Thanks to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the federal government was able to step in and preserve the people’s right to vote. But now the same forces behind the nationwide voter suppression effort are looking to the U.S. Supreme Court to repeal Section 5 and arguments begin Wednesday.
The U.S. Supreme Court declined to lift 30-year restrictions on a Republican National Committee (RNC) program that intimidates voters in communities of color. The Supreme Court did not comment on this decision.
The restriction came about after the Democratic National Committee (DNC) sued the RNC for enlisting off-duty sheriffs and police officers to patrol polling places in minority precincts in New Jersey during a 1981 gubernatorial election. The next year, the RNC agreed not to carry out some programs it claimed were designed to combat voter fraud and to have the other reviewed by a federal court.
While government in Washington, D.C., remains divided and marked by long-term gridlock, governments in the states are much less divided. Of the 50 states, 37 now feature state governments where the governor and majorities in both legislative houses are controlled by one party—24 of those are controlled by Republicans. Extreme, anti-working family Republicans have repeatedly assaulted the rights of people in recent years and, by all accounts, the trend looks to expand in 2013. Working families are mobilized and fought back in 2012 and will continue to fight in 2013. The response to the "right to work" for less push in Michigan was so strong, that governors in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin have since declared that they won't push for right to work in their states.
The United States should adopt a universal and automatic voter registration system to boost participation and ensure all citizens have the opportunity to participate in the democratic process, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said this morning.
Speaking to the Funders' Committee for Civic Participation (FCCP), Trumka said a strong and growing grassroots democracy movement needs to come together to “push back against the next wave of state-level attacks on the right to vote.”
After widespread reports of long lines and problems with voting on Election Day, Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) announced that he will introduce legislation that will help address at least part of the problem.
The AFL-CIO Voter Protection rapid response team has dispatched a team of lawyers to Summit County, Ohio, where there have been reports from across the country about problems with voting machines, lack of paper ballots, moved polling places and other issues.
In one precinct, some voters were in line from 6:30 a.m. until 11 a.m. before finally voting with provisional ballots.
Hundreds, possibly thousands, of robocalls were sent out from the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections office this morning instructing voters that they could vote tomorrow. After about 30 minutes of the calls going out, they were stopped and the elections office issued a statement saying that the calls were inaccurate.
True the Vote, the Texas tea party-founded group whose main goal is to suppress and intimidate voters (especially voters of color), was barred from sending its poll monitors to polling places in Franklin County, Ohio, the AFL-CIO voter protection team and The Columbus Dispatch report.
True the Vote was denied status as official observers by the Franklin County Board of Elections yesterday after questions were raised about the veracity of the documents the group submitted. In Ohio, if a group of at least five candidates (local, state or federal) request it, the group is allowed to have poll monitors on Election Day. The Dispatch reports:
In an emergency alert sent to voters this morning over social media, radio PSAs, email and phone calls, the Election Protection Coalition told Pennsylvania voters:
Today is Election Day. Vote. You do not need a photo ID in order to vote in Pennsylvania if you have voted before. First-time voters will need to show some form of ID, photo or non-photo. Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683) if you have any questions or concerns.
The website The Root and AFL-CIO and SEIU staff members in Pennsylvania report an email and Facebook posting seemingly aimed at African American voters warning them not to vote an automatic “straight Democratic” ticket because it supposedly would not include President Obama.
Meanwhile, a Pennsylvania voter was told he would not be allowed to vote unless he removed a shirt with President Obama’s name on it. The AFL-CIO Voter Protection rapid response team reports both issues have been resolved.