U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble, a Wisconsin Republican, and his Democratic colleague in the House, Jim Cooper of Tennessee, unveiled a pair of bills back in March that got little notice but could go a long way to making the nation’s reapportionment process less partisan. Ribble and Cooper would reduce the authority of state legislatures in the redistricting process, a job that must be done every 10 years after the Census to ensure equal representation in congressional districts. One of the bills would require that states establish independent commissions to do the actual drawing of lines. The other bill would require the states to put all redistricting information online and call for public comment before new district maps are approved. We favor such changes. There is little doubt that leaving the job of drawing district lines to politicians, whether for state or federal seats, opens the door to political mischief.
Voting Blogs: The Voter ID Law that No One is Talking About: Why Voting Rights Activists Should Take Notice of Tennessee | State of Elections
With the Supreme Court recently issuing a flurry of orders and stays on the implementation of certain states’ voter ID laws—allowing some to be in effect for the 2014 midterms, but blocking another—there has been no shortage of attention on voting rights developments. While states, such as Texas and North Carolina, are often criticized for having some of the strictest voter ID laws in the country, little scrutiny has been placed on another state’s voter ID requirement that is arguably just as burdensome and theoretically more primed for a constitutional challenge: Tennessee. Despite receiving scant attention from the national media, a recently released study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that Tennessee’s three-year old voter ID law has deterred voter turnout, notably among younger voters. According to U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), the report proves that the state’s voter ID law unfairly suppresses Tennessee residents’ voting rights.
After he delivered his memorable speech last week on racism, discrimination and voting rights – which culminated with a call for a “right to vote” amendment to the U.S. Constitution – I asked Rep. Jim Cooper what had gotten into him. After all, Cooper is known foremost as the Blue Dog budget hawk, and his public speeches typically follow that cue. But at the Nashville Bar Association’s “Law Day” luncheon, he showed a new passion. “They asked for a real speech,” Cooper told reporters. “It takes time to do this. Even this slimmed down version has 46 footnotes.” Thanks to his congressional staff, I recently obtained a full transcript of the speech, which he called “The 28th Amendment.” It is worth a read. You can find it here.
National: Rep. Jim Cooper to propose ‘right to vote’ amendment to U.S. Constitution | The Tennessean
Convinced that the right to vote for all citizens isn’t fully protected under law, U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Nashville, is planning a long-shot proposal to add a 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution. “What it would do is grant for the first time in American history a constitutional right to vote,” Cooper said Wednesday after announcing the proposal at a Nashville Bar Association luncheon during a strikingly personal speech that evoked race, discrimination and equality. “Many people think we have this already,” he said. “We do not. Some states have a right to vote. But we do not have it nationwide.”