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By Brad Friedman on 3/22/2012 6:33pm PT  

It's turns out that Republican Florida state Rep. Dennis Baxley is far more odious than we realized when, last December, we described him as, among other things, "reprehensible", "anti-American" and "democracy-hating".

It appears we were way too kind.

Baxley, it seems, was the chief, NRA-funded sponsor behind Florida's 2005 "Stand Your Ground" law --- better described as a "Right to Kill" law --- the first of many similar ALEC-templated bills to be passed by Republicans in states across the country, allowing for what opponents had warned at the time, would result in "racially motivated killings."

It was just such a racially motivated killing that appears to have resulted in the shooting death of unarmed 17-year old African-American Trayvon Martin, by George Zimmerman in a gated community in Sanford, FL late last month. Zimmerman, who has admitted to shooting Martin --- just minutes after he is heard on a 911 call whispering "fucking coons" and being told by the dispatcher to not follow Martin --- is still a free man today, and still in possession of his gun and [see CORRECTION note below] concealed weapon permit, thanks in no small part to Baxley's law.

What follows is brief coverage of Baxley from MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show last night, including clips of his advocacy for the bill back in 2005, when he argued that "this is gonna be a safer state" and "this bill will stop crime in its tracks". Then, after that, we'll remind you why, and what, we had written about this despicable creep last December...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 3/15/2012 2:05pm PT  

Just heard from Mike Malloy, who's a bit under the weather today, asking me to fill in on his nationally-syndicated Mike Malloy Show tonight. So, as I scramble to prep last minute, I'll leave you all to add the analysis and context for the following item from NPR last week, which was just brought to my attention just last night...

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People announced it will appear before the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva next week to seek support for its fight against voter identification laws enacted in U.S. states.

The civil rights organization says the laws are among several measures adopted by some states that violate the human and civil rights of minority voters by suppressing their participation in elections.

The NAACP and other groups also are fighting other election changes enacted by states, such as restrictions placed on third-party groups that register new voters and the reduction of early voting periods. Both measures traditionally have helped increase minority voter turnout.

The United Nations has no authority over American states, of course. And the international organization has often been pilloried by U.S. conservatives concerned about American deference to other nations.

But the NAACP is hoping to exert international pressure on states in the same way it did during the civil rights movement of the 1940s and 1950s, when the NAACP sought the U.N.'s support in combating Jim Crow laws and lynchings in the South.

"The power of the U.N. on state governments historically is to shame them and to put pressure on the U.S. government to bring them into line with global standards, best practices for democracy," NAACP President Benjamin Jealous told reporters Thursday. "There are plenty of examples — segregation of the U.S. to apartheid in South Africa to the death penalty here in the U.S. — of global outrage having an impact."

* * *

Very recently related stories at The BRAD BLOG...

3/13/12: VIDEO: Brad v. Wingnut Loon Seton Motley on GOP Photo ID Voter Suppression on Russian TV
3/12/12: DOJ REJECTS TEXAS GOP'S POLLING PLACE PHOTO ID RESTRICTION LAW
3/12/12: Second Injunction, This One Permanent, Issued Against WI GOP's Photo ID Restriction Law
3/9/12: VIDEO: Maddow's 'GOP War on Voting' Update - And an Important Error in Her Report on Ohio...
3/6/12: WI GOP'S PHOTO ID RESTRICTION LAW PLACED ON HOLD IN ADVANCE OF APRIL PRIMARY
3/6/12: Former U.S. Marine Turned Away From TN Poll For Refusing to Present Photo ID Under New GOP Law
3/3/12: DoJ Files Objection in Federal Court to FL's New Early Voting, Voter Registration Restrictions
2/29/12: New Federal Lawsuit Provides U.S. DoJ Golden Opportunity to Challenge Polling Place Photo ID Restrictions Under Section 2 of Voting Rights Act

* * *
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By Brad Friedman on 3/3/2012 3:12pm PT  

Late on Friday, the U.S. Dept. of Justice filed an objection in Washington D.C. federal court to new laws limiting voting and voter registration rights in the state of Florida. TPM's Ryan Reilly broke the news just before midnight last night.

The DoJ is said to be calling for a trial in the D.C. court, where the state of Florida had previously filed suit in order to avoid the federal "preclearance" process under the Voting Rights Process for its new restrictive election laws. The new laws institute harsh penalties for third-party voter registration organizations and individuals who fail to turn in new voter registration forms to elections officials within 48 hours of them being completed. The statute would also cut early voting hours nearly in half.

The new voter registration restrictions, passed by Republicans in the state following the 2010 election, has led groups like the non-partisan Florida League of Women Voters, which had been registering new voters in the state for some 70 years, to cancel their registration program citing stiff new penalties which, they say, put the organization and its registration workers at great legal risk. Both the Florida LWV and Rock the Vote, which focuses on voter registration for young voters, have previously filed their own lawsuit challenging the Constitutionality of the new voter registration laws in the state of Florida.

Over the past several months, a number of high-school teachers, incredibly enough, have been charged under the new law for registering their own students to vote. Last November, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow covered the topic in an interview with the Supervisor of Elections of Volusia County, FL, who, though she is a Republican, said she felt "sick to her stomach" after being forced to turn in one of those teachers to law enforcement officials.

On Thursday night, Comedy Central's The Colbert Report ran a somewhat more amusing, if equally disturbing, take on the issue, focusing on one of the teacher's snagged by Florida law enforcement for "voter registration fraud" under the draconian new restrictions...

Section 5 the Voting Rights Act (VRA), requires certain jurisdictions, including parts or all of 16 different states with a history of racial discrimination, to receive "preclearance" from the DoJ for all new election-related laws, or otherwise receive approval for the new laws from the federal district court in D.C. During the DoJ preclearance process for Florida's new laws, the agency requested more information about them from the state, which includes five difference "covered" counties. Instead of responding, Florida decided to avoid DoJ judgment all together by taking their case directly to the D.C. court instead.

According to TPM's Reilly, the DoJ stated in their filing in that same court last night...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 2/9/2012 4:23pm PT  

On Tuesday, we dismantled the latest absurd attempt by pretend journalist and real federal criminal James O'Keefe to demonstrate the rampant "voter fraud" that he and his Republican Party claim to be so pervasive in these United States so as to require polling place Photo ID restrictions guaranteed to prevent little, if any, voter fraud at all, while serving to deter hundreds of thousands of legal (disproportionately Democratic-leaning) voters from being able to even cast their legal vote on Election Day.

We noted that O'Keefe's silly new video purporting to show his proudly unnamed and unseen co-conspirators being told that no ID is necessary to register to vote via third party application is extraordinarily misleading at best, as it fails to note that all newly registered voters who failed to register in person are already required --- by federal law --- to show ID before voting at the polls for the first time. We did concede, however, that those O'Keefe's band of merry pranksters might fraudulently register could, potentially, go on to commit voter fraud via absentee ballot (if they wished to risk the high penalties of a felony). However, as we pointed out, the polling place Photo ID restrictions O'Keefe and his GOP friends are arguing for with his latest series of "Voter Fraud Investigation" silly propaganda videos, would do nothing to prevent absentee voter fraud.

It appears, however, in fact we may have given O'Keefe far too much credit in even conceding that much, as a followup article on our report elsewhere has since revealed.

Yesterday, Mediaite's Tommy Christopher cited our short-order dismantling of O'Keefe's latest ruse and that I had explained in the piece that I'm "currently on the road and don’t have enough time for [O'Keefe's] idiocy as is."

So Christopher did us the favor of picking up the ball at the point, humorously noting "so I generously made time for this idiocy, and found out that even O’Keefe’s absentee scenario is false"....

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

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This time, it's not what he shows you, but what he doesn't...
By Brad Friedman on 2/7/2012 4:47pm PT  

Convicted federal criminal James O'Keefe and his band of co-conspirators at his ironically named Project Veritas outfit have another new video in their "Voter Fraud Investigation" series out. So that means, naturally, they're misleading the public again.

This time, O'Keefe's video portends to show some of his courageous, unnamed and unseen cohorts at various voter registration centers in Minnesota, asking whether they can have voter registration forms to take home to "Thomas Brady" and "Timothy Tebow", so they can register them to vote. The unseen voices are heard asking the helpful public clerks whether ID is necessary for those folks to register to vote. They are told that ID is not necessary in order for them to submit registration forms.

You'll recall that with O'Keefe's previous video --- in which they committed polling place voter fraud during the New Hampshire primary in order to "prove" that polling place voter fraud exists in the Granite State, despite no more than, at best, two known incidents of it over the past decade in the entire state --- he claimed: "Unlike the establishment media, Project Veritas works to release full, unedited versions of its investigations and stories," before he then linked to a video purporting to be the "full, unedited version" of his New Hampshire "investigation" videos. What he linked to, however, wasn't the "full, unedited version" of those videos, as they failed to show, among other things, the (at least) one incident in which one of his partners was chased out of the polling place. In other words, O'Keefe lied. That's what he does.

So I don't know if he has released an "unedited" version this time or not. I'm currently on the road and don't have enough time for his idiocy as is, so I haven't checked to see if there's another version of this. But let's go ahead and presume, for the moment, that the following edited version accurately-ish represents what happened when he sent his people into Minnesota voter registration offices...

Okay. Now let's dismantle O'Keefe's latest horse shit...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 1/18/2012 10:58pm PT  

As of today, I'm happy to say, my show on Pacifica Radio's KPFK here in Los Angeles has been expanded to a full hour. We made pretty good use of all of those minutes today, thanks in no small part to Rick Santorum (of all people) raising the issue of felon voting rights at Monday's GOP Presidential Debate in South Carolina. (And one heck of a largely unnoticed Freudian slip by Mitt Romney on that topic!)

Joining me to discuss the issue and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD)'s proposed "Democracy Restoration Act" --- and the shameful state of 4 million American citizens disallowed from exercising their franchise, many of them even after they've served all of their time and have completed all probation and parole, just cause they happen to live in the wrong state --- was Deborah Vagins, Senior Legislative Counsel of the ACLU.

I was also joined by Desi Doyen for the latest Green News Report as well as today's breaking news on Obama's rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline scam.

Plus 1 million signatures for the recall of Gov. Scott Walker in WI, other news of the day and a bunch of callers to boot! Listen to the entire show, commercial-free, below. Enjoy!

Download MP3 or listen online below [appx 58 mins]...

* * *

P.S. As I don't always get the chance to post all of my KPFK shows here (which is now LIVE Wednesday's from 3p-4p PT) you can catch all of 'em by subscribing to the podcast feed here or via KPFK's archive page for the show here.

P.P.S. Anybody wanna submit a suggestion for a cool logo for "The BradCast"? Happy to crowd source ideas, especially since you all actually came up with that name for the KPFK show in the first place! If so, here's a photo or two that may, or may not, come in handy.

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By Brad Friedman on 12/9/2011 2:58pm PT  

Congrats to all voters of Ohio for successfully pushing back against the GOP's efforts to keep you from voting in next year's Presidential election! It's another win for democracy, and another loss for the Buckeye State's Republican Gov. John Kasich (following on the recent landslide loss of his anti-union bill at the polls last month.)

Today, Secretary of State John Husted (R), officially certified that opponents of HB194 --- the anti-voting bill that would have shortened early voting hours and imposed other big government restrictions on the exercise of the franchise in Ohio --- were successful in their effort to place the law on the ballot for a voter referendum in 2012. Thus, the act, passed by the GOP legislature and signed by Kasich earlier this year, is officially suspended for now.

As we noted in September, after opponents of the bill had turned in more than 300,000 for certification to the Sec. of State, ThinkProgress' Tonya Somander summarized the bill's restrictions on voting this way:

Doing his part in the GOP’s voter suppression campaign, Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) signed a sweeping elections reform bill into law on July 1. Along with allowing poll workers to refuse telling voters where they can vote, the new law shortens the state’s early voting period, bans in-person early voting on Sundays, and prohibits boards of election from mailing absentee ballot requests to voters. These regressive restrictions mean that four in 10 voters in Columbus, Ohio alone will have to find a new the time, place, or way to cast their ballots. In fact, according to the Columbus Dispatch, the ballots that nearly a quarter million Columbus voters cast in 2008 would be banned under the new law

According to Fair Elections Ohio's announcement of the official signature certifications this afternoon, opponents of the voter suppression law gathered "307,358 valid signatures, over 75,000 more than were needed."

"The voters are sending a message to the Ohio politicians and legislatures across the country, says FEO's Greg Moore, "voting rights restrictions will not be tolerated by the people."

The group's press release, issued this afternoon, follows in full below...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 12/9/2011 12:06pm PT  

I don't have time today to thoroughly debunk all the reprehensible, anti-democratic, anti-American horseshit hurled by this FL State Rep. Dennis Baxley --- the original sponsor of Florida's new voter suppression laws, limiting early voting hours and imposing new big government regulations and huge fines against voter registration workers --- as seen in the following interview on Al Sharpton's Politics Nation show on MSNBC this week.

Fortunately, most readers of The BRAD BLOG will be able to smell the bullshit of the smirking, democracy-hating Baxley a mile away even without my point-by-point rebuttal. So I'll just run the video here for now without much comment, as it needs to be seen to be believed.

Near the front of the interview, Baxley admits that there's been no voter fraud problem in FL, and by the end he's charging (without a stitch of evidence, naturally) that the non-partisan League of Women Voters, who have been registering voters in the Sunshine State for some 72 years --- but who have now canceled their registration program for 2012 thanks to the onerous new GOP restrictions and fines on registration workers --- is actually a partisan Democratic organization! Who knew?

My loathing towards those who knowingly undermine American democracy is difficult to contain. So consider my restraint today an undeserved favor to you this afternoon, Mr. Baxley.


Oh, and for good measure, here's some info on some Florida school teachers recently arrested and/or charged for registering students to vote in apparent violation of Baxley's new anti-voting laws!

One thing I'm happy to see this year at least: MSNBC has been covering the GOP War on Voting --- at least the front-end war, the part in which Republicans are trying to keep millions of legal voters from being able to cast their legal vote at all --- very well this cycle, on many of their shows. Hopefully they'll soon begin covering concerns about the accuracy and transparency of the vote count itself, at least the vote counts of those who find themselves able to cast a vote in 2012, in any case.

* * *

If you'd like more details on the above...Earlier on the same show, Deirdre Macnab, President of the non-partisan LWV Florida, explained to Sharpton why they've been forced to stop their registration program in Florida after 72 years. As they note on their web page where the interview is posted...

Under new laws, third parties who want to help register voters could face $5,000 fines, a third degree felony and up to 5 years in prison if they violate any of the broad provisions noted in the legal paperwork.

That much shorter interview follows below...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 11/13/2011 11:40am PT  


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

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By Brad Friedman on 11/8/2011 4:11pm PT  

Via The News Leader in Virginia...

Electricity problems in Chesterfield County did not keep voting machines from working, but in Henrico County, approximately 954 voters in 19 precincts were not listed in the pollbooks even though they were at the correct polling locations. Officials asked voters to complete provisional ballots.

I called Mark Coakley, General Registrar of Voters in Henrico County to get a few more details about what went wrong there...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 11/3/2011 3:40pm PT  

Meanwhile, the Republican War on Democracy continues apace.

Happily, Rachel Maddow brings us up to date on the latest in the GOP's out-and-out assault on voting and voting rights in states all over the country. The new laws passed by GOP-controlled legislatures in the wake of their 2010 electoral victories, are expected to have a wildly disproportionate disenfranchising affect on voters who tend to vote Democratic, and are likely to make voting much more difficult for some 5 million Americans, according to a new study from NYU's Brennan Center for Justice.

Apparently, Republicans must be convinced, for some reason, that they can't win elections in a fair fight. Wonder why.

Maddow's latest maddening update includes an interview with the Republican Supervisor of Elections in Volusia County, FL who was "sick to her stomach" after being forced to turn in a high school teacher to law enforcement for registering students to vote now that Florida has criminalized such activities. And, no, we're not exaggerating. That is the same new FL GOP law which has led the non-partisan League of Women Voters to cancel all voter registration in the state of Florida, after doing so for the past 72 years, because the potential penalties for doing so have simply become too onerous....


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By Brad Friedman on 9/30/2011 5:26pm PT  

Now THIS is what democracy looks like. Some really great news via Ian Millhiser at ThinkProgress...

Earlier this year, Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) signed a sweeping bill intended to make it harder to vote in his states’ elections. Kasich’s anti-voter law drastically cuts back on early voting and erects new barriers for absentee and even for election day voters. Today, however, opponents of Kasich’s war on voting will submit over 300,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office — well over the 231,000 signatures necessary to suspend the law until it can be challenged in a referendum in November of 2012. If enough of the signatures are deemed valid, the practical effect of this petition will be that Kasich’s law will not be in effect during the 2012 presidential elections when Republicans hoped the law would weaken President Obama’s efforts to turn out early voters who support his reelection.

Ohio's new law would have overturned many of the improvements instituted in the Buckeye State by former Sec. of State Jennifer Brunner (D) after she took over from the corrupt J. Kenneth Blackwell (R) and his abhorrent, um, administration of the 2004 Presidential election there.

ThinkProgress' Tanya Somanader summarizes some of the new law's appalling restrictions on voting like this...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 9/23/2011 5:41pm PT  

There are two important late Friday announcements from the newly revived, post-Bush Voting Unit at U.S. Dept. of Justice's Civil Rights Division this afternoon. In both cases, they've raised serious concerns about discrimination by Republican Presidential front-runner Rick Perry's Texas against Hispanic and African-American voters.

Given the Lone Star State's history of discrimination against racial minorities, new laws and regulations which relate to elections and voting must be pre-cleared by the Dept. of Justice before they can be put into effect, as per Section 5 of the federal Voting Rights Act.

In one finding, the DoJ sees purposeful discrimination against minorities in the state's redistricting plans [PDF] for apportioning both new statehouse districts, as well as four new U.S. House seats being added in the wake of the 2010 census. The new seats are being added due to an increase in the TX population, thanks in no small part, ironically enough, to huge growth in the state's Hispanic population. The DoJ finds the proposed statehouse plan violates Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, stating that it "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."

The TX plan for the U.S. House didn't fare much better (see below), with similar findings that minorities are likely to see a "retrogressive effect" in their ability "to elect their preferred candidates of choice to the United States House of Representatives" under Perry's approved scheme.

Moreover, in a letter that echoes questions recently sent by the DoJ to the state of South Carolina about their new polling place Photo ID restrictions, as The BRAD BLOG detailed earlier this month, the DoJ has a series of questions concerning Texas' new, very similar restrictions. As the law mirrors the one in South Carolina --- and in many of the other states where the GOP has been able to ram through similar voter suppression bills over the past year --- many of the questions from the DoJ to TX also ask about the their plans for notification about the law, and issuance of free IDs to the more than 600,000 otherwise-legally qualified voters who don't currently own state-issued ID that would meet the strict new requirements to cast a vote at the polls on Election Day.

In TX, the DoJ voting unit is curious about how many of those residents who don't have such IDs also happen to have Spanish surnames...

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

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By Ernest A. Canning on 9/23/2011 7:35am PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

A nearly two-hour hearing in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights earlier this month (full video available here), carefully examined the partisan, multi-state effort by the billionaire Koch brothers-funded, Paul Weyrich co-founded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-fueled GOP effort to enact new state voting laws across the country.

The coordinated, nationwide GOP voter suppression effort was aptly described by Judith Browne Dianis, a civil rights litigator at The Advancement Project, and a witness in the second three-member panel, as "the largest legislative effort to roll back voting rights since the post-Reconstruction era."

"Our country has not seen such widespread attempts to disenfranchise voters as we have seen this year in more than a century. Inclusive democracy is under attack," she testified, while Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) described the "brazen" GOP attempts to undermine the right to vote.

Subcommittee Chair and Senate Majority Whip, Dick Durbin (D-IL) broke the new state voting laws into three major categories, and the discussions of each are worth covering here over two different articles. In Part 1 here, we'll cover the first category: Polling place Photo ID laws restricting the ability of lawfully registered voters to cast their ballot on Election Day. The hearing produced several remarkable face-offs, including between Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and long-time GOP "voter fraud" front man Hans von Spakovsky (cue James Bond villain music), as detailed below.

In Part 2, we will cover the discussion of the other two categories at the hearing --- draconian new restrictions on voter registration, and laws which significantly reduce early voting periods --- plus a very troubling event that "reactionaries" have planned for the 2012 election, according to Dianis' testimony [UPDATE: Part 2 is now posted here]...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 8/31/2011 10:43pm PT  

I was joined today by The Nation's Ari Berman on my KPFK/Pacifica Radio show to discuss his new article today in Rolling Stone on "The GOP War on Voting". See my report on his article from earlier in the day right here.

This was an important discussion about an important article about one of the most important issues to directly effect the outcome of virtually every election in the nation in 2012. None of that, apparently, given what the rest of the MSM decided to cover today, is any where near as important as whether John Boehner will allow the President to speak to a joint session of Congress on Sept 7th or or whether it'll have to be on Sept 8th, and whether Christine O'Donnell or Sarah Palin will appear at a "Tea Party" event this weekend in Iowa.

And you wonder why we're in the mess we're in.

My conversation on "The GOP War on Voting" with Ari Berman today follows...

Download MP3 or listen online here [appx 27 mins]...

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