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[important]Voters Rights Suppression continues[/important]

>by Robert L. Gallimore – Democratic Liberal Umbrella DLU | May 05, 2012 |

We all have our own personal/political views, opinions, criticisms etc., about the President and the GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney; they are your feelings, your views and to each his own! However, this is not GOP TV News aka Fox News or some Conservative media outlet that lies to their public only to keep the brain dead on the right side — the conservative side — mislead! Here on DLU (Democratic Liberal Umbrella) you will get the bitter with the sweet and you will need to choose – what flavor suits your taste! Choose well!

Many of you that don’t much care for my flavor because I’m opinionated, I’m not a devolved Christian as you are, that I’m not conservative as you are, that I’m an Atheist as you are not! I’m speaking directly to Conservative Democrats. But, that’s OK in my book, you’re still my friends! But politically, we are fighting the same fight the Political War of Words and Beliefs against the Right aka Republicans aka the GOP! We are entrusting ourselves, our lives to the current Democratic Administration and to the President; just hoping that they will do the right things to get us through these hard times! Let me set the record straight here, the President and his Administration are working diligently for the Human Rights and best practices of all American and that’s including members on the Right aka Tea Party etc!

[TEA - "HELP THE POOR !! HELL NO!!" ] How Conservative Rule

Problems - Conservative(ism): Tea Party-Republican[ism


We’re in a much better place than the GOP would have you think! Mitt Romney will get the nod for the Republican Presidential race, and today all roads are headed in that direction; on the right. Then, you will need to make a choice to either go out to vote or stay at home and sitting at home will not do – it will not cut the mustard! Listen-up, Republicans are working diligently to suppress you vote – Legally! They want to take us back to pre-1965 era! Yes, I am talking to Minor population, specifically to the African-American. We are needed to make a stand on the principles set forth in the Voter’s Right’s Act of 1965 that fighting Democrats put into place for the average American citizen; giving them the right to vote!

“In 1965, Democrat Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law, a landmark piece of legislation that outlawed discriminatory voting practices that had been responsible for the widespread disenfranchisement of African-Americans. This was an important step forward—the result of a long, hard struggle—but it was neither the end of discrimination nor disenfranchisement.”

However, my friends this practice of widespread disenfranchisement and voter suppression continues today from the Right! So, no there will not be able-bodied African-Americans sitting home on that day! There will not be able-bodied Minorities sitting at home on that day! You do now, obtain now what is necessary for you to cast your vote, while Democratic Lawmaker work to overturn these suppression rule enacted in the various states levels; especially in the battleground and Southern state.

Below are articles comprising the Moral Crisis Party {Republicans}push to eliminated programs, who’s responsible and other pertained issues like: how they {GOP}are suppressing the Rights of Americans from Voting and how Democrats are fighting to preserve the Voter’s Right’s Act of 1965 – again!

The choices are clear here my friends: You stay at home and let the Republican’s take over the Senate, gain the Presidency and hold the House and allow more extreme Right-wing members enact their far right ideology {the Agenda} into the American mainstream culture. What will happen is that all your rights as American Citizens will be systematically eliminated (wipe-out), one by one by one; until your voice becomes – Silent! Or you get out there and vote! And perhaps we’ll take back the house; we’ll hold on to the Senate and maintain the White House and Presidency. The latter approach gives the President better control to enact and maintain what “We Stand for as Democrats.” Let’s not forget the Supreme Court appointees. Need I go on? Can you see it; can you see what’s happening? Let’s wake-up people; your American Dream is turning into a nightmare, if it hasn’t already – wake-up! If necessary put some Visine eye drops into your eyes to clear them – people! See the light!


*Image from a Tea Party Blog highlights their take on helping the poor! See video: Thomas Paine’s American Revolution !

Gbismarc Democratic Liberal Umbrella will give you the bitter and the sweet! This list is expanding, so if you have articles that apply to this subject; please let me know – Thanks! …Enjoy! I’m ready for a game of Chess – Gbismarc!


[error]  American Enterprise Institute And Brookings Must-Read: ‘The Republicans Are The Problem’[/error]

>By Joe Romm | Apr 28, 2012 at 12:34 pm |

Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann tell the media “a balanced treatment of an unbalanced phenomenon distorts reality.”

 

Two leading political scholars — representing the conservative American Enterprise Institute and the centrist Brookings Institution – have published a must-read article, “ Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem .”

I’ll excerpt the piece by Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann at length for two reasons. First, the problem they describe in detail is the central reason the United States failed to act on climate change when it had the chance in 2009 and 2010, and the central reason this country is poised to abandon any hope of maintaining  leadership in what will certainly be the biggest job creating sector of this century — low-carbon technologies and strategies. Until it is fixed

Second, they issue some advice to the media on the dangers of false balance in a world where there isn’t actually balance between the two “sides.”

The article opens:

Rep. Allen West, a Florida Republican, was recently  captured on video asserting that there are “78 to 81” Democrats in Congress who are members of the Communist Party. Of course, it’s not unusual for some renegade lawmaker from either side of the aisle to say something outrageous. What made West’s comment — right out of the McCarthyite playbook of the 1950s — so striking was the almost complete lack of condemnation from Republican congressional leaders or other major party figures, including the remaining presidential candidates.

It’s noat that the GOP leadership agrees with West; it is that such extreme remarks and views are now taken for granted.

We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.

The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise;  unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science ; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.

“Both sides do it” or “There is plenty of blame to go around” are the traditional refuges for an American news media intent on proving its lack of bias , while political scientists prefer generality and neutrality when discussing  partisan polarization . Many self-styled bipartisan groups, in their search for common ground, propose solutions that move both sides to the center, a strategy that is simply untenable when one side is so far out of reach .

Yes, false balance is “simply untenable” these days, when one side is so “far out.” This, of course, is  especially true in the case of the climate debate:

The authors offer some specific advice to the media:

 We understand the values of mainstream journalists, including the effort to report both sides of a story. But a balanced treatment of an unbalanced phenomenon distorts reality. If the political dynamics of Washington are unlikely to change anytime soon, at least we should change the way that reality is portrayed to the public.

Our advice to the press: Don’t seek professional safety through the even-handed, unfiltered presentation of opposing views. Which politician is telling the truth? Who is taking hostages, at what risks and to what ends?

Also, stop lending legitimacy to Senate filibusters by treating a 60-vote hurdle as routine. The framers certainly didn’t intend it to be. Report individual senators’ abusive use of holds and identify every time the minority party uses a filibuster to kill a bill or nomination with majority support.

The article has much more to say about how the Republican Party at the national level has veered sharply to the extreme and how the Democrats have become “more of a status-quot party”:

Republicans often dismiss nonpartisan analyses of the nature of problems and the impact of policies when those assessments don’t fit their ideology . In the face of the deepest economic downturn since the Great Depression, the party’s leaders and their outside acolytes insisted on obeisance to a supply-side view of economic growth — thus fulfilling Norquist’s pledge — while ignoring contrary considerations.

The results can border on the absurd: In early 2009, several of the eight Republican co-sponsors of a bipartisan health-care reform plan dropped their support; by early 2010, the others had turned on their own proposal so that there would be zero GOP backing for any bill that came within a mile of Obama’s reform initiative. As one co-sponsor, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.),  told The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein : “I liked it because it was bipartisan. I wouldn’t have voted for it.”

And seven Republican co-sponsors of a Senate resolution to create a debt-reduction panel voted in January 2010 against their own resolution, solely to keep it from getting to the 60-vote threshold Republicans demanded and thus denying the president a seeming victory.

This attitude filters down far deeper than the party leadership. Rank-and-file GOP voters endorse the strategy that the party’s elites have adopted, eschewing compromise to solve problems and insisting on principle, even if it leads to gridlock. Democratic voters, by contrast, along with self-identified independents, are more likely to favor deal-making over deadlock.

Democrats are hardly blameless, and they have their own extreme wing and their own predilection for hardball politics. But these tendencies do not routinely veer outside the normal bounds of robust politics.  If anything, under the presidencies of Clinton and Obama, the Democrats have become more of a status-quot party . They are centrist protectors of government, reluctantly willing to revamp programs and trim retirement and health benefits to maintain its central commitments in the face of fiscal pressures.

Precisely.

But again, the authors are clear on who is to blame for the gridlock that threatens to ruin the health and well-being of future generations:

Today, thanks to the GOP, compromise has gone out the window in Washington. In the first two years of the Obama administration, nearly every presidential initiative met with vehement, rancorous and unanimous Republican opposition in the House and the Senate, followed by efforts to de-legitimize the results and repeal the policies. The filibuster, once relegated to a handful of major national issues in a given Congress, became a routine weapon of obstruction, applied even to widely supported bills or presidential nominations. And Republicans in the Senate have abused the confirmation process to block any and every nominee to posts such as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, solely to keep laws that were legitimately enacted from being implemented.

In the third and now fourth years of the Obama presidency, divided government has produced something closer to complete gridlock than we have ever seen in our time in Washington, with partisan divides even leading last year to  America’s first credit downgrade .

On financial stabilization and economic recovery, on deficits and debt, on climate change and  health-care reform , Republicans have been the force behind the widening ideological gaps and the strategic use of partisanship. In  the presidential campaign and in Congress, GOP leaders have embraced fanciful policies on taxes and spending, kowtowing to their party’s most strident voices.

But while more and more people are recognizing the reality of the Tea Party driven extremism that has captured an entire political party, the  prognosis in the near term isn’t very good

Mike Lofgren, a veteran Republican congressional staffer, wrote  an anguished diatribe last year about why he was ending his career on the Hill after nearly three decades. “The Republican Party is becoming less and less like a traditional political party in a representative democracy and becoming more like an apocalyptic cult, or one of the intensely ideological authoritarian parties of 20th century Europe,” he wrote on the Truthout Web site.

Shortly before Rep. West went off the rails with his accusations of communism in the Democratic Party, political scientists Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal, who have long tracked historical trends in political polarization, said their studies of congressional votes found that Republicans are now more conservative than they have been in more than a century. Their data show  a dramatic uptick in polarization , mostly caused by the sharp rightward move of the GOP.

If our democracy is to regain its health and vitality, the culture and ideological center of the Republican Party must change. In the short run, without a massive (and unlikely) across-the-board rejection of the GOP at the polls, that will not happen. If anything, Washington’s ideological divide will probably grow after the 2012 elections.

In the House, some of the remaining centrist and conservative “Blue Dog” Democrats  have been targeted for extinction by redistricting, while even ardent tea party Republicans, such as freshman Rep. Alan Nunnelee (Miss.), have faced primary challenges from the right for being too accommodationist. And  Mitt Romney ’s rhetoric and positions offer no indication that he would govern differently if his party captures the White House and both chambers of Congress.

While the authors put some of the blame on the media, they end by saying:

In the end, while the press can make certain political choices understandable, it is up to voters to decide. If they can punish ideological extremism at the polls and look skeptically upon candidates who profess to reject all dialogue and bargaining with opponents, then an insurgent outlier party will have some impetus to return to the center. Otherwise, our politics will get worse before it gets better.

The only things missing in the piece is the role of money in politics and a downplaying of the role of the conservative media in stoking the extremism. But as a short diagnosis of what ails U.S. politics, it is one of the best recent pieces, particularly considering the credibility the authors.


[notice]Voting Rights Uprising: Activists in Three States Help GOP’s Targets Get Voter ID[/notice]

Grassroots groups in Wisconsin, Tennessee and Colorado help GOP targets obtain credentials to vote in 2012.
The GOP-led effort to disenfranchise likely Democratic voting blocks by enacting tougher state voter ID laws has run into a new obstacle: targeted populations are fighting back as voting rights advocates are helping people obtain the necessary ID.
Grassroots efforts in Tennessee, Wisconsin and Colorado are profiled in a new report , “Got ID? Helping Americans Get Voter Identification,” from Common Cause , Demos , Fair Elections Legal Network , and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law . The report is an important counterpoint to persistent progressive messaging about the GOP’s attack on voting rights that typically has not informed people how to overcome the barriers.
 
“This report gives Americans the tools they need to fight back and make their voices heard,” said Jenny Rose Flanagan, director of voting and elections at Common Cause.
  
The battle over tougher ballot access is a years-long fight where proponent’s arguments are not supported by facts on the ground and mask their partisan goals—shaping the electorate to achieve or maintain political power. There is nothing new about enacting laws (or running campaign ads) to discourage voting.
  
In 2003, states began enacting photo ID laws. Pushed by Republicans and a few conservative Southern Democrats, the goal was to restrict voting by slices of society the power-brokers considered undesirable: minorities, low-income people, students, the disabled and elderly—the very people likely to vote against them. Proponents proclaimed photo ID laws would protect election integrity of the process by prevent unregistered voters from casting ballots, and preclude miscreants from voting more than once. They said people could not board a flight without a photo ID, so why not require the same for voting, which is far more important than merely taking a trip.
 
The problem is that not everyone has a state-issued photo ID—particularly people who do not drive, such as many inner city residents, students and older people. Moreover, voting fraud—or posing as another person and casting a ballot— is rare . If it does happen, it usually is singular instances that are typically caught by election officials and prosecuted. Even right-wing provocateur James O’Keefe’s recent gambits to try to fraudulently vote (such as in the 2012 New Hampshire Primary ) saw him flee—for fear of being arrested. Nonetheless, GOP majorities have passed tougher state ID laws, affecting millions, knowing that elections can turn on very slim margins.
 
To date, 30 states require voters to show ID to get a ballot. The toughest version of this law, requiring residents present a specific state-issued photo ID, are in place in five states: Indiana, Georgia, Kansas, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. Other states have passed photo ID laws, but those changes have either been rejected by the U.S. Department of Justice in South Carolina and Texas, which has jurisdiction under the Voting Rights Act, or face a pending DOJ decision (Alabama), or have been suspended by a federal court (Wisconsin, although an appeal is pending). Several other states are considering similar legislation. A Virginia bill is back before its legislature. Minnesota will vote on it in November.
 
Unlike 2008, grassroots groups in key states are working to empower voters to obtain the needed ID to vote this fall. Three states are setting an example for others to follow.

Wisconsin
In typical Badger State style, local groups have galvanized around the voting rights challenge imposed by the state’s photo ID law—which was adopted by the Republican majority in 2011 but was recently found unconstitutional by a federal court. The state’s GOP leaders have appealed. Meanwhile, activists are not taking any chances—not with a gubernatorial recall election and presidential election this year.
“A lot of organizations are running on limited resources, using a lot of volunteers to try to help people get IDs if that’s possible,” said Tova Wang of Demos.
That’s exactly what’s happening. “Milwaukee provides free birth certificates for those who don’t have them, and activists are providing free transportation to the Department of Motor Vehicles so voters can get IDs,” she said.
Another key program, Wisconsin Voices, developed a relationship with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Advocates filed a public records request and got more than 2 million names of residents with drivers’ licenses. That was cross-referenced with a voter contact and management system. As a result, 1.3 million individuals were identified who may need photo IDs to vote.
To help college students, meanwhile, organizers set up the “Be a Voter!” program to get thousands of them registered before upcoming elections. Milwaukee churches also were mobilized to assist inner-city residents take the steps necessary to get proper identification. And a group called “9to5” focuses its outreach on low-income women and young people so they can get proper credentials. Elderly advocates are also assessing how many eligible voters lack birth certificates in senior centers.

Tennessee
In Tennessee, the Voter Assistance Coalition has been reaching out to communities though a network of grassroots partners—unions, churches and students and teachers at colleges and universities, according to Ben Hovland, an attorney with the Fair Elections Legal Network. The coalition has been identifying those who lack credentials, primarily people without driver’s licenses, which is about 10 percent of prospective voters.
“Now, to get a driver’s license, you need a birth certificate,” Hovland explained. “Some people don’t have one, have lost it, and some are born outside a hospital and never got one.” The Coalition walks people through the arduous task of getting a birth certificate, and then a driver’s license. Once it helps people to secure birth certificates, local churches provide rides to DMV offices so people can get photo required IDs.
For older Tennessee residents there’s an added problem. The state does not require older drivers to have photographs on their licenses and Holvand says many folks don’t have them. The Coalition has been assisting seniors to get new licenses with photos.
What Tennessee is doing can be done anywhere, he said. “Our hope is that in places where there are these bad laws that citizens and community groups can help their fellow residents so that fewer people will be disenfranchised.”

Colorado
Colorado does not have a photo ID law for voting. But low-income state residents have had to deal with a similar intrusion, said Common Cause’s Flanagan. In 2006, its legislature required picture ID for people who receive public benefits. That spawned the Collaborative ID project, which is now working to ensure eligible voters will not face obstacles at the polls.
Linda Olson, senior attorney for Colorado Legal Services, said during a special session that year, lawmakers passed several immigration bills. One of them was H.B. 1023 on public benefits. “The thinking was there were undocumented people receiving public benefits and this was a way to weed them out by requiring everyone to have a state ID,” Olson said. “The reality is they didn’t find hardly any undocumented people getting public benefits.”
For the past six years, the Collaborative ID project has helped people get birth certificates and IDs. “Some are lawfully present immigrants but most of our clients are U.S. citizens,” Olson said.
The project has already helped 10,000 people obtain proper IDs, Flanagan said, but it’s a costly undertaking. The need has outstripped what the group can do, Olson said. Foundation funding provides money so the poor can get birth certificates or other ID. “We have $5,000 a month for that and we’re usually turning people away by the fifth of each month,” she said.

National Model
While other state legislatures across the country consider voter ID legislation, “We’re hopeful we won’t continue to see these laws passed,” said Common Cause’s Flanagan. “Once these laws pass, the impact is so great.” The Fair Election Legal Network’s Hovland agreed. “These laws are unnecessary and they certainly are going to have an impact on certain segments of the population.”
Whether the number of states increases, the Got ID? report suggests more groups must step forward to help eligible voters.
“It is vitally important that community leaders, particularly those who work with communities of color, young people, seniors, and people with disabilities take an active role in helping voters acquire the requisite photo ID,” said Chris Melody Fields, of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
“Many local organizations are just beginning to get started,” Wang noted, “and hopefully there will be more funding.”
The report is a wake-up call to voting rights advocates: get moving to ensure everyone can vote. And time is running out. The presidential election is just 28 weeks away.
George Bauer is a print and broadcast journalist living in Atlanta, Georgia.

[notice]New Line of Defense Emerging To Protect Voting Rights: State Constitutions[/notice]

As many GOP-controlled state legislatures seek to ‘police’ voting, state Constitutions are emerging as the best new defense.

(Editor’s note. This article first appeared in JURIST .org.)

An emerging storyline in this year’s election season is the increased implementation of voter ID laws around the country. From Wisconsin to Texas to Virginia , state legislatures are enacting new laws requiring voters to show some form of photo identification at the polls. Just as quickly, opponents are filing suit in both state and federal courts to challenge the laws on various grounds.

While none of this is particularly novel, the added twist is the prominence of state constitutions in these disputes. In fact, given the current U.S. Supreme Court’s narrow interpretation of voting protections, state constitutional recognition of the right to vote may have a tremendous impact in limiting some states from requiring voters to show identification this Election Day.


Proponents of voter ID laws posit that they are necessary to protect the integrity of the election process. Those who oppose the laws, by contrast, explain that they do not root out any documented fraud and that they actually disenfranchise certain groups of voters, particularly minorities, the indigent and students. There is also a partisan bent to the disputes: Republicans tend to favor voter ID laws and Democrats oppose them because groups that more often vote Democratic are, as a general matter, less likely to possess the required form of identification and therefore will be unable to vote.

Predictably, many of these laws are subject to legal challenges soon after legislatures enact them. In 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board that Indiana’s voter ID law — which was among the most stringent in the country at the time — passed constitutional muster as a general matter, and that it was unlawful only if there was actual evidence that the requirement deprived certain people from voting. Under this ruling, unless there is stark evidence of disparities, photo identification laws are valid under the U.S. Constitution .

That still leaves open the potential that the laws violate federal statutory law or state constitutional provisions. Wisconsin recently passed a new voter ID law that is now the strictest in the country, requiring voters to show a particular form of ID either at the polls or to election officials by the Friday after the election. Groups such as the Advancement Project and the Americans Civil Liberties Union have filed suit, alleging that the new law violates the federal Voting Rights Act because of its asymmetric impact on racial minorities. In essence, the plaintiffs argue that racial minorities disproportionately do not possess the required identification or have the means to obtain one, so the law acts to disenfranchise these voters.

These plaintiffs, however, have an uphill battle. To prove a violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, the plaintiffs must demonstrate that Wisconsin’s voter ID law discriminates on the basis of race, color or membership in a language minority group. Under the governing statute and case law, a voting practice or procedure violates Section 2 only if, under the “totality of the circumstances,” the political process is “not equally open to participation” to a racial minority “in that its members have less opportunity than other members of the electorate to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice.” This presents a fairly high evidentiary hurdle: the plaintiffs must show that Wisconsin’s new voter ID law, in its actual use, makes it less likely for racial minorities to be able to participate in the political process and elect their favored candidates. That is, there must be hard data that the voter ID law results in a “denial or abridgment” of minorities’ right to vote. It is unlikely that there is sufficient probative evidence to win this claim.

This is where state constitutions come into play. Many state constitutions offer greater protection for the right to vote than does the U.S. Constitution. The Wisconsin Constitution , for example, provides, “Every United States citizen age 18 or older who is a resident of an election district in this state is a qualified elector of that district.” The Wisconsin Constitution allows the legislature to enact laws excluding the right to vote to convicted felons or those judged “incompetent” or “partially incompetent.” It also permits the legislature, subject to ratification “by the people,” to expand voting rights to “additional classes.” The Virginia Constitution similarly grants the “right of suffrage” to “all men.” This is in stark contrast to the U.S. Constitution, which does not enumerate an affirmative right to vote, instead simply placing certain limits on denying the franchise. That is, a right to vote under the federal Constitution is merely implied. Plaintiffs have invoked the Wisconsin Constitution’s more robust protection in state court to challenge the new voter ID law.

This strategy has proven effective. Recently, two separate district courts struck down Wisconsin’s law as violating the state constitution. The courts ruled that the Wisconsin Constitution provides an affirmative grant of the right to vote and that the Wisconsin voter ID law is a restriction on that right. Put simply, the Wisconsin Constitution gives the right to vote to “[e]very … citizen,” with only a few qualifications, and a law that prohibits those citizens who do not show an ID from voting adds an additional hurdle that the state constitution does not sanction. The voter ID law “impermissibly eliminate[s] the right of suffrage altogether for certain constitutionally qualified electors.”

The voter ID law poses an unlawful qualification on voter eligibility because some otherwise eligible voters may not have an ID. Obtaining the necessary government-issued identification in Wisconsin requires a voter to procure a birth certificate, which costs money. The law, then, acts as a type of poll tax, which violates the Wisconsin Constitution’s grant of the right to vote to “[e]very United States citizen age 18 or older who is a resident of an election district in this state.” As one of the courts explained, “[t]he right to vote belongs to all Wisconsin citizens who are qualified electors, not just the fortunate majority for whom [the voter ID law] poses little obstacle at the polls.”

Moreover, the state failed to show that the law would combat voter fraud because there was little evidence that ineligible people misrepresent themselves when voting in person. Most fraud actually occurs through the improper use of absentee ballots, which the voter ID law would not combat. One court expressly distinguished Crawford, the US Supreme Court case from 2006 involving Indiana’s voter ID law, by noting that its decision rested on the Wisconsin Constitution, not the US Constitution. “[T]he qualification for voting is guaranteed in the [state] constitution,” the court concluded, “and cannot be changed by statute or impaired by regulation.”

The state is appealing these decisions to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. But as the district courts’ analysis shows, there is a compelling argument that the law violates the Wisconsin Constitution. Indeed, other state supreme courts have struck down voter ID laws under their state constitutions. The Missouri Supreme Court, for example, ruled in 2006 that Missouri’s voter ID law violated the Missouri Constitution’s affirmative grant of the right to vote, which “receive[s] state constitutional protections even more extensive than those provided by the federal constitution.” The question is not fully settled, however; other state supreme courts, such as those in Georgia and Michigan , have gone the other way based on the language and interpretation of their state constitutions. The Michigan Constitution , for instance, is more like the U.S. Constitution in failing to enumerate expressly the right to vote. Regardless, explicit state constitutional safeguards of the right to vote are seeing renewed vitality in the wake of federal law’s inability to offer the same level of protection.

Voter ID challenges are not the only election related litigation that have recently invoked state constitutional provisions. Those who opposed the 2012 Kentucky redistricting plan successfully argued both to the lower court and the Kentucky Supreme Court that the new map violated the state’s constitution . In fact, although there were potentially valid federal constitutional and statutory arguments, the courts focused their inquiry solely on the Kentucky Constitution, and the decisions turned on whether the map satisfied the state constitution’s mandates. This proves the newfound importance of state constitutions in election law cases. Given the conservative bent of the current U.S. Supreme Court, federal law may not be robust enough to give necessary scope to an individuals’ right to vote. State constitutional grants of voting rights, often overlooked, have become an important new battleground in election law.

The fate of voter ID laws may have a significant impact on the 2012 elections, as they will help to shape the scope of the electorate. Put succinctly, if these laws remain on the books, fewer people will have the ability to vote in November. State constitutions may be the best mechanism to challenge voter ID requirements and ensure that all voters have a say in picking our next leaders.

Joshua Douglas is Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Kentucky College of Law. His research focuses on election law, including the interaction between election processes and the judiciary. Prior to his academic career, Douglas clerked for Judge Edward Prado of the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

[notice]Battle for Voting Rights[/notice]


Published on Mar 14, 2012 by Pa. state Rep. Michelle Brownlee stands up against the unconstitutional “Voter ID” bill that would require photo identification for anyone exercising their right to vote. This expensive, pointless bill — already found unconstitutional in Texas, Wisconsin and South Carolina — would drive down voter turnout and disenfranchise nearly 700000 Pennsylvanians, especially seniors, young people and the poor.
Nov 3, 2011 Florida Voting Law Changes for 2012 Elections


Apr 23,2012

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