Purple and Black
Taking Independent and Unofficial Back

Post-election, widespread, renewed assault on voting rights

Have you seen this article? I've heard it talked about the last few days.

WaPo (6.1.2021) Opinion: A frantic warning from 100 leading experts: Our democracy is in grave danger
Before posting the statement the scholars signed, here are a few quotes from the opinion article:
... these scholars underscore the crucial point: Our democracy’s long-term viability might depend on whether Democrats reform or kill the filibuster to pass sweeping voting rights protections.
“We urge members of Congress to do whatever is necessary — including suspending the filibuster — in order to pass national voting and election administration standards,” the scholars write, in a reference to the voting rights protections enshrined in the For the People Act, which passed the House and is before the Senate.

What’s striking is that the statement is signed by scholars who specialize in democratic breakdown ...
“The playbook that the Republican Party is executing at the state and national levels is very much consistent with actions taken by illiberal, anti-democratic, anti-pluralist parties in other democracies that have slipped away from free and fair elections,” Drutman continued.

Among these, the scholars note, are efforts by GOP-controlled state legislatures everywhere to restrict access to voting in ways reminiscent of tactics employed before the United States became a real multiracial democracy in the mid-1960s...
Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) is the most visible obstacle here. But an unknown number of other moderate Democrats are also reluctant to cross that Rubicon, and it’s unclear how much effort Biden will put into making that happen.
And so, when these scholars warn that history is watching, those Democrats are the ones who should take heed.
Here's the link to the scholars' statement (6.1.21):
Statement of Concern: The Threats to American Democracy and the Need for National Voting and Election Administration Standards
And, a few quotes from it:
We, the undersigned, are scholars of democracy who have watched the recent deterioration of U.S. elections and liberal democracy with growing alarm. Specifically, we have watched with deep concern as Republican-led state legislatures across the country have in recent months proposed or implemented what we consider radical changes to core electoral procedures in response to unproven and intentionally destructive allegations of a stolen election. Collectively, these initiatives are transforming several states into political systems that no longer meet the minimum conditions for free and fair elections. Hence, our entire democracy is now at risk.
The most effective remedy for these anti-democratic laws at the state level is federal action to protect equal access of all citizens to the ballot and to guarantee free and fair elections. Just as it ultimately took federal voting rights law to put an end to state-led voter suppression laws throughout the South, so federal law must once again ensure that American citizens’ voting rights do not depend on which party or faction happens to be dominant in their state legislature, and that votes are cast and counted equally, regardless of the state or jurisdiction in which a citizen happens to live. This is widely recognized as a fundamental principle of electoral integrity in democracies around the world.
We urge members of Congress to do whatever is necessary—including suspending the filibuster—in order to pass national voting and election administration standards that both guarantee the vote to all Americans equally, and prevent state legislatures from manipulating the rules in order to manufacture the result they want. Our democracy is fundamentally at stake. History will judge what we do at this moment.
Finally, a link to a document (4.22.21) cited in the opinion article at the top of this post. The 'States United Democracy Center' describes itself: "The States United Democracy Center is a nonpartisan organization advancing free, fair, and secure elections. We focus on connecting state officials, law enforcement leaders, and pro-democracy partners across America with the tools and expertise they need to safeguard our democracy." I haven't read their statement yet. It looks interesting, just from a glance at the Table of Contents. Mainly, I'm including it in case you can't access the Washington Post.
A Democracy Crisis in the Making: How State Legislatures are Politicizing, Criminalizing, and Interfering with Election Administration
Thank you - I don't buy the WP, wish they had the NYT format. It's nice to see "scholars" are saying what we stupid people have been saying for months about the filibuster. What the hell are we waiting for? This is not the time to let a senator like Joe Manchin run the circus. He won't even sign onto the infrastructure bill of his own party. Fuck him.

We need to blow through the filibuster, and get to one person, one vote. They have been undermining what should be an actual democracy since the "founders" installed the Electoral College so rich landowners could get their way over the populous.
Is there a way to get rid of the filibuster without Manchin and others? I have heard of seeking to redefine the filibuster. I think this is right: at this time, it's on the 'yea' side to come up with 60 votes and the nay side doesn't even need to show up. One suggestion I read about was to compel the nay side to come up with 40 'nays' and require them to keep the floor with speeches on topic (no more green eggs and ham). What else can be done?
Manchin pens an op-ed about why he won't support the For the People Act and why he won't support ending the filibuster:
Charleston Gazette-Mail (6.6.21):
Joe Manchin: Why I'm voting against the For the People Act
He wonders:
Democrats in Congress have proposed a sweeping election reform bill called the For the People Act. This more than 800-page bill has garnered zero Republican support. Why? Are the very Republican senators who voted to impeach Trump because of actions that led to an attack on our democracy unwilling to support actions to strengthen our democracy?
Can't he just ask them?
This makes the Voting Rights Act irrelevant for the most part unless Congress rewrites it.

(CNN)The Supreme Court on Thursday said two provisions of an Arizona voting law that restrict how ballots can be cast do not violate the historic Voting Rights Act that bars regulations that result in racial discrimination.

The ruling will limit the ability of minorities to challenge state laws in the future that they say are discriminatory under the Voting Rights Act.
The vote in the case is 6-3 breaking along conservative-liberal ideological lines. Justice Samuel Alito delivered the majority opinion.

U.S. sues Georgia in start of push to protect voting rights​

"This lawsuit is the first of many steps we are taking to ensure that all eligible voters can cast a vote," Attorney General Merrick Garland told a news conference. "We are scrutinizing new laws that seek to curb voter access and when we see violations of federal law, we will act."

Dems need to blast through the filibuster to get national voting rights bills PASSED. Mitch McConnell had no problem ditching the filibuster when they installed Amy Comey Barrett. If this was supposed to be a shot accross the bow at the Supreme Court, they didn't listen about Arizona when they took the teeth out of The Voting Rights Act we still have days later (what's left of it). If Dems can't secure voting rights before 2022 because they want to be "non-partisan", we are fucked. Repubs will make sure fair elections will be tossed out if they don't win.
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This article is a general one about the SCOTUS [supreme court of the us, for them that's unfamiliar w the term]. I'm focusing on the part about 2/3s down, which addresses voting rights issues. So, I'll just take an excerpt from there, although the whole article might be interesting. It's just not about voting rights, for the most part.
A Supreme Court Transformed: A Supreme Court altered by Donald Trump is coming into focus. We look at where it's headed.
NYTimes, 7.6.21.

The two exceptions​

The court’s conservative majority has ruled on multiple occasions that state officials can restrict voting access and redraw legislative districts without violating federal law. The state officials enacting these measures are almost always Republican, and many political experts believe that the measures will help the party win elections.

The court’s democracy rulings cut against Roberts’s preferred image of the court as an institution above partisan politics: Six Republican-appointed justices are issuing decisions that benefit Republican politicians, even when doing so conflicts with principles of majority rule. “This court will smile upon even the worst vote suppression efforts being undertaken by Republican legislatures,” Scott Lemieux of the University of Washington has written.

The most recent example came last week, in a six-to-three decision — along partisan lines — that upheld two Arizona voting restrictions. The decision was sweeping enough that civil rights advocates will struggle to bring future cases alleging discrimination in voting access, legal scholars say.

What's been on my mind is the Brnovich vs Democratic National Committee that was just decided recently, in favor of Brnovich. The case was argued way back in March. Here's a synopsis from Harvard Law School:
A Primer on Brnovich v. DNC: The Supreme Court's Latest Voting Rights Case.
Described as the Supreme Court’s “chance to diminish the Voting Rights Act,” Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee was argued in front of the high court’s Justices on Tuesday, March 2, 2021.


Brnovich involves two electoral policies in Arizona, enacted by Republicans ostensibly to promote election security. Voting rights advocates argue that these laws have the effect of denying minority voters the opportunity to vote.

The first is a ban on third-party ballot collection (referred to as “ballot harvesting” by its critics), which effectively prohibits third-party collection and delivery of voters’ absentee ballots with limited exceptions. Opponents of this law point to its especially detrimental effect on Native American voters, many of whom do not have access to reliable mail services in rural Arizona.

The second policy at issue invalidates ballots cast in the wrong precinct, even if those ballots include votes for statewide races in which all Arizonans choose among the same candidates regardless of precinct location. Challengers of this policy contend that, combined with Arizona’s tendency to frequently change precinct locations, it disproportionately impacts Latino and other minority voters in Arizona.
This stuff is kind of boring and goes on behind the scenes, for the most part, but has critical effects. It's more nuanced, harder to understand and study up on and isn't glitzy or attention-grabbing. Trying to keep an eye on what's going on, that's all.
This is the part of the fucked up ruling that cuts the original Voting Rights Act off at the knees (one of Dad's favorite expressions).

“Voting necessarily requires some effort and compliance with some rules,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the court’s majority on July 1, 2021. Merely making it more “inconvenient” for certain groups to vote does not violate federal law, according to the court.
On the same topic of voting rights / suppression, I was listening to Rachel Maddow, episode #112, posted today (last night's show). Now, I grant that Maddow can be annoying in delivery some times but she's cogent and delivers detailed analysis (with hyperbole, at times). I binge and then break away for a while. Today, she's discussed two stories concerning two Democratic voters in Texas. She contrasts the extreme treatment of the subjects of those two stories with the comparably lenient treatment of their Republican equivalents. I'm basically quoting from Maddow, below.
One: Crystal Mason. In 2016, she went to her local polling place in Terrence County, TX, to vote. She discovered her name was not on the voting rolls there. So, at the suggestion of a poll worker, Ms. Mason filled out a provisional ballot, She was told, basically, "We're not sure what the problem is but fill out a provisional ballot. That way, if there is any real problem here, we won't count it. But, provisionally, you can cast this vote, in case we can sort out whatever seems to be the matter." A few months after that experience, Crystal Mason was arrested and charged with illegal voting because, when she filled out that provisional ballot, she was on supervised release after completing a prison sentence for a federal conviction. And, she thought, because she had served her time in prison, that she was eligible to vote. She did not know that, under TX law, you're not eligible to vote unless you've also completed any probation or any supervised release after release from prison. Even though that was a technical misunderstanding, and even though she cast a provisional ballot, and even though her provisional ballot was never counted, she, nevertheless, was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison for illegal voting.
Two: This story starts on presidential primary day, March 3, last year. Harris County, Texas, home to Texas's largest city, Houston. Harris County was not prepared for the huge turnout. There were crazy long lines at lots of polling places, particularly in heavily minority communities. People in those communities had to wait hours to vote, in many circumstances. That was when the nation met a man named Hervis Rogers. Hervis Rogers was the last person in line at the polling site at Texas Southern University's campus that night. Hervis Rogers worked two jobs. He got to the polling site just before the polls closed at 7pm. In the end, it took him 6 hours and 20 minutes to get to the front of the line and cast his ballot. He finally walked out of that polling place after 1:30 in the morning. He told reporters he felt good. He also had to go get ready for his next shift, his next job. Hervis Rogers became the story of the day, a one-news cycle mini-celebrity because his persistence and dedication were so impressive and also because no American should ever have to be so persistent and so dedicated in order to just cast a vote... [note to self: resume at ~9:30 for info about how county clerk changed allocation of resources so that voting in Harris County roughly doubled in the 2020 general election and how that may have contributed to the voter suppressive legislation up for the vote in TX now].... Today, Hervis Rogers has been arrested. He has been arrested by the Republican Attorney General of Texas for illegal voting. Turns out, when Hervis Rogers waited over six hours to vote in March of 2020 on Super Tuesday, he was a few months short for the end of his parole for an old burglary conviction in the 1990s. He's been out of prison for more than 15 years but his parole did not technically end until last June. Remember, he voted in the primary in March. Texas Attorney General has charged Hervis Rogers with two counts of illegal voting, alleging that he voted in the 2018 election, as well. We do not know if this was an honest mistake on Hervis Rogers' part or perhaps he didn't know he was not allowed to vote. We don't know. Or, perhaps, it was a deliberate, pre-mediated scheme to wait over six hours in line to vote in a Democratic primary in order to break the law on purpose. Mwahahahahahaha... We do not know what Mr. Rogers has to say about any of this. We can't ask him because the attorney general of Texas has locked him up. Has locked up Hervis Rogers on $100,000 bail. He's in prison tonight. Bail is set at $100,000 because what? Because he might escape and vote again?! Also, I should tell you this. Hervis Rogers lives in Harris County: the big diverse county that includes Houston. He voted in Harris County. But, the TX attorney general has chosen to file these charges against him in neighboring Montgomery county. We asked the attorney general's office why they filed these charges in that other county. They answered, essentially, because we can, because the laws allow them to file these charges in any county that abuts Harris county if they want to. They wouldn't tell us why they picked Montgomery county to press these charges specifically. I can tell you that, according to the most recent US census date, of the eight possible counties that abut Harris county, they could legally have charged Hervis Rogers in,... of the eight, the option of drawing a jury pool, ... Montgomery county is just about the whitest. It has the lowest proportion of African American residents of any of those counties. I can't tell you, for certain, that that's relevant. But, I can tell you that it's true. The attorney general's office will not tell us why they chose this county. The ACLU of Texas has put out a strong statement that "the arrest and prosecution of Mr. Hervis Rogers should alarm all Texans. He waiting in line for over six hours to vote, to fulfill what he believed to be his civic duty. He's now locked up on a bail amount that most people could not afford. He faces, potentially, decades in jail. Our laws should not intimidate people from voting by increasing the risk of prosecution for, at worst, innocent mistakes. We will continue to fight for justice and for Mr. Rogers and will push back against any efforts to further restrict voting rights."

If you are a Republican white guy engaged in an elaborate scheme to deliberately cast a dead person's vote for Donald T----, even though you know that person's dead and it's illegal, all is forgiven: probation / perhaps a small fine. [okay... I've spent so much time on this... I'm not going to bring up the two examples Maddow mentions because I found the following article in Snopes which makes that same sort of comparison. On the merits (as if I know what I'm talking about), the cases are different. But, fundamentally, that doesn't take away from the outrageousness of the activities in TX to suppress voting by pulling out all the plugs to intimidate voters.] I'll finish with posting a few articles I found on these cases. I did a web search for these and, tellingly perhaps, close to the top were articles from The Guardian, a British newspaper.

Texas man who waited seven hours at polls is charged with voting illegally [The Guardian, 7.9.21]
Did a Black Woman Get Prison for Illegal Voting, While a White Man Got Probation? [Snopes 5.5.21]
Texas upholds sentence for woman who didn't know she was ineligible to vote [The Guardian, 3.20.20]
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This is the part of the fucked up ruling that cuts the original Voting Rights Act off at the knees (one of Dad's favorite expressions).

“Voting necessarily requires some effort and compliance with some rules,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the court’s majority on July 1, 2021. Merely making it more “inconvenient” for certain groups to vote does not violate federal law, according to the court.
I've listened to some analyses that discuss Justice Samuel Alito's opinion for the majority in the Brnovich vs. DNC decision and the decision's impact on the Voting Rights Act and what that means going forward / backward and the way in which the decision violates the reading of the 15th amendment of the Constitution:

cbabi bayot _ Prince.png
Alito's opinion disregards Section 2 and Section 1.
I think this article from Slate, 7.8.21, brings up the most important points that the layperson would likely miss.
The Supreme Court's Latest Voting Rights Opinion Is Even Worse Than It Seems
It’s been almost a week since the Supreme Court issued its most significant ruling on voting rights in nearly a decade, and each time I read Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion in Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, the angrier I become. I’m angry not only about what the court did but also about how much of the public does not realize what a hit American democracy has taken. In an opinion thick with irony, Justice Alito turned back the clock on voting rights to 1982. His decision for a six-justice conservative court majority reopens the door to a United States in which states can put up roadblocks to minority voting and engage in voter suppression with few legal consequences once a state has raised tenuous and unsupported concerns about the risk of voter fraud. It’s exactly the opposite of what Congress intended when it strengthened Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act in 1982, and it turns on its head the “non-retrogression” principle that Congress wrote in Section 5 of the act and that the court essentially killed off eight years ago in Shelby County v. Holder.
Check out the whole article.
Well the Texas Dems walked out and went to DC.
Will or won't they be arrested when they return to Texas?

That's what they say, but arrested for...what? What actual law did they break? I heard Abbott say they'd be arrested and brought to the TX capital for another in a series of special sessions he will call to get that shit bag voter restriction law passed. These Texas Democrats are true heroes - sacrificing time away from their home and families to take a stand against voter suppression,

The federal voting bills MUST pass.
JULY 28, 2021

Lawmakers Examine Election Threats​

Current and former election officials testified about election security and integrity before the House Administration Committee. Election administrators from Maricopa County, Arizona and Detroit spoke about their experiences processing the 2020 election results. They spoke about threats they and their colleagues faced and the importance of passing federal laws to ensure the security of election workers. Election Transparency Initiative Chair Ken Cuccinelli (R), also testified and stressed the need for voter ID laws and refuted claims of voter suppression.

Some progress toward voting rights legislation: Sen. Joe Manchin, Sen. Raphael Warnock, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar are working on crafting a scaled down version of the For the People Act. With Joe Manchin's involvement, if opposition from the republicans persists, Manchin just might be persuaded to eliminate the filibuster, or alter it to the point where the legislation might pass. We can hope.

Voting Rights Activists Cling To Hope In 'Race Against Time'
from Talking Points Memo, 8.13.21

Before the Senate decamped early Wednesday morning, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) set the stage for taking up voting rights reforms when it returns in September. In the meantime, a group of Democratic senators are negotiating behind the scenes on a package of reforms, expected to be a whittled-down version of the For the People Act.
“We know they’ve been working on the bill and are close to finishing, will finish over recess,” Adam Bozzi, vice president for communications at End Citizens United. “That’s a huge reason for optimism.”

“The key takeaway is that the bill isn’t dead,” added Adam Eichen, executive director of democracy reform group Equal Citizens.

The first hurdle is getting all 50 Democratic senators on board, something the bill’s first iteration failed to guarantee. But after that, a goal which is achievable in theory, comes the same intractable problem that’s been deviling Democrats all term: how to get Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Krysten Sinema (D-AZ) to allow changes to the filibuster, the only way to pass voting rights legislation with a simple majority. There are not 10 Republican votes to pass voting rights bills.
Some of the current negotiating involves incorporating Manchin’s alterations and homing in on the crux of the original bill: hobbling partisan gerrymandering, protecting voting rights and addressing the cyclical influx of dark money.

To activists, Manchin’s involvement in the process is key.

“They’re working on a compromise bill that he is central part of,” Jana Morgan, director of the Declaration for American Democracy, told TPM. “Presumably, he wouldn’t be going through all this effort if he won’t help find a path forward.”

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