Initiatives aimed at registering poor Americans to vote is un-American, or at least that is the conjecture Matthew Vadum made early last month in acontroversial article published by American Thinker. Vadum, the author of Subversion, Inc.and Senior Editor for the non-profit watchdog group Capital Research Center, argues that leftist groups are trying to use the poor as a “battering ram” to advance redistributionist policies. The poor masses, Vadum suggests, are the tools with which Obama and like-minded organizations plan to drag America further from small government ideals. Vadum essentially asserts that voter registration is infringing on his American Dream.
The progressive radio host Thom Hartmann went toe-to-toe with Vadum shortly after the article was released. On the Thom Hartmann ProgramVadum defended the views he put forward in the article arguing that, given the chance, welfare recipients would vote for their own interests. Hartmann, expressing concern for the one in seven Americans below the poverty line, argued that everyone, not just the poor, votes for their own interests. Vadum had no substantive response to Hartmann’s prodding. Read More
An elderly black woman in Tennessee can’t vote because she can’t produce her marriage certificate. Threatening letters blanket black neighborhoods warning that creditors and police officers will check would-be voters at the polls, or that elections are taking place on the wrong day. Thirty-eight states have instituted new rules prohibiting same-day registration and early voting on Sundays. All of this is happening as part of an effort to eradicate a problem that is statistically rarer than heavy-metal bands with exploding drummers: vote fraud.
Many commentators have remarked on the unavoidable historical memories these images provoke: They are so clearly reminiscent of the Jim Crow era. So why shouldn’t the proponents of draconian new voting laws have to answer for their ugly history?
Proponents of reforming the voting process seem blind to the fact that all of these seemingly neutral reforms hit poor and minority voters out of all proportion. (The Brennan Center for Justice estimates that while about 12 percent of Americans don’t have a government-issued photo ID, the figure for African-Americans is closer to 25 percent, and in some Southern states perhaps higher.) The reason minorities are so much harder hit by these seemingly benign laws has its roots in the tragic legacy of race in this country. They still work because that old black man, born into Jim Crow in 1940, may have had no birth certificate because he was not born in a hospital because of poverty or discrimination. Names may have been misspelled on African-American birth certificates because illiterate midwives sometimes gave erroneous names. Read More
Congressional Democrats are warning that stricter voter identification laws sweeping through state legislatures could suppress voters in the 2012 elections. At least 34 states have introduced legislation, with varying degrees of restrictiveness, that would require voters to display identification at the polls before they are given a ballot. Some of these laws require voters to produce photo identification; some do not.
The battleground state of Wisconsin has a new law requiring photo IDs, while proposals at various legislative stages in the perennial presidential swing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania are also giving Democrats heartburn. The more restrictive voting ID measure in Ohio is pending Senate floor consideration. A bill to introduce ID rules for the first time in Pennsylvania has passed the state House and is currently in a state Senate committee. Democratic National Committee spokesman Alec Gerlach said Ohio is “one of the states where this has been a big concern.” Read More
On Tuesday, the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) released a report and underlying dataassessing the extent of voting by military voters in the 2010 election.
The data paints an encouraging but still mixed picture; while participation rates for members of the military (adjusted for age and gender) appear to be strong, there are still areas where the system could improve. For example, 29% of military voters reported that they requested but never received an absentee ballot – up from 16% in 2008. These figures are likely to form the backdrop for continued enforcement and potential expansion of the MOVE Act of 2009, which was designed to improve voting for military and overseas voters.
The FVAP report is so rich with data that I knew there was no way I could dive in alone; that’s why I reached out to my fellow election geeks for their read on the release. Not everyone wanted to speak for the record, so we’ll keep all of these anonymous – but what they had to say was fascinating and helped me (and hopefully you) see the data in different ways. Read More
The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office released a statement Thursday stating they have declined Indiana Secretary of State Charles White’s request to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate allegations of voter fraud by former Senator Evan Bayh and his wife, Susan.
White is accused of voting in the wrong precinct during the May 2010 primary among several other charges. He is accused using his ex-wife’s address to vote. White maintains he was the victim of an innocent mistake. White was indicted on seven felony charges in March, including voter fraud, theft and perjury.
The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office said they reviewed documents delivered to them by White, who accused the Bayh’s of committing voter fraud by voter fraud in May 2011, because they had property in both Washington, D.C. and Marion County. Read More
On November 8, Mississippi voters will head to the polls for a statewide general election. The ballot includes three statewide questions, including one on voter ID. Absentee voting has already started in the state’s 82 counties and election officials have begun to prepare voting machines for Election Day.
Now, however, the election community is scrambling to correct an omission on the ballot: language detailing the fiscal impact of voter ID and two other initiatives. Last Friday, the state Attorney General notified the Secretary of State’s office that the ballots published to the counties in mid-September lacked the following required language for the voter ID initiative:
Based on Fiscal Year 2010 information, the Department of Public Safety issued 107,094 photo IDs to offset a portion of $17.92 cost per ID. The cost is estimated to remain the same, but the assessment will no longer be allowable under the provision of Initiative 27 (voter ID). Therefore, the Department of Public Safety is estimated to see a loss of revenue of approximately $1,499,000. Read More
As a bill that would require voters to show valid photo ID at the polls works its way to the state Senate, some officials are raising concerns about the as-yet-unknown ramifications if it passes. “No one ever called and asked if there were voter fraud issues,” Cumberland County Commissioner Rick Rovegno said.
The purpose of the bill is to prevent voter fraud by requiring state-issued or state-approved photo ID from voters before they are allowed to vote at the polls on an election day. “We meet with the state legislation delegation quarterly. We always exchange ideas, talk over issues. This matter no one talked about,” Rovegno said. “We’ve never had any issues of voter fraud,” Penny Brown, director of county voter services, said. Read More
The Associated Press put out a story this week showing that South Carolina’s voter I.D. law “appears to be hitting black precincts in the state the hardest.” One person who really loved the story was Wesley Donehue, the CEO of Donehue Direct and a political strategist for the South Carolina Senate Republican Caucus, who took to Twitter to write that the story “proves EXACTLY why we need Voter ID in SC.”
It wasn’t long until Donehue’s tweet was bouncing all around the progressive twittersphere. In subsequent tweets, Donehue clarified that he wasn’t talking about the fact that the story showed, for example, that “among the state’s 2,134 precincts there are 10 precincts where nearly all of the law’s affect falls on nonwhite voters who don’t have a state-issued driver’s license or ID card, a total of 1,977 voters.” Rather Donehue said the story “has proven that a bunch of non-South Carolinians are voting in SC elections. Did they vote in other states too?? FRAUD!” Read More
This week, conservative-leaning, African-American columnist Juan Williams wrote an op-ed in The Hill defending the right to vote against states that are now imposing restrictive laws such as identification requirements. Citing the Brennan Center for Justice report that up to five million citizens could be denied voting privileges in 2012 due to new state rules, Williams wrote of the GOP:
“They are turning back the clock on voting rights in America. … It is no secret that 10 percent of all Americans don’t have government-issued identification and that this includes nearly 20 percent of young voters and 25 percent of black voters.”
Someone should ask GOP candidate Herman Cain how he feels about that. After all, his state of Georgia is one of eight states that have passed photo voter ID laws, and is one of five that also requires proof of citizenship to vote. Such laws impact minorities, students and the elderly disproportionately. With the exception of Kansas, each of the states with both voter ID and proof of citizenship laws have significant African-American populations: Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee. Read More
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will present an offer of general elections to rival Hamas movement, a senior official said Wednesday. Abbas will present the offer to Khaled Mashaal, the Damascus- based leader of the Palestinian Islamic movement, said the official, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) Executive Committee, on condition of anonymity.
The elections have often been seen as the only way to restore unity to the Palestinian territories, mainly the West Bank, where Abbas’ Fatah party holds sway, and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Abbas wants the elections to be as soon as possible, preferably at the beginning of next year. Read More
The electoral commission, headed by its Chairman, Mr. Hendricks Gappy handed a copy of the Electoral Review program, which is aimed at strengthening and consolidating democracy in Seychelles, to the Head of State at State House. After that the Commission met with political parties to discuss the same subject.
The Opposition alliance led by SNP refused to attend the discussion, as usual they were not happy with what was being presented. The Commission replied by saying that it was unfortunate that SNP would think such things especially since they were not even aware what’s in the roadmap. Then we heard about Christopher Gill also not attending the meeting but he has made it a point to say that it was not for the same reasons as the Opposition alliance. Read More
Maya Jribi, the only woman in a leadership job at one of Tunisia’s main political parties, says it’s been an uphill battle to persuade other women to run as candidates in the Oct. 23 elections. “I recruited some excellent lawyers but they all had reasons not to run,” said Jribi, deputy head of the Democratic Progressive Party, or PDP, in an interview in the capital, Tunis. “They didn’t have enough experience, they didn’t like speaking in public.” Jribi’s party has put women at the top of its candidate lists in only three of the 33 constituencies, and she’s “not happy about it.”
Tunisian women played a major role in the protests that ended the rule of Zine el Abidine Ben Ali and triggered revolts across the Middle East. Their priority now, in the Arab Spring’s first free election, is to preserve parts of Tunisia’s old regime, which gave women more rights than other Arab countries, while ending its corruption and repression. Read More
Campaigning closes in Tunisia Friday, two days before its first democratic elections, with a formerly banned Islamist party poised to dominate an assembly that will pave the way for a new government.
Nine months after the ouster of strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in a popular revolt that sparked region-wide pro-democracy uprisings, more than seven million potential voters will have a final chance to hear the main parties’ election promises at closing rallies planned countrywide. Campaigning closes at midnight.
On Sunday, three days after the Arab Spring claimed its latest victim with the killing of Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi, Tunisians will seek to turn the page on decades of post-colonial autocratic rule by electing 217 members of a constituent assembly from more than 10,000 candidates. Read More
Ukraine’s draft law on parliamentary elections could go further to ensure fully democratic elections, says a joint opinion by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission.
While the draft law incorporates a number of recommendations previously made by ODIHR and the Venice Commission, the joint opinion notes that the choice of a mixed majority-proportional representation system, the threshold the draft law sets for securing places in parliament, and the ban it establishes on electoral blocs were introduced by the parliamentary majority, and without consultation with other political parties and civil society. Read More