We’ve been telling you that voter registration issues are going to be important this year. Even voters who have been registered for years and who have voted in recent elections may find out, when they go to the polls in Nov., that they are not eligible to cast ballots. In our “Featured” article Kim Zetter of Wired News has done a great job in gathering information on voter registration data bases and presenting that information. It’s a scary story. Everyone needs to check to ensure they are still registered to vote and that the registration is correct. Do it now while there is still time to make corrections...
Despite last week's agreement by the Dept. of Veteran Affairs to follow federal law --- after months of pressure from vet groups, members of Congress, and the public --- and relent to allow voter registration drives on the department's federal facilities, The BRAD BLOG has learned that the department is continuing to block non-partisan groups access to our wounded warriors in order to sign up voters. With most voter registration deadlines for the general election just one month away, the continuing stonewall, in this case by the San Francisco VA, continues to outrage.
The non-partisan Veterans for Peace organization has now been forced to file an emergency motion with the court in order to gain access. They contacted us this morning with the following statement...
Preminger Seeks Enforcement of Court Mandate Against VA Interference with Voter Registration Drives
By Scott Rafferty, attorney | Press Release
PUBLISHED: September 15, 2008
WASHINGTON – On September 12, 2008, the San Francisco VA prohibited Veterans for Peace (“VFP”) from registering voters, even though a recent “directive” instructs local officials to “facilitate” nonpartisan groups who wish to register voters. VFP is 501(c)(3) humanitarian and educational organization. VA officials told VFP that their visit would be delayed for at least 12 days by an investigation into each visitors “political activities” and a tuberculosis test, which requires two medical appointments. This violates a February 2008 court mandate.
In February 2008, the Federal Circuit in Washington held that VA cannot impose special requirements on visitors because of the content of their message. The Federal Circuit ruled that the VA cannot use its rule against “unauthorized demonstrations” to interfere with voter registration unless there is physical “disturbance” that also offends “decorum and decency.”
Today’s emergency motion seeks to enforce that order.
"Having registered only 414 veterans nationwide, the VA needs all the help it can get," notes the press release from VFP, which continues in full below...
In today’s featured article the Brennan Center for Justice and the Advancement Project have reported that thousands of Florida voters may be disenfranchised by a last minute decision by the Secretary of State, Kurt Browning, to enforce a “no match, no vote” law. “No match, no vote” essentially says that if a voters name or information on their registration does not exactly match their name or information on their ID they cannot vote or they can vote a provisional ballot and take the same ID to the county election office after the election to prove they are who they say they are.
"This 11th-hour decision is an ill-advised move to apply a policy the state has never enforced in its current form, at a time when registration activity is at its highest," stated Beverlye Neal, director of the Florida State Conference of the NAACP, a plaintiff in a lawsuit that challenges Florida's matching law. "The Secretary's decision will put thousands of real Florida citizens at risk due to bureaucratic typos that under the 'no-match, no-vote' law will prevent them from voting this November," said Alvaro Fernandez of the Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project, another plaintiff in the case.
"Voters who do everything right, who submit forms that are complete, timely, and accurate, will suddenly find themselves unregistered when they go to vote, just because someone somewhere punched the wrong letter on a keyboard," said Myrna Pérez, counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice. "The no match, no vote policy is unjust and unnecessary, and Florida voters will pay the price this fall," stated Jean-Robert Lafortune, president of the Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition, another plaintiff in the lawsuit...
Several weeks ago at the UK's Guardian, I wrote about rightwing democracy-hater Paul Weyrich and his 1980 speech to 15,000 preachers in Dallas (with Ronald Reagan and Jerry Falwell also on the bill), in which he called for massive vote suppression. The comments, from one of the "Conservative" Movement's "founding fathers" and a Godfather of the Republicans' now-peaking, long-waged voter suppression scheme, are worth getting out there again and again --- particularly right now. The video of Weyrich's 1980 comments (:40 seconds) is at right and the text is below...
"Now many of our Christians have what I call the goo-goo syndrome - good government. They want everybody to vote. I don't want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people, they never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."
As mentioned previously, Weyrich continues as a regular consultant to the top-tier GOP power-brokers to this day, and last night the man who so eloquently elaborated the Republican Rosetta Stone of voter disenfranchisement was honored "for Life, Work and Service" at a D.C. shindig that raised "over $330,000...for the Free Congress Foundation."
"The highlight of the evening included an historic 21 gun salute video," a press release issued this afternoon (posted in full below) crows. That salute "included 30 of the country's top leaders such as author and columnist, George Will; national talk show host and author Hugh Hewitt, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R - KY), Former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich; Ken Blackwell, 2008 Vice-Chairman of the Republican Convention Platform Committee and Former Ohio Secretary of State; Marion Edwyn Harrison, Esq., Free Congress Foundation; Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum; Jerry Falwell, Jr., Liberty University; Rep. Edwin Meese, III,. Heritage Foundation and Former U.S. Attorney General; Dr. James Dobson, Focus on the Family; Don Wildmon, American Family Association, among many others."...
Though comments as seen in the video above ought to make this man a pariah to any democracy-loving American citizen, he continues to be anything but to the GOP movement which has mainstreamed this guy, and his loathing for American values, and turned him into a movement demigod...
Three recent stories have come to light about the Republican Party's latest and sometimes illegal efforts at voter disenfranchisement. Unfortunately, these three stories are only the very tip of an enormous iceberg.
Before we go into details, please, if you're registered to vote, check on the status of your registration NOW, before you get turned away from the polls this November. You can check your registration status here with our friends at VotersUnite.org. This is even more important if you are African-American, Hispanic/Latino, elderly, a college student, or low income; statistically and historically, Americans in those four categories are disenfranchised in greater numbers than any other segment of the American populace. PLEASE check on the status of your registration. This bears repeating: Check your registration status here.
And of course, if you're not registered to vote, what in the hell are you waiting for??
First, Michigan... We've learned from the Michigan Messenger that James Carabelli, the Republican Party commissioner for Macomb County, is "planning to use a list of foreclosed homes to block people from voting in the upcoming election as part of the state GOP's effort to challenge some voters on Election Day."
Carabelli, as quoted in the Messenger, says, "We will have a list of foreclosed homes and will make sure people aren't voting from those addresses."
But J. Gerald Hebert, a former voting rights litigator for the U.S. Justice Department and currently the Executive Director and Director of Litigation for Campaign Legal Center, says the practice is simply illegal...
After months of pressure from state election officials, voting rights groups, veteran’s organizations, members of the US Senate, and citizens, the Dept. of Veterans Affairs has decided that it will be alright for veterans who live in VA facilities or are patients in VA facilities to be visited by non-partisan folks who want to help them register to vote. Unfortunately this decision comes just a month from the voter registration deadlines in most states. Now those groups who have fought hard to get permission to register veterans need to go do the job.
Ohio is becoming a battle ground for voter registrations. Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner is going to battle against the state legislature over a law that was passed in 2006 that allows counties to remove voters from the rolls if election notices sent by the counties to the voters are returned for any reason. This is a violation of state law and federal law and the US Constitution according to her lawyers. Any voter removed from the rolls must be given due process. ...
As the youth and minority vote alone this year could make the difference in this year's Presidential election, the following chilling edict issued recently by the Registrar of Montgomery County, Virginia (home to Virginia Tech University), unfortunately comes as little surprise...and likely an omen as to what we'll be seeing much more of between her and November 4th...
The Code of Virginia states that a student must declare a legal residence in order to register. A legal residence can be either a student's permanent address from home or their current college residence. By making Montgomery County your permanent residence, you have declared your independence from your parents and can no longer be claimed as a dependent on their income tax filings --- check with your tax professional. If you have a scholarship attached to your former residence, you could lose this funding. And, if you change your registration to Montgomery County, Virginia Code requires you to change your driver's license and car registration to your present address within 30 days.
UPDATE 9/8/08:New York Times jumps into the furor on "the local registrar of elections [who] issued two releases incorrectly suggesting a range of dire possibilities for students who registered to vote at their college" and many other similar instances around the country.
Last night we offered the quick skinny on the abrupt resignation of Colorado's state Election Director, Holly Lowder, just 60 days out from what promises to be one of the largest and most important --- and potentially closest --- elections in the state's history.
We summarized some of the dizzying background on the exceptionally embarrassing and dysfunctional state of certification, decertification and recertification of e-voting systems in the Centennial State over the last two years, under current Sec. of State, Republican Mike Coffman (who is overseeing his own election for the U.S. House this November), and in previous years under two former Republican SoS' (one of whom was promoted by George W. Bush to do the same lousy job of e-vote testing for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission).
We also suggested, based on information from sources in the states, that the old euphemism about "election officials being in bed with voting vendors" may well become more than just a euphemism when the full explanation for Lowder's sudden departure became known.
And today, as we'd hinted last night, some of that information has now become known...
Just as I went off the grid late last week, this news came in, so some of you may be ahead of me on this one. In either case, it's still worth noting that GOP/DoJ vote suppressor, Hans von Spakovsky was secretly hired by Bush's bad joke of a "Commission on Civil Rights" to oversee the '08 elections, as reported by TPMMuckraker's Kate Klonick late last week.
While the story is mindblowing, it's not all together surprising given the CCR's embarrassing track record under Bush. See the amazing flashback video of the CCR's Peter Kirsanow testifying to Congress in 2007, as posted below after Klonick's lede, and everything will likely make "sense"...
A lot of voting zeitgeist in the media of late. What took ya so long, folks? Wanted to wait until it was largely too damned late to do anything about it? Same story. New year.
In any case, on the road to Denver right now, so time enough only to round up some of the most notable must-reads on everything from: The GOP "voter fraud" scam growing in intensity between here and November (a theme I'll also be discussing in my column for the UK's Guardian this week); Election officials finally acknowledging their machines don't work, but remaining unwilling to correctly place the blame or otherwise do much about it; Faint glimmers of actual improvement at the previously dreadful U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC); A bit of news from the "Rove Cybergate" election fraud case in OH, and; The one phrase you'll want to get very well familiar with between here and November 2 (hint: my name is in it, but it has nothing to do with me.)
In an article at Huffington Post, Paul Rieckhoff, the Executive Director of Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), has spoken out against the Bush Administration's ban on voter registration activities in our nation's Veterans Affairs facilities. Writes Rieckhoff:
The irony is almost too great. Disabled veterans, who have made such tremendous sacrifices in defense of democracy, are now being denied assistance in voting.
The VA is claiming that voter registration drives are partisan, and would interfere with the functioning of their facilities. But hundreds of nonpartisan organizations regularly participate in voter registration drives --- everyone from the League of Women Voters to the Elks Club. Helping people vote is a civic duty, not a partisan activity.
Readers of The BRAD BLOG will know, this is a very important issue for us and we thank Rieckhoff for adding his important voice to this most important of American issues.
Eric Shawn, on behalf of Fox "News," on behalf of the RNC, continued their disingenuous and misleading "voter fraud" series over the weekend. As usual, they highlight phony fears of Democratic "voter fraud," naturally, while noting that there are "increasing cases" at what "some consider an alarming rate."
Again, and predictably, they recycle the same old, previously debunked ACORN bullshit in the latest segment. Prepare to hear more of the same, always mentioning ACORN by name, non-stop between here and November.
Trouble is, there are a few important points that Fox seems to forget to note when they join the Republicans in their misleading swiftboat campaign against ACORN. And then there's that one, rather notorious case of voter fraud felony that, for some odd reason, they seem unwilling to discuss in their continuing "investigative reports"...
Voter registrations and voter registration data bases have been a huge problem during the primary elections. There is no reason to believe that they will not be a huge problem in November. One of the only ways to ensure a voter is registered is for that voter to check his or her registration. We recommend every voter check now and then check again just before the voter’s state registration closes before November. We urge voters who find themselves purged from the registration roles to write letters of complaint to their local Boards of Supervisors, especially their own representatives, with copies to their SoSs, their local newspaper Editors, and their congressional members. If those responsible for representing the citizenry start receiving such letters they might act to eliminate the cause. You can find out the date that your state is closing registration and whom to check with to ensure your registration is still HERE. You should also give 1-866-OUR-VOTE a call and report the incident to them They may be able to assist you on the legal side [See our Featured article]...
As we broke earlier this week, after previous snubs and threats of subpoenas, Ohio's disgracefully-partisan former Sec. of State J. Kenneth Blackwell was finally set to testify to the House Judiciary Committee today (as well as another legendary GOP vote suppressor, former FEC chair and DoJ Voting Rights Division gamer, Hans von Spakovsky.)
After a late start, and a then a blackout of the Judiciary Committee's webcast feed just after Blackwell began his opening statement ("Thank you Mr. Chairman..." and then suddenly the feed went out), things picked up again during the opening statement of GOP propagandist/attorney Cleta Mitchell who went on and on about the same old nonsense concerning "voter fraud" via voter registration applications submitted by ACORN, the GOP's old "voter fraud" strawman...
The U.S. House Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties will be holding a hearing this Thursday on "Lessons Learned from the 2004 Presidential Election."
Though no press release has yet been sent out by the Committee, and the link to the hearing's page at the Judiciary website is currently broken, The BRAD BLOG has both good news and bad news to report here.
The good news: Ohio's former Sec. of State J. Kenneth Blackwell has been invited to testify and has confirmed that he will actually show up this time, according to several Judiciary sources. Blackwell had previously snubbed the committee's earlier invitation to testify back in February about the myriad crimes that were committed on and by his watch in the 2004 Presidential Election.
Following his last refusal to appear --- when he responded to the committee claiming "my schedule will not permit me to attend the hearings" --- Judiciary Committee spokesperson Jonathon Godfrey hinted that a subpoena might be forthcoming if Blackwell continued to refuse to appear. This time, at least as of today, it looks like he's coming, according to confirmation by Godfrey this afternoon. Thus guaranteeing what should be a very lively hearing.
More good news: Shameless GOP "voter fraud" zealot and disgraced former FEC chair Hans Von Spakovsky will also be appearing. By invitation of the Republicans on the committee, amusingly enough. What were they thinking in inviting this embarrassment? Beats us, but we're happy to hear he'll be back on the Congressional hot seat. Thanks Repubs!