Protecting our Right to Vote

One of the watershed issues of this century is something that we should’ve settled in the 20th century with the civil rights movement and the suffragette movement.  The right to vote and access to voting is the single most important action we have in our country that is protected and guaranteed by our constitution.  As we have enfranchised more people and as our demographics change, the move to block voting rights and to suppress voters has taken on a new urgency.  Republican extremists know that the future isn’t bright for them so they are trying to stop and delay that day when they can only impact the lives of very few people.  Those of us that live under extremist Republican state governments know what kind of damage these people can do. The primary damage is to suppress individual rights and transfer public assets and dollars to religious factions, extremely rich donors, and narrow business interests.

I’ve written on the subject a lot recently.  It’s also extensively covered on MSBNC shows like those of Melissa Harris-Perry and the Rev. Al Sharpton.   The importance of protecting our right to vote is becoming more and more evident as we draw closer to what has been an extremely divisive election between the angry, hostile, greedy right and every one else.  NYT has an editorial today that is worth reading.

This year, voting is more than just the core responsibility of citizenship; it is an act of defiance against malicious political forces determined to reduce access to democracy. Millions of ballots on Tuesday — along with those already turned in — will be cast despite the best efforts of Republican officials around the country to prevent them from playing a role in the 2012 election.

Even now, many Republicans are assembling teams to intimidate votersat polling places, to demand photo ID where none is required, and to cast doubt on voting machines or counting systems whose results do not go their way. The good news is that the assault on voting will not affect the election nearly as much as some had hoped. Courts have either rejected or postponed many of the worst laws. Predictions that up to five million people might be disenfranchised turned out to be unfounded.

But a great deal of damage has already been done, and the clearest example is that on Sunday in Florida, people will not be allowed to vote early. Four years ago, on the Sunday before Election Day, tens of thousands of Floridians cast their ballots, many of them black churchgoers who traveled directly from services to their polling places. Because most of them voted for Barack Obama, helping him win the state, Republicans eliminated early voting on that day. No legitimate reason was given; the action was entirely partisan in nature.

Yes.  This week your vote and your ability to tolerate the long lines and distractions put up by Republican extremist is an act of rights and of support of Civil Rights.  We have a new story today about voter suppression from the key state of Ohio and its evil Secretary of State.  Yes, this late in the game, Husted has take one more action to suppress voter turn out which favors Democrats.

Ohio GOP Secretary of State Jon Husted has become an infamous figure for aggressively limiting early voting hours and opportunities to cast and count a ballot in the Buckeye State.

Once again Husted is playing the voter suppression card, this time at the eleventh hour, in a controversial new directive concerning provisional ballots. In an order to election officials on Friday night, Husted shifted the burden of correctly filling out a provisional ballot from the poll worker to the voter, specifically pertaining to the recording of a voter’s form of ID, which was previously the poll worker’s responsibility. Any provisional ballot with incorrect information will not be counted, Husted maintains. This seemingly innocuous change has the potential to impact the counting of thousands of votes in Ohio and could swing the election in this closely contested battleground.

This comes at a time when we are getting news like this out of the ever troublesome southern states. Yet another Florida early voting site has had issues with bombs.

Early voting was extended on Sunday at a central Florida polling site that was disrupted a day earlier by a bomb scare, and the Florida Democratic Party filed a lawsuit seeking extended early voting at other areas plagued by long lines.

Saturday was the last day for early voting in Florida, where polls showed Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney running neck-and-neck.

But Orange County Elections Supervisor Bill Cowles reopened the polls at one site, a library in the Orlando suburb of Winter Park, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

The library was evacuated and voting there was suspended for four hours on Saturday because suspicious items were found on the grounds. A bomb squad safely detonated both – a cooler containing small electronics and what investigators described as a bag of miscellaneous garbage.

Florida, where 537 votes decided the 2000 presidential election in George W. Bush’s favor, is again a hotly contested state crucial to both presidential candidates.

The Florida Republican Party is appealing a judge’s ruling that allowed the voting to reopen on Sunday, so ballots cast at the library on Sunday will be held as provisional ballots in case the order is overturned.

This comes on top of these stories coming out of North Carolina. HuffPo’s Dan Froomkin has outlined some pretty vicious things occurring in some early voting places.

If Election Day goes anything like the past 17 days of early voting in North Carolina, here’s what you can expect at your local precincts on Tuesday:

  • Belligerent citizens demanding the right to personally inspect the voting process and yelling “shut up” at the top of their lungs when election officials tell them that only official poll observers can do that.
  • Official poll observers who have been improperly trained by the groups they represent and think it’s their job to interrogate voters rather than just watch.
  • Long lines, which means that a lot of people end up waiting outside the designated no-electioneering zones, getting harangued by campaign workers.
  • Shouting matches between Republican and Democratic campaign workers — and sometimes voters standing in line — that can involve name-calling, threatening gestures, and the summoning of law enforcement.
  • A guy driving a tractor-trailer bed filled with effigies of Democratic officials, including President Barack Obama, with nooses around their neck. (Federal officials are looking into that one, which took place at an early voting center in Eastern North Carolina on Thursday.)

The fact that all these incidents have occurred at a few, tightly supervised early voting centers is giving state officials reason to worry that things could be much worse when regular polling stations open for business.

“I am hoping that people will have a return of good manners and civility by Tuesday,” said Johnnie McLean, deputy director of the North Carolina election board. Then she quickly acknowledged it’s not likely.

If these kinds of stories remind you of something the Taliban or religious zealots would do in nascent democracies in third world countries it’s because there’s a similar mentality in the Teahadists of this country.   These same people that condemn the kinds of voter suppression and harassment in other countries are creating the same environment in our own country.  Also, Republican leaders are encouraging this, funding this, and creating an army of zealots that are being sent to disrupt elections after Republican Secretaries of State of done everything to disenfranchise voters, reduce access to voting in key districts, and provided false information on voting rules.

Here’s a great list of suppression efforts by John Avalon.

Less than one week out from Election Day, we are witnessing a war of attrition, a game of inches. With state polls this close, every vote counts. And so beyond the positive effort to outdo the other party’s ground game and early-voting pushes, there is a negative corollary: voter suppression, confusion, and intimidation.

The ugly efforts to discourage the “wrong” voters from showing up reflect the asymmetrical polarization in Congress: neither party is entirely innocent, but conservatives have appeared to be driving the great bulk of efforts to suppress or misinform voters.

Yesterday, documents posted by Scott Keyes at TPM showed that the Romney campaign in Wisconsin is training poll-watchers to lie at polling stations by registering as “concerned citizens” rather than campaign volunteers; to untruthfully tell voters they are ineligible to vote unless they show proof of residency; and to misleadingly warn voters they are ineligible if they have been convicted of treason or bribery.

It is all intentionally dishonest, and particularly so because so much of the RNC leadership—including Chairman Reince Priebus—has roots in Wisconsin local leadership.

Those of you that live in key swing states–if you haven’t already voted–should be prepared to demand that your vote count and be counted. You should also be prepared for a long stint in line.  You may need to bring something to help you while away the hours in a very long line.  More information on voter suppression efforts and help if you experience problems voting can be found here at the ACLU.

 The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State…

… on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude…”

Fifteenth Amendment, United States Constitution

… on account of sex.”

Nineteenth Amendment, United States Constitution

… by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.”

Twenty-Fourth Amendment, United States Constitution


… on account of age.”

Twenty-Sixth Amendment, United States Constitution


62 Comments on “Protecting our Right to Vote”

  1. ANonOMouse says:

    Great post Dak. The work done here on the subject of voting rights has been outstanding.

    Those long lines work an extreme hardship on the disabled, seniors and people, usually women, who have to take their children with them to vote. If not for erecting obstacles to voting and working to take away our rights, what would the GOP/TP do?

      • pdgrey says:

        Ohh found this in comments. it’s 9 minutes long but worth it.

        • ecocatwoman says:

          Super video. I just posted it on my blog, which I haven’t posted on in over a month. Slapping my hands now – bad girl.

          Do you know the date of this video? I’ve heard the story, but non one accused these bastards of treason. Seems a reasonable charge to me.

    • dakinikat says:

      Voting Rights is essential for our country. I’m outraged that these narrow plutocratic and theocratic interests are trying to shut down our democracy. I really think this is a topic that should unite all civil rights movements which is something we desperately need.

    • Fannie says:

      I thought we were prepared for this, but I’m telling you they are taking our rights and creating more than just a psychological effect on us. As we watch these stories unfolding, they have no justications for denying people their rights, other than what Dak has said, greed. Let it come back to us, to our minds, when people of color, when women, and the poor could not participate in our democracy across this country. Let it sink in our minds, see yourself as a teen, see those working years, and college years and family years, and all the years I thought I was helping my sisters, my brothers, and children in my community. I thought I was helping to solve problems, and I accepted my role, my job, only to retire and look on and say what the fuck has happened to my country……………It’s eating at us all, not just me. Let me think back in my mind about those people who died for our rights, just let it soak in. As I keep reading, I realize just how serious, and just how close we all are to lashing out, lashing back at these people, it is not pretty, and it’s gotta stop…………it is very similar to the days, I thought I had left behind me, and that’s been 40 some odd years, but think back 150 years, 300 years 400 years, or 1000 years of the oppression and atroctities committed against we the people. It’s a dismal situation, and I am loosing more than just respect for them.

  2. ANonOMouse says:


    Annnnd then Miami-Dade shuts it down. Floridians wanting to vote shouldn’t be a crisis the state can’t handle

  3. ANonOMouse says:

    Obama retakes National Lead in Pew

    Obama 50
    RMoney 47

    “Obama pulled 50 percent of likely voters against Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s 47 percent, a 3-point bump for the president from Pew’s last poll a week ago, which showed the candidates tied at 47 percent.”

    • RalphB says:

      NBC/WSJ, YouGov, and Reuters/Ipsos tracking polls all have Obama ahead by 1 or 2 pts.

      Politico/GWU and Rasmussen both still have them tied now.

  4. ecocatwoman says:

    Maybe polling places should be declared disaster areas & FEMA should send HELP!

    I’m hoping that since the vast majority of Americans do not follow politics even remotely close to those of us here, they may be unaware of the discouragement to vote from the Right & the court decisions. There were no True the Vote types at my polling place yesterday, probably because it was at the Superivisor of Elections office.

    MHP’s segment on voter suppression this AM was great. I posted something on jj’s post this AM.

  5. RalphB says:

    FL voting has been opened somewhat in response to the Dem lawsuit.

  6. ecocatwoman says:

    I’m going to try one more time – anyone know of any websites that are tracking the Cantor & Ryan races? I can’t seem to find anything anywhere, including Real Clear Politics.

  7. pdgrey says:

    Bastards, Bastards, your choice.
    11.04.2012 — 12:20 PM
    Banking on the GOP Govs

    This tweet from Ari Fleischer …


    Prediction Time: 1) The election won’t end Tuesday night. 7 states will b decided by 1 pt or less. (VA, OH, CO, IA, PA, WI, NH)

  8. RalphB says:

    Jon Ralston calls Nevada for Obama

    I know the Romney folks and some RNC operatives believe they can still win, despite trailing by nearly 50,000 votes in early voting. But they need everything to break right — President Obama hemorrhages Democrats and independents vote in huge numbers for Romney, two things I do not see happening. It would be very difficult for Obama to lose Nevada, especially because I think more than two-thirds of the vote is in, so whatever turnout advantage the GOP has on Tuesday won’t be enough. Obama, 50 percent; Romney, 46 percent; others and ‘none of the above,’ 4 percent.

  9. OT but Christie just carried out Murdoch’s orders:
    Christie Responds To GOP Critics Angry Over His Embrace Of Obama: ‘Come See The Destruction’ | Mediaite

    Christie hit back against those charges.

    “The fact of the matter is what New Jerseyans expect from their governor is to work for them, not to work for any particular political party,” said Christie. “I’m a Republican and I have endorsed Mitt Romney, I support him and I intend to vote for him on Tuesday.”

    “Anybody who is upset in the Republican Party about this, they haven’t been to New Jersey. Come see the destruction, come see the loss,” the New Jersey Governor concluded.

  10. bostonboomer says:

    Great post, Dak.

    A suit was filed in Ohio to stop Husted’s order. It may not be heard until tomorrow. Does anyone know? I’ll see what I can find.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Think Progress:

      According to a lawsuit filed by voting rights advocates, this is “contrary to a court decision on provisional ballots a week ago and contrary to statements made by attorneys for Husted at an Oct. 24 court hearing.”
      Indeed, it also appears directly contrary to Ohio law. From the lawsuit:

      Ohio Rev. Code § 3505.181(B)(6) provides that, once a voter casting a provisional ballot proffers identification, “the appropriate local election official shall record the type of identification provided, the social security number information, the fact that the affirmation was executed, or the fact that the individual declined to execute such an affirmation and include that information with the transmission of the ballot . . . .” (Emphasis added.)

      The law “ensures that any questions regarding a voter’s identification are resolved on the spot or, consistent with due process, the voter is informed that he or she needs to provide additional information to the board of elections. This protects the integrity of the voting process, and provides a reasonable opportunity to resolve deficiencies.”
      The last-minute directive changes this and switches the burden to the voter, greatly increasing the chances that legal provisional ballots will be discarded.
      The court gave Husted until Monday to respond to the lawsuit and indicated it will resolve the dispute before provisional ballots are counted on November 17.

  11. HT says:

    I rarely comment on your elections, but if this voter suppresion continues, you won’t have elections anymore. You will have what every dictatorship in the world pretends are elections, but are meaningless and worthless. Look at Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Karzai in Afghanistan, Putin in Russia – all of them and more run elections, but they are all rigged to ensure that the incumbent is re-elected. You are on the verge of losing the most important right of every citizen. Sad because what happens there, someone makes it’s malicious way up here.

    • pdgrey says:

      HT I’m worried about it. It’s good to hear from you! 🙂

      • HT says:

        Hey pd, I’m here every day, but as mentioned I don’t often comment on your elections. We have enough problems in the great north with our own and people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, or so my mum lectured me. Mind you, I’m very worried about this situation, very worried. This could be a turning point in history, the day that the U.S.of A. lost it’s way.

  12. RalphB says:

    Fascinating non politics, I knew Britain was an empire but damn. Their invasion list includes Cuba, Iceland, and Vietnam.

    Telegraph: British have invaded nine out of ten countries – so look out Luxembourg

    Every schoolboy used to know that at the height of the empire, almost a quarter of the atlas was coloured pink, showing the extent of British rule.

    But that oft recited fact dramatically understates the remarkable global reach achieved by this country.

    A new study has found that at various times the British have invaded almost 90 per cent of the countries around the globe.

    The analysis of the histories of the almost 200 countries in the world found only 22 which have never experienced an invasion by the British.

    Among this select group of nations are far-off destinations such as Guatemala, Tajikistan and the Marshall Islands, as well some slightly closer to home, such as Luxembourg.

    • HT says:

      hey Ralph, look to a biography of Elizabeth the first – not that trashy talk about her affairs, but the scope and reach of her influence and intent. One scary person, Elizabeth.

      • RalphB says:

        Indeed. That’s an excellent suggestion. I’ve thought that if not for the American revolution, thanks France, the British empire would have moved into Mexico and all through Latin America.

        Just wish when the empire fell, it had left the former colonies in more rational condition. The artificial boundaries have caused immense devastation over the years. Especially in the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, and swaths of Africa.

      • HT says:

        Just thank your stars that George 111, the crazy one was in charge while the new world was rebelling. Had Elizabeth been in charge, no chance.
        I agree about the handling of the empire in later days, it was not effective and they made so many glaring errors that were destined to cause centuries of resentment. Suez, Palestine, India/Pakistan/Bangladesh – one could go on and on. Mind you, Lizzie had been dead for 400 years by then. I doubt that she would have made the same mistakes.

      • ecocatwoman says:

        Can’t I just watch Elizabeth & Essex with Bette Davis & (swoon) Errol Flynn? I was soooooo in love with that man when I was a little girl.

    • peregrine says:

      I was shocked by the number of countries the British had invaded. If you’ve read “1776” you know what a small, rag-tag group of patriots we had. Yes, indeed, thanks France for helping us at sea and thanks to Gen. Washington, whose ranks were greatly out-numbered, but he out-foxed the arrogant English anyway. We owe that man our freedom.

      Just to bore you some more, HT, our capital is named for Sir Walter Raleigh who, In 1584, attempted to establish a permanent English settlement on Roanoke Island. My city is named for George III’s wife, Charlotte. fini

      • ecocatwoman says:

        peregrine, have you read the Inglis Fletcher series about the settlement of the Outer Banks, Sir Richard Grenville & Edenton? I visited the Outer Banks & Edenton many years ago. Some of the characters in her book are buried in the cemetery at the old church built, I believe, in the 1600s. So cool. Edenton is right on Albemarle Sound.

      • HT says:

        Hey kiddo, I’m Canadian – we were actually taught more American history than our own, and believe me, I had British history coming out of my ears. James I beheaded Raleigh, and to be honest Raleigh was not any different from the current corporate raiders. However, it’s always good to recall history in a positive way, however I wish more people would read more of it, because inevitably history has a tendency to repeat itself.
        BTW, you’re not boring me. I’ve always loved history – and not just North American.

      • peregrine says:

        ecocat, I haven’t read Inglis Flectcher’s book. I spent childhood summers and vacation days as a working adult down on our coast which I love. I’ll try to find her book.

    • HT says:

      Connie, I’ll leave you to your memories, but you do know that Elizabeth had Essex put to death eventually only after he had abused her trust multiple times. Of course, any movie with Errol Flynn….well enough said, but it was a movie and totally misrepresented the history. Even so – Errol Flynn – hmmmm.

      • ecocatwoman says:

        That’s what I’m talking about. All those old movies took liberties with reality (although Bette did have Errol killed). But give me an Errol Flynn movie any day. He WAS Robin Hood. Oh my, to the fainting couch.

  13. ecocatwoman says:

    2nd robocall of the day: this time the NRL PAC – national right to life. I should vote for Daniel Webster (voted for his opponent Val Demmings) & Connie Mack III (voted for his opponent Bill Nelson). These folks aren’t wasting money on jobs – having real, live people call.

    • pdgrey says:

      I just had a live call to vote no on amendment 6 in Florida, my second, the one that reads like we are saving the people from paying for abortions, that is already law. But I have to say, their script is really bad. Of course I’m voting NO but damn how hard is it to explain the privacy part?

    • peggysue22 says:

      And this is why Mayor Bloomberg and his ilk have stepped out and called Elizabeth Warren a “socialist.” Anyone suggesting our financial system requires regulation and reining in is the enemy. Plutocrats defending the indefensible plutocracy.

      Warren will make a great senator!