On April 12, Maryland became the first state in the country to count incarcerated people as residents of their hometowns, rather than as residents of the place where they are imprisoned, for the purposes of legislative districting. The passage of the No Representation Without Population Act ends prison-based gerrymandering, which falsely inflates the political power of districts with prisons, due to the U.S. Census’s practice of counting incarcerated populations as residents of the prison.
It has recently come to light that after taking office, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell quietly instituted a new process to make it even harder for individuals with nonviolent felony convictions to have their voting rights restored.
On Saturday, "John" could not register to vote in Washington State. On Sunday, he could. John did not turn 18 on Sunday, nor did he become a citizen. Rather, a new law went into effect in Washington lifting the ban that prevented John, as well as thousands of other Washington citizens, from voting.
During the 2004 elections, Don Blankenship, the CEO of giant coal producer Massey Energy, decided to get involved in a State Supreme Court race. This coal baron had a big case coming before the court and knew he needed a more favorable vote count. So he started his own "issue advocacy organization" called "And For the Sake of the Kids." Due to his group's tax classification, he did not have to disclose the source of its funding: close to $3 million of his own money in a blatant effort to buy a seat on the West Virginia State Supreme Court. The effort paid off because, by the time it was revealed that Blankenship was the person funding the highly negative television ads, radio spots, and direct mailings, the damage was done and his candidate had won. When that big case came around, turned out the Massey energy had made a smart investment: The justice he helped elect provided the crucial vote in a 3-2 decision. (Coincidently, that justice's refusal to recuse himself from that case has led to the United States Supreme Court getting involved. The high court has agreed to hear the failure to recuse case next spring.)
It seems each day brings a new story about allegations of fraud during ACORN's voter registration drives. But what is often left out is that there is absolutely no credible evidence that phony registrations translate into fraudulent votes. Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck might be registered, but neither is likely to show up to vote on Election Day. But while voter registration fraud does not threaten the integrity of this election, there is a very real concern that widespread voter suppression does.
America is at an interesting historical juncture. An African American may well be elected president in a few weeks. From the 1600s to 1865 black slavery in this country was sanctioned by law. From the end of Reconstruction until 1965, a significant proportion of blacks in the South could not vote. Passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 - acts signed by a Democratic president, supported in Congress by most Republicans and most northern Democrats and strongly resisted by most southern Democrats - led soon thereafter to a historic shift in party allegiance, in which the "party of Lincoln" adopted the so-called "southern strategy" of appealing to the racism of white southern Democrats, thereby driving blacks into the national Democratic Party. (It's worth noting that an average of only 51% of blacks nationally in 1952, 1956, and 1960 identified themselves as Democrats.)
It remained for a young campaign worker in Richard Nixon's 1968 campaign, Kevin Phillips, to write a book the following year, The Emerging Republican Majority, called by Newsweek "the political bible of the Nixon era," in which Phillips argued, "the GOP can build a winning coalition without Negro votes. Indeed, Negro-Democratic mutual identification was a major source of Democratic loss [in 1968]." The southern strategy continued to be openly employed in Republican presidential campaigns as late as 1988, and more subtely in succeeding elections.
Today, the ACLU filed a lawsuit in federal court against Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections to block the usage of a voting system that prevents voters from fixing mistakes on their ballots.
In December, Brunner cast a tie-breaking vote that forced Read More»
Today is Election Day – an opportunity to exercise your right to vote, one of your most basic and cherished rights as an American. So wherever you live and whatever your political views, this is the time to have your say and participate in our democracy.
A lot is at stake this year, so please be sure to make your voice heard. You’ll not only be choosing our nation’s president, but you may also be selecting your U.S. Senators and Representatives. And in 46 states, you’ll also be electing state legislators, who have a huge say about your fundamental rights and issues that affect you every day. Here are some resources to help you cast a ballot: