Opinion: Obama’s Endorsement Challenges Biden, Re-Imagines Presidency for the Future

Last Tuesday, former President Barack Obama gave his much-anticipated endorsement of his former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential candidacy. 

The endorsement was expected, of course, despite the wait Obama imposed, which seemed likely attributable to his preference to time his speech in the wake of Bernie Sanders’ own endorsement of Biden, creating a crescendo effect. read more

Georgia’s Tight Governor Race Points Out Kemp’s Voter Suppression

Republican Georgia gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp is demanding that his opponent, Democrat Stacey Abrams, concede in a race where all of the votes have not yet been counted.

Prominent civil rights groups, as well as Democrats all over the country, are urging her to stay in the fight.

Bernie Sanders tweeted his thoughts about the importance of what is going on in Georgia:

“The election in Georgia is not only about who becomes Governor. It is about protecting the basic tenets of American democracy. @staceyabrams has run a brilliant and inspiring campaign, overcoming enormous obstacles. Now, GA officials must count every vote.”

The election in Georgia is not only about who becomes Governor. It is about protecting the basic tenets of American democracy. @staceyabrams has run a brilliant and inspiring campaign, overcoming enormous obstacles. Now, GA officials must count every vote. https://t.co/jgrfgIGV0z read more

Georgia Officials Kept Nearly 2,000 Voting Machines Locked in Storage

Nearly two thousand working voting machines sat unused across metropolitan Atlanta on Tuesday, as tens of thousands of African American voters suffered through extraordinarily long lines at the polls. In many cases they were forced to wait in line several hours in order to vote.

“More than 1,800 machines sat idle in storage in three of the state’s largest and most heavily Democratic counties. While some voters waited in hours-long lines in Fulton County, 700 of those machines sat in a warehouse in downtown Atlanta.”

“More than 1,800 machines sat idle in storage in three of the state’s largest and most heavily Democratic counties. While some voters waited in hours-long lines in Fulton County, 700 of those machines sat in a warehouse in downtown Atlanta.” https://t.co/ynlcUNi1pI read more

Trump Tries to Intimidate Voters With Bogus Voting Fraud Charges

President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions are attempting to frighten and intimidate voters by making false charges of voter fraud.

Both of them issued strong warnings on Monday about the threat of voter fraud in Tuesday’s elections.

This is a continuation of Trump’s claims that massive voter fraud marred his 2016 election. These claims were shown to be completely without merit as no proof was ever given of 2016 voter fraud.

Voting rights advocates promptly charged his administration with trying to intimidate voters and suppress voter turnout on Tuesday.

  • Trump tweeted that law enforcement has been “strongly notified” to watch for “ILLEGAL VOTING.” He promised that anyone caught voting improperly would be subjected to “Maximum Criminal Penalties.”
  • Sessions announced that his Justice Department will closely monitor ballot access on Election Day, saying “fraud in the voting process will not be tolerated. Fraud also corrupts the integrity of the ballot.”
  • read more

    Ahead of U.S. elections, fears of voter suppression – and efforts to fight back

    By John Whitesides

    DODGE CITY, Kan. (Reuters) – Clemente Torres has proudly cast his vote in person at Dodge City’s lone polling place in every election since he became a naturalized citizen 20 years ago.

    This year is different.

    After Republican officials said in September they would move the Hispanic-majority city’s only polling place to a remote spot outside the city limits, across railroad tracks and away from bus lines, Torres decided to vote by mail.

    “I wanted to be sure I could vote,” said Torres, 57, who works at a meatpacking plant in this western Kansas city best known for its history as a Wild West outpost. “I didn’t want to take any chances.”

    Torres and other voters interviewed by Reuters said they were worried voting would be more difficult at the new location. Some were skeptical of the official explanation: that construction will hinder access to the usual site.

    The move has sparked an outcry from voting rights groups that say Republicans are trying to limit Hispanic votes. The state American Civil Liberties Union has asked the courts to force Dodge City to open another polling site. Democrats are mobilizing to rent vans, line up volunteers to drive people to the polls and set up a hotline to ask for rides.

    Kansas is just one front in a broad national struggle over voting restrictions passed by Republicans, who say they are needed to combat voter fraud.

    Democrats and advocacy groups are scrambling in courtrooms and on the ground to resist efforts they say will stack the deck against minority voters likely to back Democrats in next Tuesday’s elections, where control of the U.S. Congress will be at stake.

    The national voting rights debate, which accelerated after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down parts of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, has been particularly intense this year in states with tight, high-stakes election races such as Kansas, Georgia, North Dakota and Tennessee.

    “There are a lot of grim things happening, but people are awake and highly engaged to fight back on this issue,” said Leah Aden, deputy director of litigation at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

    ‘SLAP IN THE FACE’

    On a recent afternoon in Dodge City, where about 60 percent of the 27,000 residents are Hispanic, many of the mostly Hispanic workers pouring out of a beef processing plant during a shift change were surprised to find a trio of Kansas Democrats waiting for them.

    “Do you know your polling place has moved?” Democratic congressional candidate Alan LaPolice asked as he and two aides handed out more than 300 packets with bilingual information on where to vote and how to call for a ride to get there.

    Alejandro Rangel-Lopez, 18, a first-time voter in November and a plaintiff in the ACLU lawsuit, said the new polling site would make it tough on people unable to get time off from work to vote, or had transportation or language issues.

    “People can’t just leave the plants to vote. You can’t just run over on your lunch break,” Rangel-Lopez said.

    Suspicions about the motive behind the polling place change come naturally in Kansas, where Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach, one of the country’s foremost advocates of restrictive voting and immigration laws, is in a tight race for governor against Democrat Laura Kelly.

    “This is a slap in the face to voters here,” said Ford County Democratic Party Chairman Johnny Dunlap. “They should be making voting easier, not harder.”

    Debbie Cox, the Republican county clerk who ordered the move, declined requests for comment on her decision to set up a new polling place about 4 miles (6 km) from the old one.

    But the state’s elections director, who works under Kobach, said Cox chose the best available alternative with adequate parking and space.

    ‘KOBACH HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS’

    “I have trouble understanding how this was voter suppression. There just weren’t many options for polling sites that fit the criteria,” Kansas Elections Director Bryan Caskey said. “I can say with 100 percent certainty that Secretary Kobach had nothing to do with this.”

    Kobach has relentlessly promoted theories about the threat of voter fraud and was a leader on President Donald Trump’s disbanded election integrity commission formed to look into possible fraud in the 2016 election.

    While Republicans say new voting restrictions such as tougher ID requirements and aggressive voter-roll purges are necessary to ensure honest elections or clean up voter rolls, independent studies have found that voter fraud is extremely rare.

    Other states with major election races also have wrestled with voting rights issues. In North Dakota, where Democrat Heidi Heitkamp and Republican Kevin Cramer are in a close Senate race, Native American tribal leaders have mobilized to help up to 10,000 residents in rural reservations whose voting eligibility has been threatened by a state law requiring a residential street address on ID’s.

    Many reservation residents use post office boxes for mail delivery and do not have street addresses. The law, which Republicans said was aimed at fighting voter fraud, was passed after Heitkamp was elected to the Senate by fewer than 3,000 votes in 2012 with strong Native American support.

    Precinct maps and satellite images of the state’s five reservations are being used to help generate street addresses, which can be recorded and printed on tribal letterhead, said O.J. Semans, co-executive director of Four Directions, a Native American voting rights group.

    “This is about being pushed into a corner and having to fight back,” Semans said. “We want to make sure the state thinks twice about doing something like this again.”

    Groups in Georgia sued to block Democrat Stacey Abrams’ opponent for governor, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who is also the state’s top election official, from throwing out more than 50,000 voter registration applications put on hold under the state’s “exact match” law requiring personal information on voter applications to match state databases.

    The lawsuit alleged the vast majority of the disputed applications were from black voters.

    Jimmy Carter, a former U.S. president and Georgia governor, even weighed in, calling on Kemp to resign his post supervising elections. Kemp has refused to step down and says he is fairly applying Georgia’s laws.

    In Tennessee, home to another crucial U.S. Senate race between Democrat Phil Bredesen and Republican Marsha Blackburn, a lawsuit by voting rights groups led a judge to order that people in majority-black Shelby County be allowed to fix their incomplete voter registration applications and vote.

    Democrats in Tennessee have formed the first statewide voter protection team to watch for problems at the polls. Tennessee Democratic Party Chairwoman Mary Mancini calls them an “army of poll watchers.”

    (Additional reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Tennessee and Liz Hampton in Georgia; Editing by Jason Szep and Peter Cooney)

    Survey Shows Voter Suppression Is A Bigger Problem Than Voter Fraud

    President Donald Trump, along with many like-minded conservatives, believe that rampant voter fraud is widespread in America. According to them, people not legally able to vote are actually voting and influencing elections unfairly.

    On the other side, most Democrats believe that laws that were enacted to combat voter fraud have the effect of adding barriers to voting. They also believe that these laws disproportionately affect people who tend to vote Democratic.

    And now there is a growing body of evidence that voter suppression is very real but voter fraud is almost nonexistent. Still, Republicans insist that voter fraud is rampant and voter suppression is a left-wing liberal fantasy.

    (The Washington Post did an analysis and found that  there is no evidence of rampant voter fraud.)

    This week the Pew Research Center released a survey looking at how Americans see these issues.

    Pew found that voter suppression is considered a major problem by many more Americans than is voter fraud. The number of people saying that fraud or suppression were a problem increased as the number of incidents increased.

    Democrats are more likely than Republicans to consider suppression a major problem at every level that it occurs. Republicans are more likely than Democrats to see fraud as a problem.

    In fact there are well-documented examples of many thousands of people having their votes suppressed because of laws that make voting more cumbersome. Almost 10,000 people in Wisconsin were blocked from voting in 2016 because they lacked proper identification. A study released in 2014 found tens of thousands fewer voters in Kansas and Tennessee in the wake of new voter ID laws.

    These laws restricting voting are generally imposed by Republican legislators who argue that they’re necessary to combat voter fraud.

    Most Republicans think that even one illegally cast ballot is a major problem but only a quarter of Democrats agree with this.

    Most Republicans also believe that obstructing hundreds of legal votes is not a major problem.

    According to Pew:

    The most telling partisan divisions are on how easy voting should be in the United States. Overall, two-thirds of the public (67%) says “everything possible should be done to make it easy for every citizen to vote,” while only about a third (32%) say citizens “should have to prove they want to vote” by registering in advance.” read more

    Faith Communities On Front Lines Of Defense Against Voter Suppression

    Faith communities are strategically and uniquely positioned to be on the front lines of defense against voter suppression in the upcoming midterm elections. By ensuring members of their community are registered to vote, know their polling place, and other voting rights, faith communities can ensure voter participation especially among persons of color and other minority groups. Faith communities can play a vital role in making sure every vote is counted.

    Republicans Admit Trump Won Wisconsin Due To Voter ID Law

    In the 2016 presidential election Donald Trump won Wisconsin by about 22,000 votes.  Much analysis has been done as to why Hillary Clinton lost Wisconsin, but most Democrats have agreed that one of the main causes for this surprising loss was the existence of a strict voter I.D. law that kept many Democrats from voting.

    And now something even more surprising has happened:  a top Republican official in Wisconsin has publicly stated his opinion that it was indeed the voter I.D. law that caused Trump to win Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes.

    The voter I.D. law went into effect in 2016, requiring that before voting people must show at least one form of government-issued photo identification to vote.

    “We battled to get voter I.D. on the ballot for the November ’16 election,” said Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel on a conservative radio show. “How many of your listeners really honestly are sure that Sen. [Ron] Johnson was going to win reelection or President Trump was going to win Wisconsin if we didn’t have voter I.D. to keep Wisconsin’s elections clean and honest and have integrity?”

    In a story last year, Mother Jones reported that the voter I.D. law kept so many Democrats from voting that it probably gave the state to Trump.  In 2014 a federal court stated that 9 percent of registered voters in Wisconsin didn’t have the photo I.D. they needed to cast votes. They concluded that about 45,000 voters statewide didn’t vote because of the law, most of them Democrats.  This is more than twice Trump’s 2016 margin of victory in Wisconsin.

    One insight into Republican motivations for supporting the I.D. law (which was defended in court by Schimel) is shown by this statistic: African American voters were three times as likely as whites to say they could not vote because of the I.D. law.  And African Americans in Wisconsin favored Hillary Clinton over Trump by an 88-to-8 margin.

    Neil Albrecht, the executive director of the Milwaukee Election Commission, agreed that the voter I.D. law likely caused Trump to win. “It is very probable that between the photo I.D. law and the changes to voter registration, enough people were prevented from voting to have changed the outcome of the presidential election in Wisconsin,” he said.

    Though Schimel said the I.D. law was needed to “keep Wisconsin’s elections clean and honest,” he was not able to show in court even one case of voter fraud or voter impersonation.  This proves that the law did not solve a real problem, but was intended only to keep Democrats from voting.

    And since t

    he voter I.D. law is still on the books, it will affect the 2018 elections in Wisconsin.  This means it will help both  read more