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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, September 1, 2014
Erick Erickson's Global Warming Denialist Tantrum
Latest barometer of denialist desperation: The rightwing 'thought leader', as usual, is wrong on the facts and science, so he's just taking his ball and going home...
Video Captures GA Family Disowning, Assaulting 20-Year Old Gay Son
But there is a "happy" ending, of sorts, to this heartbreaking and disturbing story...
'Green News Report' 8/28/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
BP refinery explodes. Again.; UN report warns of 'irreversible' warming; Fines for oil, chem spills; 22% of world elec. is now green; PLUS: People's Climate March coming to NYC...
Previous GNRs: 8/26/14 - 8/21/14 - Archives...
Faking the Ferguson Docs:
KPFK 'BradCast'
Brad interviews open records advocate Charlie Grapski on his evidence that Ferguson and St. Louis County police are illegally withholding evidence in the killing of Michael Brown; Plus MUCH more...
Records Requests Suggest Ferguson, St. Louis County Police Involved in Cover-Up
How else to explain the missing details and required documentation of Officer Darren Wilson's killing of Michael Brown?...
'Green News Report' 8/26/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Napa earthquake is a warning for CA's nuke plants; Another coal plant bites the dust; Cutting emissions will save $$$; PLUS: Fighting drought with a 'salmon cannon'...Yep...
Previous GNRs: 8/21/14 - 8/19/14 - Archives...
Siegelman Judge, Arrested For Beating His Wife, May Avoid Prosecution Altogether
U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller checks in for 'treatment', may be able to duck prosecution...
Our Story So Far: The WI GOP Photo ID Voting Restrictions
Trouble keeping up with all the court cases barring, then allowing, then barring GOP Photo ID voting restrictions in WI? We'll catch you up quickly...
Obama Orders Review of Police Militarization Program
In response to bi-partisan calls for reform and disturbing display by militarized local police in Ferguson, MO, the President takes aim at controversial Pentagon program...
Ryan Dismisses Elderly Voter's Question About His Medicare Cuts
2012 GOP Veep nom and 2016 hopeful 'charms' elderly voters in FL, by ignoring them...
Perry Tells NH Businessmen His Felony Indictment Was for a 'Bribery' Charge
Is this another 'oops' moment from the Repub TX Governor and 2016 hopeful? Or something else entirely?...
'Green News Report' 8/21/14
Too much rain in AZ desert; Another toxic spill in Ohio River; Solar breakthrough; Wind energy prices hit all-time low; PLUS: Auto-magically cleaning up Baltimore Harbor...
Rep. Hank Johnson on Ferguson and Demilitarizing the Police: KPFK 'BradCast'
The Democratic U.S. Congressman from Georgia's 4th district joins Bradto discuss his new bill...
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...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

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

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

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

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

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

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


5-4 ruling by GOP Justices overrides Congress, Constitution, guts key provision of bi-partisan, 48-year old civil rights law...
By Brad Friedman on 6/25/2013 2:00pm PT  

In a remarkable display of judicial overreach, activism and legislating from the bench, the five Republican-appointed U.S. Supreme Court Justices, in a narrow 5-4 ruling today [PDF] have, in the words of dissenting Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, "demolished" the center-piece of the nation's beloved 48-year old Voting Rights Act, ignored the court's own repeated rulings, overridden a repeated and unambiguous mandate by the U.S. Congress (most recently, as led by two Republican chambers and signed by a Republican President), and made an absolute joke of the no-uncertain-terms directive of the U.S. Constitution's 15th Amendment.

In short, the nature of today's SCOTUS ruling, effectively gutting the central provision of what is arguably the most important Constitutionally-mandated and successful civil rights legislation in the nation's history, encompasses everything that the Republican Party has, in recent years, pretended to abhor when it comes to the judiciary --- everything, that is, but the partisan politics of its historic reach...

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

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Like 'ObamaCare', marriage equality may prevail at SCOTUS despite, rather than because of, Obama Administration's arguments...
By Ernest A. Canning on 3/30/2013 8:35am PT  

On paper, Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., who was appointed by President Barack Obama to replace now Supreme Court Justice Elana Kagan as the U.S. Solicitor General, appears to be an experienced litigator with a distinguished background.

It is a background that includes having served as a law clerk for former U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, Jr. and having participated in over 100 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. However, Verrilli's participation in Supreme Court oral arguments --- earlier with respect to the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or "ObamaCare") and, recently, in the challenge to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, as well as U.S. v. Windsor, with respect to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and in Hollingsworth v. Perry pertaining to California's Proposition 8 --- raises some disturbing questions.

Either Verrilli lacks the professional competence to assume primary responsibility for supervising and conducting litigation on behalf of the U.S. Government before the Supreme Court, or Verrilli, and the Obama administration, are so politically fearful of staking out principled positions that they have opted for a muddled middle ground. Perhaps it's a little of both.

Regardless, if the Windsor and Hollingsworth cases should establish a constitutional right of same-sex couples to marry, as urged by attorneys Ted Olson (R) and David Boies (D) in their Prop 8 Supreme Court brief [PDF], it will be despite the half-baked arguments presented by the Solicitor General, not because of them...

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

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Eugene Iredale discusses Juan Carlos Vera's settlement 'victory'; PLUS: Scalia's Voting Right Act hypocrisy and more...
By Brad Friedman on 3/13/2013 9:05pm PT  

Today on my KPFK/Pacifica Radio show --- after breaking the news about the newly elected Pope --- I interviewed Eugene Iredale, attorney of the former San Diego ACORN worker Juan Carlos Vera who received a $100,000 settlement from Rightwing con-artist James O'Keefe last week. (Vera also received $50,000 from O'Keefe's former partner Hannah Giles in a separate settlement last summer.)

Vera's California Invasion of Privacy Act lawsuit, filed in 2010, stemmed from O'Keefe and Giles' surreptitious wiretapping of a "confidential" conversation with Vera. The conversation (during which Vera played along to learn about the duo's pretend plot to smuggle underage prostitutes into the country, so he could turn them in to law enforcement) was then deceptively edited for misleading use in the infamous ACORN "pimp" hoax tapes published by Andrew Breitbart and blatantly misreported by New York Times, et al.

Iredale discussed O'Keefe's illegalities at the center of the suit; why other ACORN workers hadn't similarly sued the three con-artists; why Breitbart was not included in Vera's suit; why he didn't also sue for defamation; whether these settlements can be seen as a "victory"; and much more.

In the second part of today's BradCast, I offered my opinion ranted a bit on Justice Antonin Scalia's obnoxious, not-conservative, not-constitutionalist, activist attempt to legislate from the bench on the landmark Voting Rights Act during a recent Supreme Court hearing on the Act's important and ground-breaking Section 5 provision...

Download MP3 or listen online below...

P.S. I invited O'Keefe to join today's show to offer his side of the story (live and not deceptively edited), but last night he seems to have decided he didn't "have the guts" to show up.

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Please support The BRAD BLOG's fiercely independent, award-winning coverage of your electoral system, as available from no other media outlet in the nation --- now in our TENTH YEAR! --- with a donation to help us keep going (Snail mail, more options here). If you like, we'll send you some great, award-winning election integrity documentary films in return! Details right here...

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By Brad Friedman on 3/1/2013 6:05am PT  

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's obnoxious remark Wednesday about the Voting Rights Act as a "perpetuation of racial entitlement" wasn't the half of it.

Scalia is often held up by self-described "conservatives" as a model jurist, setting the standard for the type of "strict constructionism" or "originalist" interpretation of the Constitution that Republicans would like to see more of on the bench.

Jurists like Scalia, the pretend argument goes, are the antidote to those "liberal activist judges" who don't appreciate the limited authority of the judicial branch and who abuse their position in order to usurp the power of the executive and/or legislative branches by --- gasp! --- "legislating from the bench!"

Wednesday's shameful display by Scalia, however, during the Shelby v. Holder hearing at the U.S. Supreme Court, on whether or not Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) ought to be discontinued, should serve to put the bald hypocrisy of that entire Republican myth to bed for good. The Supreme Court Justice beloved by the hard right demonstrated exactly why that hard right loves him --- and it has nothing to do with "conservatism" or "judicial restraint" or "strict constructionism" or any of those other absurd partisan talking points bandied about in regard to Scalia...

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

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UPDATED with one, very small, ray of light...
[Now also UPDATED to include full transcript of hearing]
By Brad Friedman on 2/27/2013 10:58am PT  

Early word on what happened today during the U.S. Supreme Court's hearing on the crucial Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County, AL v. Eric Holder is not encouraging. This could come to be seen as a very dark day for voting rights in this country, as a landmark provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act may be on the verge of being dismantled and, arguably, a half a decade of civil rights advancements along with it.

Late last night we detailed what's at stake and how the activist Supremes are likely to intercede in what is clearly a Congressional duty, as specifically ascribed to them in the 15th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. That, despite a stunning 98 to 0 vote in the U.S. Senate to re-authorize the VRA for another 25 years as is, after 21 hearings and some 15,000 pages of documentation on the continuing blight of racial discrimination, as recently as 2006.

While it's always a perilous exercise to try and read the tea leaves from a SCOTUS hearing, The Nation's Ari Berman, who was present in the court room this morning, Tweets, disturbingly today: "In oral argument, Scalia likened Congressional support for Voting Rights Act to a 'perpetuation of racial entitlement'". He went on to indicate his "quick reaction" to the hearing was that, that while the five Republican Justices are "skeptical of Sec 5," there is a "small chance Kennedy can still be persuaded." He notes, that, incredibly, "Voter suppression attempts in [the] last election didn't even come up during SCOTUS arguments about Voting Rights Act".

Because the Supreme Court still operates in the 1800s, there was no live audio or video of today's hearing. The transcript, however, should be made available later today [Update: transcript is now linked at the bottom of this article] and audio will be made available on Friday.

For now, NBC reports today's hearings this way:

Central parts of an election law dating back to the civil rights struggles of the 1960s, the Voting Rights Act, appeared to be in jeopardy Wednesday after the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a challenge to them.

NBC’s Pete Williams reported after the oral argument, "I think it’s a safe prediction to say that the Voting Rights Act, as it now stands, is not going to survive. The question is: how far will the Supreme Court go in striking parts of it down?"

Williams said what seemed to concern a majority of the justices was "the fact that the law is too backward looking."
...
Williams reported that during the one hour-and-15 minute oral argument, Justice Anthony Kennedy said that the post-World War II Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe "was a good thing at one time, but times change."

New York Times' Adam Liptak described today's hearing in more, if similarly disturbing detail this way...

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

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'Shelby v. Holder', to be heard on Wednesday, could turn back decades of civil rights advancements...
[UPDATED at bottom with disturbing word out of today's hearing]
By Brad Friedman on 2/26/2013 8:51pm PT  

The first section of the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1870 after the Civil War and the abolition of slavery, reads simply: "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."

The second, and final section of the 15th Amendment, is even shorter: "The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."

Congress is charged with determining the "appropriate legislation" to assure that voters are not discriminated against on the basis of race. And, though it took almost another 100 years after the ratification of the 15th Amendment to do so, the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 was passed to help ensure exactly that.

In 2006, in continuing its duty to uphold the Constitution, after 21 Congressional hearings, including testimony that amounted to some 15,000 pages of evidence, the VRA was re-authorized for another 25 years by an astounding 98 to 0 margin in the U.S. Senate and a nearly-as-impressive 390 to 33 in the U.S. House.

"There was a lot of invidious discrimination shown," says Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), who chaired the U.S. House Judiciary Committee at the time. He characterized the hearings, which closely examined the extent to which racial discrimination still affects minority voters, as "one of the most extensive considerations of any piece of legislation that the United States Congress has dealt with in the twenty-seven and a half years that I have [served]."

That year's VRA re-authorization was signed into law by Republican George W. Bush. The law's three other federal re-authorizations (in 1970, 1975 and 1982) were also signed into law by Republican Presidents.

One of the most successful, and universally respected pieces of bi-partisan legislation in our nation's history, however, is now coming under serious attack from Republicans and a group of billionaire funders in the years following its last re-authorization. Since that year, an unprecedented number of challenges against the VRA --- specifically its Section 5, which applies to some 16 different jurisdictions with a long history of racial discrimination --- have been filed in the court system, at the same time that a tidal wave of voter suppression laws have been passed by GOP legislatures across the country, most notably, in many of the jurisdictions covered by Section 5.

A challenge to that section of the VRA, which served to block a number of new restrictions on voting and voter registration during the run-up to the 2012 election, will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, and the outlook for the crucial protections that Section 5 has offered for decades are now potentially in very grave danger of being struck down entirely...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 2/19/2013 10:41am PT  

I was on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture last night to discuss the latest proposed GOP scheme, this one out of Pennsylvania, to rig the Electoral College to their advantage...

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Please support The BRAD BLOG's fiercely independent, award-winning coverage of your electoral system, as available from no other media outlet in the nation --- now in our TENTH YEAR! --- with a donation to help us keep going (Snail mail, more options here). If you like, we'll send you some great, award-winning election integrity documentary films in return! Details right here...

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By Brad Friedman on 2/13/2013 9:56pm PT  

On today's KPFK/Pacifica Radio BradCast we covered the State of the Union Address last night, with extended focus on the President's call for election form and his new "Presidential Commission on Election Administration" [PDF], to be questionably co-chaired by Swift Boat GOP attorney Ben Ginsberg. As we noted yesterday, color us dubious about all of that.

My guest in the first half-hour was Marcia Johnson-Blanco, Co-Director of the Voting Rights Project at the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and we also discussed their recent report on "Our Broken Voting Systems And How to Repair It", as well as the upcoming February 27th U.S. Supreme Court hearing in Shelby County v. Holder, challenging the Constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act's Section 5 protection of jurisdictions with a history of discrimination at the voting booth.

Suffice to say, she was more optimistic about all of the above than I was.

In most of the second half of the show, we focused on the many environmental issues raised in Obama's State of the Union with the Green News Report's Desi Doyen. I'm not sure who was more (or less) optimistic in that half of the show.

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

* * *
Please support The BRAD BLOG's fiercely independent, award-winning coverage of your electoral system, as available from no other media outlet in the nation --- now in our TENTH YEAR! --- with a donation to help us keep going (Snail mail, more options here). If you like, we'll send you some great, award-winning election integrity documentary films in return! Details right here...

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By Brad Friedman on 1/30/2013 7:05am PT  

Yesterday, a Virginia State Senate committee killed a GOP plan to completely revamp the state's "winner-take-all" electoral vote system despite a last minute change to the bill by its sponsor in hopes of making it more palatable. The original scheme would have awarded electoral votes by Congressional district instead of "winner-take-all". Had that plan been in place in 2012, Mitt Romney would have been awarded 9 electoral votes to Obama's 4, despite the President winning the popular vote in the state by some 150,000 votes and being awarded all 13 of the VA's electoral votes.

The bill's author, Republican Sen. Charles W. "Bill" Carrico, tweaked the bill at the last minute, so that electoral votes would be awarded proportionally, based on the popular vote, rather than by Congressional district. It didn't help. The scheme was defeated in committee by a bi-partisan vote of 11 to 4.

Before that scheme was killed in the VA Senate on Tuesday, I appeared on The David Pakman Show, via Skype, to discuss that and related issues, including the impending U.S. Supreme Court threat to the very important Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act...

* * *
Please support The BRAD BLOG's fiercely independent, award-winning coverage of your electoral system, as available from no other media outlet in the nation, with a donation to help us keep going (Snail mail, more options here). If you like, we'll send you some great, award-winning election integrity documentary films in return! Details right here...

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By Brad Friedman on 11/3/2012 4:12pm PT  

On Friday, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that its Civil Rights Division will be deploying "more than 780 federal observers and department personnel to 51 jurisdictions in 23 states for the Nov. 6, 2012, general election."

Their news release, posted in full below, notes that "The Voting Rights Act prohibits discrimination in the election process on the basis of race, color or membership in a minority language group."

"The observers and department personnel will gather information on, among other things, whether voters are subject to different voting qualifications or procedures on the basis of race, color, or membership in a language minority group; whether jurisdictions are complying with the minority language provisions of the Voting Rights Act; whether jurisdictions permit voters to receive assistance by a person of his or her choice if the voter is blind, has a disability, or is unable to read or write; whether jurisdictions allow voters with disabilities to cast a private and independent ballot; whether jurisdictions comply with the voter registration list requirements of the National Voter Registration Act; and whether jurisdictions comply with the provisional ballot requirements of the Help America Vote Act."

The announcement also includes DoJ contact numbers and websites for voters who have problems on Election Day. It also specifies the county and state jurisdictions where DoJ monitors will be on hand across the country.

Please note, however, that no matter how many monitors and attorneys and poll watchers are on hand, none of them can see inside an electronic voting system --- either touch-screen system, or paper-based optical-scan system --- to determine whether those computers have accurately tabulated the intent of the voters.

The DoJ's Friday press release follows in full below...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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By Brad Friedman on 8/16/2012 10:58pm PT  

Some good-ish news late tonight for Florida voters, and more bad-ish news for Republican Gov. Rick Scott and friends, as reported by AP:

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A federal court says a Florida law that restricts the number of early-voting days could result in a dramatic reduction in participation by blacks.

The Republican-controlled Florida legislature last year cut the number of early-voting days to 8 from 12.

But the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled late Thursday that because of the law's potential impact on minority voters, it would not allow Florida to put the changes in place in five Florida counties covered by federal voting laws.

The 119-page ruling did say there were ways that the state could ultimately come up with a plan to change early voting that would not adversely affect minority voting rights.

Still, the ruling raises the prospect that Florida will have two different types of early voting for this year's crucial presidential election.

To unpack this (without having looked at the actual ruling yet), while this is certainly positive news in general, it only applies to the five counties in Florida covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). Those jurisdictions require pre-clearance from either the U.S. Dept. of Justice or a 3-judge panel from the U.S. District Court in D.C. for new election-related laws, thanks to the long history of racial discrimination in those jurisdictions.

Three of the counties, Hardee, Hendry and Monroe are fairly small, with fewer than 100,000 voters. Collier (home of Naples) has a population of more than 300,000 and the largest of the five, Hillsborough, is home to Tampa, with a population of about 1.2 million voters. It will also be the home of the upcoming Republican National Convention.

As AP notes, that could mean that only those five counties have 12 days of early voting, while the rest of the state (the other 62 counties), are still restricted to 8. Given that Republicans hung a hat on pretending to demand consistent rules across the state for vote counting during the Bush v. Gore fight in 2000, and that the state Supreme Court agreed, I imagine another fight may be in store on this matter, and how the Republican-run state will --- or won't --- enact consistent Early Voting hours across the state.

This case was decided by the U.S. District Court in D.C. because the state of Florida decided to bypass the DoJ, thinking they'd have better luck with the court system. They were wrong.

It's been a tough year for the state of Florida's attempt to game the voting system in their favor this year, so far, under the rule of their Tea Party Governor. Though, lord knows, they've tried.

In May, a federal judge blocked the bulk of their new voter registration restrictions which had forced the League of Women Voters to call off their registration drive in the Sunshine State for the first time in 72 years, rather than face onerous new rules, fines and even jail time. Last month, after almost all of the state's Supervisors of Elections refused to carry out a hugely flawed voter roll purge of "potential non-citizen voters" (almost all of whom were not), Scott and his hand-picked Sec. of State Ken Detzner were forced to halt their purge (subsequently misreported by the corporate mainstream media), even after pretending the federal government was blocking the purge to keep non-citizen voters on the rolls (they weren't, and Florida knew it, as documents we published exclusively proved.)

Oh, and then there was the former state Republican Chair who admitted, under oath, in a 630-page deposition, that party officials "were talking about voter suppression and keeping blacks from voting," during his tenure.

Here's a thought, Florida Republicans: Come up with good ideas that help the citizens of the state by improving their general welfare and domestic tranquility and maybe they'll just vote for you all by themselves without you having to game the system and suppress the vote. Or, you can just keep doing what you're doing.

[Hat-tip @JeffersonObama on the Twitters.]

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Case would represent first instance of the federal agency challenging such a law under Section 2 of Voting Rights Act...
By Brad Friedman on 7/23/2012 8:12pm PT  

Good news for fans of democracy and voting rights, and for foes of discrimination! Bad news for Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, his GOP state legislature, and perhaps others like them in different states.

The U.S. Dept. of Justice may soon be filing a legal challenge to Pennsylvania's new GOP-enacted polling place Photo ID restriction. The law will affect the ability of some 750,000 legal voters to cast their once-legal vote in the Keystone State this November, unless it is overturned. If the feds choose to bring suit against the new law, it would be the first time the federal agency has used the anti-discrimination provisions of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 to block such a law.

Last February, as a civil rights group had filed a federal challenge against the state of Wisconsin, charging that state's new GOP-enacted polling place Photo ID restriction violated the federal constitution, we explained how the moment presented a "golden opportunity" for the U.S. Dept. of Justice to join the case and challenge it, as well as similar laws in other states, under Section 2 of the VRA.

As Ernie Canning detailed at the time, the DoJ has, to date, only challenged recently-enacted polling place Photo ID restriction laws in jurisdictions which are covered by Section 5 of the VRA. That section of the landmark federal law requires that new election laws in some 16 states, or parts of states with long histories of racial discrimination at the polls, receive federal government preclearance for the new laws before they may be enforced. Section 5 places the burden on the jurisdictions themselves to demonstrate that the new laws will not have a discriminatory effect.

Since these particular laws have been shown, indeed, to be designed to discriminate against largely Democratic-leaning voters, the states where the laws have been denied preclearance by the DoJ --- states like Texas and South Carolina, for instance --- have been unable to demonstrate their laws did not have the effect of discriminating against legal minority voters. In both of those cases, using data supplied to the DoJ by the states, it was simple to show the discriminatory effect of the new laws. (For example, in South Carolina, African-American voters were found to be 20% more likely to lack the type of ID needed to vote under the new law than white voters. In Texas, the state's own data showed that legal Hispanic voters were as much as 120% more likely to lack the requisite ID to vote under the new law than non-Hispanic voters.)

But similar laws passed in states not covered by Section 5 --- states like Wisconsin, Tennessee, Kansas, and Pennsylvania --- have yet to face the same kind of legal scrutiny from the federal government --- until now...

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

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