All Articles Tagged "voting rights"
Last night, President Obama gave the first State of the Union address of his second term (we live tweeted it here) and he raced through a number of big issues that he’d like to see Congress act on in the coming months. One of those issues, and possibly most unexpected, was a higher minimum wage.
But there were others that will be up for debate — among Congresspeople and voters alike. Here, we outline nine of the big ones. And in the comments, feel free to chime in with your thoughts and debate. That’s democracy at work!
Some black clergy see no good presidential choice between a Mormon candidate and one who supports gay marriage, so they are telling their flocks to stay home on Election Day. That’s a worrisome message for the nation’s first African-American president, who can’t afford to lose any voters from his base in a tight race.
The pastors say their congregants are asking how a true Christian could back same-sex marriage, as President Barack Obama did in May. As for Republican Mitt Romney, the first Mormon nominee from a major party, congregants are questioning the theology of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its former ban on men of African descent in the priesthood.
In 2008, Obama won 95 percent of black voters and is likely to get an overwhelming majority again. But any loss of votes would sting.
To continue reading, go to Black Voices.
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By Brande Victorian
The year 1960 was the first and only time 96-year-old Dorothy Cooper didn’t vote. A new state law in Tennessee that requires a photo ID in order to register may make 2012 her second.
Cooper, after finding out the requirement, set out to get the necessary ID. Rent receipt, lease, voter registration card, and birth certificate in hand, the Chattanooga resident was denied an ID at the Cherokee Boulevard Driver Service Center because her maiden name, Dorothy Alexander, was the one on her birth certificate. Without a marriage certificate she couldn’t prove that Cooper is indeed her last name.
State Rep. Tommie Brown, D-Chattanooga, told the ChattanoogaTimes Free Press Cooper’s case is an example of how the law “erects barriers” for elderly and poor people who are disproportionately minorities.
“What you do, you suppress the vote,” Brown said. “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out. It makes no sense in these economic times that we are shifting our time and resources to this.”
Tennessee Department of Safety spokeswoman Dalya Qualls acknowledged in an email to the Free Press that things could have been handled better.
“It is department policy that in order to get a photo ID, a citizen must provide documentation that links their name to the document they are using as primary proof of identity,” Qualls wrote. “In this case, since Ms. Cooper’s birth certificate (her primary proof of identity) and voter registration card were two different names, the examiner was unable to provide the free ID.”
Still, “the examiner should have taken extra steps to determine alternative forms of documentation for Ms. Cooper.”
A total of $438,000 was allocated to provide free photo IDs for registered voters who don’t have a qualified ID—a move lawmakers said was necessary to prevent voter fraud. A coalition of organizations announced an effort to repeal the law In Nashville on Tuesday.
“This is a nonpartisan issue. It’s a fair voting issue,” Mary Mancini, Executive Director of Citizen Action, told the Free Press in a phone interview. “It’s all about the legislators seeing that the people of Tennessee don’t want this law.”
After Cooper was denied a photo ID, Charline Kilpatrick, who has been working with residents to get free photo IDs, contacted Hamilton County’s Administrator of Elections Charlotte Mullis-Morgan. She recommended that Cooper vote with an absentee ballot which doesn’t require a photo ID.
(TheLoop21) — Forget about whether President Obama deserves a second term. Forget about the pony that was promised to you during the campaign of “Hope” and “Change.” Your support of or disappointment in the Obama administration’s progress over the past three years doesn’t matter. That’s because the GOP by way of Republican lead state legislatures have put in place new voting laws that will make it much more difficult for traditionally Democratic voters to cast their ballots next year. The GOP’s all out assault on voting will affect nearly 5 million people and almost all of them are Democratic voters. According to a new report released by the Brennan Center for Justice, the impact of new voting restrictions on 2012 could be significant. The groups that will be affected by these new voting restrictions are minority and poor voters. “This is the most significant cutback in voting rights in decades. More voters may be affected than the margin of victory in two out of the past three presidential elections,” said Michael Waldman, the Center’s executive director. “In 2012 we should make it easier for every eligible citizen to vote. Instead, we have made it far harder for too many. Partisans should not try to tilt the electoral playing field in this way.”
(The Root) — “Give us the ballot!” Martin Luther King Jr.’s words still resonate with many of us today. From the marches and protests in Selma, Ala., to the hundreds of voting-rights lawsuits to the on-the-ground slogan “One Man, One Vote,” the road to equal voting rights has not been easy, particularly for communities of color. This year conservatives have attempted to rewind the clock by stripping certain groups of their political power, and unfortunately, they have been successful in many places. In Michigan, a conservative-backed law that threatens to rob poor people of color of their democratic voice was passed without the attention it deserved. Under the pretext of fiscal accountability, the Michigan Legislature authorized the use of emergency managers who threaten the very fabric of our democracy: participation.
(ProPublica) — Their names suggest selfless dedication to democracy. Fair Districts Mass. Protect Your Vote. The Center for a Better New Jersey. And their stated goals are unarguable: In the partisan fight to redraw congressional districts, states should stick to the principle of one person, one vote. But a ProPublica investigation has found that these groups and others are being quietly bankrolled by corporations, unions and other special interests. Their main interest in the once-a-decade political fight over redistricting is not to help voters in the communities they claim to represent but mainly to improve the prospects of their political allies or to harm their enemies. The number of these purportedly independent redistricting groups is rising, but their ties remain murky. Contributions to such groups are not limited by campaign finance laws, and most states allow them to take unlimited amounts of money without disclosing the source.
(Houston Chronicle) — The U.S. Department of Justice said that two of Texas’ controversial redistricting maps didn’t comply with the Voting Rights Act’s minimum standards, finding that the proposed changes to state House and Congressional districts failed to maintain or increase the ability of minorities to elect their candidates of choice. That decision, in a court filing Monday, is not binding but virtually assures that the new boundaries will be decided after a legal battle.
(Washington Post) — Virginia New Majority, a civil rights group, has launched a campaign to get 20,000 immigrant and African-American voters to the polls to help elect progressive legislators in Virginia this November. Dozens of activists from across the nation have arrived in Virginia prior to the Aug. 23 primary to begin knocking on doors. They spoke to 300 potential voters Tuesday night about immigration reform and the possibility of uranium mining in Southside Virginia.
(Washington Post) — When campaign aides to former Maryland Republican governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. were indicted last month on charges that they sought to suppress black voter turnout last year, the allegations against Ehrlich’s right-hand man drew the biggest headlines. But as the case moves to court Monday, the lesser-known defendant and his often controversial, behind-the-scenes work for Maryland political campaigns are poised to take center stage. Julius Henson, an African American political consultant, has made a specialty out of getting people to the polls, most often black voters and most often for black Democratic candidates. Nearly an entire generation of local and state lawmakers in Prince George’s County and Baltimore owe at least one of their ballot-box successes — or failures — over the past 15 years to his no-holds-barred approach to campaigning.
(Providence Journal) — When a voter ID bill passed in Rhode Island last week, longtime opponents were stunned. How could this happen in one of the country’s most Democratic and liberal states? Why did Democratic leaders and black legislators support it? And why did Governor Chafee sign it? Some say black politicians were trying to protect themselves from Hispanics’ growing political power — two longtime black legislators were defeated by Hispanics in the 2010 elections. Some cite illegal immigration as a driving force. Some say voter ID is simply essential. Whatever the reason, people are still seething a week later. That includes many within the minority community, who chide Chafee for saying he was compelled by concerns from the “minority community” about voter fraud.