Thursday, February 28, 2013

How Short is Your Memory?

I have not followed the deep legal arguments about the Voters Rights Act that surfaced yesterday at the US Supreme Court.  Should I be astonished that there are those questioning how long must we consider the legacy of voter suppression?  Just a bit given that we have to go all the way back to the fall of 2012 to find some voter suppression of non-whites in the U.S. 

The evidence of voter suppression efforts, under the guise of voterfraudfraud (efforts to claim that we need to protect the franchise by reducing the risk of [entirely imaginary] voter fraud), is most abundant.

We do not have to look at tables of voting times for whites vs. non-whites:

We could just look at what Republicans said:
Former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer says he attended various meetings, beginning in 2009, at which party staffers and consultants pushed for reductions in early voting days and hours.
“The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates,” Greer told The Post. “It’s done for one reason and one reason only. … ‘We’ve got to cut down on early voting because early voting is not good for us,’ ” Greer said he was told by those staffers and consultants.
“They never came in to see me and tell me we had a (voter) fraud issue,” Greer said. “It’s all a marketing ploy.”
- See more at: http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/early-voting-curbs-called-power-play/nTFDy/#sthash.kD1MD3Jz.dpuf 
"'The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe early voting is bad for Republican party candidates,' Greer told The Post, 'IT's done for oen reason and reason only ... We've got to cut down on early voting because early voting is not good for us ..... They never came  in to see me and tell me we had a (voter) fraud issue,' Greer said, 'It's all a marketing ploy.'"
But in June, Mike Turzai, Republican majority leader of the Pennsylvania House, blew his party’s cover by blurting out: “Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor [Mitt] Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania? Done.” The press was jubilant. It was as if Koch Enterprises had acknowledged global warming. TNR

Anyhow, the point  should be pretty obvious: race still matters in elections.  Not just in who votes for whom, but in who tries to suppress whom.  The voterfraudfraud effort is aimed at minorities who tend to vote for the Democrats.  So, to have Supreme Court justices and commentators ponder whether the Voting Rights Act is no longer relevant is to suggest they are blind and deaf.  The election was only a few months ago--how short are people's memories?

 
The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates,” - See more at: http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/early-voting-curbs-called-power-play/nTFDy/#sthash.kD1MD3Jz.dpuf



Former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer says he attended various meetings, beginning in 2009, at which party staffers and consultants pushed for reductions in early voting days and hours.
“The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates,” Greer told The Post. “It’s done for one reason and one reason only. … ‘We’ve got to cut down on early voting because early voting is not good for us,’ ” Greer said he was told by those staffers and consultants.
“They never came in to see me and tell me we had a (voter) fraud issue,” Greer said. “It’s all a marketing ploy.”
- See more at: http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/early-voting-curbs-called-power-play/nTFDy/#sthash.kD1MD3Jz.dpuf
Former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer says he attended various meetings, beginning in 2009, at which party staffers and consultants pushed for reductions in early voting days and hours.
“The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates,” Greer told The Post. “It’s done for one reason and one reason only. … ‘We’ve got to cut down on early voting because early voting is not good for us,’ ” Greer said he was told by those staffers and consultants.
“They never came in to see me and tell me we had a (voter) fraud issue,” Greer said. “It’s all a marketing ploy.”
- See more at: http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/early-voting-curbs-called-power-play/nTFDy/#sthash.kD1MD3Jz.dpuf

Former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer says he attended various meetings, beginning in 2009, at which party staffers and consultants pushed for reductions in early voting days and hours.
“The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates,” Greer told The Post. “It’s done for one reason and one reason only. … ‘We’ve got to cut down on early voting because early voting is not good for us,’ ” Greer said he was told by those staffers and consultants.
“They never came in to see me and tell me we had a (voter) fraud issue,” Greer said. “It’s all a marketing ploy.”
- See more at: http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/early-voting-curbs-called-power-play/nTFDy/#sthash.kD1MD3Jz.dpuf
Former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer says he attended various meetings, beginning in 2009, at which party staffers and consultants pushed for reductions in early voting days and hours.
“The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates,” Greer told The Post. “It’s done for one reason and one reason only. … ‘We’ve got to cut down on early voting because early voting is not good for us,’ ” Greer said he was told by those staffers and consultants.
“They never came in to see me and tell me we had a (voter) fraud issue,” Greer said. “It’s all a marketing ploy.”
- See more at: http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/early-voting-curbs-called-power-play/nTFDy/#sthash.kD1MD3Jz.dpuf
Former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer says he attended various meetings, beginning in 2009, at which party staffers and consultants pushed for reductions in early voting days and hours.
“The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates,” Greer told The Post. “It’s done for one reason and one reason only. … ‘We’ve got to cut down on early voting because early voting is not good for us,’ ” Greer said he was told by those staffers and consultants.
“They never came in to see me and tell me we had a (voter) fraud issue,” Greer said. “It’s all a marketing ploy.”
- See more at: http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/early-voting-curbs-called-power-play/nTFDy/#sthash.kD1MD3Jz.dpuf
Former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer says he attended various meetings, beginning in 2009, at which party staffers and consultants pushed for reductions in early voting days and hours.
“The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates,” Greer told The Post. “It’s done for one reason and one reason only. … ‘We’ve got to cut down on early voting because early voting is not good for us,’ ” Greer said he was told by those staffers and consultants.
“They never came in to see me and tell me we had a (voter) fraud issue,” Greer said. “It’s all a marketing ploy.”
- See more at: http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/early-voting-curbs-called-power-play/nTFDy/#sthash.kD1MD3Jz.dpuf

1 comment:

pubeditor said...

I agree that voter suppression is a real and present problem. But a problem with section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, as currently applied, is that Congress didn't do its job the last time they reauthorized the Act (in 2006). The list of covered jurisdictions is basically the same as in 1965, based on data from the 1960 and 1964 elections. Thus Louisiana has to get preclearance for changes to voting procedures, but Kentucky does not. Certain counties in North Carolina have to get preclearance from DOJ or a panel of judges, but no county in Ohio needs to do so. Congress did not seek updated information to see where section 5 should be applied. Are we sure that voter suppression is a bigger issue in Georgia than in Tennessee? (GA is covered by section 5, TN is not.) Why is Texas covered, but not Oklahoma?

Congress could have made studies, gathered data, set forth updated legislative findings, and provided sound justification for the selective application of section 5. As I understand it, they chose not to do so.

Thus at oral arguments we get exchanges like this was between Solicitor General Verrilli and Justice Alito:

GENERAL VERRILLI: I'll point out there's a certain irony in the argument that what -- that what Petitioner wants is to substitute Section 2 litigation of that kind for the Section 5 process, which is much more efficient and much more -- and much speedier, much more efficient and much more cost effective.
JUSTICE ALITO: Then why shouldn't it apply everywhere in the country?

Later, Justice Kennedy picked up the same theme:

JUSTICE KENNEDY: Do you think the preclearance device could be enacted for the entire United States.
GENERAL VERRILLI: I don't think there is a record that would substantiate that. But I do think Congress was -
JUSTICE KENNEDY: And that is because that there is a federalism interest in each State being responsible to ensure that it has a political system that acts in a democratic and a civil and a decent and a proper and a constitutional way.

One solution to the current legal challenge to section 5 of the Voting Rights Act would be to make section 5 apply to everyone. Voter suppression and election day chicanery are not limited to any one region of the country, or to only certain cities or certain precincts.

Make every jurisdiction in the country get preclearance. Make every jurisdiction in the country get pre-clearance for their changes to election procedures. Make every state get the DOJ or a panel of judges to sign off on their latest district maps and their egregious gerrymandering. Make every city council think twice before it closes a certain polling station.

This will never happen, because it would be a huge increase in workload for the Justice Department and federal judges, and it would be monstrously expensive, and Congress has little incentive to make it happen.