The Disenfranchising Team

The Disenfranchising Team

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North Carolina passed an expansive voter suppression bill last week. Other states began moving forward with their own bills immediately after the Roberts’ Court gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act in June. They claim it’s to stop voter fraud, but when there are other verifiable, more pressing problems with our elections, it’s a convenient excuse to disenfranchise minorities and the poor.

This isn’t new; many GOP-led states tried the same shenanigans during the 2012 election, but were often stopped by the now extinct preclearance conditions in the VRA. It’s the hail Mary pass of a party that knows it has lost minorities and the young and has no idea to win national elections any more.

The Injustice of Racial Entitlements

The Injustice of Racial Entitlements

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Justice Scalia said a bunch of dumb things last week during the Supreme Court’s hearing on striking down part of the Voting Rights Act; most notably saying reauthorization of Section 5 was a “perpetuation of a racial entitlement.” That section makes states and regions with a history of racial discrimination submit any changes to their voting laws to the Justice Department for approval before they’re implemented, AKA “preclearance.”

Opponents of Section 5 claim it puts an unfair burden on the states and regions it applies to. But most have glossed over the fact that there is already a process to get out of Section 5 called “bail out.”

Almost ignored by the justices, however, was that the Voting Rights Act has a provision that allows states to “bail out” of Section 5 coverage if they go a long time without proposing discriminatory voting changes. Almost 200 jurisdictions have bailed out of Section 5 since 1982, at a cost of about $5,000 each. Shelby County, Alabama, can’t do that, though, because in 2006 local officials redistricted the only black lawmaker in the city of Calera out of his seat.

Essentially Section 5 has its own sunset built-in. When racial discrimination in voting laws is eliminated in every American jurisdiction, and they all bail out of Section 5, it will be rendered moot. Striking the section before its time will ensure discriminatory shenanigans like Voter ID laws, gerrymandering and reducing voting hours in majority-minority precincts will continue well into the 21st century.

However, there are obvious problems with Section 5, especially that it mostly applies only to the South. This allows states elsewhere (And ALWAYS GOP-led) to enact bullshit laws designed to reduce minority turnout (who ALWAYS vote overwhelmingly for Democrats) in places like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. This could be easily fixed by placing the entire Republican Party under the jurisdiction of Section 5 until they stop being racist, or in practical terms, forever.

Lastly, Justice Roberts screwed up when he cited my state of Massachusetts as being more discriminatory than Mississippi. I’m not saying it’s free of racism, just that its large population of racist Irish drunks (As a progressive Irish drunk, I can say this.) don’t exert much influence on our voting laws.

Modernizing the Vote

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The margins in last week’s election were big enough to overcome most of the electoral shenanigans and disenfranchisement that were going on, particularly in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. And the way the demographics of the parties are going, it might be harder to tamp down minority, poor, young and elderly turnout in the future. But it’s pretty fucking embarrassing that party hacks set the voting rules in every state.

Ohio’s Secretary of State, Jon Husted is the hackiest of the bunch. As Ohio went to Obama sooner than most of us expected, he quickly came up with another bullshit scheme to tip the state towards Republicans in the future, even when Democrats win the popular vote. State legislatures of both parties gerrymander their states like crazy, but since Republicans have a narrower (and older, whiter, male-er, angrier) base to pull from, their maps tend to be a bit more ridiculous.

Anyway, the election’s over (for a couple months ’til the next one starts up) and I’m done thinking about it. I don’t live-and-breathe politics like some folks, so I’m happy to catch up on everything I’ve missed over the past 18 months. What’s a “Honey Boo Boo?”

The Disenfranchising Games

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These kind of shenanigans are going on in a lot of states, mostly those with Republican governors, but I focused on Florida and Pennsylvania since they’re the most likely to affect the outcome of the general election. It’s just one of many reasons why the electoral college is garbage.

I’m almost done with moving and settling into the new place. Hopefully I’ll be back up to speed next week … if the heat wave doesn’t turn me into a puddle of goo.