Noam chomsky: “Voting should not be viewed as a form of personal self-expression or moral judgement directed in retaliation towards major party candidates who fail to reflect our values, or of a corrupt system designed to limit choices to those acceptable to corporate elites,”
*YOU CAN DRAW A STRAIGHT LINE FROM THE 2000 RECOUNT TO 2016 VOTER SUPPRESSION (ARTICLE BELOW)
*LAWSUIT SEEKS TO VOID GEORGIA CONGRESSIONAL ELECTION RESULTS(ARTICLE BELOW)
*REPORT: GERRYMANDERING GAVE REPUBLICANS ADVANTAGE IN HOUSE, STATE ELECTIONS (article below)
*'I KNOW THAT VOTING MACHINES CAN BE HACKED, BECAUSE MY COLLEAGUES AND I HAVE DONE IT'(article below)
*‘PART OF ME IS GIGGLING’: GREEN PARTY ACTIVISTS CHEER TRUMP AND DISMISS RUSSIA HACKS AS ‘PATHETIC EXCUSES’(article below)
*DEMOCRAT JON OSSOFF GALVANIZED NATIONWIDE SUPPORT, BUT FELL SHORT IN HISTORICALLY GOP DISTRICT(article below)
*SUPREME COURT RULING ON OHIO VOTER PURGE WILL HAVE LONG-RANGE IMPACT ON BLACK VOTES (excerpt below)
*MAP PORN: IF "DID NOT VOTE" WAS A CANDIDATE...( article below)
*THE SUPREME COURT JUST MADE IT EASIER TO GET AWAY WITH GERRYMANDERING (article below)
*Study documents how strict voter ID laws suppress voting by people of color(ARTICLE BELOW)
* We're crunching the 2016 presidential results for all 7,383 legislators in the U.S.(article below)
*Trump and the Flawed Nature of US Democracy: An Interview With Noam Chomsky (excerpt below)
*Comprehensive 115th Congress guide, with election data, demographics, and member stats (article below)
You Can Draw a Straight Line from the 2000 Recount to 2016 Voter Suppression
The American voting system is broken—on purpose.
BY CHARLES P. PIERCE JUL 19, 2017
From Esquire: Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens could see a church by daylight. In his dissent in the case of Bush v. Gore, Stevens saw through the obfuscation and the tinpot legalese of that egregious miscarriage of justice and into the future. What he saw did not make him optimistic.
What must underlie petitioners' entire federal assault on the Florida election procedures is an unstated lack of confidence in the impartiality and capacity of the state judges who would make the critical decisions if the vote count were to proceed. Otherwise, their position is wholly without merit. The endorsement of that position by the majority of this Court can only lend credence to the most cynical appraisal of the work of judges throughout the land. It is confidence in the men and women who administer the judicial system that is the true backbone of the rule of law. Time will one day heal the wound to that confidence that will be inflicted by today's decision. One thing, however, is certain. Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year's Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law.
The principal strategy of the Republican side of the battle over Florida's pivotal 25 electoral votes was to delegitimize publicly the institutions that the Republican side found inconvenient to the effort to make George W. Bush president. These included Florida state laws regarding recounts, the Florida courts, and the simple process of hand-counting ballots. (Then-Governor Marc Racicot of Montana was a particularly pious charlatan in this regard. Last July, Racicot wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post stating his opposition to the nomination of Donald Trump. He should've thought of that 16 years earlier.) Then the Supreme Court decided to delegitimize itself. Voter suppression and institutional delegitimization are two sides of the same coin. One is essential to the other. Justice Stevens saw where this was headed, and it was headed to where we are right now.
The past 17 years has been the worst period for voting rights since the collapse of Reconstruction, and it all goes back to the dynamics unleashed in our politics in 2000. In 2000, for example, Florida contracted for a voter "purge" list that disenfranchised an estimated 20,000 voters, most of them minority citizens, because their names were similar to those of convicted felons. And, now, we have the Interstate Voter Crosscheck Program, which is to that Florida purge list what an oak is to an acorn. The entire Republican political apparatus, state and federal, has been dedicated to rolling back every hard-won expansion of the franchise and democratization of the franchise back to 1913.
I chose that date because that was when the 17th Amendment calling for the direct election of senators was ratified and, as John Nichols points out in The Nation, they're even after that now. You may be comfortable handing the election of senators over to monkeyhouses like the Kansas and Texas state legislatures, but I'm not. This is, of course, part and parcel with the attempt to call a Constitutional Convention under Article V, a constitutional neutron bomb that is dangerously close to exploding. You may be comfortable exchanging the ideas of James Madison for those of Tom Coburn or Mark Levin, but I'm not.
True, the pushback on Kobach has been vigorous. (He's getting sued so often you'd think he was President* Trump and the NAACP was a bunch of contractors he'd stiffed.) But the patterns of force unleashed 17 years ago continue unabated in our politics, in our political dialogue, and in our perceptions of ourselves as a self-governing people. Every time a citizen declines to vote because "they're all the same," and every time a citizen declines to vote because it's too much trouble, those patterns win again. And if you want an argument that every election matters, imagine where we'd be on the travel ban without state attorneys general, or where we'd be on voting rights issues without the steadfast resistance of secretaries of state around the country.
That mockery of a presidential commission sat for the first time Wednesday morning, but it was years in the making. John Paul Stevens saw it coming. In 2000, the Supreme Court blessed official ratfcking with a constitutional imprimatur. Famously, it held that its decision in that case was "limited to the circumstances" of the 2000 election and, therefore, had no precedential value. That may be true in the nation's courts, but it has proven to be a deadly precedent in our politics. It is going to take a generation, at least, to reverse.
Lawsuit seeks to void Georgia congressional election results
From AP: ATLANTA — Georgia's electronic touchscreen voting system is so riddled with problems that the results of the most expensive House race in U.S. history should be tossed out and a new election held, according to a lawsuit filed by a government watchdog group and six Georgia voters.
The lawsuit was filed Monday in Fulton County Superior Court by the Colorado-based Coalition for Good Governance and voters who are members of the group. It seeks to overturn the results of the June 20 runoff election between Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff in Georgia's 6th Congressional District. Handel was declared the winner with 52 percent of the vote to Ossoff's 48.
The named defendants include Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, members of the State Election Board, local election officials in Fulton, Cobb and DeKalb counties and the Center for Election Systems at Kennesaw State University.
The lawsuit claims Georgia's touchscreen voting system has severe security problems, lacks verifiable paper ballots and cannot be legally used for elections.
A judge in June threw out a related lawsuit earlier that attempted to force Georgia to use paper ballots. The new lawsuit comes weeks after the publication of a classified National Security Agency report describing a sophisticated scheme, allegedly by Russian military intelligence, to infiltrate local U.S. elections systems using phishing emails.
The suit cites the work of private cybersecurity researcher Logan Lamb, who discovered last August that a misconfigured server had left Georgia's 6.7 million voter records and other sensitive files exposed to hackers. The complaint also notes that seven months after Lamb made that discovery, another researcher was able to do the same.
A spokeswoman for Kemp did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday. But in a column Sunday in USA Today, Kemp blamed the news media for developing "false narratives about Russian hacking and potential vulnerabilities in the system. The prevailing plot line is that states like Georgia can't provide suitable security for elections."
Kemp asserted that states are doing enough to keep elections secure, and he said, "Anything to the contrary is fake news." Marilyn Marks, executive director of the Coalition for Good Governance, said the lawsuit was filed hours ahead of a deadline at midnight Monday to contest the election. She says the group does election integrity work in multiple states.
Report: Gerrymandering gave Republicans advantage in House, state elections
Analysis of 2016 election data found a large GOP advantage from intentional gerrymandering.
From Think Progress: Gerrymandering — the dark art of shaping legislative districts to give one party an electoral edge—gave Republicans an outsized advantage in races for the U.S. House and state legislatures in 2016, according to an analysis by the Associated Press published Sunday.
Republican candidates had other advantages, the AP found, from a larger number of incumbents to a voter base spread over more of the country rather than concentrated in cities. Even taking those into consideration, however, AP’s analysis found that gerrymandering handed the GOP a decisive advantage. “The outcome was already cooked in, if you will, because of the way the districts were drawn,” John McGlennon, a professor of government and public policy at the College of William and Mary and a Democratic politician, told the Associated Press.
A report earlier this year by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University came to similar conclusions. That analysis looked only at U.S. House races, while the AP analysis also includes state legislative elections.
“Partisan bias is distorting the composition of the U.S. House, and a handful of states are principally responsible for driving it,” the Brennan Center found. “The result in this decade’s maps has been a persistent and consequential seat advantage in favor of Republicans that will likely endure for the remainder of the decade.”
The AP report singled out Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, and Virginia as examples of battleground states where Republican-led redistricting after the 2010 census led to a large GOP advantage in elections for the U.S. House and state legislatures.
Democrats held a partisan advantage in races in Maryland, Colorado, and Nevada, the analysis found, where legislative districts were re-drawn by a Democratic-majority legislature, a Democrat-led commission and by a court, respectively.
Still, experts say, Republicans generally benefit far more from gerrymandering than Democrats, since they hold control of the majority of state legislatures and governors’ mansions.
“There are significantly more pro-Republican maps at the moment than there are pro-Democratic maps,” Nick Stephanopoulos, a University of Chicago law professor who helped create the statistical method used in the new AP analysis, told the Associated Press.
Data suggests this partisan advantage is no accident. In Michigan and Wisconsin, for example, the partisan advantage gained by gerrymandering was unlikely to occur by chance, according to a separate analysis AP commissioned from the Princeton University Gerrymandering Project.
Gerrymandering has been in the headlines recently, with the issue even landing a coveted spot on political comedian John Oliver’s HBO show Last Week Tonight. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case, Gill v. Whitford, that could finally settle whether gerrymandering based purely on political party—rather than on race—is unconstitutional.
It usually works by either splitting up voters from an opposing party across several districts to dilute their vote—called “cracking”—or concentrating them in one district so their votes are over-concentrated on a single race — called “packing.”
Republican critics of Democratic concerns over gerrymandering point to what they say is Democrats’ poor campaigning, their concentration in cities—a sort of “voluntary gerrymandering,” some say—and their lack of incumbents to explain the Republican voting advantage.
Experts interviewed by the Associated Press acknowledged those factors, but the new analysis shows partisan gerrymandering also likely plays a significant role. That was especially true after the 2010 census, when new Republican majorities took control of the redistricting process.
“In 2011, the gerrymander was the most artful that I’ve seen,” Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin and Marshall College, told AP.
'I Know That Voting Machines Can Be Hacked, Because My Colleagues And I Have Done It' By Susie Madrak 6/22/17 5:32am
From Crooks & Liars: The Senate Intelligence Committee held a hearing on Russian election hacking yesterday, and the expert testimony wasn't all that reassuring.
Because while federal officials assure us that they didn't succeed, one expert left us with more questions about the integrity of our 2016 vote. He should know, because J. Alex Halderman, a professor of computer science at Michigan University and director of the Center for Computer Security and Society, has been hacking election systems for years and says you can do it without leaving a trace.
"I know firsthand how easy it can be to manipulate computerized voting machines," he told the committee in his opening statement.
"As part of security testing, I've performed attacks on widely used voting machines, and I've had students successfully attack machines under my supervision."
He said whether election functions are centralized or not doesn't matter.
"Some election functions are actually quite centralized. A small number of election technology vendors and support contractors service the systems used by many local governments. Attackers could target one or a few of these companies and spread malicious code to election equipment that serves millions of voters," he said.
"Furthermore, in close elections, decentralization can actually work against us. An attacker can probe different areas of the most important “swing states” for vulnerabilities, find the areas that have the weakest protection, and strike there.
"In a close election, changing a few votes may be enough to tip the result, and an attacker can choose where—and on which equipment—to steal those votes. State and local elections are also at risk."
Halderman also warned our election infrastructure "is not as distant from the Internet as it may seem."
He explained that before every election, voting machines are programmed with the ballot design.
"This programming is created on a desktop computer called an election management system, or EMS, and then transferred to voting machines using USB sticks or memory cards, he said. "These systems are generally run by county IT personnel or by private contractors. Unfortunately, election management systems are not adequately protected, and they are not always properly isolated from the Internet.
"Attackers who compromise an election management system can spread vote-stealing malware to large numbers of machines."
He said experts recommend paper ballots with optical scanners -- with required post-election audits.
"One of the reasons why post-election audits are essential is that pre-election “logic and accuracy” testing can be defeated by malicious software running on voting machines. Vote-stealing code can be designed to detect when it’s being tested and refuse to cheat while under test," he wrote in a footnote to his opening statement.
exposed, the scam of the green party!!
‘Part of me is giggling’: Green Party activists cheer Trump and dismiss Russia hacks as ‘pathetic excuses’ Travis Gettys 20 JUN 2017 AT 09:04 ET
From Raw Story: Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein has no regrets about her possible spoiler role in last year’s election, and she dismissed concerns about Russian interference as “pathetic excuses” for the Democrats’ loss.
Stein said she would welcome an opportunity to testify before Congress about her campaign and her 2015 trip to Moscow, where she dined with Russian President Vladimir Putin at an event hosted by the government-funded RT network, reported Politico.
Mike Flynn, a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign who lasted less than a month as national security adviser, also attended that dinner and gave a speech, for which he was paid $45,000 that he later failed to disclose.
Stein told Politico she was not offered any speaking fees, and she said she declined RT’s offer to pay for her travel costs — which the candidate said was paid by her presidential campaign.
“I am certainly not aware of any ties whatsoever, financial or otherwise, to the Russian government,” Stein told the website.
Stein, whose critiques of U.S. foreign policy sometimes overlap with Putin’s complaints, dismissed claims that she had praised the Russian president as “fake news.”
“Putin is an authoritarian and has a very troubled, disturbing record,” she said.
She then cited a controversial theory blaming Lawrence Summers, former treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton, for the rise of Putin and Russian oligarchs after the fall of the Soviet Union.
“It’s important to look at where Putin comes from,” Stein said. “It was Larry Summers and the guys from Harvard who basically privatized the public domain and created the oligarchs.”
Hillary Clinton has blamed her loss, in part, on Russian interference on Donald Trump’s behalf, and both Congress and the FBI are investigating possible collusion between his campaign and Russian officials.
A former communications aide to Clinton told Politico that Stein could have helped elect Trump by drawing away potential Democratic votes, but he’s not convinced Russia interfered on the Green Party candidate’s behalf.
“What is debatable is the extent to which the Russian intervention in the election included propping up her campaign,” said former Clinton aide Jesse Ferguson. “There was a not-insignificant amount of exposure given to her campaign by the Russian government, Russian government outlets like RT, but there’s no way to conclusively know whether Donald Trump would’ve lost Michigan if Russian operatives weren’t promoting Jill Stein. It’s an unknowable question.”
Stein said there’s “no evidence” of Russian interference, which U.S. intelligence officials and foreign allies warned against last year, and dismissed those concerns as “pathetic excuses” by Democrats to explain Clinton’s loss to the real estate developer and former reality TV star.
She’s in apparent agreement with Putin, who has dismissed claims of Russian interference as a “fiction” invented by Democrats, and Trump, who also called claims of collusion “an excuse used by the Democrats as justification for losing the election.”
Stein has no regrets about her campaign, even if she inadvertently helped elect Trump.
“There are differences between Clinton and Trump, no doubt, but they’re not different enough to save your life, to save your job, to save the planet,” Stein told Politico. “We deserve more than two lethal choices.”
Another Green Party official told Politico that Trump’s election was a good thing because his right-wing policies had energized left-wing activists.
“In some ways, Trump is one of the best things to happen to this country because look at how many people are getting off their posteriors,” said Sherry Wells, chairwoman of Michigan’s Green Party. “So part of me is giggling.”
Stein takes pride in the criticism she’s faced after the election.
“I consider it a great honor that the party and our prior campaign for president is suddenly being attacked outside of an election season,” Stein told Politico.
Democrat Jon Ossoff Galvanized Nationwide Support, But Fell Short in Historically GOP District
Dems have come close in three special elections for Congress, in spite of major GOP advantages. By Steven Rosenfeld / AlterNet June 20, 2017, 7:21 PM GMT
In a long-awaited, much-watched runoff seen across the country as an early verdict on Trump’s presidency, youthful Democrat newcomer Jon Ossoff failed to beat veteran Republican officeholder Karen Handel in the race for Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District.
Seen from afar, the House race took on outsized significance, compared to Montana’s May 25 vote where maverick grassroots Democrat Rob Quist lost to billionaire Republican Greg Gianforte by 6 points. Also Tuesday, Republican Ralph Norman beat Democrat Archie Parnell, a wealthy retired attorney, in South Carolina’s Fifth House District.
These seats opened up after Trump appointed the incumbents to his Cabinet: Georgia’s Tom Price as Secretary of Health and Human Services, Montana’s Ryan Zinke as Secretary of the Interior and South Carolina’s Nick Mulvaney as Budget Director.
The results are a stark reminder to Democrats of the steep climb they face as they look to 2018’s congressional midterms. The GOP will see the wins as a validation of their agenda, as the party has not lost one House election since Trump took office. While each state’s dynamics are different, the Democratic Party and its allies threw everything they had into Ossoff’s candidacy. In both of Tuesday's elections, voter turnout broke records for off-year contests. But it was not enough for Democrats to win.
"The fact that this race was close at all shows that voters are sick and tired of candidates who obsess over restricting access to abortion instead of focusing on the priorities of hardworking families," said NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue in a statement about the Georgia results. "In a district that elected a Republican by 23 points just seven months ago, this narrow election result proves that momentum is shifting away from the Republican Party and their anti-choice agenda."
Both Georgia and South Carolina use entirely paperless voting machines, meaning there is no possibility of an audit or recount to verify the vote.
The Georgia race broke records for the most pricey House contest ever, with Ossoff raising $23 million and getting boosts from luminaries like Bernie Sanders and Hollywood stars, as well 12,000 volunteers the 30-year-old film producer recruited. Handel, an ex-Secretary of State who lost prior races for state senate and governor, was joined on the trail by the GOP heavyweights: House Speaker Paul Ryan, Vice President Mike Pence and President Trump, who told her, “You better win.”
Outside the district, the race has become a mirror of national sentiment. Democratic fundraising operations have depicted it as a do-or-die moment for the party, with a millennial candidate who stands somewhere between the youthful Berniecrats and moderate Hillary centrists. The race has been considered a harbinger of their prospects in 2018’s midterms; something that might be truer if the party had spent equally on Ossoff and 2017’s other House contenders. It didn’t, showing a centrist bias. (It spent $500,000 on Quist and $5 million on Ossoff.)
As a candidate, Ossoff seemed to follow the same course taken by many. A firebrand as a long shot, he became more cautious as he rose in the polls, seemingly following the dictum of Tip O’Neill, the 1980s Democratic House Speaker who always played to locals, saying, “dance with the ones that brung ya.” Ossoff grew up in the district’s well-off suburbs, attended private school before college and took unthreatening stances to the historically Republican district’s voters. He began with the slogan, “Make Trump Furious,” but more recently kept saying his loyalty would be to his district. He was reluctant to raise taxes on the wealthy or to support single-payer health care, among other pro-business positions.
“Voters here want to see a federal government that wastes less money, that sets the right priorities—like higher education, infrastructure, high-tech research, to grow metro Atlanta’s economy—that’s working to make health care more accessible and affordable and that isn’t getting drawn into the partisan swamp,” Ossoff told the New Yorker on Friday. He repeatedly rejected partisan labels, called himself a pragmatist and said he’d to do whatever benefits his district, even if it meant working with Trump.
Fundraising emails from a host of Democratic Party and progressive groups did not emphasize his centrism, not after a presidential race where forceful outsiders like Sanders and Trump grabbed the voting public. But Ossoff seemed to be appealing to the higher-minded sensibilities of voters, not reactionary red meat impulses. When Handel said in a televised debate in response to a minimum wage question, “I do not support a livable wage,” Ossoff did not use the clip for his ads. When a high-tech data security expert hacked into the paperless computer systems Georgia uses to run its elections, leading to a Politico scoop about vulnerable voting systems, Ossoff responded he had “full confidence in the integrity of our elections.” When asked about firing Trump, he avoided using the word “impeach.”
The gamble that Ossoff seemed to be waging was not whether he was a cure for Democrats still wrestling with the post-2016 Bernie-Hillary divides. The gamble was whether a longtime Republican district would embrace him as a youthful post-partisan harbinger of the future—whereas Handel was a career politician far more steeped in the past and established right-wing doctrines. The Sixth District didn’t just elect Tom Price, a physician endlessly ranting about the need to overturn Obamacare; it also elected Newt Gingrich, whose mid-1990s “Contract with America” was a precursor to today’s GOP drive to dismantle domestic social safety nets.
Handel is a traditional right-leaning Republican careerist. As Secretary of State, she embraced tougher voting laws designed to reduce turnout among non-wealthy non-whites, such as a stricter ID requirement to get a ballot. She boasted about going after voter fraud—a non-issue that has been the GOP’s go-to excuse to pass a raft of new voter suppression measures. Her successor, Brian Kemp, doubled down on this template, refusing to process tens of thousands of voter registration forms from voter drives led by the state’s leading black politicians.
Georgia and South Carolina are also among the states where Republicans controlled the political mapmaking process for this decade, meaning both House races for open seats were in districts with many more reliable Republican voters compared to reliable Democrats. Even if fewer reliable Republicans turned out Tuesday because they had been put off by Trump and Washington’s antics, the GOP still had a starting line advantage of a half-dozen percentage points—more than the day’s margins of victory. Handel is firmly inside the GOP cadre that has tinkered with the nuts and bolts of elections to hold power and defend the party’s aging white base. Ossoff did not go near this subject in his appeal to the Sixth’s voters. His attack ads criticized Handel for using taxpayer funds for perks while Secretary of State and for blocking funding of Planned Parenthood cancer screenings while she was vice-president of a breast cancer charity.
Handel, in turn, smeared Ossoff with guilt-by-association attacks. She hit him for ties to West-Coast liberals, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and even Al Jazeera. Outside groups in her camp accused Ossoff’s supporters of cheering when a gunman opened fire on House Republicans at a baseball practice last week. While this is ludicrous, it's typical fare from the GOP camp, although not quite what you’d expect in better-educated suburbs.
Ossoff’s messaging strategy seemed to be a repeat of what was seen in the presidential election in once deep-red Orange County, California. Last fall, an educated and sophisticated GOP populace supported Hillary Clinton and not Donald Trump. But California is a long way from Georgia. Tuesday night’s election results showed that while Atlanta is a cosmopolitan capital of the South, its largely white suburbs cast their electoral lot more with a known partisan past than with an unknown post-partisan future. How much the district’s extreme gerrymandering played into the result is unknown.
Everyone will have their theories about what happened and why. But there’s an indisputable bottom line. Democrats are now zero-for-three in post-2016 House elections. Tom Perez, Keith Ellison and other top Democratic National Committee officials need to understand what their opposition consists of before they put out the call to help other candidates later this year and in 2018. So far, they've seen Democrats close in on Republicans—just not enough to win.
Supreme Court Ruling On Ohio Voter Purge Will Have Long-Range Impact on Black Votes By Frederick Reese - June 11, 2017
Fro Atlanta Black Star: The United States Supreme Court’s decision to review a challenge to Ohio’s voters roll purge policy brings the question of voter discrimination to the forefront again.
In a case brought by Black trade unionist organization the A. Phillip Randolph Institute, the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and Larry Harmon, an Ohio voter, Ohio’s “Supplemental Process” is being challenged as a violation of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 and the Help America Vote Act of 2002.
Since the 2013 Supreme Court decision Shelby v. Holder that gutted Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which required Southern states with a history of discrimination to get Justice Department approval before changing their voting laws, a stream of new “voting laws” have become commonplace. Be it voters roll purges, restricting voter registration or access to actual voting, the growing number of voter disenfranchisement cases speaks of a changing populace and the lengths some will go to to hold on to power.
To a certain extent, federal law mandates voters roll purges. The Help America Vote Act — which passed under George W. Bush to help eliminate the “dangling chad” problem of the 2000 presidential election, where punch-card ballots led to the spoiling of almost two million votes — requires the maintenance of accurate and timely registration databases. The problem is that the law does not clearly enumerate how this is supposed to happen. Many states have developed poorly or maliciously designed purging rules that have led to the disenfranchisement of lawful, eligible voters.
“Ohio’s practice of purging infrequent voters from the rolls has prevented countless eligible Ohioans from casting their votes and making their voices heard, and violates the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA),” Brenda Wright, vice president for policy and legal strategies at Demos, said in a statement. “The NVRA clearly prohibits states from systematically preventing eligible persons from exercising their right to vote by removing voters from the rolls based on their failure to vote.”
Understanding Voters Roll Purges
To begin with, it should be noted that voters roll purges are not necessarily a bad thing. Just as a shark is an important part of the ecosystem, voters roll purges are meant to keep the voting ecology on track. As envisioned by the Help America Vote Act, voters roll purges are meant to shrink voter registration rolls of the nonvoters that could slow down or otherwise impede same-day registration or on-site voting.
Most states remove voters either at the request of the voters themselves or with tangential proof, such as notification of voter registration from another state, notification of change of state driving license, notification of address change or notification of death. Ohio’s strategy however is to target “occasional” voters for exclusion. Ohio, one of a few states to punish nonvoting with the possibility of de-registration, defined “occasional” as not voting in a two-year period.
This is problematic because many Democrats only vote in presidential elections. The way Ohio’s law is set up theoretically punishes voters that sit out mid-term elections or voters who abstain from voting during a federal election, without consideration of why they may not be voting. Many working-class voters, for example, may not be able to get time off from work to vote — despite federal labor laws that mandate employers provide employees with paid voting time, if needed — or may not be able to secure transportation or child care.
According to Reuters, the repercussion of Ohio’s voters roll purge could be extreme. An examination of Ohio’s three largest counties — which include the cities of Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus — found that purging efforts disenfranchised neighborhoods with a high proportion of poor, Black residents the hardest. The Reuters analysis found that, because Republicans participate in mid-term elections at a higher rate than Democrats, Ohio’s voters roll purge mandate hits Democrats 2:1 to Republicans. With more than 144,000 residents purged under this law between 2012 and 2016 in just the three counties — more than Barack Obama’s margin of victory in the state in 2012 — this can make a significant difference in a swing state that has been instrumental in presidential elections. (read more)
Map Porn: If "Did Not Vote" Was a Candidate...
From Demo. Underground: ... posted in response to all those who want to blame their friends and neighbors who did their civic duty and opted to vote:
what stupid americans voted for
*destruction of medicare, social security, obamacare, abolition of women's rights
*keystone pipeline renewed
*dapl will be finished and destroy indian burial grounds and missouri river
*lower taxes for rich, death of social safety net
*destruction of public schools
*high probability of middle east war
*more racism, discrimination, and injustice
*thieves and conmen running the federal government
*no minimum wage hikes
*cut in food stamps, more starving poor children and families
elections do matter when you allow a piece of shit to win office, don't be surprised when your state starts to smell
*gop plans in the house: The entire rest of the party is committed to gigantic cuts to welfare, as shown by the budget formulated by House Republicans. Their most recent plan would slash $5.3 trillion in spending over a decade, 69 percent of which would come from programs for the needy.
The Supreme Court just made it easier to get away with gerrymandering
If you can’t fix the problem quickly, it’s not fixed.
From Think Progress: The Supreme Court handed down a brief order on Monday affirming a lower court’s ruling that North Carolina’s state legislative maps were an illegal racial gerrymander.
That sounds like good news for advocates who oppose the maps drawn by the Republican-controlled legislature — but the decision could actually encourage state lawmakers to attempt more gerrymandered maps in the future.
That’s because the most lasting effect of the Court’s decision in North Carolina v. Covington is likely to stem from a brief opinion vacating a lower court order that called for an unusual remedy to fix this gerrymander.
The lower court did not simply strike down the state’s legislative maps. It also ordered the state to draw new maps and hold a special election in 2017 to replace lawmakers elected under the illegal gerrymander. It was an atypical order, but also a way of mitigating a recurrent problem in gerrymandering cases. The maps at issue in this case were drawn in 2011. The lower court order striking them down did not come until 2016. It’s now halfway through 2017, and the Supreme Court just got around to affirming that order. In the meantime, the state ran three elections under illegal maps.
The lower court’s order would have reduced the period when North Carolinians are governed by lawmakers chosen using illegal maps by a full year.
That outcome now looks quite unlikely. Though the Supreme Court’s decision in Covington does not prohibit courts from requiring special elections, it held they must jump through certain hoops before they may do so. Courts “must undertake an ‘equitable weighing process’ to select a fitting remedy for the legal violations it has identified,” the Court explained in an unsigned opinion.
“Although this Court has never addressed whether or when a special election may be a proper remedy for a racial gerrymander,” the Supreme Court’s opinion continues, “obvious considerations include the severity and nature of the particular constitutional violation, the extent of the likely disruption to the ordinary processes of governance if early elections are imposed, and the need to act with proper judicial restraint when intruding on state sovereignty.”
Again, this language does not foreclose lower courts from ordering a special election, but it is likely to deter them from doing so. There were no noted dissents from the Supreme Court’s opinion in Covington. That’s how the justices communicate to other judges that they were annoyed with the lower court’s actions in this case.
Whether the justices intended it to or not, however, Covington will also send a clear message to lawmakers engaged in gerrymandering. North Carolina’s maps are illegal. The Supreme Court agreed with that conclusion. And yet North Carolina still got to run several elections under those maps.
That’s a pretty substantial incentive for lawmakers to draw more gerrymandered maps in the future.
Study documents how strict voter ID laws suppress voting by people of color
By Rebekah Barber February 24, 2017
Graph showing the growing number of states with strict voter ID laws is from the National Conference of State Legislatures website.
From Facing South: The courts have found that voter ID laws intentionally discriminate against voters of color. Now newly published research offers details about the laws' politically suppressive effects.
A study led by researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) that appeared last month in the Journal of Politics shows how strict voter ID laws drive down turnout of racial and ethnic minorities. A pre-publication version released last year drew much attention as it was the first to indicate that the proliferation of voter ID laws following the Supreme Court's gutting of the Voting Rights Act in its 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision has indeed driven down minority turnout.
"When these laws are enacted, the voices of Latinos, Blacks, and Asian Americans all become more muted and the relative influence of white America grows," co-author Zolton Hajnal told Facing South.
To date, few studies have documented the consequences of strict voter ID laws, which require voters to show one of a restricted number of IDs before casting a ballot. The study by Hajnal et al. looked at all 10 states that had a strict voter ID laws in place in 2014: Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Since then, the Texas law has been struck down by the courts while Wisconsin has adopted one.
Much of the previous research on voter ID effects analyzed elections that occurred prior to implementation of strict voter ID. It also relied on on self-reported voter turnout, which is often overstated.
But Hajnal and his co-authors — Nazita Lajevardi of UCSD and Lindsay Nielson of Bucknell University — used data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study to analyze the validated participation of racial and ethnic minorities during recent elections. They then compared voter turnout in states with strict ID laws to states without such laws. Like most previous studies on voter ID, theirs found no significant difference in overall turnout when comparing strict and non-strict ID states. However, when they refined their research to specifically examine turnout by people of color, they saw a dip in their participation in states with strict ID laws.
Among the findings:
In states with strict ID laws, Hispanic turnout was 7.1 percentage points lower in general elections and 5.3 percentage points lower in primary elections compared to states without such laws.
There was no significant difference between turnout of African Americans in strict voter ID states and their counterparts in non-strict states in general elections. But in primaries, African American turnout was 4.6 percentage points lower in states with strict lD laws.
Turnout among Asian American voters in strict ID states was 5.4 percentage points lower in general elections and 6.7 percentage points lower in primaries.
White turnout increased slightly in strict ID states — 0.2 points in general elections and 0.4 points in primary elections.
Given the South's long history of racially discriminatory voter disenfranchisement, the researchers compared the effect of strict voter ID laws in Southern and non-Southern states. They found that the political consequences of voter ID laws were more pronounced in the South, skewing turnout toward the political right in both general elections and primaries.
"Since more states in the South have instituted strict voter identification laws than in any other region, the effects of these laws are being felt more in the South than elsewhere," Zoltan said. The researchers offer two possible explanations for the effects of strict voter ID laws. Most obviously, some people simply lack the required ID. For example, Blacks, Latinos, and the poor are more likely to lack transportation to ID-issuing offices that are often miles away, particularly in rural areas of the South. But the authors also consider that voter ID laws might discourage voting in more subtle ways. "Where and when these laws are passed, members of certain groups might feel unwelcome at the polls," they write, pointing to previous research. "This is especially true for racial minorities, who have been the subject of election-related violence at different points in American history, but it could also affect those on the political left and potentially even younger socioeconomically disadvantaged."
We're crunching the 2016 presidential results for all 7,383 legislators in the U.S.
By Daily Kos Elections Tuesday Feb 07, 2017
LEADING OFF●Pres-by-LD, NH State Senate, NH State House: Now that we've finished calculating the 2016 presidential results for all 435 congressional districts, Daily Kos Elections is formally kicking off our project to crunch those same numbers for every state legislative district in the nation, which we call by the shorthand "pres-by-LD."
This is a massive undertaking (there are 7,383 legislators in America), and as a bit of an amuse-bouche, we've already released results for both chambers in a couple of states: Virginia's state House and Senate and Wisconsin's Assembly and Senate. There's a lot more data to come, so here's how you can access it all:
We also have a Google Doc that contains just the topline results for every district, along with the names and parties of the legislators who sit in each seat (which come to us via Ballotpedia). Right now, it contains results from 2012 for (almost) every state, but we'll be adding the 2016 results there, too.
We'll officially get things moving with a visit to New Hampshire, which is home to by far the most state legislators in the nation. The GOP holds the New Hampshire Senate 14-10, while Team Red controls the state House 226-174 (any vacancies are assigned to the party that last held the seat). All lawmakers are elected to two-year terms. Republican Gov. Chris Sununu's win last fall gave the GOP complete control of the state government for the first time since 2004, and they've already using it to try and pass anti-labor legislation, among other conservative priorities. Hillary Clinton narrowly defeated Donald Trump 47.6-47.2 in the Granite State, but the GOP-drawn Senate map allowed Trump to carry 14 of the state's 24 Senate seats. Republicans enjoyed a similar advantage four years ago, when Barack Obama and Mitt Romney each carried 12 seats, even though Obama won 52-47 statewide. But some of the ground shifted in 2016, as Clinton traded five Obama seats for three Romney districts.[...]
Comprehensive 115th Congress guide, with election data, demographics, and member stats
By Stephen Wolf Tuesday Jan 03, 2017
From Daily Kos: Tuesday marks the beginning of the new 115th Congress, and Daily Kos Elections has compiled a comprehensive guide to all 535 members of the Senate and House, as well as the districts and states they represent. Our guide contains:
Member demographics, including each member’s party, time in office, racial and ethnic background, gender, religious affiliation, age, stated sexual orientation, and name pronunciation;
District demographics, including racial, educational attainment, and income statistics for each district and state.
You can download our guide as a spreadsheet, but we’ll keep the online version up to date as Daily Kos Elections finishes calculating the 2016 presidential results by congressional district, and when Congress’s membership changes due to resignations, deaths, appointments, and special elections. As shown on the congressional district map above, the new House of Representatives consists of 241 Republicans and 194 Democrats (click here for a larger version), while the new Senate has 52 Republicans and 48 Democratic caucus members. Below we take a look at some of the demographic statistics for the new members of Congress themselves.[...]
"THE ARKANSAS TRAVELLER" 1840 AN ELITE POLITICIAN CANVASSING IN THE BACKCOUNTRY ASKS A SQUATTER FOR REFRESHMENTS. THE SQUATTER, SEATED ON A WHISKEY BARREL BEFORE HIS RUN-DOWN CABIN, IGNORES THE MAN'S REQUEST. FOR A BRIEF INTERLUDE(BECAUSE IT WAS ELECTION SEASON), THE POLITICIAN WAS OBLIGED TO BRING HIMSELF DOWN TO THE LEVEL OF THE COMMON MAN. TO GET HIS DRINK AND THE SQUATTER'S VOTE, THE POLITICIAN, HAD TO DISMOUNT HIS HORSE, GRAB THE SQUATTER'S FIDDLE, AND SHOW THAT HE COULD PLAY HIS KIND OF MUSIC. ONCE THE POLITICIAN RETURNED TO HIS MANSION, HOWEVER, NOTHING CHANGED IN THE LIFE OF THE SQUATTER, NOR FOR HIS DRUDGE OF A WIFE AND HIS BROOD OF DIRTY, SHOELESS BRATS.
Henry A. Giroux
Trump is simply the most visible and vocal member of a fractured party made up of frightened Americans, religious fundamentalists, and self-serving economic extremists who believe that the market should arbitrate and dominate all aspects of government and society. Trump represents a new form of social disorder -- intolerant, authoritarian, and violent -- that sees preventable inequality as part of the natural order of things. Guns, walls, laws, surveillance, prisons, media, and wars are there to serve the interest of the wealthy winners, and to keep the rest of the population in check. Bankers who commit theft, fraud, and acts of economic mass destruction never feel the cold steel of handcuffs tighten on their wrists. Corporate suspects never get shot down accidently in the streets, as do unarmed Blacks, by white cops who feel threatened by skin color. Trump's rise reinforces these injustices and gives anxious whites a boastful businessman and TV celebrity to rule as their strongman.
The State Of America’s Voting Rights, In One Map Power has shifted.
by Ian Millhiserby
From Think Progress: The Supreme Court announced on Wednesday that it would not reinstate North Carolina’s comprehensive voter suppression law, and the big headlines out of this announcement rightly touted this decision as good news for voting rights. Just below the surface, however, this order has ominous news for many Americans.
In 2016, a voter’s right to the franchise — even when that right is protected by the Constitution itself — may not amount to much if they do not live in the right state...
...Below is a map of the federal appellate circuits, the level of federal court below the Supreme Court, which predicts how these courts are likely to vote in voting rights cases. Dark blue circuits are dominated by left-of-center judges and are likely to be strong supporters of voting rights, while dark red circuits are the opposite. Lighter colored circuits still lean to the left or to the right on voting rights, but are more ideologically mixed.
In coloring this map, I made several judgment calls. The Seventh Circuit, for example, is colored white because, although a majority of its judges were appointed by Republicans, two of its GOP-appointed members have broken with their more conservative colleagues in at least one major voting rights case. The Eleventh Circuit is colored light blue, despite the fact that Democratic appointees enjoy a significant advantage, because several of the judges on this court were appointed due to a compromise between a Democratic president and Republican senators — and at least one of these appointees is very conservative. The Fifth Circuit is coded light red because, although Republican appointees dominate this court, the full court recently held that Texas’s voter ID law violates the Voting Rights Act.[...]