United States voting rights in trouble

This video from the USA says about itself:

13 August 2013

Governor Pat McCrory of North Carolina signed into law Monday one of the nation’s most wide-ranging voter-identification laws, just a few weeks after the Supreme Court opened the door for such changes by striking down a key portion of the Voting Rights Act.The move by the Republican is expected to touch off a major court battle over voting rights, and the Justice Department is weighing a challenge to the new law.

The Young Turks host Cenk Uygur breaks it down.

By Ed Hightower in the USA:

After Supreme Court Decision in Shelby County

States suppress the right to vote

17 August 2013

On Monday a coalition of public advocacy groups filed a lawsuit challenging a newly enacted North Carolina law that severely restricts the right to vote. The lawsuit, League of Women Voters et al. v. North Carolina, charges that the state’s new voting regulations disproportionately affect minority voters. The law in question is the most reactionary piece of legislation purporting to curtail the nonexistent problem of voter fraud to date, and comes on the heels of the US Supreme Court’s striking down of a key enforcement provision of the Voting Rights Act in June.

A number of other states have taken similar measures to restrict the franchise. In Alabama, Mississippi, Virginia and South Carolina, previously enacted photo ID requirements, at one time precluded or tied up in Voting Rights Act litigation, will soon go into effect. Pennsylvania’s Democratic governor is currently fighting in court to uphold a photo ID law enacted by a Republican predecessor.

A letter from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach charged that his office was impeding the approval of 14,000 voter registration applications in violation of the National Voter Registration Act. Kansas has a voter registration law that requires applicants to provide proof of citizenship in order to register to vote. A substantially similar requirement in an Arizona law was recently struck down by the US Supreme Court.

North Carolina’s state government is presently dominated at all levels by the Republican Party, the chief instigator of anti-voting legislation in the United States. The Republicans enjoy a supermajority in both houses of the state legislature, as well as a favorable judiciary and the governorship. Extreme right-wing sections of the ruling elite have used the state as a testing ground for the implementation of reactionary policies on a host of issues, from workplace rights to social services. Art Pope, the billionaire magnate of Variety Wholesalers, spent over $2 million on the state’s congressional elections, and in return, Governor Pat McCrory placed Pope in the important post of state budget director.

The new voting law aims to disenfranchise likely Democratic voters. It creates enormous difficulties for working-class voters, as well as youth and the elderly, by eliminating same-day voter registration and shortening the early voting period.

In the 2012 election, 2.5 million North Carolinians cast their ballots during the early voting period, more than half the total electorate. In the 2008 and 2012 general elections, more than 70 percent of African-American voters took advantage of early voting.

In the 2008 and 2012 elections, approximately 250,000 North Carolinians were able to vote or register to vote or update their registration all at the same time, with African Americans disproportionately taking advantage of this opportunity. Under the new law, there is no same-day registration at all.

The same is true for so-called out-of-precinct voting. In the past, North Carolina voters would have their votes counted in presidential and gubernatorial elections even if they voted at the wrong precinct. Now those votes will not be counted, with a disproportionate effect on poor, working-class and young voters, who change residences more frequently.

The new law also includes a photo ID provision, creating another hurdle for low-income, working, elderly and disabled voters who have to obtain an approved government-issued ID card to show at the polls.

State-level attacks on the right to vote confirm the prognosis of the World Socialist Web Site that there is no section of the ruling elite interested in defending democratic rights. To the extent that any Democratic Party politicians or leaders who claim to carry forward the legacy of the civil rights movement oppose the attacks on the right to vote, it is only from the standpoint of seeking electoral advantage over their Republican rivals.

Attacks on the right to vote starkly reveal the state of class relations in the United States. As social inequality reaches new heights on an almost daily basis, the ruling class cannot maintain its privileges without undermining democratic forms of rule.

The right to vote has been fought for and expanded on the basis of mass political struggle. One look at the US Constitution’s several amendments concerning the right to vote reveals its paramount importance. The 15th Amendment, passed in the wake of the Civil War that freed the slaves, states that “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State…on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude…”

The 19th Amendment, ratified in 1920 amid rising social struggles of the working class and just three years after the Russian Revolution, guaranteed the right to vote to women. The 24th Amendment assured that the right to vote could not be thwarted by a poll tax or any other tax.

The Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County paved the way for a redoubled assault on the right to vote. The Court’s majority opinion repeatedly emphasized the reactionary doctrine of “states’ rights” to mask its antidemocratic agenda. The majority ruled that the right of a state to regulate elections outweighed the constitutional principles granting power to the federal government to protect the right to vote against the intervention of any state, including the power to enact legislation to achieve this end.

“States’ rights” was of course the battle cry of the slaveholders of the Confederacy in the Civil War. In that instance as well as today, states’ rights ultimately means the right to suppress the people of the state in question, whether they be actual chattel slaves or workers who are barred from the polls. The right of the state stands in opposition to the rights of the people.

The new voting restrictions at the state level represent a growing break with constitutional principles and the progressive heritage of the American Revolution and Civil War, and later social struggles of the working class. They are of a piece with the burgeoning surveillance state, militarism abroad and the assault on all basic democratic rights.

North Carolina just enacted what may be the worst voter suppression law in the country: here.

ARKANSAS SUPREME COURT BLOCKS VOTER ID LAW “Arkansas’ highest court on Wednesday struck down a state law that requires voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot, ruling the requirement unconstitutional just days before early voting begins.” [HuffPost]

US Supreme Court allows Texas to implement anti-democratic voter ID law: here.

Understanding why it’s hard to get a photo ID if you’re elderly, poor, black or Latino.

Voting rights in Britain in trouble: here.

25 thoughts on “United States voting rights in trouble

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  4. The voting rights of millions of Americans were made more vulnerable by the Supreme Court’s devastating ruling in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, in which the Court struck a core provision of the Voting Rights Act, rendering the Section 5 “preclearance provision” inoperable.

    Without your help, voters like Imani Clark could be turned away from the polls on Election Day.

    Tell Congress to take immediate action to safeguard voting rights.

    Thanks for all you do!

    Bob Fertik

    Dear Activist,

    Without your help, voters like Imani Clark could be turned away from the polls on Election Day.

    Push for critical protections for voters this election season. Sign our petition urging your representatives in Congress to strengthen and support The Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 (VRAA).

    Imani Clark is a 22-year-old student at a rural Texas university. She is one of nearly 800,000 registered voters – many of whom are Black and Latino – who lack the ID required to vote under a new photo ID law in Texas.

    Protect our
    right to vote

    Tell Congress: We must
    take immediate action to
    safeguard voting rights.
    Sign the petition now.

    In previous elections, Imani was able to use her student ID to cast her ballot. But the Supreme Court’s decision last year to invalidate Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act – a key provision that required areas with a history of discrimination to submit proposed voting changes to the federal government for approval – has left millions of Americans vulnerable to voter restrictions like the one in Texas.

    With no car and no public transportation in the area, Imani can’t get to a state office to get another form of identification. Imani has not voted since this ID law went into effect.

    The VRAA is the first step to restoring the vital protections of the Voting Rights Act – and because the amendment has bi-partisan support, we have a strong chance of getting it passed if we act now.

    Send a message to Congress that we will not back down when it comes to safeguarding the right to vote. Sign our petition supporting The Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 now.

    With you in struggle,
    Sherrilyn A. Ifill
    President and Director-Counsel

    Copyright © NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
    NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is America’s premier legal organization fighting for racial justice. Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, LDF seeks structural changes to expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve racial justice in a society that fulfills the promise of equality for all Americans.


  5. The U.S. Senate race in Georgia between Michelle Nunn (D) and David Perdue (R) is an absolute dead heat and could determine which party controls the Senate.

    Voting rights activists in Georgia registered record numbers of new voters, but Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp is refusing to process 40,000 of these voters – many of whom are voters of color.

    Since the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, the Southern Elections Fund is leading the fight across the South against this kind of raw partisan voter suppression. SEF would like to send you more emails like the one below, but if you’d rather not hear from SEF, please unsubscribe here.

    Thanks for all you do!

    Bob Fertik

    Dear Activist,

    My name is Ben Jealous. You might know me as the former President and CEO of the NAACP. This month Julian Bond and I founded the Southern Elections Fund. Our goal: to build true democracy in the South. Our strategy: to support groups on the ground that are fighting massive voter suppression with massive voter registration.

    Our focus this week is on Georgia, where the principle of “One person, One Vote” is under attack. Early voting in Georgia begins on Columbus Day. But with less than 24 hours to go before polls open, Georgia’s highly partisan Secretary of State Brian Kemp is refusing to add more than 40,000 newly registered voters to the rolls – many of whom are voters of color.

    Join the Southern Elections Fund in demanding that Secretary Kemp add these voters to the rolls immediately.

    Secretary Kemp, whose job is to facilitate the voting process, has proven himself to be a highly partisan political actor. Last month he was caught on tape saying: “Democrats are working hard, and all these stories about them, you know, registering all these minority voters that are out there and others that are sitting on the sidelines, if they can do that, they can win these elections in November.” Now, at the start of Georgia’s high-stakes election, he is refusing to add more than 40,000 of these newly registered voters to the rolls.

    Add your name and tell Secretary Kemp to stop disenfranchising Georgia voters.

    The attack on voting rights is not limited to Georgia – it has spread like a cancer across the South and the rest of the country. If we lose this fight, we’ll be fighting it again and again in states like Texas, Wisconsin and North Carolina – all of which have seen high-profile battles over the right to vote in just the past week.

    Join me in taking a stand against voter suppression.

    Will Georgia be the poster child for electoral racism and voter suppression? It’s up to Secretary Kemp. He needs to know that you are paying attention – and that America is paying attention. Thank you for joining me in defending the sacred principle of “One person, One vote”.



  6. Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp just will not do his job.

    Last week, you signed a petition demanding that Secretary Kemp process more than 40,000 new voters whose names are missing from the rolls. Those petitions sparked a public response from Secretary Kemp, who said that his office is making progress on the registrations.

    But there is still far more to be done. An analysis by the New Georgia Project, conducted this past weekend, shows that tens of thousands of voters are still not on the rolls.

    At the Georgia State Capitol this week, a group of veterans joined the growing national chorus demanding that Secretary Kemp immediately add these voters to the rolls and bring transparency to the process.

    Share our veterans’ message on Twitter – and tell Secretary Kemp to #LetUsVote.

    At the Capitol Monday, the crowd heard from State Rep. Al Williams, a Vietnam veteran who marched in Selma during the 1960’s. Rep. Williams told the crowd that he was gravely concerned about the attack on democratic values: “We fought to protect our Constitutional freedoms. Denying individuals the right to vote is flat out un-American.”


    Now we need your help. Share Rep. Williams’ message on Twitter and among your networks. Join him and other brave soldiers in telling Secretary Kemp to let Georgia voters vote.

    Linda, will you stand up for democracy? Share Rep. Williams’ message and help us build a movement.

    Every day through November 4 is Election Day in Georgia. Thank you for joining us in defense of the right to vote.

    Ben Jealous, SEF

    Southern Elections Fund · Washington , DC, United States


  7. For far too many Americans, voting became more difficult or, in some cases, impossible in 2014.

    In Texas, a state college student named Imani Clark was unable to vote with her student ID as she had in the past. In Virginia, a 93-year-old grandmother was turned away from the polls for the first time in 72 years because she lacked proper ID.

    These were just some of the stories that continue to come in. Yesterday, the Southern Elections Foundation co-released a report, “The Battle to Protect the Vote”, that analyzed the impact of these laws in five states.

    Read “The Battle to Protect the Vote” and share on Facebook and Twitter.

    It’s too early to tell exactly how many people were impacted by these new restrictive laws. But we know that in many states, the number of people who may have been affected either exceeded or approached the margin of victory for important statewide races.

    The right to vote is a cornerstone of our democracy. We can’t stand by silently as it is repeatedly attacked.

    Ben Jealous, SEF


    Southern Elections Fund · Washington , DC, United States
    This email was sent to hde_tollenaere@zonnet.nl. To stop receiving emails, click here.
    You can also keep up with Ben Jealous, SEF on Twitter.


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