My fourth policy wish is for the next administration to enact voting rights legislation that directs all states towards delivering to every qualified voter easy and ample access to the ballot box while eliminating the republicans’ red herring about voter fraud. This legislation should include wording to end the states’ prevailing party’s ability to gerrymander (divide) its voting districts into areas that favors any party whether republican, democrat or otherwise.
This empowers all qualified voters to have confidence that their vote counts and that they do have power which cannot be diminished by political shenanigans.
If states like Oregon can accomplish these goals, then other states should be made to meet these objectives as well. So, if a state cannot demonstrate that its proposed voter legislation is in compliance with the above described minimum standards, then it should be DOA.
In the recent past, the 2013 ruling by the Supreme Court in the case of Shelby County v Holder, gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act in a 5 to 4 decision. States which had been previously required to seek federal pre-clearance before implementing any changes to their voting laws or practices, were no longer required to do so. Consequently, within days, many of these same republican led states began enacting legislation designed to suppress the voter turnout (minority) and access to the ballot box, for those groups which were likely to vote for the democratic ticket, with the talking point that that these changes were required to end voter fraud.
It is my opinion that with this 2013 ruling that the republican majority led supreme court was tone deaf and acting in a state of denial as to how pervasive the disease of racism still is in this country.
Fortunately, as of late, the courts are catching on as to how deliberate these sates have been in their intent to suppress the vote v their alleged intent to prevent voter fraud. The courts have been ruling against the constitutionality of these bogus attempts. As per the Brennan Center, there are still 15 out of 22 states that have added new voting restrictions which will still be in force for the first time in a presidential election year.
A J Vincens in his 8/3/16 Mother Jones article, “Here’s What’s Happening in the Battle for Voting Rights.” reports on how the courts have recently transformed the voting rights debates. Here is some of what he writes as an overview of the voting rights’ battles landscape:
“Last Friday (7/29/16), a panel of judges struck down a sweeping set of voting restrictions enacted by North Carolina Republicans in 2013 in the wake of the Supreme Court’s gutting of a key portion of the Voting Rights Act. Later that day, a federal district court killed a series of voting restrictions in Wisconsin, including rules that banned students from using expired student IDs, a residency requirement aimed at limiting college students’ right to vote, and some restrictions on early in-person voting. And in Kansas, a state district court judge ruled a that the state’s two-tier system of voting—proof of citizenship required for state local elections but not federal elections—would disenfranchise too many citizens, and ordered the state to count the ballots at all levels.”
“The following Monday, a federal judge blocked a North Dakota voter ID law that he said posed an undue burden on the voting rights of Native Americans. And all these decisions come less than two weeks after the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals (a conservative court) struck down a voter ID law in Texas, and a federal judge weakened that state’s voter ID law.”
“North Carolina: In 2013, a US Supreme Court decision, Shelby County v Holden, cleared the way for states that previously had to have all voting-law and procedural changes reviewed by the US Department of Justice or a federal judge to enact any voting changes they wished. The next day, North Carolina Republicans passed one of the most sweeping pieces of legislation that restricted access to voting, eliminated same-day voter registration, reduced early voting, instituted a strict photo ID requirement, and ended a program that preregistered 16- and 17-year-olds to vote. That law was struck down July 29 in a scathing 83-page opinion that exposed the extent of the racial bias. Judge Diana Gribbon Motz, writing for the majority on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, noted that the law’s provisions “target[ed] African Americans with almost surgical precision,” by using race data in the decision-making process.”
“In holding that the legislature did not enact the challenged provisions with discriminatory intent, the [district court] seems to have missed the forest in carefully surveying the many trees,” Gribbon Motz wrote. “This failure of perspective led the court to ignore critical facts bearing on legislative intent, including the inextricable link between race and politics in North Carolina.”
“State Republicans and Gov. Pat McCrory have said they will appeal the case to the US Supreme Court. “Photo IDs are required to purchase Sudafed, cash a check, board an airplane or enter a federal court room,” the governor said in a statement on Friday. “Yet three Democratic judges are undermining the integrity of our elections while also maligning our state. We will immediately appeal and also review other potential options.”
UPDATE: The following excerpts are from the 8/12/16 Fifth Column blog, “Federal Court Strikes Down North Carolina’s Racist Gerrymandering Law:”
“In the case, Covington v. North Carolina, the three judge panel in the Middle District ruled that North Carolina lawmakers (who have a supermajority in both state chambers) unconstitutionally used race as a key factor when redrawing the legislative districts for the state House and state Senate members in 2011.
“However, because the decision was delivered late into the election season, the ruling will not take effect until the start of the new session in 2017.”
“Ohio: On May 24, 2016 a federal district court ruled that a state law passed in 2014 that eliminated the state’s so-called “Golden Week”—a period of time during which voters could register and vote at the same time—violated the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits “voting practices or procedures that discriminate on the basis of race, color, or membership in one of the language minority groups.” Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, has appealed the ruling, but for now the restoration of Golden Week (is) in place for the 11/2016 elections.”
Kansas: “On Friday (7/29),a state judge temporarily blocked a Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s attempt to disqualify 17,500 state voters who, under a 2013 state law, didn’t provide proof of citizenship when registering to vote. The voters are eligible to participate in federal elections, but the state law would have prevented their votes in local and state races from counting. The judge’s order temporarily blocked that rule and, if it’s still in place in November, could affect about 50,000 people. The judge’s ruling expires after the November election.”
Here’s the link for the entire 8/4/16 Mother Jone’s post by AJ Vincens:. “Here’s What’s Happening in the Battle for Voting Rights.”