November 15, 2012 § Leave a comment
Did your state enact new Voter ID laws prior to the 2012 election? If so, yours was one of 19 states that attempted to revise and/or narrow voting rights. However, “many of the attempts at voter exclusion went just too far,” writes Tova Wang in post election analysis on impacts from the ID laws that threatened to disenfranchise people of color, those in low income lifestyles, and voters from older generations. The drive to suppress voting instead spurred Latinos and people under thirty to vote in greater numbers and motivated African Americans to turn out in force matching 2008 enthusiasm.
The ID laws, discussed in an earlier post, were largely weakened, blocked, and postponed before the election. In the case of Minnesota, 2012 voters overturned voter ID requirements. The Justice Department used section 5 of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1962 to block laws and maneuvers in Texas, Florida, and South Carolina. That effort was successful in stopping changes before the 2012 election but now, in a new threat to voting rights, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge to section 5 brought by Shelby county, Alabama. Section 5 authorizes the Federal Government to require states with a history of discrimination to request clearance from the government before they make changes to their voting laws.
In a May 2012 speech, US Attorney General, Eric Holder, stated that section 5 is a “powerful tool in combating discrimination…” He noted, “It has consistently enjoyed broad bipartisan support – including in its most recent reauthorization, when President Bush and an overwhelming Congressional majority came together in 2006 to renew the Act’s key provisions – and extend it until 2031.”
However, recognizing this section’s importance to enforcement of voting rights, attacks on section 5 increased as voter ID laws swept the country. Holder states that more suits were filed to challenge section 5 in the past two years than in the past 50! Lower courts have upheld section 5 but early next year the Supreme Court will hear arguments against it. By June 2013 the Supreme Court will decide on this important issue. Their ruling will dramatically impact our nation either by striking down the core of the Voting Rights Act or supporting this law in recognition that it’s as relevant today as it was in ’62.
November 21, 2011 § 2 Comments
If we want to actively keep our freedoms, then we must educate ourselves continually to stay on top of the issues we hold most dear in a democracy. We all owe a great debt to those willing to occupy Wall Street and hold these Wall Street criminals to task. But people involved on any level also may feel a bit of impotence in our current global union to really be able to get politicians to make change.
Obama said, It is up to the people. Well, we have spoken and continue to speak. Yet, the wealth for the top 1 % keeps multiplying and we are left with fewer and fewer crumbs. Money rules all voting, not the people’s vote. This is the implied message being spread everywhere.
Even back in 1890, a populist orator Mary Elizabeth Lease said, “Wall Street owns the country…our laws are the output of a system which clothes rascals in robes and honesty in rags. The political parties lie to us and the political speakers mislead us…Money rules.”
Corporations, banks and governments are working against the common people and what is left of our welfare. This causes psychological suffering on pandemic levels. Sadly, our president is in bed with these destroyers of democratic hope. Politicians nothing but money launderers. The corporations see to this. On top of it all, the wealthiest barely pay any taxes. Corporations are also paying politicians to kill any and all legislation that might help the common soul. Those trying to help the poor and middle class become marginalized and easily defeated. Except perhaps by large and small groups like Occupy Wall Street. Bill Moyers writes, “The most consisitent predictor of mental illness, infant mortality, educational achievements, teenage births, homicides, and incarceration, is economic inequality.”
“Vast inequalities of income weakens a society’s sense of mutual concern…The sense that we are all members of the social order is vital to the meaning of civilization,” Nobel laureate economist Kenneth Arrow observed. It is private interest over public duty. These immense stressors spark mental illness and the depletion of health for everyone but the wealthy who have the riches to help with psychiatry, medicine and counseling. The treacherous nature of economic crashes and strain and painful toil hurt our health and take our sanity and strengths to lower and lower levels as people desperately try to survive in the wreckage of our society’s social security net which they so need to survive. Mental health equals quality of life that needs support from the top 1% in today’s stratification of wealth to survive unless by some miracle wealth can be redistributed properly, including through progressive taxation of the wealthy classes. If this does not happen, the rubble we find ourselves within in America is not unlike that of the book Lord of the Flies. This is a world where no quality of life is possible and would mean death to many. This would be the end to what we know as mental health. Please let’s keep up the struggle for human rights and occupying Wall Street, government and banking not just in America but the whole of the world.
October 11, 2011 § 1 Comment
This blog exists to publish perspectives and voices about living at or near the poverty line and to discuss policies and projects that impact those lives. Being heard by media is still sadly uncommon but being heard in government is a fundamental right for all Americans and a critical factor in creating positive changes. However, some states changed their voting registration laws after the election in 2010 making that right harder to attain. Many of these laws will impact your ability to vote for US President in 2012.
Restrictions among the 14 states enacting change cover broad ranges of election law according to a new Brennen Center for Justice study, “Voting Law Changes in 2012.” The new laws include strict new requirements to register to vote and intimidating regulations for groups and individuals who conduct voter registration drives. They scale back early voting and eliminate Sunday voting, eliminate same day voting registration, disenfranchise people who have served criminal sentences, and make it harder to stay registered if a voter changes address.
If you live in: Florida, Georgia, Ohio (Ohio election law changes on hold temporarily), Tennessee or West Virginia check new changes to your ability to vote absentee or to vote early. If you’re in: Ohio (contested, see link above), North Carolina, or Florida your right to vote on Sunday has been eliminated or changed. If you live in: Florida, Maine, Ohio (contested), or Texas (in review by Department of Justice) you won’t be as able to register through a registration drive because of new restrictions on those organizations and individuals. Texas (in review, see link above), for instance, is requiring people who register voters to be deputized now. Learn how to register so you can be ready in 2012!
If you live in: Alabama, Kansas, or Tennessee you need proof of citizenship now to get a voter card. The Brennen Center estimates 7% of the voting public doesn’t currently have easy access to proof of citizenship.
In Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas (law in review) and Wisconsin you need photo ID. Check your state guidelines for exact ID’s accepted and if there are affidavits or provisional ballots you can file. Tennessee, for instance, excludes student photo ID. Only Alabama (law in effect in 2013) and Wisconsin recognize tribal ID. Kansas, Texas, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Alabama accept handgun licenses. Photo ID generally means: non-expired license, state ID card, US passport, or US Military ID.
Prior to 2006 you didn’t need ID to vote in any state. Now you’ll be asked for some form of ID in the states above as well as: Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Virginia, Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, Florida, Kentucky, Ohio (contested), Oklahoma and Washington. Many of the ID’s required are state or governmental photo ID. You need to acquire those ID’s well in advance of the Presidential election.
These laws impact students, people with low incomes, minorities, seniors and disabled individuals most. They’ve been sponsored and aggressively pursued by the Republican party and passed by Republican majorities. The intentional screening out of student ID in some states will impact the voting rights of young people. Consequence? Consider this, in Election 2008 young voters turned out historic numbers. 66% voted for Obama.The elimination of Sunday voting has absolutely no rationale and it impacts African American and Hispanic voters. Why? According to the Brennen report more than 50% of the Florida vote on the Sunday before the election was cast by African Americans and Hispanics. Florida has now eliminated that day for voting. Nationally 96% of the Black vote went to Obama.