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Advice for the President's Voting Commission: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

US Politics & Gov't  (tags: elections, ethics, freedoms, government, americans, abuse, congress, corruption, dishonesty, republicans, propaganda, usa, u.s., politics, lies, media, constitution, cover-up, GoodNews )

- 1943 days ago -
In order to provide clear guidance to the President's commission here is a list of "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly" when it comes to ensuring voters can exercise their right to vote.

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JL A (281)
Wednesday February 20, 2013, 8:50 am
Advice for the President's Voting Commission: The good, the bad and the ugly
By Dan Roth on Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - 4:36pm

In his 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama declared, “We must all do our part to make sure our God-given rights are protected here at home. That includes our most fundamental right as citizens: the right to vote.

“When any Americans – no matter where they live or what their party – are denied that right simply because they can't wait for five, six, seven hours just to cast their ballot, we are betraying our ideals.”

The president should be applauded for raising this issue. However, the decision on voting rights rests with state legislatures, and states are moving in widely varying directions when considering the rights of voters.

In order to provide clear guidance to the President’s commission here is a list of “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly” when it comes to ensuring voters can exercise their right to vote.

The Good

Election Day voter registration—Currently Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Washington, DC allow voters to register to vote on Election Day. Connecticut and California will soon follow suit.

When signing his state’s bill into law, California’s Democratic Governor Jerry Brown said, “Voting — the sacred right of every citizen — should be simple and convenient. While other states try to restrict voters with new laws that burden the process, California allows voters to register online — and even on Election Day.”

Fourteen states are considering legislation to adopt same-day voter registration while Montana Republicans are pushing legislation attempting to repeal it.

Online voter registration-- Starting in 2012, California residents could register to vote online. Almost 600,000 Californians—many of whom were young voters—used the Internet to register to vote. It was a success, and now Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia are considering legislation to do the same.

Options to vote at home­—Seven states plus the District of Columbia allow voters the option of becoming permanent absentee voters, meaning they can vote at home, learn the issues and research candidates on their own time, and not worry about work schedules disrupting their ability to vote on Election Day .

The Bad

Voter identification laws­—Ten years ago the United States Justice Department undertook an extensive crackdown on voter fraud. After five years of investigation President Bush’s Justice Department “turned up virtually no evidence of any organized effort to skew federal elections.” However, states have moved forward on legislation to require voters to have identification, even though roughly 21 million Americans do not have government-issued identification.

Why? Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R) summed up the reason best when he was caught on camera saying the point of the law was to deliver the state to Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Republicans in the Virginia legislature are pushing legislation that will make their already strict voter identification laws even stricter—meaning more delays on Election Day and more Americans unable to participate in democracy.

Eliminating early voting­­­—In preparing for last year’s election, Florida, Tennessee, Ohio and Wisconsin reduced the number of days that people could vote before Election Day. The result—longer lines. President Obama highlighted Desiline Victor, who at 102 years old “had to make two trips and wait several hours to vote.”

Other people just could not stand in line that long—forcing as many as 201,000 Floridians to give up trying to vote because the lines were too long.

The Ugly

Voter purges—In the lead up to last year’s election the Voter Integrity Project declared 30,000 North Carolinians were dead, and therefore should be purged from the voting rolls. One of these purported dead people was Carolyn Perry, who had been registered to vote in North Carolina since 1975.

The only problem -- Carolyn Perry is still very much alive. But she had to prove her livingness to be able to vote in the presidential election, after receiving a letter from the State Board of Elections informing her she would not be able to vote in the upcoming election because of her passing.

When asked why she was targeted, Ms. Perry responded, “I'm a senior, and I'm an African-American, and I'm not registered as the same party they are most likely."

Perry is a registered Democrat.

Making it harder for Democratic demographics to vote—A study conducted after the November election concluded that voting “wait times were disproportionately longer for Democrats and Democratic-leaning demographics by huge margins in 2012.”

And this was not just the case in 2012. An MIT survey of 10,000 voters in 2008 found that waits for African Americans were more than twice as long as those for white voters for both early and Election Day voting. Ninety-six percent of African-American voters supported President Obama in 2008.

Restrictions on voter registration drives­—Voter registration drives are about as American as Thanksgiving. But Republicans in the Florida legislature passed legislation that “was so limiting that groups such as Rock the Vote and the League of Women Voters, which have helped to register millions of voters in the last two presidential elections, essentially halted their registration drives in the state.”

The law was thrown out, but precious time leading up to the election was lost because the legislature spent time trying to criminalize the League of Women Voters.

Tamara Hayes (185)
Wednesday February 20, 2013, 9:10 am
I am so sick of Repuklicons trying to screw everybody and their brother who is not in bed with them. They will sink to beyond the lowest levels to buy, fearmonger, intimidate or outright twist the laws to get their own way. They just keep making their own noose tighter and I for one, cannot wait to see them hang their selves. I hope I am alive to celebrate that day! Thanks J.L.

JL A (281)
Wednesday February 20, 2013, 9:46 am
You cannot currently send a star to Tamara because you have done so within the last week.

Beverly T (82)
Wednesday February 20, 2013, 11:07 am
I know that the gun issue is a major "theme" for elections now, but we all have to admit that this is still a devisive issue even with the "majority" of voters saying yes to gun safety.
Frankly, I think, the right to vote should be a mojor issue if not THE issue. There are by far more people of BOTH parties who want to KEEP THEIR RIGHT TO VOTE. Folks need to understand, if they don't now, that someday it could be THEIR TURN to be EXCLUDED for whatever reason and then where would THEY be ????

John B (185)
Wednesday February 20, 2013, 1:58 pm
Thanks J.L. for the post. I would certainly hope the commission takes Mr. Roth's points in each category under consideration when looking into the resolving the voting problems. Read and noted.

JL A (281)
Wednesday February 20, 2013, 2:07 pm
Excellent points Beverly which should be unifying and bipartisan in response! You cannot currently send a star to Beverly because you have done so within the last week.
You are welcome John. I hope so, too. You cannot currently send a star to John because you have done so within the last week.
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