Category: Electoral process

The GOP’s Stealth War Against Voters

Rolling Stone:

When Donald Trump claimed, “the election’s going to be rigged,” he wasn’t entirely wrong. But the threat was not, as Trump warned, from Americans committing the crime of “voting many, many times.” What’s far more likely to undermine democracy in November is the culmination of a decade-long Republican effort to disenfranchise voters under the guise of battling voter fraud. The latest tool: Election officials in more than two dozen states have compiled lists of citizens whom they allege could be registered in more than one state – thus potentially able to cast multiple ballots – and eligible to be purged from the voter rolls.

The data is processed through a system called the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, which is being promoted by a powerful Republican operative, and its lists of potential duplicate voters are kept confidential. But Rolling Stone obtained a portion of the list and the names of 1 million targeted voters. According to our analysis, the Crosscheck list disproportionately threatens solid Democratic constituencies: young, black, Hispanic and Asian-American voters – with some of the biggest possible purges underway in Ohio and North Carolina, two crucial swing states with tight Senate races.

Like all weapons of vote suppression, Crosscheck is a response to the imaginary menace of mass voter fraud. In the mid-2000s, after the Florida-recount debacle, the Bush administration launched a five-year investigation into the allegedly rampant crime but found scant evidence of wrongdoing. Still, the GOP has perpetuated the myth in every national election since. Recently, North Carolina Board of Elections chief Kim Strach testified to her legislature that 35,750 voters are “registered in North Carolina and another state and voted in both in the 2012 general election.” [Editor’s note: This quote was taken from the power point that accompanied Strach’s testimony. In a subsequent letter, she informed us that during her presentation she “stressed that we were not suggesting that 35,750 voters had committed any type of fraud. My testimony was that the data we received from the Crosscheck Program showed that in the 2012 general election, there were 35,750 people who voted in North Carolina whose first and last names and dates of birth matched persons who voted in the same election in another state.”] Yet despite hiring an ex-FBI agent to lead the hunt, the state has charged exactly zero double voters from the Crosscheck list. Nevertheless, tens of thousands face the loss of their ability to vote – all for the sake of preventing a crime that rarely happens. So far, Crosscheck has tagged an astonishing 7.2 million suspects, yet we found no more than four perpetrators who have been charged with double voting or deliberate double registration.

The theory seems plausible – if you want to confront the imaginary threat of voter fraud, of course – but all the bugs just happen to mean anyone with a “foreign” name is more likely to be struck off.

This inherent bias results in an astonishing one in six Hispanics, one in seven Asian-Americans and one in nine African-Americans in Crosscheck states landing on the list. Was the program designed to target voters of color? “I’m a data guy,” Swedlund says. “I can’t tell you what the intent was. I can only tell you what the outcome is. And the outcome is discriminatory against minorities.”

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Inside the Republican creation of the North Carolina voting bill dubbed the ‘monster’ law

Washington Post:

The emails to the North Carolina election board seemed routine at the time.

“Is there any way to get a breakdown of the 2008 voter turnout, by race (white and black) and type of vote (early and Election Day)?” a staffer for the state’s Republican-controlled legislature asked in January 2012.

“Is there no category for ‘Hispanic’ voter?” a GOP lawmaker asked in March 2013 after requesting a range of data, including how many voters cast ballots outside their precinct.

And in April 2013, a top aide to the Republican House speaker asked for “a breakdown, by race, of those registered voters in your database that do not have a driver’s license number.”

Months later, the North Carolina legislature passed a law that cut a week of early voting, eliminated out-of-precinct voting and required voters to show specific types of photo ID — restrictions that election board data demonstrated would disproportionately affect African Americans and other minorities.

Critics dubbed it the “monster” law — a sprawling measure that stitched together various voting restrictions being tested in other states. As civil rights groups have sued to block the North Carolina law and others like it around the country, several thousand pages of documents have been produced under court order, revealing the details of how Republicans crafted these measures.

A review of these documents shows that North Carolina GOP leaders launched a meticulous and coordinated effort to deter black voters, who overwhelmingly vote for Democrats. The law, created and passed entirely by white legislators, evoked the state’s ugly history of blocking African Americans from voting — practices that had taken a civil rights movement and extensive federal intervention to stop.

Last month, a three-judge federal appeals panel struck down the North Carolina law, calling it “the most restrictive voting law North Carolina has seen since the era of Jim Crow.” Drawing from the emails and other evidence, the 83-page ruling charged that Republican lawmakers had targeted “African Americans with almost surgical precision.”

There’s even this astonishing on-the-record quote:

Longtime Republican consultant Carter Wrenn, a fixture in North Carolina politics, said the GOP’s voter fraud argument is nothing more than an excuse.

“Of course it’s political. Why else would you do it?” he said, explaining that Republicans, like any political party, want to protect their majority. While GOP lawmakers might have passed the law to suppress some voters, Wrenn said, that does not mean it was racist.

“Look, if African Americans voted overwhelmingly Republican, they would have kept early voting right where it was,” Wrenn said. “It wasn’t about discriminating against African Americans. They just ended up in the middle of it because they vote Democrat.”

 

 

 

 

Republicans keep admitting that voter ID helps them win, for some reason

Washington Post:

Voter ID laws have swept across the United States in recent years, following big GOP gains in the 2010 and 2014 elections. With Republicans now more powerful in the states than they’ve been since the Great Depression, it has been a priority for them from coast to coast.

The stated purpose of these laws, of course, has always been that they prevent voter fraud; you need to have ID to verify your identity for other things, after all, so why not voting? And polls generally show a strong majority of Americans agree.

But as any voter ID opponent will tell you, there are so few cases of documented voter fraud that it’s not clear there’s actually an ill that’s being cured. Instead, Democrats allege that these laws are clearly aimed at disenfranchising minority voters, in particular, because they are less likely to have the proper IDs. And minority voters, of course, heavily favor the Democratic Party.

Assisting Democrats in this argument that it’s all a partisan power grab? A handful of unhelpful Republicans who have suggested in recent years that voter ID does indeed help the GOP — perhaps so much that it would put them over the top in blue-leaning swing states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

The article has some great examples.

How Republicans are gaming the voting system to tip the 2016 election in their favor

Washington Post:

People all over Arizona are livid about the fact that they had to wait as much as five hours to vote on Tuesday, because Republicans in the state drastically cut back on the number of polling places. In Maricopa County, which contains Phoenix and is home to about 4.2 million people, the number of polling places was slashed from 200 a few years ago down to 60, or one polling place for every 70,000 residents. Many voters, faced with hours-long waits, simply walked away in frustration. And why did this happen? In part, you can thank John Roberts and the conservative majority on the Supreme Court. Ari Berman explains:

Previously, Maricopa County would have needed to receive federal approval for reducing the number of polling sites, because Arizona was one of 16 states where jurisdictions with a long history of discrimination had to submit their voting changes under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. This type of change would very likely have been blocked since minorities make up 40 percent of Maricopa County’s population and reducing the number of polling places would have left minority voters worse off. Section 5 blocked 22 voting changes from taking effect in Arizona since the state was covered under the VRA in 1975 for discriminating against Hispanic and Native American voters.

But after the Supreme Court gutted the VRA in 2013, Arizona could make election changes without federal oversight. The long lines in Maricopa County last night were the latest example of the disastrous consequences of that decision.

In that 2013 decision, the Supreme Court conservatives said that key parts of the Voting Rights Act are no longer needed because discrimination in voting is a thing of the past. As soon as the decision came down, Republican state legislatures moved swiftly to pass new voting hurdles that previously would have required Justice Department approval before. Here’s a summary of the Republican voting program:

Impose voter ID requirements
Shorten early voting periods
Eliminate early voting on Sundays, when many African-American churches organize “souls to the polls” voting drives after services
Eliminate same-day registration
Restrict the ability of citizen groups to conduct voter registration drives
Reduce the number of polling places