Tag Archives: voter ID

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

So Many News, So Little Time

18 Oct

1. What potent form of crack is WIVB smoking by hosting a second televised NY-27 debate between Chris Collins and Kathy Hochul at 10:30 pm on a weeknight? No one saw it, no one knows what happened, and I don’t get why they’d do that at all. Evidently, WNLO will re-broadcast it at 11:30 am today, so everyone who was getting ready to go to bed for work last night, will be at work and miss it today. (You can watch it here). Democracy! 

2. The other day I pointed out that Chuck Swanick is running as the candidate for homophobes. He confirmed it to Bob McCarthy, and “resumed” his campaign. From the sound of it, Swanick seems to be running in an effort to harm Grisanti, but some things I’ve read from Swanick supporters are quite negative towards Democrat Mike Amodeo, as well. It’s yet another episode of horrible people doing horrible things. I’ll add that the Conservative Party – the line on which Swanick is running – is embroiled in a dispute between its chairman Ralph Lorigo and some rank & file members to determine whether that entity will ever endorse Democrats again. Lorigo is pushing rule changes that would, e.g., ban the CP from ever again endorsing anyone with a Working Families Party endorsement. I have a better idea – let’s get rid of electoral fusion and these facile, patronage-laden cross-endorsements altogether! All these hacks would have to either find honest jobs or at least go hack it up somewhere else. 

3. While voter ID fraud is such an infinitesimally small problem that it hardly qualifies as a “problem”, it would seem as if the right-wing is busy registering voters in Virginia and then throwing some of the registration forms in a dumpster. Good luck to those new registrants trying to vote, right? 

4. Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital bought Sensata Industries in Illinois. 170 jobs will be lost in Illinois as Sensata relocates its operations to the People’s Republic of China. The people about to lose their jobs and livelihoods are protesting.  This should be a national story. 

5. Mitt Romney was caught on tape telling business owners to tell their employees how to vote

I hope you make it very clear to your employees what you believe is in the best interest of your enterprise and therefore their job and their future in the upcoming elections. And whether you agree with me or you agree with President Obama, or whatever your political view, I hope — I hope you pass those along to your employees. Nothing illegal about you talking to your employees about what you believe is best for the business, because I think that will figure into their election decision, their voting decision and of course doing that with your family and your kids as well.

There’s a certain egotistical pathology at play here – people come to work for work, not to be lectured about politics. Much less threatened. Some CEOs have already taken Romney up on the idea, threatening to fire everybody if they don’t vote for the candidate from Michigan/Massachusetts/Utah/California. Not to be outdone, fascist front group “Koch Industries” sent this to employees of its subsidiary Georgia Pacific: 

While we are typically told before each Presidential election that it is important and historic, I believe the upcoming election will determine what kind of America future generations will inherit.

If we elect candidates who want to spend hundreds of billions in borrowed money on costly new subsidies for a few favored cronies, put unprecedented regulatory burdens on businesses, prevent or delay important new construction projects, and excessively hinder free trade, then many of our more than 50,000 U.S. employees and contractors may suffer the consequences, including higher gasoline prices, runaway inflation, and other ills.

When you resort to threatening your employees to vote a certain way, you’ve crossed a line from free speech into intimidation. The 1st Amendment broadly protects political speech, but not threats.  Make no mistake – this is pure, unadulterated banana republic shit. 

6.  If you own any of these:

 

Then chances are you’re white, male, and over the age of 45. You think Sean Hannity is great, you hate that Bauerle tolerates gay people, and you think that Carl Paladino is God’s gift to politics. You read WND.com as either a primary or secondary news source. You stopped going to Free Republic a couple of years ago, but you think that Michelle Malkin has the right mixture of sarcasm and gravitas. Also, you completely freaked the fuck out when the country elected a black (you insist on calling him mixed-race or half-black) President in 2008. You believe that Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii, but was born in Kenya to devoted communists, and set up through a wide conspiracy – that’s taken place over 50 years – by Democrats, the SDS, Kenya, world Islam, Indonesia, the KGB, and an associated roster of communist cadres to take away the United States and replace it with a Leninist dictatorship. You self-identify as a tea party activist, but in reality you’re just a racist omniphobe who has – at least once – uttered the phrase, “keep the government out of my Medicare”. 

7. You know that funny line from the debate the other night, when President Obama explained how his administration helped ensure equal pay for women through the Lily Ledbetter Act – a law Romney would have opposed – and how Romney parried by explaining how he demanded a list of qualified women to hire for his cabinet in Massachusetts in 2002? Yeah, he didn’t ask for it. It was waiting for him when he took office. Another lie

8. So, as far as I can tell the right wing freakout over Benghazi has to do with what the Obama Administration said about what happened that day; whether it was a calculated terrorist act or a spontaneous thing that arose out of the protests about that idiotic anti-Mohammed “movie”. This is coming from a party that took us to war in Iraq over pretexts that changed as often as the direction of the wind? The day of the Benghazi attacks, there were protests over the movie. There were also protests over the movie in Cairo. The protest in Benghazi was around the consulate, while the Cairo protests were by the embassy. Instead of letting the government’s investigation continue, the right wing is politicizing an attack on Americans on American soil. It is a stark reminder of Obama’s speech where he said we’re one America. The Republican Party disagrees most strenuously, and their central platform since 2008 has been to disprove Obama’s assertion. 

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?