Tag Archives: voter fraud

Registration Fraud + Poll Tax

22 Oct

The Sprouls with Mr. Romney

This isn’t as big a story in the mainstream media because it hasn’t hit Drudge and Fox – most likely because it involves a pricey, private, Caucasian consultancy rather than “new Black Panthers” or ACORN or just regular folks. 

You won’t see this story on Drudge and Fox because it can’t be spun to show Black people to be lawless savages who have the nerve to participate in our electoral process. 

But while the Republicans press for a poll tax to dissuade poor folks from voting (using “voter fraud” as a pretext), and although that sort of voter identity fraud has almost never happened, ever, we now have a brewing swing-state scandal where that consultancy hired first by the RNC – then fired when fraudulent registrations popped up in Florida, Colorado, and Virginia.  The Virginia Republican Committee quickly hired the firm that had been hiring workers for the fired consultancy, and somehow, some of those registrations have been found in a Pennsylvania dumpster

Strategic Allied is owned by Nathan Sproul, an Arizona political consultant for Republicans whose companies have faced charges in past elections of submitting forged forms and of dumping Democratic registrations. None of the charges were proved, and Sproul continues to do get-out-the-vote work for conservative causes this election.

In fact, the RNC has paid Sproul’s Strategic Allied $1.3 million over the course of the 2012 election to “register” voters. The RNC fired them after a bunch of fraudulent registrations popped up in Florida. Over the last nine years, that number has been $21.2 million.  

It also appears that the arrested former Strategic Allied worker, Colin Small, was re-hired by PinPoint Staffing, which Strategic Allied had used to hire people. The Virginia GOP in spite of – or because of – the allegations against Strategic Allied, retained PinPoint to provide staffers to “register” voters. Imagine you stop at your college’s student union to re-register to vote at your current address, and when the deadline passes you check to make sure everything went through, and nothing had changed

It’s a two-front war to help disenfranchise the poor and minorities, and therefore help Republican candidates. Long gone are the days of the GOP’s big tent – now, the tent door is shut, and it has reverted to agitation for a poll tax on the one hand, and ignoring or encouraging registration fraud on the other.  The Brad Blog goes into excruciating detail

Taxes Are Bad! (Unless It's a Poll Tax)

13 Jul

Next up? Those pesky Child Labor Laws!

Just a few weeks ago, the vast majority of Americans were redirected to their dusty copies of the Constitution, and perhaps many of them felt compelled to re-read Article 1, Section 8, which enumerates the rights and powers of Congress.  Among its express powers is the power to levy taxes. 

As Chris Smith wrote in Thursday’s Morning Grumpy, there is a massive right-wing push to establish voter ID laws throughout the country, this despite the fact that actual, credible instances of voter fraud represented .000002% of all votes cast in 2011.  In Texas, it’s .0001% since 2002. If voter fraud was as prevalent as certain conservatives claim it to be, we’d retain the services of the UN or EU to monitor our elections for irregularities, like some third world kleptocracy with an disproportionately powerful, wealthy elite and massive income inequalit…. wait, what? 

In fact, the most visible forms of voter fraud have been perpetrated by idiot propagandists like James O’Keefe, who sends people to appear at polling places claiming to be someone they’re not and attempting to vote, to show how easy it is to commit voter fraud. You know, someone could prove how easy it is to blow up a bridge by blowing up a bridge, but that’d be silly and dangerous.

Our conservative-led march into some Dickensian fever-dream of an exploitative third world banana republic notwithstanding, the right to vote is basic and fundamental. It is a constitutional guarantee held by every law abiding citizen – you can only lose the right to vote in certain states, under certain circumstances involving the “law abiding” part.  And historically, our voting laws – indeed, in most cases our Constitution itself – have steadily and consistently expanded the people’s rights over the past 200+ years, to non-property holders, to naturalized citizens, to non-whites, to women, to people 18 and over, to DC residents, etc. 

In Republicanland, you need a photo ID to vote, but any idiot can walk into a Wal*Mart and buy an assault weapon. 

We’ve talked a lot throughout the health care debate about government mandates requiring people to engage in certain economic activity. While the Republican Party now vehemently opposes the insurance mandate it had valiantly championed at a time before President Obama moved to Washington, it is now instead championing a photo ID mandate for any eligible voter. 

The 24th Amendment to the Constitution reads, in relevant part: The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.”

That photo ID mandate doesn’t come particularly cheaply, nor is it carefully crafted to avoid constitutional harm or to fix a big public problem. The Texas law, for instance, was invalidated under the Voting Rights Act because it was discriminatory. It was found that as many as 1.4 MM registered Texas voters did not have photo ID, and the vast majority of them happened to be Hispanic or black.  According to Texas’ own numbers, a Hispanic voter is between 47 – 120% more likely to not have photo ID than a non-Hispanic voter.  

Hispanics in Texas, who vote solidly Democratic, are not only more likely to lack ID compared to white voters, but will have a harder time obtaining the voter ID required by the state. There are DMV offices in only eighty-one of the state’s 254 counties. Not surprisingly, counties with a significant Hispanic population are less likely to have a DMV office, while Hispanic residents in such counties are twice as likely as whites to not have the right ID. Hispanics in Texas are also twice as likely as whites to not have a car. “During the legislative hearings, one senator stated that some voters in his district could have to travel up to 176 miles roundtrip in order to reach a driver’s license office,” wrote DOJ.

The law also places a significant burden on low-income residents. Texas is required to provide a free ID to voters, but an applicant must possess supporting documentation in order to qualify. “If a voter does not possess any of these documents, the least expensive option will be to spend $22 on a copy of the voter’s birth certificate,” DOJ noted. That expenditure can be rightly construed as a poll tax, which the Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibited.

So, in order to “fix” a non-existent voter fraud “problem”, the Republican Party is perfectly willing to mandate that people spend money to obtain an ID at some expense in order to exercise a fundamental civil right we call “casting a vote.” I don’t know what you call that, but I call it a “tax”. 

Poll taxes were part of the Jim Crow laws, designed to disenfranchise the poor and the Black. A Supreme Court ruling in 1937 held them to be constitutional, and several southern states charged certain portions of the population to exercise their right to vote. In 1964 poll taxes were banned by the 24th Amendment to the Constitution, and the Supreme Court extended that abolition to state elections in 1966.  Here is a chart of states requiring ID – some pass legal muster, others don’t. 

But let’s not play make-believe any more. The Republican proponents of these modern-day poll taxes are advocating for a regression back to Jim Crow. They are doing so by manufacturing a legal-sounding pretext of fraud, but the real purpose of these statutes and similar efforts in Florida to purge the voter registration rolls of supposed ineligible people (and getting it wrong), is to help Republicans and hurt Democrats. 

Not only is it a despicable display of anti-Americanism to impose an ID mandate and tax on the poor, the black, and the Hispanic to prevent them from voting Democratic, but it is a cynical admission that the Republican Party has shrunken into a regional, reactionary, theocratic party of the xenophobic and the rich. That the easiest way for them to obtain power is to cheat the system and prevent voters from reaching a ballot box. 

Where’s that posse of constitution-champions calling themselves the “tea party” now? 

Taxes Are Bad! (Unless It’s a Poll Tax)

13 Jul

Next up? Those pesky Child Labor Laws!

Just a few weeks ago, the vast majority of Americans were redirected to their dusty copies of the Constitution, and perhaps many of them felt compelled to re-read Article 1, Section 8, which enumerates the rights and powers of Congress.  Among its express powers is the power to levy taxes. 

As Chris Smith wrote in Thursday’s Morning Grumpy, there is a massive right-wing push to establish voter ID laws throughout the country, this despite the fact that actual, credible instances of voter fraud represented .000002% of all votes cast in 2011.  In Texas, it’s .0001% since 2002. If voter fraud was as prevalent as certain conservatives claim it to be, we’d retain the services of the UN or EU to monitor our elections for irregularities, like some third world kleptocracy with an disproportionately powerful, wealthy elite and massive income inequalit…. wait, what? 

In fact, the most visible forms of voter fraud have been perpetrated by idiot propagandists like James O’Keefe, who sends people to appear at polling places claiming to be someone they’re not and attempting to vote, to show how easy it is to commit voter fraud. You know, someone could prove how easy it is to blow up a bridge by blowing up a bridge, but that’d be silly and dangerous.

Our conservative-led march into some Dickensian fever-dream of an exploitative third world banana republic notwithstanding, the right to vote is basic and fundamental. It is a constitutional guarantee held by every law abiding citizen – you can only lose the right to vote in certain states, under certain circumstances involving the “law abiding” part.  And historically, our voting laws – indeed, in most cases our Constitution itself – have steadily and consistently expanded the people’s rights over the past 200+ years, to non-property holders, to naturalized citizens, to non-whites, to women, to people 18 and over, to DC residents, etc. 

In Republicanland, you need a photo ID to vote, but any idiot can walk into a Wal*Mart and buy an assault weapon. 

We’ve talked a lot throughout the health care debate about government mandates requiring people to engage in certain economic activity. While the Republican Party now vehemently opposes the insurance mandate it had valiantly championed at a time before President Obama moved to Washington, it is now instead championing a photo ID mandate for any eligible voter. 

The 24th Amendment to the Constitution reads, in relevant part: The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.”

That photo ID mandate doesn’t come particularly cheaply, nor is it carefully crafted to avoid constitutional harm or to fix a big public problem. The Texas law, for instance, was invalidated under the Voting Rights Act because it was discriminatory. It was found that as many as 1.4 MM registered Texas voters did not have photo ID, and the vast majority of them happened to be Hispanic or black.  According to Texas’ own numbers, a Hispanic voter is between 47 – 120% more likely to not have photo ID than a non-Hispanic voter.  

Hispanics in Texas, who vote solidly Democratic, are not only more likely to lack ID compared to white voters, but will have a harder time obtaining the voter ID required by the state. There are DMV offices in only eighty-one of the state’s 254 counties. Not surprisingly, counties with a significant Hispanic population are less likely to have a DMV office, while Hispanic residents in such counties are twice as likely as whites to not have the right ID. Hispanics in Texas are also twice as likely as whites to not have a car. “During the legislative hearings, one senator stated that some voters in his district could have to travel up to 176 miles roundtrip in order to reach a driver’s license office,” wrote DOJ.

The law also places a significant burden on low-income residents. Texas is required to provide a free ID to voters, but an applicant must possess supporting documentation in order to qualify. “If a voter does not possess any of these documents, the least expensive option will be to spend $22 on a copy of the voter’s birth certificate,” DOJ noted. That expenditure can be rightly construed as a poll tax, which the Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibited.

So, in order to “fix” a non-existent voter fraud “problem”, the Republican Party is perfectly willing to mandate that people spend money to obtain an ID at some expense in order to exercise a fundamental civil right we call “casting a vote.” I don’t know what you call that, but I call it a “tax”. 

Poll taxes were part of the Jim Crow laws, designed to disenfranchise the poor and the Black. A Supreme Court ruling in 1937 held them to be constitutional, and several southern states charged certain portions of the population to exercise their right to vote. In 1964 poll taxes were banned by the 24th Amendment to the Constitution, and the Supreme Court extended that abolition to state elections in 1966.  Here is a chart of states requiring ID – some pass legal muster, others don’t. 

But let’s not play make-believe any more. The Republican proponents of these modern-day poll taxes are advocating for a regression back to Jim Crow. They are doing so by manufacturing a legal-sounding pretext of fraud, but the real purpose of these statutes and similar efforts in Florida to purge the voter registration rolls of supposed ineligible people (and getting it wrong), is to help Republicans and hurt Democrats. 

Not only is it a despicable display of anti-Americanism to impose an ID mandate and tax on the poor, the black, and the Hispanic to prevent them from voting Democratic, but it is a cynical admission that the Republican Party has shrunken into a regional, reactionary, theocratic party of the xenophobic and the rich. That the easiest way for them to obtain power is to cheat the system and prevent voters from reaching a ballot box. 

Where’s that posse of constitution-champions calling themselves the “tea party” now? 

The Morning Grumpy – 6/13/12

13 Jun

All the news, views, and filtered excellence fit to consume during your morning grumpy.

Good morning, Bad Luck Brian! Got a good one for us today?

1. Vatican to American nuns, knock it off with the social justice shit already.

The sisters and church officials met to discuss a doctrinal assessment finding the influential group of American nuns had strayed too far from the church’s teachings.

The report also alleged sins of omission, saying the nuns were focused too heavily on social justice and not enough on opposing abortion, euthanasia and same-sex marriage.

It’s not news that the Catholic Church is in serious trouble in America. Membership has declined, the church is leaving thousands of urban houses of worship behind to rot, and the Church is still settling million dollar legal cases related to decades of sexual abuse of children by thousands of priests. To come down on these women, who are leaders in faith for millions, is absolutely bizarre. As Richard Dawkins pointed out recently, Catholicism is more of a cultural relationship today than a spiritual one.

People who describe themselves as Catholic but do not accept the church’s key teachings should be “honest” and admit they no longer belong to the faith, atheist author and scientist Prof Richard Dawkins has told a Dublin audience.

He said he was intrigued by this week’s Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll showing almost two thirds (62 per cent) of Catholics believed the bread and wine which was blessed during Mass “only represents the body and blood” of Christ.

Just 26 per cent said they believed the bread and wine transformed into Christ’s body and blood in accordance with the doctrine of transubstantiation.

“If they don’t believe in transubstantiation then they are not Roman Catholics,” Prof Dawkins said. “If they are honest they should say they are no longer Roman Catholics.”

While the poll Dawkins references is of Irish Catholics, similar results are found in American polls. If the relationship people have with the Catholic faith is more cultural than spiritually literal, the Church needs to support the social justice mission of the the American Church or risk losing their audience at a far greater rate than they are today.

2. This article illustrates why “Canalside” is a bad idea, whether it’s planned by Larry Quinn, Jordan Levy, state agencies, city planners, or Mark Goldman’s ambiguously employed and bearded jugband.

“A district inherently becomes a single-use idea,” says Kennedy. “Everything has to be ‘art.’ You end up with a bunch of performing arts spaces and when they’re not in use it becomes a vacuum.” This vacuum has made the district itself a museum of sorts, something impressive to observe but strangely inert.

…themed venues catering to neatly delineated tastes, Epcot-style.

The model suggests that city life is nothing more than a selection of personal consumption experiences. But at times, the district feels more like a very enthusiastic ghost town

Pave/cobble the streets, plant grass, run the utilities, zone the land, put it up for sale, and let “Canalside” develop organically. If Mark Goldman wants a solar powered ferris wheel or a historically themed tchotchke/bauble emporium with culturally sensitive puppet shows, it can happen on its own. If Cabelas or Trader Joe’s (or whatever retail destination we desire) opens, it will be because it’s an attractive opportunity. It will also then look like Buffalo, not some pre-planned consensus driven compromise of a waterfront.

3. Bruce Bartlett (senior economic adviser in the Reagan and Bush 41 administrations) tallies up President George W. Bush’s financial legacy, and it’s pretty ugly.

Putting all the numbers in the C.B.O. report together, we see that continuation of tax and budget policies and economic conditions in place at the end of the Clinton administration would have led to a cumulative budget surplus of $5.6 trillion through 2011 – enough to pay off the $5.6 trillion national debt at the end of 2000.

Tax cuts and slower-than-expected growth reduced revenues by $6.1 trillion and spending was $5.6 trillion higher, a turnaround of $11.7 trillion. Of this total, the C.B.O. attributes 72 percent to legislated tax cuts and spending increases, 27 percent to economic and technical factors. Of the latter, 56 percent occurred from 2009 to 2011.

As Andrew Sullivan noted in his column on the subject,

I’m tired of being told we cannot blame Bush for our current predicament. We can and should blame him for most of it – and remind people that Romney’s policies: more tax cuts, more defense spending are identical.

President Obama needs to get off the defensive and make this election about Romney’s desire to return to the economic policies of Bush administration. Remind America how bad it was and how bad it can be again.

4. The capital it takes to get to the Capitol. Who can afford to go to Congress? And how independent can they be once they’ve arrived?

Click here for a full size version of the graphic.

As Rootstrikers writes in their story about this infographic,

The first infographic is dedicated to our least favorite government institution: Congress. Who can afford the high price tag of our government? Unfortunately, only the privileged few. Until it makes sense for politicians to opt into a system where they are not dependent upon the 0.26% of Americans wealthy enough to pay for their time, we will not have a government by the people, for the people.

We’re asking all those who agree that the corruption has to stop add their name to The Anti-Corruption Pledge. Our goal: find and connect one million citizens who are willing to strike at the root of corruption in this country.

I’ve signed and I support Rootstrikers with my money and time. I think you should consider doing so as well.

5. Rolling Stone debunks the idea that voter fraud is actually a problem, suggesting that Republican efforts to prevent it are simply a means to restrict ballot access for Democratic constituencies.

Not only is voter fraud not rampant – it’s virtually nonexistent. The iron-clad word on the subject comes from the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, whose 2007 report, ‘The Truth About Voter Fraud,’ sorts through thousands of allegations going back to the 1990s in the most in-depth voter fraud study ever undertaken. The bottom line, confirmed by all subsequent research: “Usually, only a tiny portion of the claimed illegality is substantiated — and most of the remainder is either nothing more than speculation or has been conclusively debunked.” In fact, “one is more likely to be struck by lightning than to commit voter fraud.”

If you can’t win on ideas, might as well change the rules of the game to benefit your team. GOP2012!

Fact Of The Day: Following the 2010 BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico, 50 percent of shrimp were found lacking eyes and eye sockets in Barataria Bay, LA, one of the most heavily oiled areas.

Quote Of The Day: “Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.” – AKA The Republican 2012 Strategy – Bertrand Russell

Video Of The Day: How It’s Made, Hot Dogs

Song Of The Day: “Prisecolinensinenciousol” – Adriano Celentano

Follow me on Twitter for the “incremental grumpy” @ChrisSmithAV

Email me links, tips, story ideas: chris@artvoice.com