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Christie: GOP Governors Needs to Control 'Voting Mechanisms' in 2016
NJ Governor and 2016 Presidential hopeful offers interesting reason why Republicans in three key states need to win in 2014...
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GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


By Brad Friedman on 3/18/2012 12:01pm PT  

[Hat-tip @PoliticoRoger.]

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 3/15/2012 1:34pm PT  


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IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: War with China? Trade war, that is; March heatwave kills spring, brings early summer for US; Keystone XL pipeline more bad than good for the economy and the environment; PLUS: TV weatherman singlehandedly overturns the laws of physics ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Planet-saving, Nobel-winning ozone scientist passes; US, UK set to agree to emergency oil stocks release; Gulf Coast to get 80% of BP fines; Refiners Push EPA to scrap gas rule wanted by automakers; US solar grows to new record; 'Dark days' for coal; GOP 'playing politics' with wind credits; Water pollution from farming worsening ... PLUS: Will your city see record flooding in 2020? There's a map for that ... and much, MUCH more! ...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 3/13/2012 11:02am PT  


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IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Sen. Inhofe puts God before science; GOP puts Keystone lies before U.S. oil and jobs; Fukushima 1 year later; Room for improvement in the US nuclear industry; Wacky warm winter leads to wacky wet early spring; Fracking caused Ohio earthquakes; PLUS: Rick Santorum: anti-science before anti-science was cool ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): World water supply increasingly at risk; Greenland ice melt seen at lower temperatures; 3D solar panels to replace roof shingles?; Breakthrough: Salt-tolerant wheat; Carbon emissions threaten world's oceans & food supply; Mine owner charged in Crandall Canyon Mine Disaster; Planet-saving ozone layer scientist dies ... PLUS: VIDEO: James Hansen: Why I must speak out about climate change ... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Finds registered Hispanic voters anywhere from 46% to 120% more likely than non-Hispanics to lack state-issued ID needed to vote under the new law...
By Brad Friedman on 3/12/2012 8:02pm PT  

The good news for voters, of late, keeps coming --- at least against the title wave of GOP voter suppression laws instituted around the country by Republicans since taking over legislatures and executive branches in 2010.

In addition to last week's temporary injunction of the Wisconsin's GOP polling place Photo ID restriction, and today's permanent injunction of the same law by a second judge in a separate complaint (both judges found the law in strict violation of the state Constitution's ironclad guarantee of the right to vote), today also saw the U.S. Dept. of Justice blocking a similarly disenfranchising Photo ID restriction enacted last year by Texas Republicans.

Currently, according to data supplied to the DoJ by the state of TX, more than 600,000 legally registered voters do not possess the type of ID that would be required to vote under the law passed last year, as previously set to take effect before this year's Presidential Election.

But it is the discriminatory effect of the new law which led the DoJ to nix the new changes to TX' voting laws.

Finding that the state's own statistics reveal legally registered Hispanic voters will be disproportionately disenfranchised by the TX law --- by anywhere from 46% to 120% over non-Hispanics, depending upon which set of a data submitted by TX is used for the analysis --- the DoJ rejected the statute under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. That section of the federal law requires preclearance for new election laws in certain jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination. Texas is one of those covered jurisdiction.

Today, the DoJ objected to the new law after determining that the state had not met it's "burden of showing that a submitted change [to an election law] has neither a discriminatory purpose nor a discriminatory effect"...

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Republicans also face setback on similarly disenfranchising law in TX, as DoJ files Voting Rights Act objection...
By Brad Friedman on 3/12/2012 4:04pm PT  

In an unambiguous finding stating that "the legislature and governor have exceeded their constitutional authority" and that "voter fraud is no more poisonous to our democracy than voter suppression," a second Dane County Circuit court in less than a week, has determined that the Wisconsin GOP's polling place Photo ID restriction on voters is in strict violation of the state Constitution.

Today, in his 12-page ruling on the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess found that "Act 23," the new law which strips voters of their right to vote unless they are able to produce a state-issued Photo ID at the polling place violates the WI Constitution's Article III which guarantees the right to vote to all state residents who are 18 and over (Section 1) other than in cases where the legislature may place restrictions on convicted felons and those adjudicated to be incompetent (Section 2).

Niess has issued a permanent injunction on the law today, in a complaint filed last October by the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin arguing that legally registered voters would be unconstitutionally barred from exercising their guaranteed right to vote under the Republican's new restrictive law.

"The motion documents reveal no disputed issue of material fact requiring further evidentiary proceedings. [The plaintiffs] present a purely legal issue ripe for decision," Niess declared in his ruling, stating that Article III of the state Constitution "is unambiguous, and means exactly what it says."

Last week, in response to a complaint filed the Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP, another Dane County Circuit Court Judge, Richard Flanagan, also ruled "Act 23" to be unconstitutional on a similar basis. He had issued a temporary injunction on the law in that case, in advance of the state's April primary elections. A trial is currently scheduled to begin on that complaint next month.

In response to both rulings now, the Republican State Attorney General has vowed to appeal, though both his legal and political basis for doing so may be quickly fading with today's second, nearly-identical finding from a second court.

There are also two complaints pending on a federal basis against the same Republican law in Wisconsin. In none of them has the GOP so far been able to demonstrate a case of voter fraud which might have been prevented by the new law. On the other hand, opponents have detailed a mountain of fact-based evidence demonstrating that otherwise legal voters will ultimately be disenfranchised if the law is allowed to take full effect in advance of this year's Presidential election, and as the state gears up for a new round of recall elections meant to unseat the very Republicans responsible for creating the state's new barrier to voting...

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The Wisconsin Governor's creation of a 'legal defense fund' suggests as much...
By Ernest A. Canning on 3/11/2012 9:13pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

Wisconsin's embattled Governor Scott Walker (R) will almost certainly face a recall election soon, but he is not - repeat - not a target of an ongoing criminal investigation in Milwaukee County...even though last month he hired two criminal defense attorneys to represent him and, on Friday, he announced the creation of an official legal defense fund, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Daniel Bice.

The no-uncertain-terms denial about his status in the criminal probe comes from Walker spokeswoman Ciara Matthews who took pains to note on Friday, as the creation of his legal defense fund was announced: "We reiterate that Gov. Walker has been told that he is not a target of this investigation."

On the other hand, state law only allows for such funds to be created under certain circumstances. Bice notes that according to the state's Government Accountability Board [PDF], "Wisconsin Statutes permit a state government official who is being investigated for or charged with a violation of campaign finance laws or prohibited election practices to establish a 'legal defense fund' for expenditures supporting or defending the candidate while that person is being investigated for, or charged with, or convicted of a violation of those chapters."

So who is telling the truth? There's at least one person who may have an inside track to the Milwaukee prosecutors' long-time investigation, in which four top officials of Walker's have already been snagged, and that insider suggests Walker is likely in trouble...

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By Brad Friedman on 3/9/2012 1:33pm PT  

Last night, Rachel Maddow ran an update on the GOP War on Voting. Her report included a number of items we've covered here recently --- such as the protest by former U.S. Marine Tim Thompson who refused to show a Photo ID when trying to vote under TN's new voter suppression law on Tuesday, the Wisconsin court ruling temporarily blocking the state's Photo ID restrictions after finding it likely violates the WI Constitution's "right to vote" clause.

Here's Maddow's full report...


Maddow also covers several stories that we haven't been able to cover at The BRAD BLOG yet. Among them, the new Photo ID restriction law that was passed yesterday in the Pennsylvania Senate and is likely to become law, if not stopped somehow, this November. As Pennsylvania is not one of the "covered jurisdictions" subject to preclearance of new election laws by Section 5 of the federal Voting Rights Act, it would be another excellent candidate, like the one in Wisconsin, for challenge by the DoJ under Section 2 of that act, as our own legal analyst Ernie Canning persuasively argued recently.

Another story in Maddow's otherwise excellent report, however, is the one about the 86-year old WWII Vet in Ohio who was unable to vote on a normal ballot Tuesday, because his Veteran's ID didn't have his address on it. According to the The Plain Dealer's coverage:

“My beef is that I had to pay a driver to take me up there because I don’t walk so well and have to use this cane and now I can’t even vote,” said Paul Carroll, 86, who has lived in Aurora nearly 40 years, running his own business, Carroll Tire, until 1975.

“I had to stop driving, but I got the photo ID from the Veterans Affairs instead, just a month or so ago. You would think that would count for something. I went to war for this country, but now I can’t vote in this country.”

It's a horrible story, but on this one, Maddow appears to have been in slight error in her coverage...

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By Desi Doyen on 3/8/2012 2:33pm PT  


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IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Obama fires back at GOP over rising gas prices; Incredible rightwing hypocrisy on pain at the pump; Newt's hypocrisy on algae biofuels (Thanks, videotape from 2008!); PLUS: Abandoning Kiribati: the world's first climate change refugees ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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Judge issues temporary injunction; Describes law as 'unconstitutional,' 'restrictive,' 'extremely broad and largely needless'...
By Brad Friedman on 3/6/2012 7:50pm PT  

Great news for voters today in Wisconsin, via Project Vote...

Wisconsin voters will not need to show ID to vote in the April 3 primary and local general election, thanks to a Dane County judge who granted a temporary injunction against the new law today.

Circuit Judge David Flanagan called the voter ID measure “the single most restrictive voter eligibility law” in the nation, according to the Associated Press.

“The NAACP’s Milwaukee branch and immigration rights group Voces de la Frontera sued over the law last year. A trial on whether to grant a permanent injunction is scheduled for April 16,” AP reports.

The groups asserted that more than 220,000 eligible voters would be unable to prove identity to vote under the new law.

“The scope of the impairment has been shown to be serious, extremely broad and largely needless,” Flanagan wrote in his court order. “There is no doubt that the plaintiffs have shown a very substantial likelihood of success on the merits.”

The state is expected to appeal the decision.

“It’s a solid victory for voting rights and all voters in the state of Wisconsin,” said Richard Saks, attorney for the NAACP. “It’s a win for the hundreds of thousands who have difficulty or find it impossible to get voter ID under Act. 23,” Saks said.

In granting the temporary injunction, Flanagan's 11-page order [PDF] "concludes that the plaintiffs have demonstrated the probability of success as well as the likelihood of irreperable harm," in their original complaint which is set for trial beginning next month. The case, Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP v. Scott Walker, is based solely on the argument that Act 23 is in violation of the WI state constitution. Flanagan's ruling is grounded in a fundamentally conservative interpretation of the state constitution's guaranteed right to vote, and on historic precendents where the state Supreme Court has decided in favor of that right over legislative laws affecting that right to the disadvantage of the voter.

Today's ruling is the first judicial blow against the vote suppressing law passed by Republicans in the wake of their 2010 electoral victory in the Badger State. There are now at least four different legal complaints filed against Wisconsin's Act 23 challenging both the state and federal Constitutionality of the law. The most recent suit was filed late last month, and detailed by our own Ernest Canning who also calls for the U.S. Dept. of Justice to intervene in the case in order to enforce Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act in Wisconsin, on the basis of racial discrimination.

Late last year the ACLU filed a 54-page federal class action complaint on behalf of some 17 named plaintiffs, including elderly, student, minority and even veteran voters, all of whom may otherwise be unable to cast their once-legal vote under the state's new law passed by its GOP legislature and signed into law by Republican Gov. Scott Walker in 2011.

The lead plaintiff in that case, 86-year old Ruthelle Frank, is disabled and was born at home. She never had a birth certificate. Though she's been legally voting in every election since 1948 and is an elected member of the Brokaw Village Board, she may have to pay more than $200 in order to have a birth certificate created and typos in her name, as recorded by the state registrar, corrected before she can receive the "free" state-issued Photo ID that would allow her to vote under the new law.

Even younger, more able-bodied voters have had problems jumping through some of the hoops required to obtain a so-called "free" ID in Wisconsin, as documented on video tape last summer by a woman attempting to help her son obtain one from the state DMV.

In a small primary in the state late last month, the first full implementation of the statute, a number of voters were reportedly denied their right to vote --- at polling places where they had legally voted for years prior --- after they were unable to present Photo ID which met the state's new draconian restrictions. For now, at least for the upcoming April primary in Wisconsin, those restrictions will mercifully be on hold.

* * *

UPDATE: Flanagan's ruling was extremely powerful and likely very difficult to rebut, short of an out-and-out activist ruling by the Right-leaning state Supreme Court. (They've done it before, so I wouldn't put it past them.) I've posted a few additional snippets from Flanagan's must-read decision in comments below. Our legal analyst Ernest Canning, who has been closely covering the WI challenges to Act 23, has also now rung in with a few more thoughts on Flanagan's decision there as well.

* * *
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By Desi Doyen on 3/6/2012 2:14pm PT  


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IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Iran war talk jacks up US gas prices... while Republicans cheer; VA Supreme Court smacks down climate change denier witch hunt; Meet the 'new normal' for tornado season; PLUS: 2 years after disaster: BP settles with Gulf coast plaintiffs...and gets off pretty easy, so far... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Conservative economist slams deniers: Conservative economist Nordhaus slams skeptics: 'Cost of delay is $4 trillion'; MIT: making solar power competitive with coal; This Week gets it wrong on gas prices; Limbaugh attacks help put Chevy Volt workers out of a job; CO uranium mine poisons creek; A big fracking bubble: the scam behind the gas boom; Arctic ice melt changing climate system; Japan leaders feared "devil's chain reaction" ... PLUS: Science: Ocean acidifying so fast it threatens humanity’s food supply ... and much, MUCH more! ...

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'I took the oath to prevent these kinds of laws'...
By Brad Friedman on 3/6/2012 11:48am PT  

55-year old former U.S. Marine Tim Thompson was turned away from the polls today, Super Tuesday 2012, in the state of Tennessee, after refusing to present a photo ID before voting, as required by a new law recently passed by Republicans.

Thompson was documented by videographers attempting to cast his vote under the new polling place Photo ID restrictions instituted by TN's Republican-majority legislature and signed into law last year by the state's Republican Gov. Bill Haslam.

The former Lance Corporal, who left the service in 1978, has lived in Nashville since 2004 when he first cast his vote at the same precinct where he was turned away today. In an act of protest, planned in advance and video-taped by a number of media outlets, Thompson refused to show any more than the voter registration card he has previously used for voting in the state.

Video of the confrontation that ensued is posted below.

"This is my voter registration card," Thompson said as he challenged the poll supervisor. "I've used this for 37 years. This was good enough for my father. This was good enough for my grandfather, and I refuse to show you a picture ID"...

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

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By Ernest A. Canning on 3/5/2012 4:16pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

"When you let university administrators or other employers rather than women and their doctors dictate whose medical needs are legitimate and whose are not, a woman’s health takes a back seat to a bureaucracy focused on policing her body." - Georgetown Univ. Law Student, Sandra Fluke

One unfortunate aspect of the firestorm surrounding Rush Limbaugh's profoundly uninformed, deceptive and misogynistic vitriol and calls for accountability for the Rightwing radio blowhard, is that it has completely overshadowed the substance of Fluke's testimony on the importance of access to prescription contraceptives to women's health.

The Limbaugh firestorm has also overshadowed the fact that the American Taliban (aka the elected Tea Party House Republicans) prevented Fluke from testifying at a House Oversight Committee hearing, framed by the Republican majority as a hearing on "religious freedom", because, as the Washington Post described, "she was not a member of the clergy."

Indeed, while much is made of the fact that the first panel at the 2/16/12 House Oversight Committee examining an issue vital to women's health was all-male, few have taken note that it was also all-clergy. In opening the hearing, Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) announced: "Today, the committee will hear testimony from leaders of different faiths."

Not only did the right-wing GOP House leaders fail to so much as recognize Fluke's right to be heard, but, according to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (see video embedded in above-linked Washington Post article), they also refused to permit House Democrats to use the House Recording Studio as part of an effort to try and prevent the public from seeing and hearing Fluke's testimony at all. Instead, Pelosi and the Democrats of the Democratic Steering Committee were forced to hold a separate, unofficial "forum", in order to hear Fluke's testimony.

The video of Fluke's opening statement, the testimony that Republicans sought to prevent from being heard at all, is now posted below.

But it is the larger, arguably more disturbing constitutional ramifications of the actions of House Republicans that we'd like to take a moment to highlight on, as they have been almost entirely overlooked in this unnecessary brouhaha...

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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 3/2/2012 11:52am PT  

I can't tell you how bored I am with the current, endless, ridiculous, if occasionally hilarious, GOP nomination process. Oops, I just did.

So with that, I'll note here that I've been predicting for months --- long before anybody seemed to be mentioning it (as I now hear it more and more each day), and when I was even ridiculed for the suggestion --- that there was a better than 50% chance we'd see a brokered GOP convention in Tampa this August. I have long been further suggesting that there was also a better than 50% chance that the ultimate nominee would be someone other than the 10 or so lead candidates running at the time of my original prediction.

I see no reason to modify any of those fairly conservative and, I think, pretty reasonable, predictions now. But let's see what you guys think. We can look back at your thoughts once the convention rolls around...

WHAT WILL OCCUR AT THE 2012 GOP CONVENTION?
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By Desi Doyen on 3/1/2012 2:34pm PT  


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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): 'Hockey-stick' author's counterstrike in the climate wars; FEMA Admin: ‘We need to forcefully communicate the risk we face’; Billionaire Koch's accuse Obama campaign of intimidation; Arctic ice cap melting faster; $5 a gallon gas?; Shell's pre-emptive strike against enviro groups ... PLUS: How to feed 7 billion of us without ruining the planet ... and much, MUCH more! ...

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