NATIONWIDE STUDY FINDS ALMOST NO VOTER FRAUD
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...
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...
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Was Netanyahu/Likud's win last week in Israel the best possible outcome for Palestinians? While it seems counter-intuitive at first blush, some who follow Israeli/Palestinian politics very closely say it was.
My guest on this week's Pacifica Radio BradCast, Estee Chandler of JewishVoiceForPeace.org and the producer/co-host of KPFK's Middle East in Focus program believes that is the case and tells me why. She offers a different (and very welcome) perspective than the Right/Left (and now, sadly, Republican/Democratic) narrative we've heard so much of from most of the media since last week's election.
Also, BRAD BLOG's legal analyst Ernie Canning joins me to discuss the U.S. Supreme Court's refusal to hear the WI Photo ID voting case and what that means for voting across the country in 2016, as well as the error the CA Supreme Court seems to have made when they removed Prop 49 (the "Overturn Citizens United" initiative) from the 2014 ballot last year.
Plus, Ted Cruz' astoundingly ingenious if extraordinary cynical remark the day after he declared his intention to seek the 2016 GOP nomination for President; OH tries a new voter suppression tactic; another predictable Internet Voting failure in Australia; Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report and MUCH MORE!...
Download MP3 or listen online below...
A few weeks ago, our legal analyst Ernie Canning warned how the U.S. Supreme Court's pending decision on whether or not to hear the ACLU's challenge to the Wisconsin GOP Photo ID voting law might be the last chance before the 2016 Presidential elections to determine the Constitutionality of such laws.
On Monday, the Supreme Court decided not to grant cert in the WI challenge in the Frank v. Walker case. The decision is not a ruling on the merits of the case or the Constitutionality of the law. It simply means that, for now, there were not four votes on the Court to hear the ACLU's challenge at this time.
It also means that, barring further court action or a quick decision on a similar law out of another state, polling place Photo ID restrictions on voters will be allowed in the Badger State in 2016. That, despite the fact that the federal trial court found, when striking down the law as unconstitutional and a violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act last year, that the new Republican-enacted law may serve to bar some 300,000 disproportionately Democratic-leaning and already lawfully registered voters from casting a ballot in the state's Presidential election.
There is also more than a bit of irony in this matter, in that, after U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Adelman soundly rejected the law in 2014 --- finding that "evidence adduced at trial demonstrates" WI's Act 23 "disproportionately impacts Black and Latino voters" and that the law would "prevent more legitimate votes from being cast than fraudulent votes" --- the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals deadlocked (disingenously) 5 to 5 on whether to stay the original ruling. That deadlock meant the stay would be granted and the WI law would be allowed, barring further court challenges, despite the fact that 6 federal judges had voted to strike down the law, while just 5 had voted in its favor. To make matters worse, Act 23 had also been struck down previously in state court as a violation of the state constitution as well. Nonetheless, in this matter, a minority of judges successfully ruled against the majority.
All of that, despite a blistering dissent filed in last year's 7th Circuit Court WI decision by against the law (and all such laws) from revered conservative 7th Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner. Posner's original ruling in favor of a Photo ID restriction law in Crawford v. Marion County, Indiana, was the basis of the first such case to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, upholding Indiana's Photo ID law in 2008. So his unambiguous reversal on the issue, now that we know much more about such laws, was noteworthy and, opponents of the law had hoped, convincing to the Supremes who have, for many years, favorably cited the legal scholar's opinions.
Though the 7th Circuit's decision to temporarily stay the original ruling striking down the law was later vacated by the U.S. Supreme Court last year --- on the basis that the stay was made too close to the election --- the discriminatory law is now back in place in the state. The refusal by the Court to grant cert this weeks means that it will likely remain in place as the next Presidential election begins.
Some watching these matters closely, however, believe that Monday's decision by SCOTUS to not hear the Wisconsin case may ultimately be a good thing, perhaps "a blessing in disguise"...
As we find ourselves smack dab on the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday march for voting rights in Selma, Alabama, there are some key decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court, coming very soon, which may well determine whether millions of otherwise lawfully registered and disproportionately Democratic-leaning African-American and Hispanic voters will be prevented from voting in the 2016 elections.
The decision that emerges from the Supreme Court's March 20, 2015 Conference in the Wisconsin polling place photo ID case, Frank v. Walker, could well be dispositive in that regard. It also may be the last chance to avoid the legal chaos that plagued the 2014 elections, during which similar voting restrictions, in state-after-state, were implemented, struck down, restored, or, with respect to Wisconsin, blocked again. Where, last year, the Court's eleventh hour decisions preserved the right to vote in Wisconsin, that same Supreme Court, on the eve of the 2014 mid-term, eliminated the right to vote for hundreds of thousands of predominantly African-American and Hispanic voters in Texas and North Carolina. The failure of the Supreme Court to take up the issue now could produce an even darker cloud of doubt over the integrity and legitimacy of the 2016 Presidential Election.
The immediate issue now before the Court is not whether SCOTUS agrees with a U.S. District Court judge and half the judges on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeal that WI's law (aka Act 23) is both unconstitutional and violative of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. As those judge found, Act 23, if implemented in the Badger State, could disenfranchise more than 300,000 lawfully registered Wisconsin voters.
Rather, the immediate issue at the March 20 Conference is whether the Supremes will grant an ACLU petition for a writ of certiorari (aka "cert petition") and schedule oral arguments on the Constitutionality of the Republican-enacted law. Or whether, as urged by the attorneys representing WI's Republican Governor Scott Walker, the Court will defer its decision until similar legal challenges to strict photo ID laws in other states, such as North Carolina and Texas, wind their way through the trial and appellate courts.
In other words, do they hear the Wisconsin case now, as urged by the ACLU and other voting rights advocates? Or do they wait to combine the matter with several other challenges to substantively identical voting restrictions implemented by Republicans in other states, as urged by one of the men who stands to benefit from delaying such a decision as long as possible?
That decision whether to hear the case now, rather than later, may well have a huge impact on who will serve as the next President of the United States...
With Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, incredibly enough, having vaulted to the front of the GOP pack of 2016 Presidential hopefuls in Iowa and a number of other states, he'll undoubtedly (or, at least, hopefully) come under much more scrutiny on a national level for the kind of policies he's been carrying out back home. (And, additionally, as Brendan Fischer explains, "Rumors of the Walker [John Doe] Probe's Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated")
One aspect of those policies was noticed by Jonas Persson and Mary Bottari at the Center for Media and Democracy's PRWatch this week. It seems Walker, without publicly mentioning it during a recent speech on his newly proposed state budget, included $300 million in cuts to the University of Wisconsin (UW) System along with some other troubling changes.
"The unprecedented cut, which amounts to 13 percent of the state funding for the university system and 2.5 percent of the total budget, accompanied by a tuition freeze will result in the defunding of scores of departments and jeopardize the livelihood of faculty and graduate students," PRWatch reports. The cuts come on the heels of Walker's tax breaks for the wealthy and cuts to social services which have left Wisconsin "32nd in the nation in new job growth," while "the state faces a $2.2 billion dollar deficit." Not helpful numbers when running for President (at least in a general, versus primary, election.)
"In a grim irony, the cut also comes amid reports that other states in the Midwest, such as Minnesota (which recently reported a $1.04 billion budget surplus), Indiana, Iowa and Ohio, are ramping up funding for its state universities, the Wisconsin State Journal reports."
PRWatch adds that, under Walker's proposed new structure for the UW System, "The Board of Regents appointed by the governor would be the governing body and the legislature and the public would have less of a role in protecting academic freedom and other statutory rights."
As much as some are alarmed by the restructuring and massive budget cuts to state education, a rather striking change to the UW System's written mission statement in the budget proposal has left some "nearly speechless", setting off arguably more controversy about what Walker, after being called on it, initially described as little more than "a drafting error"...
- with Brad Friedman
[An earlier version of this article was originally published by Truthout...]
Both election integrity advocates and dissembling GOP proponents of Photo ID voting restrictions were taken by surprise in late 2013 when 7th Circuit Court Judge Richard A. Posner said, during an interview with HuffPo Live, that the landmark 2008 Supreme Court decision on the matter "would have been decided differently" if the Court had known then "about the abuse of voter identification laws."
That, in and of itself, was a remarkable turn of events. What was ultimately to come was even more so.
Crawford v. Marion County Election Board is the case which Republican proponents of strict Photo ID voting laws now (incorrectly and often disingenuously) cite as giving them carte blanche to enact similar laws in other states, irrespective of the extent to which photo ID laws serve to disenfranchise demographic groups --- minorities, students, the poor, women --- that all tend to vote for Democrats.
Posner is not just any judge. He is a renowned legal scholar and Reagan appointee to the federal bench, who has served on the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeal since 1981. More importantly here, Posner was the author of the 7th Circuit's opinion in Crawford. In that case, Posner rejected an allegation that Indiana's polling place photo ID restriction was unconstitutional. That decision was affirmed at the time by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Posner, who is, as Yale Law Professor Fred Shapiro notes, the most cited jurist of the 20th Century, was not alone in his view in 2013 year that Crawford "would have been decided differently" if the Court knew then what it knows now.
Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, the author of the plurality opinion in Crawford --- an opinion that was joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kennedy --- told the Wall Street Journal following Posner's remarks at the time, that he "always thought that [dissenting Justice] David Souter got the thing correct, but my own problem with the case was that I didn't think the record [before the Court in 2008] supported everything he said in his opinion." Souter would have struck down the Indiana law as unconstitutional because, as he argued at the time, it "threatens to impose nontrivial burdens" upon the right to vote.
Joined by four other 7th Circuit jurists last October, Posner penned an extraordinarily powerful and compelling dissent [PDF] in Wisconsin's photo ID voting case. The previously missing evidence is now in, as the judge meticulously detailed in the opinion. GOP claims that photo ID restrictions are needed to combat "voter fraud", he wrote, are "a mere fig leaf for efforts to disenfranchise voters likely to vote for the political party that does not control the state government"...
Posner's carefully crafted dissent does more than establish why the U.S. Supreme Court should ultimately sustain the District Court's finding that Wisconsin's photo ID law is both unconstitutional and a violation of the Voting Rights Act --- a finding later echoed by a federal District Court in Texas as well. Posner's dissent obliterates the factual premise that had served as a pillar upon which his, and subsequently the Supreme Court's, decisions in Crawford were based.
Polling place photo ID laws do not promote voter confidence in the integrity of elections, as Posner and the Crawford Supreme Court plurality had erroneously assumed. The assertion that they do was a "mistake" --- Posner's mistake! --- and he now admits as much, with the support of devastating new data from recent studies to back him up.
His powerful dissent amounts to more than just a response to the Wisconsin GOP's new Photo ID voting law. It is an elegant plea that the U.S. Supreme Court finally right a grievous wrong that he was personally responsible for. Posner presents an astonishing, air-tight case for ruling that all "strict Photo ID laws," which, as he demonstrates, have only been enacted in states sporting GOP-controlled legislatures, must now be struck-down as unconstitutional...
On this week's KPFK/Pacifica Radio BradCast I was joined by investigate journalist and author Greg Palast to discuss his disturbing report on the GOP's secret "Interstate Crosscheck" database and the hundreds of thousands of voters it may have knocked off the rolls this year.
PLUS: A flashback to my interview with then 25-year old paralyzed Iraq War veteran turned anti-war activist Tomas Young at "Camp Casey" in Crawford, TX in August of 2005. It was Young's first national interview proceeding his story being told on CBS 60 Minutes in 2006 and in Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro's documentary Body of War in 2007. During the interview, Young (who had driven 13 hours from Kansas City on his honeymoon, despite unceasing pain) describes the tragic story of how he was wounded during a rescue mission in an unarmored truck in Sadr City; how and when he turned against Bush's war; we joke about BBQ in Missouri and more; and then hatch a (successful) plot to bring his story to national attention.
Download MP3 or listen online below...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
Though some 5,350 voters are known to have voted in the city of Stoughton in Dane County, Wisconsin on Tuesday, just 16 of those voters were interested in voting in a local ballot referendum calling for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to help overturn the infamous Citizens United decision --- at least according to the results reported by paper ballot optical-scan computer tabulators there.
"A malfunction with the voting machines in Stoughton Tuesday led to an incomplete outcome of the city's referendum on whether to amend the U.S. Constitution, Stoughton clerk Lana Kropf said," according to a terse and somewhat cryptic report in the Wisconsin State Journal on Thursday.
The city's ES&S DS200 paper ballot optical-scanners (a computer tabulation system plagued with problems in many states over the years) reported zero votes for the initiative in five of the city's six voting wards, and just 16 votes (7 Yes, 9 No) in the other.
"Never in my years working in clerks' offices have I seen something like this," Kropf told the Journal.
The initiative in question was added to the ballot after citizens gathered enough signatures last July to have it included on the November ballot. According to the wording of the measure, it seeks "to reclaim democracy from the expansion of corporate personhood rights and the corrupting influence of unregulated political contributions and spending." It is similar to referenda passed overwhelmingly in other WI communities.
"Last Tuesday, nearly 5,350 good citizens of Stoughton went to the polls," writes Karen McKim of the progressive Wisconsin Grassroots Network. "If you believe the city's voting machines, exactly 16 of them had an opinion they cared to express on the matter. The rest thought 'Whatevs' and left the referendum blank."
She adds: "Fortunately, no one believes the city's voting machines"...
[This article now cross-published by Salon...]
For some reason, this tweet of mine, from about 4am on Election Night, has become very popular...
Man, those Democrats really suck at all that massive voter fraud they do.
— Brad Friedman (@TheBradBlog) November 5, 2014
Perhaps we can chalk up its popularity to the joke it makes of right wing groups like "True the Vote" which has, since its dubious inception, received and spent a fortune over the years tripping over its own wingnut feet to publish fake "voter fraud!" data, find itself tossed out of courts, harass legal voters attempting to cast legal votes, and otherwise make repeated jackasses of themselves by attempting to perpetuate the well-worn, but fact-shy Republican hoax that there is a massive Democratic voter fraud epidemic at our polls.
TTV was made even more famous lately when they were cited, by name, by 7th Circuit Court of Appeals judge Richard Posner, a very well-respected Reagan-appointed conservative jurist, in his recent opinion on Wisconsin's Photo ID voting law. In Posner's devastating, must-read dissent decrying such discriminatory laws, the most well-cited legal scholar of the 20th century, according to the Yale Law School's Journal of Legal Studies, described the group's "evidence" of voter impersonation fraud as "downright goofy, if not paranoid," citing "the nonexistent buses that according to the 'True the Vote' movement transport foreigners and reservation Indians to polling places" to illegally cast a ballot.
The solution to the pretend problem that TTV lies to its followers about, is, of course, polling place Photo ID restrictions that, as Judge Lynn Adelman of the U.S. District Court in Wisconsin wrote in striking down that state's discriminatory, unconstitutional law after a full trial earlier this year, serve only to "prevent more legitimate votes from being cast than fraudulent votes."
So the group's newest embarrassing failure to uncover virtually any "voter fraud" at the polling places it monitored in dozens of states during Tuesday's mid-term general elections --- with an army of righteous and disinformed civilian wingnuts armed with a brand-new smart phone app --- comes as little surprise. It is, however, kind of amusing...
Just in time for Election Day next week, we got everybody up to date on all of the terrible SCOTUS rulings in regard to GOP voter suppression from over the past several weeks --- in OH, NC, WI and TX (and an important Photo ID ruling by the state Supreme Court in AR) --- for those who may have missed our coverage during the fund drive. Now it's up to the voters to try like hell not to be disenfranchised, particularly in TX, where it won't be easy this year.
Plus, our musical tribute to touch-screen vote-flipping now taking place all over the country --- yet again! And, the latest Green News Report with Desi Doyen as the future of climate change is on next Tuesday's ballot.
Download MP3 or listen online below...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
On the stump this week for Republican candidates, NJ's Gov. Chris Christie said GOP governors need to win this year, so they can be in control of the "voting mechanisms" during what he believes might be his own run for President in 2016. He cited three races in particular, in three states that would be crucial to him as the GOP nominee, as reported by New Jersey's The Record...
Republican governors are facing intense fights in the courts over laws they pushed that require specific identification in order to vote and that reduce early voting opportunities. Critics say those laws sharply curtail the numbers of poor and minority voters, who would likely vote for Democrats. Christie - who vetoed a bill to extend early voting in New Jersey - is campaigning for many of those governors now as he considers a run for president in 2016.
Christie stressed the need to keep Republicans in charge of states - and overseeing state-level voting regulations - ahead of the next presidential election.
"Would you rather have Rick Scott in Florida overseeing the voting mechanism, or Charlie Crist? Would you rather have Scott Walker in Wisconsin overseeing the voting mechanism, or would you rather have Mary Burke? Who would you rather have in Ohio, John Kasich or Ed FitzGerald?" he asked.
Great questions, Governor Christie! Let's take a crack at offering some answers for ya...
[This article now cross-published by Salon...]
Well, it is still very likely that some 600,000 legally registered voters in Texas will find themselves unable to vote at the polls this year in the Lone Star State, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court's horrible weekend order leaving the state GOP's Photo ID voting law in place for now, pending the state's appeal to the ruling of a lower court earlier this month which found the law to be intentionally discriminatory and an "unconstitutional poll tax".
But at least the record on that law for now, as described in Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's sharp pre-dawn dissent issued Saturday morning (joined by Justices Sotomayor and Kagan) is now accurately reflected at the U.S. Supreme Court, thanks, in part, to The BRAD BLOG's questions about what appeared to be an error in her opinion.
Ginsburg had originally stated in her otherwise on-point dissent (which the 81-year old Justice literally stayed up all night working on, before releasing it at 5am ET on Saturday morning!) that Texas will not "accept photo ID cards issued by the U. S. Department of Veterans' Affairs" for voting this year.
The "good" news is, that assertion does not appear to be true, and Ginsburg, following a chain of events spurred by our background inquiry, has now corrected the record in her official opinion published by the Court.
Here's what happened...
- with Brad Friedman
As the plaintiffs in the otherwise successful challenge to Texas Republicans' polling place Photo ID restriction law pointed out during their emergency petition to the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this week --- after an appeals court panel had temporarily stayed a lower court's determination that the law was discriminatory and thus, stricken down --- it was the High Court itself which, when it gutted a central provision of the Voting Rights Act last year, promised there were other provisions still standing in the landmark VRA that could adequately be used to prevent discriminatory voting laws in all 50 states.
"Our decision in no way affects the permanent, nationwide ban on racial discrimination in voting found in [Section] 2" of the Voting Rights Act, the John Roberts Supreme Court majority declared at the time. Apparently they were just kidding.
As the plaintiffs in the case persuasively argued in a filing at the court on Friday, "If voters cannot be protected after findings --- including a finding of intentional racial discrimination --- and a permanent injunction in a case where there was a year of discovery, nine days of trial, and an exhaustive, comprehensive District Court opinion, then when will they be?"
The answer to that question came back from the Court in the form of a pre-dawn order [PDF] issued Saturday morning upholding the appellate court's ruling that, even though the law, SB 14, is discriminatory, as found by the lower court after a full trial on the merits, the Photo ID restrictions that are likely to disenfranchise some 600,000 legally registered and disproportionately minority voters in the Lone Star State will be back in effect for this November's mid-term elections.
The trial earlier this year, challenging the law under both the U.S. Constitution and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act --- the section that SCOTUS had previously announced was more than adequate to protect voters --- determined that the Texas law "creates an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote, has an impermissible discriminatory effect against Hispanics and African-Americans, and was imposed with an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose." U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos also found in her 147-page ruling, that "SB 14 constitutes an unconstitutional poll tax."
Texas had already required ID for every single polling place voter in the state from 2003 to 2013, and even though state Republicans' even more extreme version of Photo ID restrictions on voting instituted by SB 14 had already been found racially discriminatory by the U.S. Dept. of Justice and again by a U.S. District Court in D.C. based on data supplied by the state of Texas itself, and now, once again, found both discriminatory and unconstitutional by a U.S. District Court in Texas after a full trial, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an appellate court stay issued this week on the basis that the lower court's ruling came just too close to the election to change the rules at this point.
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeal had reasoned that it was better for all 600,000+ voters to face potential disenfranchisement under the racially-motivated law, rather than just a few who might face a poll worker that didn't receive adequate notice that the more restrictive ID law --- the one allowing concealed weapons permits, but not state-issued Student IDs, the one that doesn't even allow U.S. Government Veterans IDs as proof of identity for voting --- had been approved for use. It appears that a majority of Supreme Court Justices agreed.
Like the appellate court, the SCOTUS majority did not dispute any of the District Court's findings nor explain why those findings did not outweigh the "potential" disruption of the Lone Star State's electoral apparatus on the eve of an election. Its cursory order, however, leaves no room for doubt that the Court has expanded what is known as "the Purcell principle" so that, no matter how egregious the law in question, no matter the evidence establishing deliberate racial discrimination and widespread disenfranchisement, the Court will apply a per se rule that an injunction barring the illegal disenfranchisement of voters will be stayed if it is issued in close proximity to the start of an election.
While the SCOTUS majority failed to offer a written opinion to explain their decision to allow massive disenfranchisement in Texas this year, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing on behalf of herself and Justices Sotomayor and Kagan, provided a tightly written dissent offering documented facts and uncontested evidence to support her opinion that the Supreme Court should have vacated the 5th Circuit's last minute stay of the lower court ruling...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Rep. Paul Ryan backs away - sort of - from outright climate science denial; Have we reached peak climate change denial?; Turns out natural gas isn't a bridge fuel to a low-emissions future; PLUS: Did a U.S. defense contractor really invent a compact nuclear fusion reactor? Separating fact from fiction... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Appalachian transition: coalfield residents must help themselves to diversify; Green groups sue over EPA GMO pesticide approval; Hanford nuclear workers reveal shoddy practices; Fact and fiction on the Arctic methane bomb; Risks of cheap water; Los Angeles mayor orders water cuts of 20% amid historic drought; Can Africa bypass the pollution phase of development?; Russian natgas shutdown would not hurt Europe; Autism again linked to air pollution ... PLUS: In Wisconsin, Dark Money Got A Mining Company What It Wanted... and much, MUCH more! ...
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