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

Underrepresentation on city councils depends on race:

Seth Masket used data from the International City/County Management Association to evaluate the relationship between people of color in a city's population and the percentage each racial group has on the city council. He discovered an unsurprising disparity between African American population and representation on the councils. For instance:

What the evidence suggested was that Ferguson, Mo., was a serious outlier. As of 2001, just over 50% of its population was African American while none of its city council was. Today, 67% of the population is African American, while 17% (1 member) of the city council is. This is one of the largest representational gaps for African Americans in any U.S. city.
But overall he found that cities with a majority of African Americans in the population tend to have a majority on the city council. To be exact, each extra percent of the population that is black adds about 0.8 extra percent to the city council. But that doesn't hold true for other people of color.

Each additional percent of Latinos in the population only makes for an additional 0.5 percent on the city council. Each additional percent of Asian Americans add only 0.4 percent.

Why the difference? According to two researchers, it is, at least in part, because of lower voter turnout among Latinos and Asian Americans. Whites and blacks now vote in about equal percentages. Another reason is the black population has been fairly stable for a long time as has African American participation in politics. While the Latino and Asian American populations are rapidly growing, they haven't yet been as active politically and where they have, "entrenched incumbents and strong local political machines" have meant that the councils aren't yet reflecting these expanding groups.

Judge rules for Latinos in Yakima: Members of the Yakima City Council in Washington are elected in an at-large voting system. Although Latinos make up one-third of the city's voting-age population, not a single Latino has been elected to the council in the current system's 37-year history. In his 65-page ruling citing a violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, federal District Judge Thomas Rice gave a summary judgment in favor of plaintiffs who argued that the way the at-large system works, Latinos are excluded from full participation.

Voting not allowed for some in Ferguson, Missouri: If you've been convicted of a felony, Missouri won't let you vote until you finish your parole or probation. This disenfranchisement affects 7 percent of the state's black population because African Americans are more likely to be arrested, convicted and sentence to prison time than are whites:

But if anything, this underestimates the force of denying a portion of the community their voting rights in a place like Ferguson. Evidence suggests that the effects of disenfranchisement bleed into the surrounding population. One study found that African Americans in communities with harsh felon disenfranchisement laws who themselves had not been incarcerated still experienced decreased turnout levels. This makes sense: voting is in many ways a communal activity, and when a neighbor or family member cannot participate, it shakes our fundamental faith that the government truly represents us.

In Ferguson, the disparities of participation in recent elections show that this faith has been shaken. Just 6 percent of eligible black voters cast a ballot in the 2013 municipal elections, compared to 17 percent of white voters

State judge gives thumbs up to Florida's redistricted congressional map for 2016: But while the new map will be used for the election two years hence, State Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis ruled, “The 2014 elections will have to be held under the map as enacted in 2012.” He agreed with lawmakers who said that changing districts now would cause chaos at the polls. One of the plaintiffs in the case, the League of Woman Voters, said an appeal is likely.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks MB (4+ / 0-)

    I voted Tuesday, May 6, 2014 because it is my right, my responsibility and because my parents moved from Alabama to Ohio to vote. Unfortunately, the republicons want to turn Ohio into Alabama.

    by a2nite on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 09:03:12 AM PDT

  •  As for that Florida remap, LWV's appeal... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson

    ... must be promptly taken and speedily addressed.

    Is that likely in Florida's state courts?

    2014 is HERE. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

    by TRPChicago on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 09:13:39 AM PDT

  •  Ferguson disenfranchisement (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Samer, a2nite, Meteor Blades

    Didn't I read elsewhere here that the local PD and courts in Ferguson were systematically creating probation sentences for initial offenses as minor as infractions, by artificially creating violations to escalate charges?

    Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

    by benamery21 on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 09:16:30 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for the news on Yakima (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson, Meteor Blades

    Yakima county itself is now (2013) plurality Hispanic according to inter-censal estimates but Yakima City is 52% Anglo/41% Hispanic - I recently had work that required me to look up data by county for Central Washington.
    The election signs in Yakima are largely for the GOP,  but the real sign is from demography writing on the wall and not just in Yakima, Washington.

    This also why it is important about who gets to nominate the judges and whether or not Harry Reid gets the nominations for Federal district judges pushed through.

    "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1. Keep the faith.

    by Tonga 23 on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 09:16:48 AM PDT

  •  Voter Disenfranchisement is Popular Among (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, Denise Oliver Velez

    self-proclaimed "suoer patriots" who love waving the flag in people's faces to publicly show how wonderfully Amerikan they are.  

    Their phony patriotism is flag-based because it gives "THOSE people" the same rights as the "patriotic" hypocrites.

    Some are even "super Christian" -- they carry a Bible around as a prop and for thumping.

  •  Chaos at the polls (0+ / 0-)
    "that changing districts now would cause chaos at the polls."
    C'mon this is 2014. How can disenfranchisement due to gerrymandering NOT cause chaos in the people's representation as it is? Time to scrap the garbage and let the chips fall where they may.  
  •  Let 'em all vote (0+ / 0-)

    Consider this: why do we forbid lawbreakers from doing certain things? Typically it's for one of the following reasons:

    * Punitive, with the aim of acting as a deterrent
    * Corrective, with the goal being to restore them to upstanding citizens.
    * Protective, with the aim of protecting the general population from harm by dangerous individuals

    It's clear to me that forbidding criminals from performing what most would consider a civic duty is unlikely to deter a true sociopath from committing a crime. It should be equally obvious that forbidding them from voting does little to restore them to being good members of society; if anything it sets them back, and they should be required to vote.

    The only possibility is that it protects us from...what exactly? People who might vote differently from us for whatever reason? It's an interesting fact that as long as humans have attempted democracy, they've also made an effort to exclude those who they deem likely to disagree with them. This, to me, is one of life's great mysteries: if I'm right, why do people, who are similar to me in most other ways have different opinions from mine? Most of us wrestle with this question, and we tend to reconcile it by declaring people who disagree with us as either 1) morally defective ("evil") or 2) intellectually defective (feeble minded or crazy). Presumably the reason slaves and women weren't originally allowed to vote was because we thought they fell into the second category. It should be plainly obvious that a democracy in which we bend over backwards to exclude categories of people who we think might be more likely to disagree with us is no democracy at all!
    Let's grow up already.

  •  Voter disenfranchisement is just more GOP tricks (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson, Meteor Blades

    to shave points on elections.  If the police were liberals targeting conservative voters instead, the GOP would be screaming murder most foul.  Meanwhile, all is going as planned in Nixon's war on political enemies.

  •  Florida decision is vaguely familiar. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson, Meteor Blades

    Judges agree that there's a problem and that there's a way to create constitutional fairness, but that now's not a good time because of an imaginary clock the judge thinks should be applied.

    Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you:

    by FischFry on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 10:15:07 AM PDT

  •  The at-large voter tactic to dilute minorities.. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades, koNko

    ..voter impact. Ruth Bader Ginsburg warned about this tactic..

    Ginsburg also noted that in the lawsuit known as Dillard v. Crenshaw County, the "litigation ultimately expanded to include 183 cities, counties, and school boards employing discriminatory at-large election systems."

    "One of those defendants was Shelby County, which eventually signed a consent decree to resolve the claims against it," she wrote.

    ..during that time when the RWNJ Roberts court gutted section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. I was trying to learn what at-large meant

    Chris Hayes describes how at-large voting disenfranchisement works:

    (short ad - sorry)
    Mother Jones covers some of Justice Ginsburg's most poignant arguments
    So Kudos to federal District Judge Thomas Rice for hammering those guilty of this oppression

    Thx MB

  •  we can't have chaos (0+ / 0-)

    at the polls unless it disenfranchises minority voters and increases the affect the white vote has on elections, the white conservatives are doing everything to put off the inevitable and although their attempts are working progress will be made eventually in spite of the rights agenda.

  •  Ferguson Style Disenfranchisement Shud Be A/Felony (0+ / 0-)

    for the love of humanity please protect the light in all that may glow and try not to make anyone else's path more cruel than it would be on its own.

    by renzo capetti on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 12:01:14 PM PDT

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