Category Archives: Voters

Octogenarian World War II Vet Denied Right To Vote

Since the 2010 election, we have seen an unprecedented number of voter restriction laws that are specifically designed to restrict voting for minorities, the poor, college students, and the elderly, and we are now starting to see the effects of these laws.  

Paul Carroll is an 86-year-old World War II vet from Ohio, and he has lived in the same town for 40 years. He was denied the right to vote on Tuesday after a poll worker denied his identification, a photo ID from the Department of Veterans Affairs because it did not contain an address, as required by Ohio law. Carroll told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that he got the ID from the VA after his driver’s license expired because he doesn’t drive anymore: 

“My beef is that I had to pay a driver to take me up there because I don’t walk so well and have to use this cane and now I can’t even vote,” said Mr. Carroll who has lived in Aurora nearly 40 years, running his own business, Carroll Tire, until 1975.

“I had to stop driving, but I got the photo ID from the Veterans Affairs instead, just a month or so ago. You would think that would count for something. I went to war for this country, but now I can’t vote in this country.” 

Carroll was offered a provisional ballot, but the type was too small for him to read and “I was kind of perturbed by then,” he said.  

This is not an isolated problem. Tennessee voter authorities denied a 96-year-old woman a voter ID last year because she didn’t have an original copy of her marriage license.  

We are fighting for democratic rights in other countries and yet, since the Republicans big wins in 2010, they have been working state by state to restrict access to the voting booth. They have not even bothered to be subtle about who they are trying to disenfranchise, the people who tend to vote Democrat. This is their game plan. They know a majority of Americans do not support their agenda so this is the best way to get back into office…voter suppression.

Campaigns For Sale — The Highest Bidder Wins

Since the SCOTUS ruling on Citizens United, it has been so interesting to see how our campaign finance has changed. We now have candidates who are being funded by just a handful of people. We have Newt Gingrich who would not be in the GOP primary race right now if it wasn’t for billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson and his family funding his super PAC. Mitt Romney’s campaign raised $18 million in the last half of 2011 from just 200 donors, and over $30 million throughout 2011. Jon Huntsman’S super PAC received over 70% of its funding from his father, Huntsman, Sr.  

Despite your party affiliation, this should be upsetting to you. These very few 0.5 percenters in our country are not giving this money to these candidates because they feel charitable. You have to ask yourself, if they do manage to get their candidate elected, what will they want. 

The billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch are two of the biggest spenders for the Republican party. Despite their attempts to stay in the shadows and not draw attention to themselves, they have been making a lot of news in the last few years (most notably for their creation of the tea party movement). Last weekend they hosted a three-day conference in Coachella Valley in which several hundred deep-pocketed donors attended. Among the most notable attendees were Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Sheldon Adelson. At the end of the event, the Koch brothers and their guests had promised to pledge $100 million in order to defeat President Obama.   

Ed Pilkington of The Guardian wrote about the Kochs and their supporters. 

Though the Kochs have already stamped their influence on the American right, their impact to date looks like small beer compared with their ambitious plans for 2012. According to Kenneth Vogel of Politico, the brothers intend to use their leverage among billionaire conservatives to pump more than $200m into the proceedings, focusing in particular on the presidential race. 

Their potential to sway the electorate through the sheer scale of their spending has been greatly enhanced by Citizens United, last year’s controversial ruling by the US supreme court that opened the floodgates to corporate donations in political campaigns. The ruling allows companies to throw unlimited sums to back their chosen candidates, without having to disclose their spending.  

That makes 2012 the first Citizens United presidential election, and in turn offers rich pickings to the Koch brothers. They have already made clear their intentions. At their most recent billionaires’ gathering in Vail, Colorado in June, Charles Koch described next year’s presidential contest as “the mother of all wars”. A tape of his private speech obtained by Mother Jones said the fight for the White House would be a battle “for the life or death of this country”.  

As for President Obama, we do have a bit of good news. Reuters recently reported that in the FEC financial disclosures released last week, it showed in 2011 his campaign raised 60 percent of the funds, or $58.5 million, from donors who gave less than $200.  

We have entered into a new wild west style of politics where for some of our candidates there is just a small group of people who fund their campaigns and the rise of super PACs who now can have access to unlimited funds and can use those funds in unlimited ways in order to sway our elections. For the middle and lower classes, both Republican and Democrat, this is not a promising sign for our survival.

Veteran Stands Up for Gay Soldier Booed at Previous GOP Debate

Have you heard about the guy that shouted out during the presidential debate at Dartmouth College? The guy’s name is Andrew Vera of Hanover, and he is an Iraq Veteran. He spoke up Tuesday night right after Rick Santorum finished speaking about restoring “American values.” 

Mr. Vera emailed his reason for interrupting the debate to The Patch Network, a New Hampshire-based news organization. “I said, ‘Yeah right, you say you want American Values back in the American Family, then where were you when they booed the gay soldier during the last debate,'”   “Let’s get real. As an Iraq Veteran, I think it’s pitiful.” “As they pulled me out, I screamed, ‘don’t taze me, don’t taze me.” 

He said he was cited for disorderly conduct and released. “No regrets at all,” Vera says. “I served in the US Navy, in support and defense of the constitution. It’s a living document.” 

Vera, a Dartmouth College graduate, said he respects the law and that an act of civil disobedience was owing to his pride in serving in the military.

Republicans 2012 Road Map To Victory – Voter Suppression

Leading up to the wave of state and national Republican victories in 2010, they were campaigning on Jobs, Jobs, Jobs. They were going to be the party that would turn around this economy by passing legislation to create jobs. Unfortunately, their constituents have found that has turned out not to be case. 

The bills they have passed have focused on women’s rights, union busting, cutting taxes for the high income earners as well as eliminating education funding and cutting Pell Grants, instating draconian immigration policies that harken back to the civil rights era and Jim Crow laws, and ending entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security that benefit the middle and lower classes. 

Yet believe it or not these are not the most controversial laws that have been implemented. In states that have Republican majorities in both houses and governorship, they have been passing a record number of laws that roll back voting rights that are geared to make it harder for minorities, college students, elderly, and poor to vote. They have passed voter ID legislation, cut back or completely ended early voting and same day registration as well as early registration drives on Sundays at local churches.  

Because of the 2008 election in which Obama was able to win many states that have traditionally gone to Republicans, their plan to take back the White House, maintain control of the House, and win control of the Senate, is to make it much more difficult for people who traditionally vote Democratic. Juxtaposed with the fact that Americans are fighting in other countries to promote democracy, the trajectory Republicans are sending our country down is one of plutocracy that will leave a large percentage of our population unable to participate in our elections. 

I have compiled a list of states that have either successfully passed voter suppression legislation, have legislation pending, or have been defeated. 

MAINE 
Maine passed legislation to eliminate election day registration* and restrict absentee voting. In addition, legislation to require photo ID to vote was defeated.  

WISCONSIN  
Wisconsin passed legislation to require voters to show a government-issued photo ID to cast a ballot and to shorten the early voting period.  

IOWA  
Iowa’s governor issued an executive order making it nearly impossible for people with past felony convictions to ever regain their voting rights. In addition, legislation to require photo ID to vote was defeated.  

OHIO  
Ohio passed broad voter suppression legislation that restricts absentee and early voting, among other things. In addition, legislation to require photo ID to vote was defeated.  

WEST VIRGINIA  
West Virginia passed legislation to shorten the early voting period.  

MISSOURI  
An initiative that would remove key voting protections from the state constitution and open the door to a voter ID law is slated to appear on the 2012 ballot, though the validity of the ballot initiative is being challenged by the ACLU. Legislation to require voter ID (pending approval of the constitutional amendment) was vetoed by the governor.  In vetoing the voter ID legislation, Governor Nixon saidthat the bill ‘imposes unnecessary burdens on senior citizens and persons with disabilities, for example, who do not have a government-issued photo ID, with no guarantee that, in the end, their vote will count.’  

KANSAS  
Kansas passed legislation to require proof of citizenship to register to vote and a government-issued photo ID to cast a ballot.  

TEXAS  
Texas passed legislation requiring voters to show a government-issued photo ID to cast a ballot. Because of Texas’ troubling history of voter suppression, any changes in the state’s elections laws are subject to approval — or ‘pre-clearance’ — by the Department of Justice under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.  

TENNESSEE  
Tennessee passed legislation to require voters to show a government-issued photo ID to cast a ballot. The state also passed legislation to require proof of citizenship from certain registered voters and to shorten the early voting period.  

ALABAMA  
Alabama passed legislation to require proof of citizenship to register to vote and a government-issued photo ID to cast a ballot. Because of Alabama’s troubling history of voter suppression, any changes in the state’s elections laws are subject to approval — or ‘pre-clearance’ — by the Department of Justice under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. 

GEORGIA  
Georgia passed legislation to shorten the early voting period.  

SOUTH CAROLINA  
South Carolina passed legislation requiring voters to show a government-issued photo ID to cast a ballot. Because of South Carolina’s troubling history of voter suppression, any changes in the state’s elections laws are subject to approval — or ‘pre-clearance’ — by the Department of Justice under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.  

FLORIDA  
Florida passed broad voter suppression legislation that restricts voter registration, early voting and more. Because of Florida’s troubling history of voter suppression, some counties in the state are covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act and changes to the state’s elections laws that affect those counties are subject to approval — or ‘pre-clearance’ — by the Department of Justice. The ACLU is asking the federal government to object to this discriminatory new law. We?re also suing to prevent Florida from implementing the law before it?s pre-cleared. Also in 2011, Florida’s governor and his cabinet — acting as the Board of Executive Clemency — adopted a policy change that makes it nearly impossible for people with past felony convictions to ever regain their voting rights. This voting ban affects an estimated one million Floridians. 

PENNSYLVANIA  
Legislation to require photo ID to vote is pending.  

NORTH CAROLINA    
Legislation to require photo ID to vote is pending. Though the legislation was vetoed by Governor Perdue, the legislature could vote to override her veto. In vetoing the voter ID legislation, Governor Perdue said ‘The right to choose our leaders is among the most precious freedoms we have — both as Americans and North Carolinians. North Carolinians who are eligible to vote have a constitutionally guaranteed right to cast their ballots, and no one should put up obstacles to citizens exercising that right…There was a time in North Carolina history when the right to vote was enjoyed only by some citizens rather than by all. That time is past, and we should not revisit it.’ In addition, legislation ending same day registration*, shortening early voting and eliminating Sunday voting was defeated.  

MONTANA  
Legislation to require photo ID to vote was defeated.  In vetoing the voter ID legislation, Governor Schweitzer saidthat such ID requirements ‘would create an unacceptable and unnecessary burden on many elderly voters, low-income voters, disabled voters and students…[and] interfere with fundamental rights of Montana citizens byimposing new and unnecessary regulations.’ Governor Schweitzer also vetoed legislation that would have eliminated election day registration*.  

COLORADO  
Legislation to require photo ID and (in certain circumstances) proof of citizenship to vote was defeated. 

MINNESOTA  
Legislation to require photo ID to vote was defeated.  In vetoing the voter ID legislation, Governor Dayton said‘The right to vote is embedded in both the United States and Minnesota Constitutions. In accordance with my oath to uphold both of these foundational documents, it is my duty as Governor to ensure every eligible Minnesota voter is able to exercise this fundamental right and does not face barriers to doing so.’ 

ARKANSAS  
Legislation to require photo ID to vote was defeated.  

VIRGINIA 
Legislation to require photo ID to vote was defeated. 

NEW HAMPSHIRE  
Legislation to require photo ID to vote was defeated.  In vetoing the voter ID legislation, Governor Lynch said‘The right to vote is a fundamental right that is guaranteed to all citizens of this State under the United States and New Hampshire Constitutions. An eligible voter who goes to the polls to vote on Election Day should be able to have his or her vote count on Election Day. SB 129 creates a real risk that New Hampshire voters will be denied their right to vote.’  

Millions of Americans don’t have government-issued photo ID, including disproportionate numbers of African-American, elderly, disabled and student voters. And despite a lack of evidence that ID requirements will prevent fraud, voter ID requirements were ultimately enacted in 7 states this session, with 2 more still pending. 

The history of our nation is characterized by a gradual expansion of voting rights. These discriminatory restrictions suppress the vote and turn back the clock.

The Shrinking Republican Party

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Since the 2010 election, unions have been under a steady attack by the far right leaning, newly elected governors and state representatives. It has turned out to be the best thing to happen to labor in decades.

The Tea Party supported GOP have drawn a stark contrast to the middle of the road Republicans.  Within their first 120 days, with a laser focus on unions, they have worked to diminish worker’s rights and cut their benefits and also cut funding for education while handing out millions in tax cuts to corporations.

The consequence has been these middle of the road conservatives are now switching parties in growing numbers. Garrett Lamp, a lifelong Republican from Florida, recently told the Huffington Post,

As a public safety employee, as a fireman, as a father of three children and my sister has a special needs child, I’m fed up with the ridiculous cuts that are being made right and left. It’s almost like the Republicans are in a feeding frenzy, decimating working-class families. You can’t do away with taxes for corporations and put it on the backs of middle-class working people, and that’s what they’re doing.

If you’re the CEO of a large company, you should help the people who helped you become the CEO of a successful company, saying closing loopholes for CEOs shouldn’t be a partisan issue. How many millions and billions do people need to make, while the standard of living and the average income for the hardworking men and women who put their company in that position is dropping every day?

By the GOP blaming the public sector unions on the fiscal crisis and our current economic problems, they are having the unintentional effect of driving away the Reagan Democrats that moved to their party over the previous decades. They are increasingly becoming a party for the wealthy white and evangelical Christians, which will undoubtedly shrink their size.