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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Records Requests Suggest Ferguson, St. Louis County Police Involved in Cover-Up
How else to explain the missing details and required documentation of Officer Darren Wilson's killing of Michael Brown?...
'Green News Report' 8/26/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
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Previous GNRs: 8/21/14 - 8/19/14 - Archives...
Our Story So Far: The WI GOP Photo ID Voting Restrictions
Trouble keeping up with all the court cases barring, then allowing, then barring the GOP's Photo ID voting restrictions in Wisconsin? Let us catch you up quickly with the latest...
Siegelman Judge, Arrested For Beating His Wife, May Avoid Prosecution Altogether
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Obama Orders Review of Police Militarization Program
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Rep. Hank Johnson on Ferguson and Demilitarizing the Police: KPFK 'BradCast'
The Democratic U.S. Congressman from Georgia's 4th district joins Bradto discuss his new bill...
Republicans Call Ferguson Voter Registration 'Disgusting'
Rightwingers decry effort 'to register Democratic voters' following the killing of Michael Brown...
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The front page of the Post-Dispatch reminds again how ridiculous the era of post-9/11 Wars has become; Plus: another comparison to the Bundy Bunch...
'Green News Report' 8/19/14
OR nixes coal export facility; July 2014 4th hottest; Fracking industry illegally using diesel, threatening water; PLUS GOP officials secretly accept climate science...
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Just 10 cases of in-person impersonation in all 50 states since 2000...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
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Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
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FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
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Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
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CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
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VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
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GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Coordinated, wide-spread GOP voter suppression scams continue faster than we can cover them...
By Brad Friedman on 9/12/2012 11:23am PT  

There are so many terrible, voter-suppressing Secretaries of State at work this year, actively trying to undermine democracy in the U.S. on behalf of the Republican Party, it's been difficult to adequately cover them all. One who has largely managed to escape our wrath on these pages --- thanks to his horrible colleagues in places like Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania keeping us so busy --- is Colorado's Sec. of State Scott Gessler.

Think Progress helps us to slightly make up for our failing today...

Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler (R) has decided not to pursue a voter purge he initiated by sending letters asking almost 4,000 voters to prove their citizenship. After 482 people responded with proof and almost 90 percent of the suspected non-citizens were verified through a federal database, Gessler planned to challenge 141 names still in question, but does not have enough time to handle the hearings before Election Day.

Instead, he is handing over the names to county clerks who may challenge them at the polls or when they receive absentee ballots. So far, one person has voluntarily come forward as a non-citizen in Larimer County. The county clerk explained:

It was a guy with a work visa. He didn’t even know he was registered to vote. Somehow we think it was a clerical mistake at the Department of Motor Vehicles when he got his driver’s license.

These remaining 141 people comprise .004 percent of Colorado voters.

Of course, we don't know how many, if any, of those 141 people, out of Colorado's 3.5 million registered voters [PDF] are actually non-citizens, but it's good to know that Gessler is spending time and state resources looking out for them by risking the removal of thousands of voters from the rolls to protect against the long-shot possibility that 141 of them may (but likely won't) cast illegal votes.

The story in CO is very similar to the one earlier this year in FL, where Gov. Rick Scott and Sec. of State Ken Detzner attempted an identical and similarly failed plan to remove so-called "non-citizen voters" from the rolls.

Meanwhile, Republicans in the state of Texas are also unhappy, because the Rule of Law keeps keeping them from disenfranchising voters through discriminatory Congressional redistricting maps and discriminatory polling place Photo ID restriction laws.

So maybe the old "dead voters on the rolls" gambit will work to keep some of those pesky voters from being able to cast their legal votes this year in Texas! Ya know, the same gambit that failed so spectacularly in South Carolina earlier this year when hundreds of supposedly "dead voters" had the temerity to, ya know, be alive.

Still, thousands upon thousands of registered voters die each and every year, in almost all 50 states, and very very few of them have the courtesy to call the County Clerk afterwards to inform them that they have died and should be removed from the voting rolls. But, no worries! Texas Republicans are on the case in the Lone Star State!...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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But perhaps he's one of the 'rogues', 'strumpets' or 'wandering Arabs' the Commonwealth Court Judge may have been concerned about when citing an 1869 case to uphold the new law...
By Brad Friedman on 9/11/2012 5:09pm PT  

CNBC's Mad Money host, Jim Cramer, tweeted the following earlier today...

Cramer's father, however, is hardly alone. Some 1.6 million otherwise eligible voters in the state of Pennsylvania --- many of them elderly, minorities, students and the poor --- may be unable to vote this November under the state's GOP-enacted polling place Photo ID restriction law, unless the absurd ruling of Commonwealth Judge Robert E. Simpson is overturned on appeal, or unless the U.S. Dept. of Justice finally decides to file a federal challenge that successfully blocks the state's completely unnecessary law as violation of the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution.

But Cramer's father can take heart. Scott Keyes at Think Progress reports: "A House Democratic Twitter account responded to Cramer with a promise that Rep. Jim [*Bob] Brady (D-PA), who represents part of Philadelphia, would "personally see to it that your dad gets the necessary ID and transportation to vote."

See? The new Republican law won't actually disenfranchise anybody! All you need to do is make sure you have a family member host a popular TV show, and your problem will be solved when a U.S. Congressman notices and promises to intervene. Democracy saved!

By the way, the ruling by the Commonwealth Court Judge who upheld the voter suppression law recently, may be even more absurd than originally believed or as detailed by The BRAD BLOG's legal analyst Ernie Canning upon appeal. As Nicole Flatow explains, the law that Judge Simpson relied on to support his ruling was an 1869 case, Patterson v. Barlow, in which the majority warned of "rogues", "strumpets" and "wandering Arabs" who, it was feared, might commit voter fraud in Philadelphia that year.

Even back then, as the dissenting opinion in the 143-year old case reveals, the minority Justices were concerned "that among the barriers so ingeniously contrived to prevent [voter fraud], the defeat of the duly qualified voters must inevitably occur."

The dissenters went on to offer advice that would be useful today to those concerned about actual voter fraud (versus the Republicans who instituted today's Photo ID restrictions, solely to keep largely Democratic-leaning voters from casting their legal vote at all):

If frauds were imminent by simulated voters, let penalties be provided for the rogues, and set honest and vigilant men to watch them, but let not the rights of honest voters be sacrificed to these apprehensions.

* * *

* CORRECTION: It appears that ThinkProgress' Scott Keyes misstated the first name of the PA Congressman who has promised to help Cramer's father get a Photo ID to vote. PA Election Integrity advocate Marybeth Kuznik of VotePA.us writes in with this correction: "The Democratic Rep in PA-1 (part of Philly) is Bob Brady. I guess he goes by Robert Brady officially, but everyone in the state calls him Bob. He's a very powerful Democratic Rep in PA (head of the Philadelphia Caucus in the PA Democratic State Committee) and, as you may know, is Minority Chair of the U.S. House Admin Committee, so he is a gatekeeper on anything regarding voting. There is no Jim Brady in the PA Delegation." We've corrected the Congressman's first name in the article above.

* * *
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By Dana Siegelman on 9/10/2012 9:39am PT  

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Our guest blogger Dana Siegelman is the daughter of Don Siegelman, the former Democratic Gov. of Alabama. He is scheduled to report to federal prison on September 11 to serve the remaining 6 years of a prison sentence after being prosecuted and found guilty in 2006 by friends and colleagues of Karl Rove, on charges of bribery. The former Governor received no money, or anything of tangential value in the transaction, and no explicit quid pro quo was found in his trial. The supposed "bribe" was by a local hospital executive, Richard Scrushy, who donated $500,000 to a fund favored by Siegelman, and meant to support a state lottery that would send underprivileged children to college. In return, prosecutors charged, Siegelman appointed Scrushy to a state hospital board, even though he had already been appointed to serve on the same board under three previous Governors (two Republicans and a Democrat). Such a transaction has never before been considered a crime in this country.]

* * *

There was rumor of Karl Rove's presence echoing in the halls of the Time Warner Cable Arena at the Democratic National Convention in North Carolina on September 5th, 2012. For some reason, since he dared show up to the DNC, I immediately felt it was meant to be that I meet him in person.

I mean, here I am petitioning for a Presidential pardon to lift my father's 78 month prison sentence that came at the hands of many GOP operatives set on taking my dad --- a Democrat, and the only man to have served in every statewide office in Alabama --- out of politics.

One of those operatives even swore under oath, in front of Congress, that Rove played a key role in making sure the U.S. Department of Justice was on board to see my dad's political prosecution --- as CBS' 60 Minutes reported back in early 2008 --- through to the end.

As you may imagine, my heart was beating at the prospect of confronting Rove in person, if the opportunity arrived. He had refused to testify when he was subpoenaed by Congress, and while several journalists have asked him about it, he has dodged the questions by saying he only learned of the case by reading it in the news, or that he only met some of the prosecutors involved, but not the woman who claimed she actually spied on my dad at the direction of Rove. As ABC's George Stephanopoulos told Mr. Rove after asking him about the Siegelman case, "But that's not a denial." I agree!

The main players in my father's prosecution, U.S. Attorney Leura Canary, her husband Bill Canary (who ran my father's opponent's campaign), former Alabama Attorney General now 11th Circuit Federal Judge Bill Pryor, and Federal Judge Mark Fuller have all been connected to Rove.

Political prosecutions were prevalent during the Bush years. The federal judges he appointed to the bench were vetted by Rove, and Bush loyalists were hand-selected to serve as U.S. Attorneys. Studies have shown that prosecutions were brought against Democrats at a rate of seven-to-one over Republicans during the Bush regime. Many of those prosecutions were completely political, amounting to hundreds of ruined political careers and the imprisonment of innocent people, such as my father.

I didn't know what I was going to say to Rove when and if I met him, but I felt I should say...something. Ironically enough, I was standing in the middle of the hall at the Charlotte Arena, waiting to meet a young man to introduce to my father for possible media coverage. That man was also named Karl. I didn't know what this Karl looked liked, so I was looking around to make eye contact with someone that I was supposed to meet.

Then, I saw Rove walking directly toward me with his security...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 9/10/2012 6:35am PT  

Chalk up another blow to transparency and an informed electorate, and another judicial victory for the democratic perversion known as corporate "free speech."

Last week, in Minnesota Citizens for Life, Inc. v Swanson, six of the eleven jurists serving on the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeal struck down the provisions of a Minnesota statute requiring corporations which create separate political funds in excess of $100 to file periodic financial disclosure reports with the state.

The case had been filed by three corporations, all of which contended that the reporting requirements were so onerous as to amount to a de facto ban on corporate free speech that violated Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission [PDF]. That argument had been rejected first by a U.S. District Court Judge and then by way of a 2-1 Eighth Circuit panel decision. The majority on that panel had noted that even Citizens United recognized the government's right to "regulate corporate political speech through disclaimer and disclosure requirements" so long as the government did "not suppress that speech altogether."

On rehearing before the full 8th Circuit, Chief Judge William C. Reilly, a George W. Bush appointee, writing for the six member majority, acknowledged that the Minnesota statute "does not prohibit corporate speech." The majority ruled, however, that that state statute entailed excessive regulation which included an "ongoing" reporting requirement on the part of the corporate political fund that continues unless or until the corporation dissolves the fund. Chief Judge Reilly described that burden as both "onerous" and "monstrous."

The five dissenting jurists, which also included George W. Bush appointees, vigorously disagreed...

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Republican Jon Husted rescinds Directive after being summoned to personally appear before judge...
By Brad Friedman on 9/7/2012 2:55pm PT  

Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) has apologized to a U.S. District Court judge who ruled against him last week, after the Secretary appeared to have tried to undermine the court's ruling, pending an appeal by the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The apology came in a motion today, after Husted was ordered by the judge to personally appear for a hearing next week.

As we reported last Friday, U.S. District Judge Peter Economus ruled in favor of a lawsuit filed by the Obama campaign and the Democratic Party, finding that Ohio's restriction on Early Voting in the final three days before the election --- for all but active-duty military --- was a violation of the U.S. Constitution's Equal Protection Clause.

In his ruling [PDF], Economus ordered the Secretary of State to restore Early Voting "on the three days immediately preceding Election Day for all eligible voters," just as it had been successfully implemented during the 2008 election, as the previous Sec. of State Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, described to us during a recent interview. At the same time, the judge had also instructed the Buckeye State's current Secretary to "direct all Ohio elections boards to maintain a specific, consistent schedule on those three days, in keeping with [Husted's] earlier directive that only by doing so can he ensure that Ohio's election process is 'uniform, accessible for all, fair, and secure.'"

In response, rather than issuing a directive with uniform hours for voting in those three days before the November Presidential election, Husted issued a Directive on Tuesday notifying the state's 88 county Boards of Election that they should not establish hours for voting in those days, as the state was filing an appeal in the case.

"Announcing new hours before the court case reaches final resolution will only serve to confuse voters and conflict with the standard of uniformity," Husted wrote in the Directive, adding, "I am confident there will be sufficient time after the conclusion of the appeal process to set uniform hours across the state."

This afternoon, after being summoned to court in response to that Directive, Husted rescinded it and the state filed a motion [PDF] apologizing for what was interpreted as him having attempted to place his own personal stay on Economus' order. "The Secretary apologizes to the federal district court for creating that misimpression and has rescinded [the] Directive," the state writes in the motion, which seeks an official stay on the ruling, pending the Sixth Circuit's expedited appeal...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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By Brad Friedman on 9/5/2012 4:10pm PT  

I'd say I was stunned to see a local TV news reporter --- any TV news reporter, frankly --- asking the President directly about his targeted assassinations of U.S. citizens, except that the reporter was Cincinnati Fox 19's Ben Swann.

Swann's reporting was key last February, in covering the Maine GOP's attempt to steal the state's caucuses for Mitt Romney, while largely everyone else in the corporate mainstream media had dutifully moved on to whatever the "next state" was at the time.

As Glenn Greenwald tweeted, here we find a "local anchor doing real journalism". Imagine that. Someone get this guy a network gig, please!

Here's his questions to President Obama last night on the U.S. drone strikes which targeted U.S. citizens Anwar al-Awlaki and his teenage son in Yemen, both without any form of due process...

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By his own admission, they argue, hundreds of thousands of legal voters may be disenfranchised by the GOP-enacted law...
By Ernest A. Canning on 9/4/2012 6:35am PT  

The petitioners challenging the Republican polling place Photo ID restriction law as a violation of the state Constitution in Pennsylvania, have filed their appeal to the state's Supreme Court, after being caught off-guard by a surprising and stinging defeat at the hands of a Republican Commonwealth Judge last month.

In their 68-page Pennsylvania Supreme Court brief [PDF], the petitioners in Applewhite vs. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania set forth a compelling legal case to demonstrate the need for a preliminary injunction in advance of the November 2012 President Election in order to prevent what they describe as the potential disenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of lawfully registered voters.

The brief does much more than simply urge that Commonwealth Judge Robert E. Simpson, erred in applying the federal "minimum scrutiny" standard instead of subjecting Photo ID to "strict scrutiny" under state law because, they argue, it threatens to deprive hundreds of thousands of Keystone State citizens of a fundamental right to vote. The brief lays bare many of the GOP myths about the purpose of polling place Photo ID restrictions, while demonstrating why the GOP-enacted Pennsylvania law would not qualify as constitutional even under the less demanding test laid down by six of the U.S. Supreme Court's nine Justices in Crawford v. Marion County Board of Elections, their 2008 decision approving Indiana's version of a similar restriction on voting in that state...

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But stops short of a call to end 'corporate personhood'...
By Ernest A. Canning on 9/2/2012 6:42pm PT  
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER?
President Obama, during his surprise Reddit chat last Wednesday, jumps into the Citizens United fray.

"I think we need to seriously consider mobilizing a constitutional amendment process to overturn Citizens United (assuming the Supreme Court doesn't revisit it)," President Barack Obama wrote last week during a surprise public Reddit chat.

"Consider mobilizing?" Groups like Move to Amend and Public Citizen initiated that mobilization shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court's radical-right quintet handed down that infamous decision in 2010. By July of this year, California had become the sixth state to call for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizen's United.

"Assuming the Supreme Court doesn't revisit it?" The Court had an opportunity to revisit Citizens United earlier this year, or at least to limit its impact to federal elections. Instead, the same radical-right quintet expanded the reach of that democracy destroying decision by overturning a Montana Supreme Court decision which had sought to uphold a century old, state anti-corruption law.

While the President's remarks will no doubt be welcomed by the already-mobilized movement, one should not lose sight of the fact that they fall far short of an endorsement of either Vermont's proposed constitutional amendment or the measure introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in the U.S. Senate. Both efforts call for the end to "corporate personhood" and a determination that money does not equal free speech under the First Amendment.

If the President truly desires to spotlight what amounts to a hostile corporate takeover of our democracy, he will confront Mitt "corporations are people, my friend" Romney in the upcoming Presidential debates with an openly stated support for a constitutional amendment that, as the Sanders measure provides, establishes that the "rights protected by the Constitution...are the rights of natural persons and do not extend to for-profit corporations, limited liability companies, or other private entities established for business purposes." Indeed, that position could frame the issue for all candidates seeking public office in the 2012 election.

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TONIGHT: Former AL Gov. Don Siegelman; RNC Unwound; Big Voting Rights Victories; MORE!...
LIVE! 9p-Mid ET (6p-9p PT), Call-in#: 877-520-1150
By Brad Friedman on 8/31/2012 3:12pm PT  

[Now UPDATED with audio archives below! Enjoy!]

Mike is off tonight, so we're back guest hosting the nationally-syndicated Mike Malloy Show once again.

As usual, we're BradCasting LIVE from 9pm-Mid ET (6p-9p PT), coast-to-coast and around the globe from L.A.'s KTLK am1150 in beautiful downtown Burbank. Join us by tuning in, chatting in, Tweeting in and calling in! Our LIVE chat room will be up and rolling right here at The BRAD BLOG, as usual, while we are on the air. Please stop by and join the fun while you're listening! (The Chat Room will open, at the bottom of this item, a few minutes before airtime, see down below, just above "Comments" section.)

Scheduled tonight:

The Mike Malloy Show is nationally syndicated on air affiliates across the country and also on SiriusXM Ch. 127. You may also listen online to the free LIVE audio stream at our Sante Fe affiliate KTRC 1260, or our Minnesota affiliate KTNF 950 (tell 'em you're in MN if asked!). Also, you should be able to listen live at WhiteRose Society if the radio gods are with us.

* * *

POST-SHOW UPDATE: We had a very lively show, and one maddening interview with Gov. Siegelman. The commercial-free audio archives all now follow below (as well as the chat room archives.) Enjoy 'em over the holiday weekend on me!...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Finds 'arbitrary' restrictions for all but military voters disproportionately harms low-income and minority voters
Decision continues recent spate of federal voting rights victories...
By Brad Friedman on 8/31/2012 1:16pm PT  

The recent spate of federal court victories in favor of voting rights across the nation continued today, as a U.S. District Court judge in Ohio sided with Democrats and the Obama campaign, finding that the removal of in-person Early Voting for all voters on the final three days before Election Day in the Buckeye State was an "arbitrary" decision made by the state's Republican lawmakers and Secretary of State.

The removal of in-person Early Voting in those last three days before the election --- when some 100,000 voters had cast their votes in the state during the 2008 Presidential Election --- for all but active-duty military voters, is likely to "irreparably harm" the voting rights of "low-income and minority voters [who] are disproportionately affected by the elimination of those voting days," according to the ruling by U.S. District Judge Peter Economus [PDF].

The ruling is another major win for Ohio voters, as the judge ruled in favor of the Democratic complaint seeking a temporary injunction on the state's new voting restrictions.

Through a convoluted series of legislative actions by Republican state lawmakers and rulings by Sec. of State John Husted, which we detailed earlier this month, Ohio had restricted Early Voting on the final weekend before the Tuesday election to all but active duty military voters. We also explained in that same article how the Romney campaign --- based on a false assertion initially posited by the Republican propaganda website Breitbart.com and subsequently forwarded loudly by Fox "News" --- argued dishonestly that the Obama campaign was attempting to "undermine" and restrict voting rights of the military, which the GOP nominee described on his Facebook page as an "outrage".

In fact, as the very first paragraph of the Obama complaint [PDF] made quite clear, the Democrats were not attempting to restrict the rights of military voters, but, in reality, suing to "restore in-person early voting for all Ohioans during the three days prior to Election Day," including for some 900,000 veterans in the state whose rights had similarly been removed by the Ohio Republicans.

Today, the Democrats' argument prevailed in federal court, as Economus found that "Plaintiffs have a constitutionally protected right to participate in the 2012 election --- and all elections --- on an equal basis with all Ohio voters, including [active duty military] voters"...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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3-judge panel finds law discriminatory under Voting Rights Act, would 'disenfranchise minorities and the poor'...
By Brad Friedman on 8/30/2012 9:57am PT  

Following on the U.S. Dept. of Justice finding last March that the Republican-enacted polling place Photo ID restriction law in Texas was discriminatory, in violation of the U.S. Voting Rights Act (VRA), a three-judge U.S. District Court panel has again blocked the law from being implemented.

The decision by the federal panel, which included one judge appointed by George W. Bush, was unanimous.

Texas had appealed the DoJ decision earlier this year, seeking a declaratory judgment from the court, after the federal agency had found the state had not met its "burden of showing that a submitted change [to an election law] has neither a discriminatory purpose nor a discriminatory effect," under Section 5 of the VRA, which requires preclearance for new election laws in 16 different U.S. jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination. The Lone Star State is one of those jurisdictions.

The DoJ had determined [PDF] that, based on the state's own statistics, the law would have disproportionately disenfranchised registered Hispanic voters in the state. They found that registered Hispanics are anywhere from 46% to 120% more likely than non-Hispanics to lack the type of state-issued Photo ID that would have now been required to vote under the new law.

The 56-page ruling by the U.S. District court panel in D.C. today [PDF] found that "the law will almost certainly have retrogressive effect" as "it imposes strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor, and racial minorities in Texas [who] are disproportionately likely to live in poverty."

"Crucially," the court added, "the Texas legislature defeated several amendments that could have made this a far closer case" when they ignored warnings that the law "as written, would disenfranchise minorities and the poor."

In Texas, as Democratic lawmakers had pointed out while the bill was being debated, some registered voters would have to travel as far as 250 miles round trip to receive their "free" ID from a state Dept. of Public Safety (DPS) driver's license facility, presuming they owned or were able to afford buy the underlying documentation required to obtain that "free" ID. The burden would be especially difficult for those without drivers licenses in the first place. Moreover, as the DoJ had previously found, "in 81 of the state’s 254 counties, there are no operational driver’s license offices," and many of them have limited hours of operation.

The court blasted both the Republican lawmakers and the attorneys who presented their case. "Everything Texas has submitted as affirmative evidence is unpersuasive, invalid, or both. Moreover, uncontested record evidence conclusively shows that the implicit costs of obtaining [Photo ID that would satisfy the new law] will fall most heavily on the poor and that a disproportionately high percentage of African Americans and Hispanics in Texas live in poverty. We therefore conclude that SB 14 is likely to lead to 'retrogression in the position of racial minorities with respect to their effective exercise of the electoral franchise.'"

This was the second stinging loss for Texas Republicans in one week. On Monday, their plan for Congressional Redistricting in the state, on the heels of four new seats gained after the 2010 Census, was also struck down by a three-judge federal panel for violations of the VRA...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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By Brad Friedman on 8/29/2012 1:48pm PT  

As we reported last September, the U.S. Dept. of Justice found that the state Republicans' Congressional redistricting map for Texas, as signed by Gov. Rick Perry, was in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act. The DoJ found that the new plan --- which added four Congressional seats in the state after an increase in population was found by the 2010 Census --- was purposefully discriminatory against minority voters.

The DoJ asserted that the plan "was adopted, at least in part, for the purpose of diminishing the ability of citizens of the United States, on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group, to elect their preferred candidates of choice to the Texas House of Representatives."

Texas appealed that ruling to a Federal District court which made its ruling yesterday. They agreed with the DoJ that the state was discriminating against it's own minority citizens, as Ari Berman reports at The Nation...

Today a three-judge federal court in Washington concurred with DOJ, writing that Texas’s redistricting plans were “enacted with discriminatory purpose” and did not deserve preclearance under Section 5 [of the federal Voting Rights Act.]

Here are the relevant facts of the case: Texas gained 4.3 million new residents from 2000–10. Nearly 90 percent of that growth came from minority citizens (65 percent Hispanic, 13 percent African-American, 10 percent Asian). As a result, Texas gained four new Congressional seats, from thirty-two to thirty-six. Yet under the Congressional redistricting map passed by Texas Republicans following the 2010 election, white Republicans were awarded three of the four new seats that resulted from Democratic-leaning minority population growth. The League of Women Voters called the plan “the most extreme example of racial gerrymandering among all the redistricting proposals passed by lawmakers so far this year.”

Berman has more details on the specific findings in the ruling, and notes that a lawsuit filed by civil rights groups late last year asserts that "even though Whites’ share of the population declined from 52 percent to 45 percent, they remain the majority in 70 percent of Congressional Districts." He also notes that the court found "Texas Republicans not only failed to grant new power to minority voters in the state, they also took away vital economic resources from minority Democratic members of Congress."

The state may now, and likely will, appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. In the meantime, says Berman, "An interim map drawn by a federal court in San Antonio in February will be used for the 2012 election."

Earlier this year, the DoJ similarly rejected a new polling place Photo ID restriction law enacted by Republicans also in violation of the Voting Rights Act. Based on two differing sets of data supplied by the state, the DoJ found [PDF] that currently registered Hispanic voters were anywhere from 46.5% to 120% more likely than registered white voters to lack the type of state-issued Photo ID which would now be required to vote under the GOP's new law.

The state appealed that ruling as well to the same federal District Court panel in D.C. which heard the redistricting case. Their ruling on the Photo ID restriction law is expected very soon.

* * *

UPDATE 8/30/12: The federal court has similarly rejected the Texas Republicans' polling place Photo ID restriction law, finding it, like the Congressional Redistricting map, to be purposefully discriminatory against minorities. Full details on that ruling now here...

* * *
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By Brad Friedman on 8/29/2012 12:01pm PT  

The insults have been piling up all year, as the establishment GOP has been kicking its own to the curb in primary after primary, caucus after caucus, convention after convention.

From blatant attempts to steal the statewide caucuses in Maine to arrests at the St. Charles, Missouri caucus to a stolen county convention in Clarke County, GA , to arrests and broken bones at the state convention in Louisiana, to the theft of duly elected delegates from Massachusetts, and much much more, the national Republican Party has had one clear message for their members who did not wish to support the establishment's status quo selection for the 2012 nominee for President of the United States: "Fuck off!"

That message, and the push-back against it (for now) culminated finally in a short, but still-embarrassing-to-the-GOP mini-outburst on the floor of the Republican National Convention yesterday afternoon, after the RNC Rules Committee had approved new rules last week (to keep pesky party supporters of non-establishment-approved candidates from gaining any foothold in future election cycles) and after they'd barred most of Ron Paul's delegates from Maine from being seated.

Here is video of the raucus scene on the floor yesterday afternoon in Tampa as the Credentials Committee jammed through it's own establishment-approved slate of delegates and Paul supporters erupted in chants of "Seat them now!" and "Point of order!" against the backlash of "USA! USA! USA!" from Romney supporters...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Freedom of political choice vs. slavery in post-'Citizens United' America...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/27/2012 2:39pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

In a case where the employment of several members of the United Public Workers (UPW) was terminated after they failed to fully participate in unpaid, off-duty campaign activities on behalf of a union-supported Congressional candidate, three Republican members of the Federal Elections Commission produced an astounding Aug. 21 decision. They ruled that it is perfectly lawful for unions and corporations to compel their members and employees to engage in such activities, sans compensation, as part of "independent campaign efforts."

In their "Statement of Reasons" [PDF], the three GOP Commissioners explained the basis for their remarkable ruling.

They acknowledged that the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, 2 USC §441b(a), as well as FEC "regulations prohibit a labor organization [or a corporation] from facilitating the making of a contribution by means of 'coercion, such as the threat of a detrimental job action...to make a contribution or engage in fundraising activities on behalf of a candidate." But, they wrote: "These provisions do not apply to UPW's independent campaign efforts."

UPW's independent use of its paid workforce to campaign for a federal candidate post-Citizen's United was not contemplated by Congress and, consequently, is not prohibited by either the Act or Commission regulations.

The FEC's three Republican appointees thus presented not only a novel but a remarkable extension of Citizens United given that 2 USC §441b(c) makes it "unlawful" even for a corporation's or union's "segregated fund" to provide "anything of value" that is secured by a threat of financial reprisal. The statute mandates that employees must be told about their "right to refuse to so contribute without any reprisal."

In their separate "Statement of Reasons" [PDF], the three FEC Democrats, along with Office of General Counsel (OGC), found a clear-cut violation of Section 441b. "Nothing in Citizens United," the FEC Democrats opined, "suggests...that the Court intended to expand the rights of corporations and unions at the expense of their employees' longstanding rights to be free from coercion and to express or decline to express their political views."

According to the Congressional Research Service [PDF], at least four votes are required for the FEC "to exercise core functions." Thus, the 3-3 deadlock prevented the FEC from disciplining the union for anything beyond the fine for non-reporting of the "independent expenditure."

Setting aside the fact that the OGC's and FEC Democrats' interpretation appears to find direct support in the language of Section 441b of the U.S. Code, there's a fundamental constitutional issue that arises from the disturbing GOP interpretation of Citizens United which neither side addressed --- slavery!...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Some restrictions may apply, however, even as expansion of voting rights is a welcome change of pace to GOP contraction
UPDATE: Bill passes, is on way to Governor's desk...
By Brad Friedman on 8/27/2012 6:35am PT  

Late last week, Scott Keyes at ThinkProgess reported on a "Majority Victory for Voting Rights Advocates as California Legislature Approves Election Day Registration".

The new EDR law, which is, as Keyes reports, "on the cusp of passing", is expected to be signed by Gov. Jerry Brown (D) and would, indeed, be a victory for voters in the Golden State.

According to the NYU's Brennan Center for Justice, "Election Day registration boosts turnout by approximately 5–7 points in those states that allow eligible citizens to register on Election Day --- with a decreased dependence on provisional ballots and without any reported increase in voter fraud."

If passed and signed as expected, however, the law --- a welcome expansion to the franchise amidst recent draconian Republican efforts to restrict voting rights --- would not take effect until 2015 or later, according to Dean Logan, the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk for Los Angeles County, the largest voting jurisdiction in the nation.

"The bill's implementation is tied to completion of the Vote Cal statewide voter registration database; which is a ways off," he told The BRAD BLOG on Friday. Logan says he is "Generally...supportive of the bill and to expanding access and options for voters," though he notes that "L.A. County has not taken a formal position on it."

While the new law will, no doubt, be a net plus for voters here in California, and for the pro-democracy movement across the country over all, there are a few other issues with the way the law has been written which might make it slightly less of a plus for voters than apparent at first blush, as Logan helped us to understand...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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