AG John Ashcroft, Kobach’s mentor at the Justice Department.

In some states, the secretaries of state are not responsible for voter information. For example, the two largest counties in Arizona, not the state, maintain their information.

The letter had also suggested that the data be sent to an insecure email address unprotected by even basic encryption technology, a faulty method for the goal of improving the security and integrity of federal election systems. The federal Privacy Act of 1974 prohibits the federal government from keeping records of voters’ party affiliation except in rare circumstances. The law was enacted after Watergate and concerns about Richard Nixon collecting personal information on U.S. voters. Still, Kobach hopes that the Justice Department will get the information for him if states would send him the data.

In the original letter, Kobach wrote that “any documents that are submitted to the full Commission will also be made available to the public.” Later he reversed his position and said that it would be stored on a secure server. Voter data is useful for identity theft. Almost 200 million records for U.S. voters compiled for DDT’s 2016 campaign was available for 12 days until a techie pointed out the problem.  The Center for Democracy and Technology compared the data availability to a leak of toxic waste. Releasing the data to Kobach would mean having faith in him to keep the material secure.

The accusation of widespread voter fraud is fraudulent; the GOP uses it to eliminate votes from women, minorities, and the poor. The type that voter suppression laws intend to control is tremendously rare; they are only a burden to a largely non-existent problem. An examination of DDT’s claims about undocumented immigrants voting in mass during the 2016 presidential election has proved false. A federal judge ruled that some of Kobach’s proposed ID requirements constituted a “mass denial of a fundamental constitutional right.”

Candidates around the United States are already beginning to incorporate opposition against Kobach’s plan. Kobach is a candidate for Kansas governor in 2018. A question in Kansas is whether Republicans value their privacy.

Imagine if the Democrats tried to collect all the voter data!

November 7, 2016

Voting in the U.S., a Third World Country

Filed under: Voting — trp2011 @ 8:53 PM
Tags: , ,

 

Forget the problems of the FBI’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and the massive number of lies that Donald Trump has been permitted to publicize about Hillary Clinton because the media is no longer a “truth squad”—quote from “journalist” Chris Wallace. Three years ago, five Supreme Court justices gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and chaos prevailed.

Throughout the nation, “Trump Trolls” are spreading misinformation to confuse voters. Tweets, disguised as campaign ads, tell people to “vote from home” by texting in their votes. Twitter claims it has tried to delete this falsehood, but it has not. Yesterday, trolls repeated this falsehood and added lies about voting on November 9 for Hillary Clinton to avoid the long lines. Tweets also falsely claimed that people needed seven kinds of ID at the polls.

In addition to being blatant lies, the tweets also violate Twitter’s policies because of the claims that the messages are “paid for by Hillary For President.” They could also violate the Federal Election Commission law. Clinton’s website is “Hillary for America,” not Hillary For President, and the Clinton campaign has created a reply to the texting number that “the ad you saw was not approved by Hillary For America in any way.” Trolls then shifted the number to the Clinton campaign with the response “Thanks for being a part of the campaign!” that trolls hope “sounds like it counted the vote.”

The nation now has 868 fewer polling places than four years ago, and the vast majority of those that disappeared are in minority- and student-heavy areas of Arizona, North Carolina, and Texas—states where the Voting Rights Act no longer has the ability to ensure that all registered voters can get to the polls. Almost half the closed polls are in Texas, all in counties with established records of discrimination and recent violations of the Voting Rights Act. Just one poll alone in Cincinnati (OH) had 4,000 people in line waiting to vote.

These are a few other recent voting issues in potentially swing states:

Arizona: The Supreme Court reinstated a state law banning political campaigners from collecting absentee ballots completed by voters after it was overturned by a lower court.

New Jersey: A federal judge ruled that the RNC’s “poll monitoring and ballot security activities” do not violate a legal settlement from 1982 despite the purpose of the “monitoring” is to intimidate minority voters.

North Carolina: A federal judge ordered county elections boards to immediately restore registrations wrongfully purged from voter rolls, but that was only four days before Election Day and long after people were turned away from early voting. Yesterday the GOP sent a press release bragging about its reduction of black voters.

Nevada: Donald Trump and the state GOP director are accusing polls of being “rigged” because long lines at a Las Vegas Latino neighborhood prevented closing until 10:00 pm. There was no justification for their complaints or the statement that Democratic voters were being bussed in to get votes from “certain people,” and people were in line before the polls closed hours earlier.

Ohio: A three-judge panel on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the restraining order against the plans of Donald Trump’s campaign, his adviser Roger Stone, and their associates to harass and intimidate voters at the state polls tomorrow. Stone doesn’t plan to keep his intimidation to Ohio: he plans to direct “watchers” to 20 Democratic-dominated and mostly urban precincts in eight battleground states—Florida, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Monitoring at the polls employs racial profiling. Trump supporters plan to check on everyone who doesn’t “speak American,” his definition for Mexicans, Syrians, and other legal immigrants. Lawsuits brought by local Democratic parties in Arizona, Nevada, Ohio, and Pennsylvania accuse monitors of violating not only the Voting Rights Act of 1965 but also the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871. That law from almost 150 years ago following the South’s loss of the Civil War states that obstruction of anyone’s right to vote based on race is illegal.

It’s been only 50 years ago since many people were murdered for their attempts to register or actually vote following a century of disenfranchisement through poll taxes, literacy tests, and all-white primaries.

Much of the GOP panic in voting by minorities comes from the massive surge of Hispanic voters. Black voters may not be turning out in the numbers that they did for President Obama in 2008 and 2012, sometimes because 2016 is the first year that the Voting Rights Act no longer protects them against voter suppression. But in Florida, almost one million of the 6.2 million early votes counted through yesterday are from Hispanics in a 100-percent increase over 2012. Over one-third of these voting Hispanics did not vote in 2012. Not only that, but the number of votes from blacks in the state has increased over 2012.

Hispanics have typically comprised a low percentage of voters. Former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer even said that they were no danger this year to Republican candidates because Hispanic Democrats “don’t vote.” But the 27 million Hispanics eligible to vote this year is a 26-percent increase over four years ago when only 48 percent of them voted, and the Hispanic early vote in Arizona is already double what it was in 2012.

With the possibility of successful early voting for Democrats, the GOP will be working on a solution to get rid of those pesky progressive votes. Jonah Goldberg claims in a column for the conservative National Review that the events during the past week might have changed people’s decisions—citing all those negatives for Hillary Clinton. His innuendo that knowing about all these insinuations would move voters away from the Democratic candidate allows him to repeat all the recent accusations toward Clinton. He also writes, “Comey’s bombshell is a perfect illustration of how new facts can make a hash of things.” (Yesterday’s news exonerating Clinton pretty much cleaned up the hash.)  Goldberg repeats several of Clinton’s statements, but about Trump, he wrote, “Well, let’s just say he’s said a lot of things.”

Goldberg used the same argument that I’ve used in the past: “The standard argument against widespread early voting is that it encourages many people to make their decisions without important information available to the voters who wait until Election Day.” In that case, he’s right, but if we wait until Election Day to vote, we’re also missing more information that occurs after that time. And the many hours that people have to wait in line even with early voting show that states couldn’t handle all voting on Election Day. At this time, only seven states have not early voting: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.

Out of the kindness of his heart, Goldberg says that he doesn’t want “insurmountable obstacles” to voting, but like other conservatives he wants to make voting more difficult so that people will value this right. I’m sure he hates the Oregon systems of “motor-voter” registration in which eligible people are automatically registered to vote when they get their driver’s licenses and “vote by mail” in which ballots arrive in the mailbox and completed ones can be dropped off in easily accessible ballot boxes.

Only one party, the one that wants to totally control all laws and legislators in the United States, wants to make voting harder and harder. That is the mark of a Third World country.

Please vote by the close of polls tomorrow! And if you live in Oregon, drop off your ballot before then so that it will count.

October 31, 2016

U.S. Republicans Suppress Votes

The election is rigged, claims Donald Trump, and Iowa made the first arrest in 2016 for voter fraud. Terri Rote, 55, tried to vote for Trump at two separate polling stations in Des Moines and faces up to five years if convicted. She claimed that she was afraid that her first vote would be changed to Clinton. The system worked because she was caught. Investigation into the accusation that dead people were voting showed that some of these voters were mistakenly listed on death rolls, some had the same or similar names to dead people in their districts, and with others poll workers mistakenly scanned the wrong barcode on the voter rolls.

voter-protection-fake-badgeVoter fraud is the GOP excuse for suppressing the vote across the nation because Republicans think they can’t win in a fair contest. Trump  is sending people—including militia members and off-duty law enforcement officials–to take video and still cameras to search for voter fraud in nine cities with high minority populations. Roger Stone’s “Vote Protectors” are to have fake but official-looking ID badges to intimidate voters and livestream their images on the internet. Huffington Post printed off this “badge” from Stone’s website. The “badge” information is gone, but Stone still asks his “protectors” to execute “exit polls” to contest any Trump losses. In Ohio, Steve Webb plans to closely follow any voting minorities “to make them a little bit nervous.”

These actions could cause trouble for the RNC. In 1981, Stone helped the GOP New Jersey gubernatorial candidate win with a “ballot security” force wearing black armbands to intimidate minority voters. A lawsuit led to a Consent Decree on the RNC due to be lifted next year. It could be extended for at least eight years if the DNC wins its lawsuit showing current intimidation, including Stone’s message on social media that “poll watchers” should wear red shirts on Election Day as they supervise minority populations.

GOP-controlled states are also suppressing the vote:

Nevada: Despite orders from federal district Judge Miranda Du to provide early voting and Election Day polling sites on Indian reservations for the Nevada’s largest tribes, the state’s GOP Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske decided that she didn’t need to do this for any tribes not so ordered. Members of the Duckwater Shoshone Reservation must drive 275 miles roundtrip to register and vote, but Cegavske said that their request came 24 hours late. She stated several concerns including not knowing who could “investigate and prosecute potential election law violations occurring on sovereign tribal lands.” Her office has earlier set up extra polling places in fewer than 48 hours if the voters didn’t seem to be largely Democratic. Cegavske belongs to the Koch-owned ALEC.

North Carolina: Several of the nation’s most restrictive voter suppression laws were struck down earlier this year; judges wrote that North Carolina enacted these laws to “target African Americans with almost surgical precision.” The GOP has other ways to continue suppressing the vote, for example long wait times in 18 counties, including the largest four, that have lost most of the early-voting locations and have as little as three percent of the votes in 2012. In the other 82 counties, voting has averaged one-fourth more than 2012. Guilford County, with a population of almost one-half million people, lost 15 of the 16 early-voting locations from 2012. Voters at North Carolina A&T State University, a black college with over 10,000 students, must travel at least a mile away because its campus early-voting location was removed from campus.

north-carolina-voting

Another suppression system in the state is removing voters from the rolls. Grace Harrison, 100, was one of 100 Beaufort County residents—mostly black—who had consistently voted for decades but were forced to attend an in-person hearing to defend their right to vote because one piece of mail was bounced back from their addresses. The NAACP is suing the state because the National Voter Registration Act bans the removal of voters during the last 90 days before the election, and they must have more chances to respond to the mail. Part of the lawsuit also concerns the failure of the state to add tens of thousands of voters to the rolls who registered at a DMV over the past few years.

Gov. Pat McCrory, leader of the state’s “potty police” laws against transgender people and Trump supporter, cheered about the success of his alternate suppression techniques because Democratic voters were “not coming out” to the polls.

Ohio: A federal court order kept Ohio from purging 200,000 voter registrations just last week because they had not cast ballots since 2012. These voters may be disenfranchised, however, because their provisional ballots are frequently thrown out in Republican-controlled states. The state refuses to send these voters absentee ballots. The purge hit twice the number of people living in Democratic-leaning areas and targeted black residents in low socioeconomic neighborhoods and the homeless.

Texas: A court removed some restrictions on voting as a “poll tax” because the state-mandated IDs were more expensive than the sometimes free IDs not permitted for voting. Two years later, the federal appeals court ruled that the law discriminated against minority voters. Yet Texas officials found an easy way to continue voter suppression: they simply lie to the people about the necessary documents for voting. A federal judge ruled that voters can bring documents showing their names and addresses to the polls as identification and sign a statement saying that they had a “reasonable impediment” to getting a photo ID. Voting has started, and polls are still using outdated posters that list only the old rules. Poll workers tell voters in lines to have their photo IDs ready without telling people how to vote without these IDs. In a poll of 1,000 registered voters, only one-fourth of the respondents knew that a photo ID is not necessary to vote with ethnic minorities far more confused than white voters about regulations.

Indiana: Almost 45,000 newly-registered voters, almost all black, may not be able to vote because police raided the Indiana Voter Registration Project and seized documents on October 4—just one week before the end of the state’s early registration period. No one knows why, but the GOP vice-presidential candidate is still governor of Indiana and a close friend of Doug Carter, the superintendent of the Indiana State Police. Prior to the closure of the voter registration, police detectives went to the homes of people registering voters “to interrogate them.”

Wisconsin: Voters at the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay asked for an early-voting location on the grounds because of long voting lines during the primary, but Green Bay City Clerk Kris Teske refused, saying it lacked the necessary resources. Privately, however, Teske wrote that student voting would benefit the Democratic Party in an email to David Buerger, counsel at the Wisconsin Ethics Commission. Teske was appointed by GOP Gov. Scott Walker.

Georgia: As many as 100,000 voter-registration applications weren’t processed by the state that also refused to extent voter-registration deadlines despite the devastating Hurricane Matthew. GOP Secretary of State Brian Kemp, election overseer, said that “we can’t sit back and watch the radical left create chaos in our state” after the ACLU asked a court to reopen voter registration for the counties hardest hit by the hurricane. In an effort to intimidate voters, Georgia also moved a polling precinct for mostly black voters from a gymnasium to the sheriff’s office. Gwinnett County in suburban Atlanta has only one early-voting precinct for a population of almost 900,000 people.

Florida: When Gov. Rick Scott refused to extend the time for voter registration because of the hurricane, a judge overturned not only his decision but also the mandate that a signature on absentee ballots exactly match the original one which could be 50 years old.

James Comey, FBI director, may be responsible for the largest vote-rigging in the nation. His letter to legislators—not his responsibility—stated that the discovery of more “Clinton emails” might not be significant but should be investigated. The “existence” of these emails was released almost a month after they were found, and there’s no indication that any of the emails are either from or to Hillary Clinton. Yet Comey has allowed Republican House Oversight Chair Jason Chaffetz  to state that the FBI has “reopened” the case against Clinton, another falsehood.

The man who cheerfully released what he hoped was damaging information about Clinton said he didn’t tell people that Russia is meddling in the country’s election because he might influence voting. When Comey sat on that information, the DHS made it public. In the Clinton case, Comey found transparency important; in the Trump case, he wanted to hide what he knew.

James O’Keefe, who tried to make highly edited videos to lie about the Clinton campaign “rigging” Trump’s campaign, may be responsible for illegal wiretapping. Earlier O’Keefe videos destroyed ACORN and came close to destroying Planned Parenthood. Now he wants to destroy Clinton.

As people consider their beliefs, they need to know that the more they hear a statement—true or false—the more likely they are to believe it. Voter fraud, lack of trust in Clinton—the lies are embedded into minds in an “illusion of truth.” It’s much easier to believe in generalities than to search for facts.

August 26, 2016

Women’s Vote Can Change the World

Pickets-Women-White-HouseMy mother was born on November 12, 1899, just ten days too late to vote the United States legalized the vote for women. After 72 years of ridicule, imprisonment, forced feedings, and other forms of opposition to women gaining their full citizenship rights, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution passed on August 18, 1920—thanks to one state legislator from Tennessee who followed his mother’s advice. Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby signed the proclamation after the certified record from Tennessee arrived at the capitol.

it's a woman's worldIn the first election, only nine million women, about 35 percent of those eligible, voted, compared to almost twice as many men. Public sentiment followed one of the headlines about the event: “Is suffrage a failure?” For the next 45 years, black women in the South joined black men to eliminate literacy tests, poll tests, and other voter suppression activities. Since 1980, however, women have been the majority at every general election, electing Bill Clinton in 1996 with 11 percent more women’s votes than from men up to 13 percent greater number of votes from women for President Obama in 2008. Whoever thought that the feminist movement failed after 1920 is wrong.

As historian Jo Freeman wrote in A Room at a Time:

 “[Women behind the scenes] prepared women for political work and enlarged their sphere of activity. They did this through education, legitimation and infiltration…. And by doing what was possible, women went into politics the same way they got suffrage: slowly and persistently, with great effort, against much resistance, a room at a time.”

This evolution laid the foundation for women’s progress throughout 96 years, leading to Hillary Clinton’s nomination for presidential candidate this year. The biggest move forward after 1920 was the 1964 Civil Rights Act, initially created to deal with race discrimination. At the last minute, however, the category of sex was added to those of race, color, religion, and national origin that are outlawed in employment discrimination. While no one is sure that this story is accurate, a tale has been told of Virginia’s Howard W. Smith, opponent of all civil rights legislation, adding “sex” to Title VII in order to kill the bill. After the laughter, the Civil Rights Act—with the addition of “sex”—passed.

The first two years after the Civil Rights Act didn’t show much movement forward to support women until another milestone occurred 50 years ago on June 30, 1966. That was the day that the National Organization for Women (NOW) was founded. Thanks to this group’s actions, President Lyndon B. Johnson expanded affirmative action to include women in 1967, and the 1968 Equal Credit Opportunity Act allowed women to get credit—including credit cards—without their husbands’ signatures.

Even so, women weren’t guaranteed an equal education during the late 1960s, and sexual harassment was legal. Domestic violence favored men over women. The movie Twelve Angry Men represented the way that women were barred from serving on juries or had difficulties in being selected as jurors. A clerk advised Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren that permitting women to serve “may encourage lax performance of their domestic duties.” Women were also not employed as TV news anchors, airplane pilots, astronauts, firefighters, movie directors, CEOs—the list was endless.

When women were paid much less, the excuse was that they were single and living with their parents or married and earning “pin money” as a supplement to husbands’ earnings. (The same excuse is used 50 years later to excuse companies from paying teenagers the same wage for the same job as older people.) The medical and law schools that didn’t bar females from being students greatly limited the number of women in classes.

The “pill,” available in 1960 and to all married women after the Supreme Court ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut, was still kept from unmarried women until the Supreme Court ruled that unmarried women also could purchase contraceptives in Baird v. Eisenstadt (1972). The next year saw a Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortions on a limited basis. By 1978, employers were required to hire pregnant women. For the first four decades of NOW, women won pay discrimination lawsuits, and courts decided that the law covered sexual harassment.

The 21st century, however, brought reversals of women’s rights in health and finances. The Supreme Court allowed states to pass unbelievably restrictive anti-abortion laws and even prevent women from getting contraceptives from their insurance. In 2011, the John Roberts’ Supreme Court ruled that thousands of women bringing a class action lawsuit against Walmart for discrimination at work couldn’t sue as a group. Since the Dukes v. Wal-Mart ruling, judges have sided with employers so often that women are now finding it impossible to even find lawyers to take their cases.

Fifty-two years after the equality declared in the Civil Rights Act, women on the average make only 79 cents for every dollar made by a man, and breaking down this statistic by race makes the picture even worse. Black women have to work an additional seven months—19 months—to make the same salary as a man does in one year. That’s a lifetime pay gap of $877,480. one-third of all women in the nation—about 42 million people—live in or on the edge of poverty.

Fifty years later, women still struggle with many of the same issues as in the 1960s, frequently through the combination of racism, sexism, homophobia, and classism. Rape is illegal, but too often men are not punished for their behavior because women are accused of being at fault. Protection for women because of domestic violence can be based on a woman’s race, gender identity, and zip code. Because of this intersectionalism of prejudice, NOW plans to focus on reproductive rights, ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, and a criminal justice system that puts thousands of female victims of sexual assault—many of them women of color—into prison, especially with newer laws mandating sentences.

Bobbi1The year 2016 marks 50 years of women running in the Boston Marathon. Bobbi Gibbs (left) was told that “women are not physiologically able to run a marathon.” She entered without an application and beat over half the field in 3 hours, 21 minutes. The next year, Kathrine Switzer entered the marathon under her initials and beat her boyfriend, who had thought “if a girl can run a marathon, I can run a marathon.” Her time was only 4 hours 20 minutes, but she was physically attacked by the race co-director. In 1972, the AAU changed its rule barring women from running more than a mile and a half, and Title IX provided equality in education for women.

Women need one more amendment to the U.S. Constitution: The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Originally written by Alice Paul and Crystal Eastman, the proposed amendment to guarantee equal rights for women was first introduced in Congress in 1923 and introduced in every session between 1923 and 1970. Yet it reached the floor only once in 1946 when it was defeated in the Senate, 38 to 35. In 1972, however, the ERA passed the Congress and was sent to state legislatures for ratification.

Phyllis Schlafly mobilized conservative women with the fear that they would have to use the same toilets as men, and the amendment failed to get four of the necessary 38 state ratifications by 1977 with a deadline of March 22, 1979. Later five states rescinded their ratifications, which meant that the ERA failed to get enough states although the deadline was extended three years. This is the text of the amendment that so terrified conservatives throughout almost a century.

Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Activists have pushed for the ERA over the long haul just as they did for the vote. The amendment has been introduced in every Congressional session since 1982. As of now, 11 states have adopted constitutions or constitutional amendments providing that equal rights under the law shall not be denied because of sex.

When it was founded, “NOW’s purpose was to take action, to bring women into full participation in the mainstream of American society,” according to Terry O’Neill, the president of NOW. After 50 years, we have a start.

On the 96th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, the one that allowed women to vote, think what our country would be like in the 21st century if brave people had not fought for 72 years to make women equal citizens of the United States.

July 4, 2016

Voting Restrictions: Independence Day 2016

Filed under: Voting — trp2011 @ 3:11 PM
Tags: , , ,

It’s Independence Day, and gun owners will be proclaiming their freedom to own as many guns as they want with no restrictions because of the Constitution. Conservatives believe in an unfettered Second Amendment but refuse to accept the rights of people to vote. Although five amendments deal with voting, states can still limit voting rights, and five million people may not be able to cast their votes in the next presidential election because of these restrictions. The difference between freedom to vote in red and blue states has created a two-tiered system for the people of the United States.

In the past decade, more and more GOP-controlled states have passed restrictive laws to keep minorities, people in poverty, and women from casting their votes with the hopes that this will increase the number of Republican elected officials. With the 2010 election of Gov. Scott Walker and a GOP legislature, Wisconsin, a progressive leader in the nation during the 20th century, passed laws mandating voter IDs, cutting early voting from 30 days to twelve, eliminating night and weekend voting, banning straight-ticket voting, tightening residency requirements, and increasing difficulties in voter registration and absentee voting. The non-partisan agency to oversee state elections and educate the public about voter-ID laws is gone. Wisconsin is an example of how the abolishment of freedom to vote in the nation’s red states makes them redder.

In contrast, neighboring Minnesota, with highly similar geography, demographics, and cultural history, went in the opposite direction. Its residents elected Democrat Mark Dayton as governor in 2010 and a Democratic legislature two years later. The state raised taxes on the wealthy, invested in public education, expanded health care, and boosted unions as Wisconsin followed the opposite path toward Alabama and Mississippi status. Minnesota now has faster job growth, higher wages, lower unemployment—and the freedom to vote. Despite a beginning popularity for voter ID, the population defeated this ballot initiative in 2012 with 54 percent of the electorate and changed its caucus system to the more inclusive presidential primary.

The craziness with voter IDs was launched after the Supreme Court declared them constitutional in 2008. Liberal Justice John Paul Stevens, now retired, wrote the majority opinion but now calls it a “fairly unfortunately decision.” In a discussion with Justice Elena Kagan, he talked about whether judges should base their decisions on the information provided them or add research they conduct on their own. Judge Richard Posner, who wrote the 7th Circuit Court opinion based on the idea that voter IDs will not negatively impact minorities and poor people also now says that the decision was wrong and that the photo-ID requirement is “now widely regarded as a means of voter suppression rather than of fraud prevention.”

Over 80 percent of the 22 states passing new voting restrictions since 2010 are under GOP control while five Democratic states such as Oregon and California reformed its systems with automatic voter registration. Those who doubt that the GOP want to restrict voting rights in order to win more races should listen to the arguments of people who passed these laws. Wisconsin’s then-State Sen. Glenn Grothman said, “What I’m concerned about is winning. We better get this done while we have the opportunity.” A ruling should be announced in late July.

Now a U.S. representative, Grothman (R-WI) said that he thinks the voter ID law will help Donald Trump win Wisconsin this November. The county clerk of Waukesha County, a Milwaukee suburb that is 95 percent white and staunchly conservative, insisted that early voting gave “too much access” to Democratic voters in Milwaukee and Madison. In a search for voter fraud in Wisconsin, only three were found—two of them by Republicans and none that could have been stopped by voter IDs or curtailment of early voting.

Former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), now head of the conservative Heritage Foundation, explained that the GOP has fought to keep the restrictive laws “because in the states where they do have voter ID laws you’ve seen, actually, elections begin to change towards more conservative candidates.

Technically, poll taxes, requiring voters to pay to vote, are illegal, but the presidential swing state of Ohio is considering privatizing part of elections by taxing polls left open because of Election Day emergencies such as a natural disaster. A bill approved in May would have forced people to put up a cash bond if they petitioned a court to extend voting hours for a few hours. Only the people who paid for the bond would be allowed to vote after hours. In the past, local Ohio courts have ruled that unforeseen emergencies, such as a software glitch that temporarily wiped out poll books and a huge car wreck that cut off a county’s main highway, called for keeping the polls open longer to keep waiting voters from being disenfranchised. Gov. John Kasich did veto the bill which followed a federal ruling that cuts to early voting hours are unconstitutional. Yet a judge just upheld Ohio’s purging almost two million voters from the rolls during the past five years.

Lawsuits across the country are fighting back against restrictive voter laws. A federal court is determining whether Wisconsin laws are constitutional where black voters are more than five times as likely to need free IDs and far more likely to be denied. Two women died during the over six-month wait after the application. The ID itself is technically free, but there are costs for transportation to the DMV office, time off from work to go through the process, or the documents necessary to qualify for an ID. A ruling should be announced in late July.

A lawsuit filed against Alabama used the example of a high schooler who can’t vote because she lacks a driver’s license. She can’t get a state-issued voter ID at the DMV because the nearest one is open only one day a month and there is no public transportation to one requiring a 40-mile roundtrip.

A lawyer supporting the Texas law said that geographical obstacles are the “reality to life of choosing to live in that part of Texas.” Other lawsuits oppose voter ID laws in Virginia, Ohio, and North Carolina. Texas voter ID stays in effect while the entire 5th Circuit Court rehears a case determined by a three-judge panel to be discriminatory but not intentionally.   Some states have lost lawsuits and declined to appeal, for example Pennsylvania in 2014.

Kris Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State who took the lead in disenfranchising voters, had a setback when U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson ruled that the state’s proof-of-citizenship requirements likely violate a provision in the National Voter Registration Act that requires only “minimal information” to determine a voter’s eligibility. She ordered Kansas to register thousands of voters whose paperwork is on hold because they did not comply with the requirement. Another judge backed up this opinion, but Kobach, who is in charge of registering voters, is ignoring the court’s rulings.

Kobach is so dishonest that Kansas has different information in voter registration guides in English and Spanish. Spanish-speaking people were told that they had six days longer to register and vote than Kansas law. The Spanish version also fails to list passports as a document that can be used for first-time voter registrants.

Gerrymandering is another difference between Wisconsin and Minnesota. Republicans controlled Wisconsin’s redistricting process for the first time in 50 years after the 2010 census and manipulated boundaries to maintain GOP power for at least the next decade. In 2012, Obama won Wisconsin by seven points, but the GOP won over half of the state legislature. Only 10 percent of legislative seats are now considered competitive, leaving the GOP an airtight majority.

At this time, the 7th Circuit Court is hearing a case about redistricting in Wisconsin that was developed in secrecy behind a private law firm’s closed doors. No one except GOP legislators was permitted to see the plan until a few days before it was rushed through the legislature with only one hearing.

Expert Michael Li called the Wisconsin case “the most significant gerrymandering challenge in 30 years” and predicted that it will go to the Supreme Court. He added that Justice Anthony Kennedy has shown a strong interest in the case. In his closing statement May 27 to the judges in defending the GOP electoral map, Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General Brian Keenan insisted that this is what democracy looks like. “This is actually democracy,” Keenan stated. “The Republicans won the 2010 election. The Constitution gives them the right to [draw district lines].”

Republican-imposed plans in a number of other states—including Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, and Texas—can be affected by Wisconsin’s redistricting ruling. The Supreme Court has now agreed to hear gerrymandering lawsuits from North Carolina and Virginia. State Rep. David Lewis, chairman of the House Redistricting Committee, told fellow legislators that one of the seven criteria for drawing new districts was “partisan advantage” that that it is not against the law. A federal three-judge panel upheld the districting, citing a previous U.S. Supreme Court decision declaring that politics used in redistricting is constitutional “so long as it does not go too far.” In the past, Kennedy has voted with the conservative majority, but without a replacement for Antonin Scalia, the decision could be a 4-4 split.

For the first time in 50 years, people do not have the protection of the Voter Right Act as they try to select a president. Studies show that stricter voter laws have depressed voter turnout, especially among minority groups. It also cuts back turnout among younger, newly registered, and black voters. The confusion of whether people have the correct ID also cuts back on the voting. A small number of voters can skew the results. In 2008, Barack Obama won North Carolina by 14,177 votes; in 2012, Mitt Romney beat Barack Obama by 92,004 votes. Now the state has the most restrictive voting laws which reduced 2014 turnout by at least 30,000 voters. A federal judge has upheld North Carolina’s voting restrictions, but an appeal may overturn it.

This is what voting in the United States looks like on Independence Day 2016. Be grateful if you can vote. I’m extra grateful because I live in the first state in the nation with mandatory vote by mail, meaning no lines and a paper trail for all the votes. Washington and Colorado have now followed this practice. Oregon also started automatic voter registration followed by California, Connecticut, Vermont, and West Virginia.

Meanwhile the red states are spending millions of dollars defending their unconstitutional laws.

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