Some people claim that Barack Obama’s election has ushered in a “postracial” America, but the truth is that race, and racial discrimination, are still very much with us. The Supreme Court should keep this reality in mind when it considers a challenge to an important part of the Voting Rights Act that it recently agreed to hear. The act is constitutional — and clearly still needed.
Section 5, often called the heart of the Voting Rights Act, requires some states and smaller jurisdictions to “preclear” new voting rules with the Justice Department or a federal court. When they do, they have to show that the proposed change does not have the purpose or effect of discriminating against minority voters.
When Congress enacted Section 5 in 1965, officials in the South were creating all kinds of rules to stop blacks from voting or being elected to office. Discrimination against minority voters may not be as blatant as it was then, but it still exists. District lines are drawn to prevent minorities from winning; polling places are located in places hard for minority voters to get to; voter ID requirements are imposed with the purpose of suppressing the minority vote.
After holding lengthy hearings to document why the Voting Rights Act was still needed, Congress reauthorized it in 2006 with votes of 98 to 0 in the Senate and 390 to 33 in the House. Now, a municipal utility district in Texas that is covered by Section 5 is arguing that it is unconstitutional, and that it imposes too many burdens on jurisdictions covered by it.
If the Supreme Court — which is expected to hear arguments in the case this spring — strikes down Section 5, it would be breaking radically with its own precedents. The court has repeatedly upheld the Voting Rights Act against challenges, and as recently as 2006 it ruled that complying with Section 5 is a compelling state interest. It would also be an extreme case of conservative judicial activism, since the 14th and 15th Amendments expressly authorize Congress to enact laws of this sort to prevent discrimination in voting.
A perennial criticism of Section 5 is that it covers jurisdictions it should not, or fails to cover ones it should. There is no way to construct a perfect list, but Congress has done a reasonable job of drawing up the criteria, and it has built flexibility into the act. Jurisdictions are allowed to “bail out” if they can show that they no longer need to be covered, and courts can add new jurisdictions if they need to be covered.
In last fall’s election, despite his strong national margin of victory — and hefty campaign chest — Mr. Obama got only about one in five white votes in the Southern states wholly or partly covered by Section 5. And there is every reason to believe that minority voters will continue to face obstacles at the polls.
If Section 5 is struck down, states and localities would have far more freedom to erect barriers for minority voters — and there is little doubt that some would do just that. We have not arrived at the day when special protections like the Voting Rights Act are not needed.
Velvet Revolution (“VR”), a non-profit dedicated to clean and honest elections, today offers a $100,000 reward for hard information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person or persons who helped to rig the 2002 Senate race in Georgia in favor of Saxby Chambliss. That election pitted the war hero Max Cleland, a popular incumbent, against far-right novice Saxby Chambliss. The pre-election polls showed Cleland with a comfortable lead–and yet Chambliss “won” by a wide margin.
To date, the truth behind that upset “victory” (and the equally surprising win by Sonny Perdue, the rightist candidate for governor) has been confirmed by three different whistle-blowers–including Chris Hood, who worked for Diebold in 2002.
Update from Nov5:
We are off to a great start. In the 5 days since we launched November5.org, nearly 10,000 of you have signed up for this effort!
Getting our country back on track by using the leverage we can exert over Congress is an approach that naturally fits with third party and independent voters, as well as many who voted for Democrats and Republicans. Millions of us realize that we must now put our shoulders to the wheel of justice and push harder than ever.
If we all move fast to get our friends and family involved, we could have 1000 active and organized citizens in each Congressional district in 2009. To do this, we need you to encourage people to sign up today by forwarding this link: www.november5.org.
Remember to emphasize to others that what will make November5 different from many other similar efforts is that we will have no allegiance to any political party. We want to create a non-partisan mechanism to get problems solved. Action will result when members of Congress hear loud and clear from their constituents back home. This will not be about raising big money for expensive television ads during the Super Bowl. It will involve using tried and true organizing techniques – and all the local creativity we can muster – to make sure that our Representatives respond to our voices, district by district, person by person.
We want to focus on the victories – big and small – that we can achieve. Too much citizen advocacy involves sending emails or letters to Washington, D.C. We need a return to raising our voices on the ground “back home,” where Congressional elections are decided.
High on our list is a plan to pass privately-delivered, publicly-funded health care. This approach would save hundreds of billions of dollars over the current for-profit system, enough to provide coverage for every American. After all, how can you be civically active if you are worried about your health care? Many organizations do great work on this issue (see Physicians for a National Health Program), but there is a need for much more citizen muscle behind it. That’s where we’ll come in.
Other issues we are looking at include: new regulation of Wall Street, a $10 living wage, the elimination of unnecessary weapons systems that cost tens of billions, a strong drive for investment in solar, wind, and conservation – against coal and nuclear – and a federal law requiring paper ballots and establishing uniform rules for ballot access for all candidates.
Soon, we will email you with more details on how this website will enable you to organize in your district, and on how we will keep building November5 in the coming weeks.
Now, though, it all comes down to getting all of the people who agree with the basic approach of shifting our focus to Congress in 2009 signed up for November5. This is the critical building phase and we all have to do everything we can to get the word out.
Onward for Justice,
The November5 Team
From John Gideon:
Today we have reports that ES&S software actually flipped votes in three races at one polling place in Crawford Co Kansas. We also have reports that ES&S software incorrectly reported results in one race in Polk Co North Carolina.
The long count of votes in Hillsborough Co Florida seems to be over with the blame for problems being put, where else, on “human error”. It seems that Premier/Diebold had warned Florida users of their high-speed OSX voting machines that those machines could not take a high-volume of ballots without bogging down and causing problems. Hillsborough ignored that warning. However, why would a vendor put out a system for use in elections that cannot be used in a high-volume of ballots. King Co. Washington wanted badly to use that system. If they had it would have been a disaster.
National: Push to Expand Voter Rolls and Early Balloting in U.S.
National: Election gives early-balloting initiatives a boost
National: Election-Day Problems — Part Deux
CA: Election Night traffic slowed Secretary of State’s computers
FL: Leon County elections officials still counting votes; Boulware needs 158 for House 9 recount
FL: Hillsborough County - Two days after polls close, Johnson concedes Hillsborough elections supervisor race to Busansky ‘ [Diebold/Premier OSX optical-scan system]
FL: Hillsborough County – Hillsborough election fixes up to Busansky
FL: Hillsborough County - Human Error Suspected In Election Results Delay
FL: Hillsborough County – Ousted Johnson Still Blames Voting Machine Firm
FL: Hillsborough County – Editorial – Cleaning up after Johnson’s disaster
KS: Crawford County sees voting machine error
[ES&S ballot programming error that flipped votes in some local races]
KS: Machine error could affect Crawford County attorney race
KS: Crawford County – Error comes from voting machine programming
Officials to test machines Saturday in Frontenac
KS: Crawford County - Error in voting machine could affect four races
Officials to test machines Saturday in Frontenac
IA: Plymouth County - Speedy ballot count? Result of paper voting machines
IN: Hamilton County - 350 Hamilton Co. ballots tossed after error
MN: Man will judge machine: scanner accuracy big in Senate race
MN: Coleman campaign questions big Franken gains
MN: FAQ on the Senate recount
NC: Polk County - Revised results give Democrats sweep in county board race
[ES&S incorrectly reported results]
NC: CD-5 – Goode Issues Statement on 5th District Race
NE: Douglas County – Thousands of early ballots arrive late
NY: [Governor] Paterson Seeks Voting Assessment
NY: Electronic Voting Machines Still in Limbo
SC: Charleston County – Like old times
Voting glitches bring delays of yesteryear to mind
TN: Tenn. will pay $25M for voting machines
State spent millions on paperless version less than five years ago
TN: TN to spend $25M grant on voting machines
TX: Scanning paper ballots best election choice, study says
VA: North Carolina early voting eliminated hassles
VA: Recount Fictions in Virginia’s Fifth
VA: Goode cites ‘irregularities’ in reporting votes
WV: Release of returns delayed
From John Gideon:
As we suspected tabulation of ballots has revealed problems with voting systems from all of the vendors. Hillsborough Co Florida is rethinking their contract with Premier/Diebold for $6M after having big problems counting votes. Manatee Co Florida also had a problem with Premier. Palm Beach Co had bad memory cartridges from Sequoia. Counties in Pennsylvania and South Carolina had problems with their ES&S system. We also have a run-off for senator from Georgia and a recount for senator from Minnesota. This election will last for another month at least.
National: Malfunctioning Machines, Ballot Glitches, Election-Law Litigation — and a Busy Day for Lawyers
National: Voting Rights Watch: Relatively few e-voting problems, but GOP still readies for possible action
AZ: Pima County: 10 precincts and number of early, provisional ballots still uncounted
CA: Santa Cruz County - Vandals hit Santa Cruz County polling places, campaign offices
FL: Hillsborough County - Count Resumes With Hillsborough Elections Chief Race In Limbo
[Johnson said Premier, which he hired for $6 million this year, was dishonest with him and at fault for much of Tuesday's problems with voting machines.]
FL: Hillsborough results tied up by software glitch
FL: Hillsborough vote count likely to continue until Thursday
FL: Count Resumes With Hillsborough Elections Chief Race In Limbo [Diebold/Premier admits the system was bogged down and stalled due to overload]
FL: Manatee County - Manatee solves vote-counting problem [Premier/Diebold]
FL: Manatee County – Small glitch causes big problems in Manatee
FL: Palm Beach County vote results still incomplete [Bad Sequoia memory cartridges]
GA: The OTHER Election Night Story in Georgia: No Early Votes Included in Reported Results
GA: Chambliss and Martin prepare for another four weeks
GA: Gwinnett County - Gwinnett Officials Still Counting Ballots Day After Election
KY: Kenton Co. Judge Rules For Vote Recount
KY: Madison County - Local turnout heavy as computer glitch delays count
MN: Ritchie: Senate recount will involve hundreds, cost $90K
MN: E-Voting Machines Used in Franken, Coleman Race Failed Tests
NC: Onslow County - Padgett wants recount
NH: Long night of ballot snafus marks voting in Kennebunk
OH: Montgomery County election results delayed until late this evening
PA: Centre County Recounts Ballots After Discrepancy [ES&S M-100 precinct based op-scan]
PA: Northumberland County – PA County’s Voting Machines Impounded Following Complaints
SC: Charleston County suffers voting problems on Election Day [ES&S problem. The county had to hand input the results from 17,000 ballots]
Find your polling place over here.
Remind your parents, friends, and coworkers to vote today. If possible, vote on paper ballots, and if you have any problems, call 1 866 OUR VOTE and report it.
If you have a car, offer to drive friends to polling places.
A registered Democrat in Pennsylvania writes the Huffington Post to report that she has received an anonymous phone call telling her she should go to the polls on Wednesday.
“I received a phone call from an unidentified caller yesterday telling me that because of the expected high voter turnout, Democrats will need to vote on Wednesday, November 5th,” she writes.
The calls are obviously misleading, as voting ends on Tuesday. And apparently they have been going on for quite some time. This past Friday the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported“robocalls making the rounds in Pittsburgh region” disseminating the misleading information. The reader who contacted Huffington Post was from the Philadelphia suburbs, at the opposite end of the state.
Contacted by the Huffington Post, a spokesman for the Obama campaign’s Pennsylvania operations said he was aware of the misleading calls but “not worried about” their impact.
If you hear anything more about this or other last-minute election tactics, please contact the Huffington Post.
Attorney Cliff Arnebeck, cyber-sleuth Steven Spoonamore and author Mark Crispin Miller explain the background the ‘Connell Anomaly,’ named for Mike Connell, allegedly Rove’s IT fixer, who, in a late-breaking story, has been ordered by District Judge Solomon Olive to testify on Monday.According to Arnebeck’s press release,”Connell was a key inside IT contractor for Ken Blackwell in the administration of the 2004 and 2006 elections, while managing the IT function for the Bush Presidential campaigns andother Republican partisan campaigns in 2000, 2004 and 2006. Plaintiffs’ counsel and Plaintiffs’ cyber security expert Stephen Spoonamore in the King Lincoln case before US District Judge Algenon in Columbus have identified Connell as a key witness to Karl Rove’s various maneuvers affecting elections during this decade.”
Remember: Mike Connell, Rove’s boy, is the guy who said he helped steal the election to “Save the babies.”
3 days until Election Day.
Amongst all of the stories of failures, lawsuits, voter purges and voter suppression there is an occasional story that begs to be read and passed on to others so they will read it. This morning’s featured article is one of those. Imagine wanting to exercise your right to vote so strongly that you are willing to travel from Bangalore, India to New York City just to step into the voting booth and pull the lever. It’s a story worth the read.
Featured – National: When Use It or Lose It Means Traveling 9,300 Miles to Vote
National: Voting Shouldn’t Be a Game of Chance
National: Will This Election Be Stolen? Mark Crispin Miller
National: Will This Election Be Stolen? Hans A Spakovsky
CO: Voters line up now to avoid lines on Tuesday
CO: Judge orders Colorado secretary of state to stop voter purge
Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman must stop canceling voters
from the state registration rolls
CO: Federal judge rails at Secretary of State Coffman to stop purges
CO: Colorado Judge Angered Over Secretary of State’s Continued
Purging of Voter Names
CO: Judge orders Coffman to stop continued voter purge
CO: Voter turnout already nears halfway point
CO: Moffat County – More than half of voter roll votes early
FL: Troops overseas miss out on voting
FL: Palm Beach County – New Wrinkle.. That is, Crease.. in Tabulating Votes
GA: Counties report record turnout for early voting period
GA: GA Voting Problems
GA: Federal Court Intervenes in Handel’s Voter Purge
GA: Russell County - Voting machine lands in driveway
IL: Video: Oprah Sees Own Presidential Vote Dropped by Touch-Screen
IN: Marion County – Judge rules for GOP on absentee ballots
MI: ACLU Stops Illegal Voter Purges in Michigan
MS: Voter Coalition Debut Massive Voter Watch; Criticizes Hosemann
NC: Craven County - Voter complains about refusal to allow use of paper ballot
NC: Guilford County - Today’s voting could set a record
NJ: How safe is your vote?
NJ: Will your vote count?
PA: Some PA Counties May Ignore Paper Ballot Court Order
PA: Plenty of paper ballots to be available just in case
PA: Paper ballots are prepared if needed, officials say
PA: Lancaster County - He’s running an election marathon
SC: Both parties gear up for potential legal challenges as voting begins
TX: Civil rights group expresses concerns that machines are ’flipping’ votes from Obama to McCain
VA: Civil rights group renews Va. election lawsuit
VA: Va. voters wait in long lines; NAACP seeks injunction
VA: Cast your ballot for early and weekend voting
WA: King County - And the winner is …? State rules on mailed ballots could delay results for days
**Articles and commentary included in “Daily Voting News” may not all reflect the opinions of VotersUnite.Org or its allied organizations. The articles are all included for the information of the subscribers of “Daily Voting News” though we realize that the subscribers may not agree with the opinions given in all articles or in the commentary**