President Bill Clinton ripped the Supreme Court’s conservative justices and Republicans pushing voter identification laws on Wednesday, accusing them of undermining civil rights. Clinton, speaking at an event at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas celebrating the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, warned that some “would turn back the clock” on civil rights for short-term political gain. “Last year in one of the most radical departures from established legal decision-making in my lifetime the Supreme Court threw [The Voting Rights Act] out, or at least threw a very important provision of it out, and said ‘We don’t care what Congress found by 90 percent vote and we have no evidence to prove them wrong, but our opinion is they should not have extended the Voting Rights Act. And it sent a signal across the country,” he said.
With the help of former President Bill Clinton, the Democratic Party launched a national drive on Thursday to expand voting opportunities and fight back against what it calls restrictive voting laws. The program will establish permanent procedures and staff in each state to help register and educate voters, and work with local officials to expand access to the polls in the November elections and beyond. Voting laws have been the subject of partisan fights since 2011, when a wave of Republican-sponsored state laws began to impose stricter identification requirements on voters or restrict access, including by cutting back on early voting sites and hours. Republican supporters say the laws, many of which have been blocked by the courts, are needed to prevent fraud. Democrats say they are designed to limit the ballots of minorities and low-income voters who tend to support Democrats.
Former President Clinton said Wednesday the greatest “assault” on the United States’ values are new restrictive voting laws springing up across the country. In a five-minute video, Clinton announced a new initiative by the Democratic National Committee to defend voting rights at a time when, he said, opponents of progress want fewer people to vote. “There is no greater assault on our core values than the rampant efforts to restrict the right to vote,” Clinton said. He added: “Now all across the country, we are seeing a determined effort to turn the clock back, an effort taking many different forms.”
“There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit the franchise that we see today. Why should we disenfranchise people forever once they’ve paid their price?” — Bill Clinton
Despite the propaganda being advanced by the government, the purpose of voter ID laws is not to eliminate voter fraud and protect the integrity of elections. Rather, their aim is to silence and suppress as many American voters as possible and increase the already widening chasm between the electorate and our government representatives. In fact, voter ID laws are the icing on the cake when it comes to public officials shutting Americans out of the decision-making process, silencing dissent, and making sure that those in power stay in power and have the last word on government policy. In other words, voter ID laws are the final step in securing the American corporate oligarchy, the unchallenged rule by the privileged and few.
In 1965, with the help and oversight of Martin Luther King, Jr., congress passed, and President Lyndon B. Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act. It was put into place to stop states from imposing “voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure…to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.” And now there’s a series of bills all over the country—including Pennsylvania—that would require ID at voting booths, which many say hurts the legacy of the VRA and King. They say it unfairly targets poor and minority voters who, more often than others, don’t have photo ID. There have been almost no instances of voter fraud in Pennsylvania.
West Virginia: Three-judge federal panel says Congressional redistricting is not constitutional | Charleston Daily Mail
West Virginia lawmakers must redraw the state’s three congressional districts by Jan. 17 or a federal court will do it for them, a three-judge federal panel said Tuesday. The bombshell ruling could shakeup the 2012 election by forcing a reconfiguration of the political terrain held by Reps. Shelley Moore Capito and David McKinley, both R-W.Va, and Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va. All three are up for election this year.
The panel said in a 2-1 ruling that West Virginia’s current House districts violate the U.S. Constitution. Jefferson County Commission filed a lawsuit over the current district plans. The county said state lawmakers unconstitutionally placed several thousand more people into the 2nd Congressional District than the 1st and 3rd districts. The county also argued the 2nd covers an unnecessarily large geographic area.
Capito represents the 2nd. Mckinley represents the 1st. Rahall represents the 3rd. Spokespeople for the Capito and McKinley did not immediately comment. Unless the ruling is appealed and overturned — something that would have to be done by the U.S. Supreme Court — West Virginia lawmakers now have until Jan. 17 to propose a new plan, or the court will adopt a plan of its own, likely one based on plans rejected earlier this year by state Senate lawmakers.
Could Bill Clinton have it right — that we’re seeing the most “determined effort” in half a century to limit Americans’ right to vote? That the new wave of restrictions are the worst, as the former president puts it, “since we got rid of the poll tax and all the Jim Crow burdens on voting”?
Alarmingly, the evidence supports Clinton’s position. Bills to require government-issued photo identification at the polls have passed this year in several states where Republicans control both the governorships and legislatures — Texas, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Alabama, Kansas and Tennessee. And they’re being advanced in several more GOP-held states.
The alleged reason: serious voter fraud. But the facts beg to differ. The Brennan Center for Justice reports that actual prosecutions, arrests or findings of voter malfeasance are exceedingly rare. Kansas reports more sightings of UFOs than voter-fraud charges. Realistically, there’s no significant problem.
National: Bill Clinton: GOP War on Voting Is Most Determined Disenfranchisement Effort Since Jim Crow | ThinkProgress
Speaking yesterday at the annual Campus Progress convention, former President Bill Clinton called out the GOP’s state by state efforts to make it harder to vote— a war on voting designed almost entirely to reduce the number of Democrats who cast ballots:
I can’t help thinking, since we just celebrated the Fourth of July and we’re supposed to be a country dedicated to liberty, that one of the most pervasive political movements going on outside Washington today is the disciplined, passionate, determined effort of Republican governors and legislators to keep most of you from voting next time. There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the other Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit the franchise that we see today.
Former President Bill Clinton weighed in on Republican efforts in several states to pass new restrictions on voting, comparing the measures to the Jim Crow laws of the past.
“There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit the franchise that we see today,” Clinton said in a speech at a Campus Progress conference in Washington. He specifically called out Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) for trying to reverse past precedent and prevent convicted felons from voting even after they’ve completed their sentence.