The NAACP launches a campaign Monday against new state laws that tighten voter qualifications. The NAACP and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, two separate organizations, will release a report that finds the laws tend to suppress minority voting — a trend the report says emerged after unprecedented minority turnout in the 2008 election and Census figures that show people of color gaining a larger share of the population.
The groups will send the document to congressional leaders, state attorneys general, secretaries of state and the Department of Justice in hopes of prompting legislation to roll back laws requiring government-issued identification at the polls and reducing the number of early-voting days and other measures they say could disenfranchise as many as 5 million voters. The NAACP, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, will lead a march to United Nations headquarter in New York on Saturday to draw attention to the issue. Read More
Ruthelle Frank was born on Aug. 21, 1927, in her home in Brokaw. It was a hard birth; there were complications. A doctor had to come up from Wausau to see that she and her mother made it through. Frank ended up paralyzed on the left side of her body. To this day, she walks with a shuffle and doesn’t have much use of one arm.
Her mother recorded her birth in the family Bible. Frank still has it. A few months later, when Ruthelle was baptized, her mother got a notarized certificate of baptism. She still has that document, too. What she never had — and in 84 years, never needed — was a birth certificate. But without a birth certificate, Frank cannot get a state ID card. And without a state ID card, according to Wisconsin’s new voter ID law, she won’t be able to vote next year. Read More
You know that little box at the top of your tax form, the one that invites you to “check here” to donate $3 toward a presidential campaign fund? The one no one ever checks anyway? That too is turning into a partisan wedge issue in Washington, D.C.
Last week, the House of Representatives voted to do away with the box and shutter the Election Assistance Commission that handles the funds. Republican backers (no Democrats voted for the legislation) called it an effort to save money by eliminating a “bloated federal agency” that “has long outlived its purpose.” Sen. Harry Reid pre-emptively declared the bill dead on arrival in the U.S. Senate: Getting rid of the little $3 box, he explained, is really an act of voter suppression.
“Instead of making it so it’s easier for people to vote, they want to do everything they can to make it harder for people to vote,” Reid said of the Republican Party, complaining of efforts in certain states, including Nevada, to eliminate same-day registration at the polls. “They want as few people to vote as possible.” Read More
The Supreme Court is likely to decide early this week whether to act on an appeal from Texas Republicans and block the use of an election map that could help three or more Latino Democrats win seats in Congress next year.
The case of Rick Perry vs. Shannon Perez is the first redistricting battle to come before the high court in the round of political line-drawing that followed the 2010 census. It mixes partisan politics with a continuing legal dispute over the role of the Voting Rights Act in aiding minority candidates.
Obama administration lawyers had joined the case on the side of Latino civil rights advocates. Together, they argued that Texas Republicans who control the Legislature had denied fair representation to the state’s growing Latino minority. Texas was a big winner in the recent census tally. Its population grew by nearly 4.3 million, driven by a surge of Latinos. Based on this growth, the Lone Star State will receive four more seats in the House of Representatives, giving it 36. Read More
Texas grew so much over the last decade that it qualified for four new House seats. Almost all of that growth — more than four million people — came from new Hispanic residents, but when the Republicans who control the State Legislature drew the new districts last summer, they reduced the number of districts where minorities could elect the candidate of their choice to 10 from 11.
Hispanics tend to vote Democratic, and under the Texas redistricting plan, the number of safe Republican seats would have risen to 26 from 21. This egregious violation of the Voting Rights Act prompted Hispanic groups to sue, and last month a federal court panel threw out the Legislature’s plan, which was also backed by Gov. Rick Perry. The court has drawn up a plan with three new districts in which minorities would be the majority, potentially giving the Democrats a gain of as many as four seats. Republicans immediately cried foul, demanding an end to judicial meddling. Read More
While Voter ID advocates rail against voter fraud and Voter ID foes warn of certain voter disenfranchisement, the rest of us are left to endure the faux crisis visited upon the sanctity of the ballot and the ballot box. Whether Texas’ law passed by the Republican-dominated Legislature this summer requiring voters to present photo identification to cast a ballot goes into effect depends on whether the U.S. Department of Justice gives its OK, which is required under the Voting Rights Act. And the DOJ appears more sympathetic to foes of the law than advocates.
Regardless of which way the DOJ goes, the matter will likely be appealed by the losing side — which means in addition to enduring the shrill partisan battle over a matter we’re not all that sure is worthy of waging, Texas taxpayers will pick up the tab for the ensuing courtroom showdowns.
Here far away from the frontline of this incivil tussle, it’s not all that clear Texas needs to require all voters present photo IDs to counter fraud, but it’s also not clear the new law requiring it is as onerous as foes claim it to be. Aside from stories of Lyndon Johnson’s having been the beneficiary in one case of ballot-box stuffing and the victim in another, the evidence of voter fraud in the Lone Star State is more the stuff of rumors and innuendo than credible evidence. Read More
There is an uneasy quiet in Kinshasa as the city braces for impending bloodshed. Results of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s second democratic elections, which took place this week, are due to be announced on Tuesday – an announcement likely to spark chaos.
Late yesterday afternoon, presidential candidate Etienne Tshisekedi called a press conference at his residence in Limité, Kinshasa, where he slammed Independent National Electoral Commission president Daniel Ngoy Mulunda, and rejected the preliminary results. He warned Mulunda that “he will be held responsible for what happens in this country”. He told his supporters to be “vigilant” and urged them to “wait until I give the word” before taking action.
Preliminary results released late Friday put incumbent Joseph Kabila ahead of Tshisekedi. With 33% of the vote counted from the country’s 63000 polling stations and released by the election commission, Kabila has 50% of the vote compared to Tshisekedi’s 34%. However, votes from Kinshasa, which is Tshisekedi’s stronghold, have yet to be counted. Read More
Opposition parties in the Democratic Republic of Congo rejected partial results on Saturday that showed a lead for President Joseph Kabila in a Nov. 28 election, and called on African leaders to act to prevent violence. The vast Central African nation held its second post-war election on Monday and the camps of both Kabila and veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi have said they are sure of victory, setting the stage for further trouble.
In a joint statement signed by major parties, including Tshisekedi’s, the opposition cited irregularities in the way results were being released and said the electoral commission was “psychologically preparing the population for fraud”.
“As a consequence, we reject these partial results and consider them null and void,” said the statement, read by Vital Kamerhe, a former minister who is widely expected to come third in the poll and has committed himself to the opposition camp. Read More
Congo’s president, seeking a second term in a nation reeling from poverty and pummeled by war, was leading Saturday in early results, but his opponents insisted he step aside and accused him of trying to engineer “carnage.” President Joseph Kabila had 50.3 percent of the vote in early results from an election marred by technical problems and accusations of favoritism. Analysts had predicted he would likely win because the opposition candidates are splitting the vote.
In a show of unity, the 10 opposition parties held a press conference and accused Kabila of attempting to engineer a situation like Kenya, Zimbabwe or the Ivory Coast, all countries where rulers used the army to try to silence dissent and cling to power after losing at the polls.
“I think that Joseph Kabila could go down in history … if he were to say, ‘I’m a good sport and I lost,’” said opposition candidate Vital Kamerhe, a former speaker of Parliament. “He is preparing a carnage.” Read More
Partial results for Egypt’s first round of parliamentary elections reveal Islamist parties leading with 65 percent of the party list votes, a stronger-than-expected showing that puts liberal groups on the defensive.
The figures released Sunday by Egypt’s High Election Commission put the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party in front with 36.6 percent of the ballots cast, followed by the hardline Salafist Nour party with 24.4 percent. The moderate Islamist Wasat party took 4.3 percent. The liberal Egyptian Bloc garnered 13.4 percent, putting that coalition of parties in third place. Read More
The Electoral Commission is expected to undergo reforms in an effort to create an environment for free and fair elections in 2014.
Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said inefficiencies in the previous election process could not be blamed entirely but instead problems arose also from a lack in adherence to existing election rules. He added more clearer rules is needed for the election process to avoid repeating mistakes of the past. Read More
Websites which revealed violations in Russia’s legislative polls were targeted in a mass hacking attack Sunday their operators said was aimed at preventing the exposure of mass election fraud. Popular Russian radio station Moscow Echo and election monitoring group Golos said their websites were the victims of massive cyber attacks, while several opposition news sites were inaccessible.
“The attack on the website on election day is clearly an attempt to inhibit publication of information about violations,” Moscow Echo editor-in-chief Alexei Venediktov wrote on Twitter.
Golos said it was the victim of a similar “distributed denial of service” (DDoS) attack, while several other opposition news sites were down. The Moscow Echo is popular among the liberal opposition although it is owned by state gas giant Gazprom. After the close of polls on Sunday, the Moscow Echo website was working again but the Golos website was still inaccessible. Read More
A top official of the Central Election Commission has admitted that some of the violations reported by vigilant citizens actually took place, but said that in most cases the suspicions proved to be unfounded. The deputy head of the Central Election Commission, Leonid Ivlev, told reporters on Sunday evening that the reports about violations on parliamentary elections were partially confirmed. He named invisible ink, illegal propaganda, and the so called “merry-go-round” – false voting by a group of specially prepared people.
The official said that the invisible ink trick was disclosed in time so the violation did not even happen and so it was more correct to talk of attempted violation. As for the “merry-go-round”, the deputy head of the commission said that the reports were tremendously exaggerated. For example, some observers accused their opponents of bringing 50 cars with 400 people to one polling station with the intent of affecting the vote. Such an action was hardly imaginable and had not been confirmed, Ivlev said.
He also said that many reports simply showed a lack of understanding of the election procedure. One of the party representatives was accused of keeping a copy of the Constitution on his working desk during the elections and one man said he had noticed a sticker on the passport of one of the voters and suggested that this was a special sign allowing him to vote many times under some secret agreement. “Colleagues, I have a sticker on my passport myself as I need it to distinguish between my internal and foreign passports. Where is the violation here?” At the same time, the official stressed that all reports of violations will be thoroughly checked with participation of police and prosecutors. Read More
Russian voters dealt Vladimir Putin’s ruling party a heavy blow on Sunday by cutting its parliamentary majority in an election that showed growing unease with his domination of the country as he prepares to reclaim the presidency. Incomplete results showed Putin’s United Russia was struggling even to win 50 percent of the votes, compared with more than 64 percent four years ago. Opposition parties said even that outcome had been inflated by fraud.
Although Putin is still likely to win a presidential election in March, Sunday’s result could dent the authority of the man who has ruled for almost 12 years with a mixture of hardline security policies, political acumen and showmanship but was booed and jeered after a martial arts bout last month.
United Russia had 49.6 percent of the votes after results were counted in 51 percent of voting districts for the election to the State Duma, the lower house of parliament. Two exit polls had earlier put it on 45.5 and 48.5 percent. “These elections are unprecedented because they were carried out against the background of a collapse in trust in Putin, (President Dmitry) Medvedev and the ruling party,” said Vladimir Ryzhkov, a liberal opposition leader barred from running. Read More
When Russian leader Vladimir Putin climbed into the martial arts ring in the Olimpiysky Palace in downtown Moscow recently to congratulate a Russian wrestler who had quite convincingly beaten his American opponent, he was greeted by an unfamiliar sound. The crowd, which, given the high ticket price, consisted mostly of wealthy and middle-class Russians, booed, with some shouting, “Go away!”
The prime minister’s press service later hurried to explain that it was a misunderstanding and that the audience last week was booing not Putin but American fighter Jeff Monson, who was being led away from the hall at the same time. “The booing was obviously aimed at Monson,” said Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman. “It is absurd to speak about some message sent to Putin!” Read More