Voter ID Laws Suppress Minority Voting

Restrictive voter ID laws, along with other widespread voter suppression tactics such as voter caging, alleging voters are criminals, reduced early voting hours, reduced number of polling places and voting machines, misinformation campaigns such as incorrect voting days, times or places have disproportionally affected Democratic voters of color in numerous states across the nation. In many cases, these underhanded, and almost exclusively partisan GOP tactics, are practices which contribute to illegitimate GOP politicians taking office, minority voters being disenfranchised by the millions, and a host of regressive legislation being enacted in many red and purple states contrary to the will of the people. The GOP-written voter ID laws suppress minority voting.

“But both sides do it!” (Actually, in the post-Reagan modern era, there is nothing on the Democratic side that is even remotely close to, in deed or devious intent, what the GOP has been doing during the 21st century election cycles to retain their power amidst a shrinking base.) “It’s easy to get a voter ID. People are just lazy and then complain when they can’t vote!” “Voter fraud is rampant, with all those illegals voting and all the other Democrats voting twice using deceased voters’ names who are still on the rolls.” The fallacies and misinformation abound. And yet voter ID laws are relatively new, most having been enacted only in the last ten years or so. But the practice, and the rather draconian and prejudicial targeting of minorities under the guise of legitimate concern, is spreading quickly and by extension, unfairly impacting elections at the local, state and national level.

In February, a trio of researchers presented their new study from the University of Chicago and wrote an article on it in the Washington Post. They tackled the subject of whether this new wave of voter identification laws unfairly impact and disproportionally affect the rights of minorities in this country to vote. Their conclusion? A resounding yes, which they even included in their article’s title: “Do voter identification laws suppress minority voting? Yes. We did the research.”

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Focus On Democracy is dedicated to highlighting issues related to electoral reform and justice. Our democracy itself, as well as numerous issues needing our attention, from economic and environmental concerns to racial and social justice, etc., cannot make any real lasting progress until we first come together as a nation and address our broken electoral system.

Election Integrity Commission Vice Chair Refuses to Comply With Own Directive

The Election Integrity Commission has asked all fifty states and DC to submit their’ voter rolls to the commission. The sought records would include voters’ names, addresses, party affiliation, date of birth, last four digits of their Social Security number and voting history of the last ten years. Commission vice chairman Kris Kobach stipulated that “any documents that are submitted to the full Commission will also be made available to the public.”

Kobach then, in his role as Kansas’ Secretary of State, refused to comply with the request by withholding his own state’s data from the very commission he heads.

Just days later, the total number of states refusing to comply has risen to forty, and Kobach and his commission cannot be viewed as anything other than frauds.

As reported in a recent Washington Post article on Trump’s voter fraud commission:

States began reacting to the letter on Thursday afternoon. “I have no intention of honoring this request,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe of Virginia in a statement. “Virginia conducts fair, honest, and democratic elections, and there is no evidence of significant voter fraud in Virginia.”

Connecticut’s Secretary of State, Denise Merrill, said she would “share publicly-available information with the Kobach Commission while ensuring that the privacy of voters is honored by withholding protected data.” She added, however, that Kobach “has a lengthy record of illegally disenfranchising eligible voters in Kansas” and that “given Secretary Kobach’s history we find it very difficult to have confidence in the work of this Commission.”

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Almost 200 Million US Voter Records Exposed

ZDNet is reporting that almost 200 million US voter records were exposed and have been found on an open storage server. Cyber risk analyst Chris Vickery found and confirmed the data, and said server was secured a few days ago prior to it being reported on.

Here’s more from ZDNet:

A huge trove of voter data, including personal information and voter profiling data on what’s thought to be every registered US voter dating back more than a decade, has been found on an exposed and unsecured server, ZDNet has learned.

The various databases containing 198 million records on American voters from all political parties were found stored on an open Amazon S3 storage server owned by a Republican data analytics firm, Deep Root Analytics.

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Electoral Reform Must Also Include Amending or Repealing Citizens United

As is the case with with many people across the nation, we here at Focus on Democracy feel that the main problems facing our country, whether they are related to the economy, the environment, social injustice, civic engagement or the challenges posed by militarism, corporate fundamentalism and consumerism, need to be met first with a large dose of electoral reform before any sort of positive transformation can truly begin to take place. Until Americans of all stripes can cast verifiably counted votes to determine our elected leaders, and can ensure that our elected officials are carrying out the will of the greater electorate instead of the corporatists’ and special interest groups’ agenda, there can be no pretense that we are a representative democracy or even that we are moving in the right direction.

Paramount to both a revitalized democracy and a thoroughly reformed electoral system is the movement afoot to combat the damage being done by the disastrous Citizens United ruling. Out of the various groups which have sought to galvanize support for overturning, repealing or modifying the 2010 decision, the Move to Amend organization claims the distinction of being one of the few organizations that both wishes to undercut the faulty (but culturally accepted) logic used in the Supreme Court’s decision, and who also have an amendment which continues to garner widespread support from the general public and the legislators who would be needed to further our best interests.

With some encouraging results from March 2017 discussed below, here are some salient excerpts from their January 31st newsletter:

The Move to Amend coalition makes a point of differentiating themselves from the other proposals that have come forward in response to Citizens United. “The Citizens United decision is not the cause, it is a symptom of the systemic problem of the Courts extending constitutional rights under the 1st, 4th, 5th, 14th Amendments to corporations,” stated Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, Move to Amend National Director. “Americans have voted for an amendment to outlaw corporate personhood over 300 times, in liberal and conservative communities alike. The message is clear: we must stop giving away our Constitutional rights to corporations and we must remove big money and special interests from the legal and political process entirely.”

and…

It’s time to establish once and for all that corporations are not people, money is not free speech, and our elections and public policy-making process are not for sale to the highest corporate bidders,” said lead sponsor Rep. Rick Nolan (Minnesota) in announcing the amendment. “It’s time to take the molding and shaping of public policy out of corporate boardrooms, away from corporate lobbyists, and give it back to the American people. We must divert Congress’s focus away from the corporate interests of millionaires and billionaires and return it back to creating good-paying jobs and rebuilding our middle class.”

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