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This week in the war on voting is a joint project of Joan McCarter and Meteor Blades

The Arkansas voting law twice ruled unconstitutional by a state judge is still on the books. And confusion about it is causing problems. The state supreme court vacated one ruling by state court judge Tim Fox, but the other is still being appealed.

While the recent Arkansas primaries were low-turnout elections, there is a high-profile Senate election this fall pitting incumbent Democrat Mark Pryor against Tom Cotton, one of the Republicans' best 2014 recruits in terms of optics and name recognition. It seems likely the same problems that state administrators are now shrugging off will appear in that election, according to Zach Roth at MSNBC. Among the issues:

[P]oll workers quizzing voters on their personal information, including address and birthdate, after being shown ID, and using electronic card strip readers to verify ID—both of which go far beyond what the law allows. Some voters without proper ID are said to have been wrongly denied provisional ballots. And large numbers of absentee ballots also are in danger of not being counted, thanks to the ID law.

“We’re hearing from some pretty steamed voters,” said Holly Dickson, a lawyer with the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, citing “a smorgasborg of complaints and issues” about the law’s application. The ACLU is challenging the law in court.

On top of that are problems with absentee ballots. The law requires every voter, including those who vote absentee, to provide acceptable ID. Anyone who shows up at the polls without a proper ID are legally entitled to cast a provisional ballot that is counted if and when they return with ID soon afterward. But in some instances, according to Dickson, voters had to argue with officials to get their provisional ballot. Absentee ballots without proper ID are not counted. In St. Francis County, 83 of the 102 absentee ballots received for Tuesday's primary did not have ID included, and weren't counted.

There's more to read regarding the war on voting below the orange butterfly ballot.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick signs reform voting bill: The law makes several changes in current law, including expanding the number of early voting days but does not include the Sunday before Election Day. That day is one that many African Americans have traditionally chosen to go to the polls together, often directly from church services. But municipalities will be allowed to have early voting on weekends.

Bay Staters will now be able to early-vote starting 11 business days and ending two business days before biennial elections.  

The law also establishes online registration and requires the creation of an online tool for voters to find out if they are registered and where they can vote. It allows 16 and 17 year olds to register to vote, but they must be 18 on Election Day to cast a ballot. Same-day registration was considered but did not make it into the law.

If the authors of a recent study are right, the law contains two big mistakes.

According to a study published late last year in the American Journal of Political Science—"Election Laws, Mobilization, and Turnout: The Unanticipated Consequences of Election Reform"—early voting decreases turnout by three to four percentage points, despite its popularity as a reform. The study compared states that have early voting with 15 that do not. It also showed same-day registration increased voter turnout by three to four percentage points where it has been adopted. A 2007 study found that voting by mail increased turnout, but other reforms had little or occasionally negative impact.

Outrageous Texas situation on voter ID ends in win for 92-year-old woman: The ridiculousness of the new Texas voter ID law was illustrated amply in the case of Ruby Barber. The law is the one the federal Department of Justice stopped under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Law of 1965, as amended. But when the Supreme Court overturned Section 4 of of the VRA, it made Section 5 moot until and unless Congress acts. So Texas immediately imposed the changes.

For Barber, 92 and frail, it meant trying to track down a copy of her nearly century-old birth certificate so she could get the kind of voter ID she previously never needed. And she didn't have a valid copy of the six documents the state allows citizens to present to be allowed to vote. Her Texas concealed gun permit would have worked, but she never had one of those. Her marriage license was burned in a fire more than 20 years ago. Her driver's license expired four years ago.

When she appeared with her Social Security card, Medicare card and driver's license to apply for an election identification certificate, state officials said nothing doing.

But, eventually, with a little help from bad publicity, the state got it together and found her birthdate in the 1940 Census and she got her EIC.

Barber first voted in 1944, casting a ballot for Franklin D. Roosevelt. She told the Waco Tribune she wants to vote for Texas governor and in the next presidential race:

“I want to see a Democrat win,” she said. “My daddy was a Democrat to the end of his life ... and he said, ‘Don’t none of you kids ever vote for a Republican.’ And I never have.”
Only property owners should vote says tea party wacko Rep. Ted Yoho.

Election turnouts for citizens with disabilities continues to fall below that of other voters.:

The Research Alliance for Accessible Voting used U.S. Census data to show in a survey report that there was a disability turnout gap of 7.2 percent during the 2008 presidential contest and 5.7 percent in 2012. [...]

In the United States, there are at least 35 million people with disabilities who are voting age, which is about 1 out of every 7 potential voters. That figure will grow as baby boomers age and begin to experience cognitive and physical declines. Plus, the number of voters with traumatic brain injuries—veterans or otherwise—keeps growing.

Drew Spencer for FairVote discusses a recommendation for upholding voting rights of overseas voters: It's ranked choice ballots for overseas voters for when an election may produce a run-off held soon after the initial contest. These make it hard or impossible for overseas citizens to vote in the run-off because of time constraints. By casting a ranked ballot, they can vote effectively in both elections.

Lucy Zhou at the Brennan Center discusses how to extend voting rights by executive action.

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Comment Preferences

  •  A Democracy is only a Democracy (17+ / 0-)

    if every person's voice is heard, which is why the GOP wants to snuff it out.

    •  Texas EIC issued illegally (7+ / 0-)

      I'm very happy Ms. Barber got the voter card issued by the DPS.   But it's not as if the Texas DPS adopted a new policy.

      In Texas, evidently the elderly just need to get a newspaper to do a news story, and the DPS makes up some bs (like "we found her in the census), and hands one over.

      But that wasn't legal.   Lots more people don't have a birth certificate or the supporting documents to show residency.  But they don't have a news story.

      The Voter ID was ignored to get past bad press here.

      Let's just say if she was Hispanic and spoke no English, she'd still be disenfranchised.

      Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead

      by Glen Maxey on Sat May 24, 2014 at 10:45:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  In Houston (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Eric Nelson, skywriter

        we are trying to make sure that our Party's elderly receive applications for mail in ballots. Those who are 65 or older or disabled qualify.   They don't need a photo ID.    Many call the Party's headquarters for help w/completing their mail in ballots.   It's important to keep an eye on the deadlines for this process and remind our Party's voters.  Well, that is one of the things we are working on this summer.

  •  Only property owners (14+ / 0-)

    Well, at least now we know the YEARS the Tea Party wants to roll us back to. It tuns out that property ownership, which was a prerequisite for voting in MOST states in 1790, had been replaced by taxpayer status or, in a few cases, universal (white) adult male suffrage by 1830. So, give or take a year or so, the administration of John Quincy Adams (1824-1828). Slavery and steamboat travel.

    Seneca Falls, Selma, Stonewall

    by Dave in Northridge on Sat May 24, 2014 at 09:38:01 AM PDT

    •  I think you mean white, male property owners. (6+ / 0-)
    •  Old England origins with an interesting mystery (6+ / 0-)

      book that deals with the nasty, corrupt and violent elections of the mid 18th century—the general election of May 1741 in this case. It is worth reading just for the political hints of the actual situation that can be confirmed by then following real historical sources.

      Dark Waters describes a day when only "freeholders" in good standing could vote and the elections, when they were actually held, could be violent affairs. Most of the citizens without a vote because they were not freeholders or is so, not in good standing, could only join in the spoils of election buying, drinking and brawling.

      When I was recently reading the book the parallels with some of the corruption of money, lies and voter suppression we see from the TP/GOP today certainly came to mind.

      The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

      by pelagicray on Sat May 24, 2014 at 10:37:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  PS: The link below contains something we seem to (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eric Nelson

      be reconstructing ("Votes for Sale: Bribery and Corruption in 18th-Century English Politics"):

      In 1708, Daniel Defoe, best-known as the author of Robinson Crusoe, declared that, having been present at many English elections, he had come to the conclusion that “it is not an impossible thing to debauch this nation into a choice of thieves, knaves, devils, anything, comparatively speaking, by the power of various intoxications.”1 This reference to bribery at election time followed the publication, seven years earlier, of a pamphlet by Defoe exposing the fact that there was a group of traders in the city of London (“stock-jobbers”) whose regular business it was to buy and sell seats in Parliament—the then market price being 1,000 guineas.2 These were publicly advertised for sale in the newspapers.

      The purchase of votes inside and outside Parliament had actually started on a systematic scale in the previous century—notably during the reign of Charles II (1660-1685) and continuing into the subsequent reigns of James II (1685-1688) and William and Mary (1688-1702).3 By the early decades of the 18th century, especially during the administration of Britain’s first real prime minister, Sir Robert Walpole (1721-1742), bribery and corruption were endemic within the British political system. It is famously reported that on one occasion, scanning a gathering of Members of Parliament (MPs), Walpole observed: “All these men have their price.”4

      SCOTUS seems to want a throwback too.

      The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

      by pelagicray on Sat May 24, 2014 at 01:06:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Voting is far too important to leave up to the (10+ / 0-)

    States. Time for a standard set of voting laws from the Federal Government to apply to all voting in all States and all elections from city to federal offices. Enough of this damn anti-American crap.

    Many times I’ve returned. Never was I the same in any of my guises. I feel inside, my times before, with no memories of each journey. My soul’s shadows haunt all the paths it has traveled.

    by Wendys Wink on Sat May 24, 2014 at 09:46:31 AM PDT

  •  Recent North Carolina primary (11+ / 0-)

    I was part of a group which monitored the voting areas and made sure there were no problems. We were nonpartisan, in that we could not discuss issues with voters. But if someone had problems, we gave them information on who to call. For instance, if they had recently moved and were trying to vote in the wrong precinct, we were to help them find out where they were registered. It turned out there were very few problems because it was a primary election.

    I live in the Triangle, a mostly progressive area -- mostly Democratic voters. The party workers who were promoting Democratic candidates kept thanking us for being there. But there was one aide to a Republican school board candidate on site. He kept coming up to us, asking what we were doing there and if we were allowed to be there (we got permission from the elections supervisor). He wanted copies of our literature (a wallet-sized information card that outlines N.C.'s new voting laws which take effect in 2016). He clearly saw us as a threat.

    We went through a 2-hour training session a few nights before the election. We were told that, on the same night throughout the state, the Republicans were holding information sessions on how to challenge votes.

    •  If you were hassled, hate to think what it was (4+ / 0-)

      like in deep red areas of NC. Must have been quite intimidating.

    •  "He kept coming up to us"? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LinSea, sow hat, TofG, OldDragon

      Where were the election officials? Once might be acceptable. Returns and harassment would have had me challenging his right to do so with the actual election official on site—the one that potentially could kick his ass right out the door.

      Time for hard line push back. In that Arkansas bit:

      [P]oll workers quizzing voters on their personal information, including address and birthdate, after being shown ID, and using electronic card strip readers to verify ID—both of which go far beyond what the law allows.
      Time for some personal consequences; demands voting officials enforce the law to stop that "go far beyond" stuff baring the perps from the polls, if they fail, then lawsuit or even criminal charges under civil rights denials.

      This crap is aided and abetted by our continuing to be the "good guys" and somewhat passive. Make such challenges potential personal liabilities for the perps and maybe they will at least quiet down while we work on getting those voter suppression laws thrown out.

      The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

      by pelagicray on Sat May 24, 2014 at 10:18:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Challenging voters is what the TP group (from TX) (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      King Street Patriots has been doing in past elections. This is one of the TP groups featured in  Darryl Issa's hearings as being an innocent, non-political group being subjected to the IRS non-profit regulations. Rep Cummings has challenged Catherine Englebrecht, who also started True the Vote, an organization trying to preserve the integrity of elections... by challenging voters, particularly in minority districts.

      VIDEO from a RWNJ site her interview on FOX:
      Ms Engelbrecht discusses Mr Cummings' challenge to True The Vote

      King Street Patriots Facebook Page

      "The devil can quote Scripture to serve his own purposes."

      by SpringHopeCarolina on Sat May 24, 2014 at 07:44:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  motivation slogan for arkansas: (0+ / 0-)

    now more than ever, there is no dignity in picking cotton. apologies if this offends anyone.

  •  Still upset by no same day registration in Mass (0+ / 0-)
  •  Absentee votes (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dconrad, Calamity Jean
    Absentee ballots without proper ID are not counted.
    How does this work? How do you show proper ID if you don't go to the polls?
    •  Photocopy? (0+ / 0-)

      I'm guessing here, but they probably require sending a photocopy of your picture ID with your absentee ballot. Sounds like an invitation to identity theft. Also sounds like they disenfranchised a whole bunch of seniors who didn't grasp the change in the rules.

      La majestueuse égalité des lois, qui interdit au riche comme au pauvre de coucher sous les ponts, de mendier dans les rues, et de voler du pain.

      by dconrad on Sat May 24, 2014 at 09:38:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  That wonderful 92 year old lady may be a Democrat (6+ / 0-)

    but there are plenty of others who are Republicans. And hope with all my heart that they too will be caught up in this stupidity.

    I believe they will be, especially in the smaller cities and towns. And when they can't vote they will holler bloody murder until their Republican Governments change the rules back to what they expect.

    Many of these elderly voters are women who know what it means to have the right to vote first hand: many have died off, but there are a surprising number still around. As a precinct captain here in Florida I have a lot of them and they all sound like Ms. Barber. They will tell me that they have voted in every election since before sliced bread and that their Daddys were Democrats and so are they.

    One of my sweet little old ladies told in that she would "throw herself off of a bridge if she couldn't go vote for Obama" in person. She didn't trust the absentee ballot system. She didn't even trust that her care-givers would put it in the mail for her either.

    I offered to get the absentee ballot for her. I offered her a stamp with which to mail it and promised I'd take it to the Supervisor of elections office, wait while it was stamped and then report back to her. She refused and so I picked her up in my car and took her to our polling station where she appointed
    me her legal surragate.

    That allowed me to sit with her and connect the lines to the candidates that she chose: she couldn't do that by herself as her hands shake. Then I assited her to a chair in front of the
    ballot box to await her turn. When it was her turn, she put the ballot in the slot. When the "I voted" sticker was firmly on her sweater, she allowed as to how we could leave. Then I drove her home, helped her out of the car, got her her walker and took her back inside her house.

    It took us 3 hours to get her vote cast and it was worth every
    worth every moment of that day.

    She was born in 1919 I think, and was the first woman in her family to vote in a Presidential Election.

    •  This is a really good thing that you did, helping (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ..and being a good citizen all around..

      It took us 3 hours to get her vote cast and it was worth every
       worth every moment of that day.

      She was born in 1919 I think, and was the first woman in her family to vote in a Presidential Election.

      ..but the first part of your comment, while I too want the GOP tactics to back fire on them, is aimed at people that the GOP does not care about hurting either.

      The GOP is calculating that if they make voting more difficult it won't matter that it also hurts republicans, they are ruthless enough to go for the odds that favor them.

       I get what you're saying but don't hope that it takes elderly republicans to cause those responsible for disenfranchising voters to bring it to light.

      I hope that those republican violators get caught by the laws that they break and serve time for it.

    •  What a beautiful story. eom (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." -- Sen Carl Schurz 1872

      by Calamity Jean on Sun May 25, 2014 at 03:14:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  So Deval Patrick does what Dems should not do.. (0+ / 0-)

    ..allowing the GOP to continue with their voter suppression tricks; point shaving; by eliminating one of the most powerful tools for AA communities. "souls to the Polls" day after church.

    So it's a good thing that Ruby Barber got her EIC, but as Glen Maxey points out the Texas policies of suppression remain; with republicans scrambling to avoid any political fall-out..

    But, eventually, with a little help from bad publicity, the state got it together and found her birthdate in the 1940 Census and she got her EIC.
    ..without really doing what is just.

    When what our Dem representatives should be "representing" is we people and exposing the true agenda behind the republican Yoho's

    The same as it always is:
    One of the founders of the modern conservative movement – Reagan era

    The same reactionary Phyllis Schlafly and the new American racism. by Thomas Waters | February 14, 2014

    White make privilege

    Reverend William Barber is doing what our Dems should be doing and imo if was done would make them even more popular.

    I heard Reverend Barber point out that for many elderly Sunday is their day. Many who don't drive, voting on Sunday after church is a tradition. He has warned that this will disenfranchise voters, especially the elders

    The GOP does this with malice. It's a f'uck you to the AA community and a point shaving disenfranchisement

      There should be out rage coming from more Dems about this.

    Thx MB

    P.S. I know Deval Patrick is popular with Dems, but to me he is doing harm with this compromising with republicans in order to make something look good yet underneath furthers/ allows the GOP to get away with their foul agenda

    So Kudos the folks @ the Brennan Center for the hard work and successes

    Every one of these Brennan Center proposed executive actions are completely justified and excellent actions that should be taken - Do it

    I realize that noisily attacking white male privilege is a scary thing for Dems to do, and I can't call myself part of the younger demographic or speak for them, but I've become convinced that Dems who take this on will be surprised by how much notice they'll get that is not as is feared - It will rock and be a very positive message that will take off to beat the band

     - rant over

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