It’s true that the recall election was never intended to replace our representative form of government, and it’s most certainly not a tool to be used lightly. However, when elected officials subvert the will of those they represent, enacting a radical agenda that seeks to concentrate power in the hands of the very few and jeopardizing the livelihoods of the people they are supposed to protect, the exercise of the constitutionally guaranteed right to force a recall election is a just and proper tool to hold those elected officials accountable for their actions.
And, although the use of the recall election is an appropriate expression of voter outrage, the fact remains that the actual undertaking of a recall election is an incredibly daunting task that requires collecting a great amount of signatures in a relatively short period of time. Here in Wisconsin, the number of valid signatures required to trigger a recall election is equal to 25 percent of the number of persons who voted in the last election for the office of governor within the electoral district of the officer sought to be recalled. Even more of a challenge, these signatures, numbering in the thousands, or possibly even hundreds of thousands, must be collected in a mere 60 days.
These requirements are incredibly stringent, and in being so, protect the integrity of the electoral process by ensuring that the recall election is not used to undermine representative democracy. Prior to the historic recall filings of the past few weeks, Wisconsin has only had four recalls of state officials, dating back to 1926, when, at the very heart of the Progressive movement, the Wisconsin Constitution was amended to provide for the recall of elected officials. Two of those four were successful.
The unprecedented efforts of thousands of engaged citizens only serve to illustrate the significance of the events of recent weeks, where the tremendous momentum against Republican legislators who enabled Gov. Scott Walker’s extreme power grab continues unabated, and where Wisconsinites continue to express their outrage over record cuts to education, healthcare, and support for our seniors and the most vulnerable, while granting tax cuts for the very rich.
It’s clear that the tide is turning in Wisconsin. The people have sent an unmistakable signal to an intransigent governor and his rubber-stamp legislature that their divisive methods and preference for placing narrow and partisan corporate interests over the people they represent have been rejected, and there is no choice now but to know that the voices of thousands of working Wisconsin families will be heard.
The actions of the Republican legislators facing recall are extreme, dangerous, and way out of step with Wisconsin values. Through the power of their ballots in recall elections, Wisconsinites have the opportunity to hold their elected officials accountable and effect immediate change so they are no longer subject to the will of politicians more concerned with promoting the agenda of their party bosses than with keeping their promises to represent the will of their constituents.
Recall elections send a direct message to elected officials—that they will be held responsible for the promises they make to the people they represent, and if they fail to keep those promises, they risk drawing the ire of the electorate.
Recall is undoubtedly a powerful tool, but it does not weaken democracy. If anything, it enhances it.
By: Mike Tate, U. S. News and World Report, May 10, 2011
Less than a year before the 2012 presidential voting begins, Republican legislatures and governors across the country are rewriting voting laws to make it much harder for the young, the poor and African-Americans — groups that typically vote Democratic — to cast a ballot.
Spreading fear of a nonexistent flood of voter fraud, they are demanding that citizens be required to show a government-issued identification before they are allowed to vote. Republicans have been pushing these changes for years, but now more than two-thirds of the states have adopted or are considering such laws. The Advancement Project, an advocacy group of civil rights lawyers, correctly describes the push as “the largest legislative effort to scale back voting rights in a century.”
Anyone who has stood on the long lines at a motor vehicle office knows that it isn’t easy to get such documents. For working people, it could mean giving up a day’s wages.
A survey by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law found that 11 percent of citizens, 21 million people, do not have a current photo ID. That fraction increases to 15 percent of low-income voting-age citizens, 18 percent of young eligible voters and 25 percent of black eligible voters. Those demographic groups tend to vote Democratic, and Republicans are imposing requirements that they know many will be unable to meet.
Kansas’ new law was drafted by its secretary of state, Kris Kobach, who also wrote Arizona’s anti-immigrant law. Voters will be required to show a photo ID at the polls. Before they can register, Kansans will have to produce a proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate.
Tough luck if you don’t happen to have one in your pocket when you’re at the county fair and you pass the voter registration booth. Or when the League of Women Voters brings its High School Registration Project to your school cafeteria. Or when you show up at your dorm at the University of Kansas without your birth certificate. Sorry, you won’t be voting in Lawrence, and probably not at all.
That’s fine with Gov. Sam Brownback, who said he signed the bill because it’s necessary to “ensure the sanctity of the vote.” Actually, Kansas has had only one prosecution for voter fraud in the last six years. But because of that vast threat to Kansas democracy, an estimated 620,000 Kansas residents who lack a government ID now stand to lose their right to vote.
Eight states already had photo ID laws. Now more than 30 other states are joining the bandwagon of disenfranchisement, as Republicans outdo each other to propose bills with new voting barriers. The Wisconsin bill refuses to recognize college photo ID cards, even if they are issued by a state university, thus cutting off many students at the University of Wisconsin and other campuses. The Texas bill, so vital that Gov. Rick Perry declared it emergency legislation, would also reject student IDs, but would allow anyone with a handgun license to vote.
A Florida bill would curtail early voting periods, which have proved popular and brought in new voters, and would limit address changes at the polls. “I’m going to call this bill for what it is, good-old-fashioned voter suppression,” Ben Wilcox of the League of Women Voters told The Florida Times-Union.
Many of these bills were inspired by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a business-backed conservative group, which has circulated voter ID proposals in scores of state legislatures. The Supreme Court, unfortunately, has already upheld Indiana’s voter ID requirement, in a 2008 decision that helped unleash the stampede of new bills. Most of the bills have yet to pass, and many may not meet the various balancing tests required by the Supreme Court. There is still time for voters who care about democracy in their states to speak out against lawmakers who do not.
By: The New York Times, Editorial, April 26, 2011
Congress shall have only the powers literally, specifically and expressly granted herein, and no others. That means definitely, without question, absolutely, no regulation of the Health Insurance or Financial Services industries. The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected not directly by the People, but by other people whom the People have elected to better represent the People.
Any law enacted by Congress and signed by the President may be overturned by the vote of three or more States if they find it burdensome, offensive, annoying or in any way touching on Health Insurance, Property Rights or Guns.
Congress shall have no power to raise Taxes except on February 29, and then only if all the People of the United States approve such a measure unanimously, in writing and in English.
Congress shall balance the Federal Budget, preferably by eliminating the Departments of Labor, Energy, Education and State.
The preceding provision shall not apply to spending for the Department of Defense, appropriations for which shall increase three times as quickly as the growth in gross domestic product and upon the approval of House leadership in conference with Boeing, Halliburton, the Ashcroft Group and Kissinger Associates.
Arizona shall have the power to regulate Immigration.
No person except a natural-born Citizen who can produce video, photographic or eyewitness evidence of birth in a non-island American State shall be eligible to the Office of President.
The President shall faithfully execute the laws, except when, as Commander in Chief, he decides he’d really rather not.
The President shall not negotiate any Treaty without first receiving a signed and notarized note granting him permission, personally executed by every member of the Senate and the House, all 50 Governors and the editorial board of the Weekly Standard. Suspected Terrorists shall be taken to Guantanamo and drawn and quartered in a public ceremony. Trials are optional, but if they occur, must be conducted in a Military Tribunal in which coerced statements are admissible so long as they support a Guilty verdict.
1. Congress shall make no law abridging the Freedom of Speech, except where citizens desecrate the Flag of the United States; respecting an establishment of Religion, except to support Christian schools, religious apparitions in food products and the display of crosses and creches in public places; or abridging the free exercise of Religion, except to block the construction of mosques in sensitive areas as determined by Florida Pastors or the Fox News Channel.
2. The right to bear Semi-Automatic Weapons, AK-47s or Bazookas shall not be infringed by background checks, safety locks, age limits or common sense.
3. The right of Corporations, Hedge Funds, Business Leaders and Lobbyists to spend endless cash on campaigns and influence-purchasing shall not be infringed. The so-called right of Unions to associate shall be denied as fundamentally un-American and contrary to the agenda of the Chamber of Commerce.
4. Marriage and the benefits thereof shall be restricted to the Union of a Man and a Woman, consecrated in a Christian house of worship, with vows to expose any and all progeny to daily viewings of Bill O’Reilly.
5. All persons born or naturalized in the United States are Citizens of the United States of Real America only if their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents were Citizens, and only if they pledge opposition to Health Insurance Reform or New Taxation. Any Citizen convicted of providing material support to Terrorist organizations, wearing clothing bearing images created by Shepard Fairey, or displaying Nancy Pelosi bumper stickers shall be stripped of Citizenship.
6. Aliens, of this world or another, shall have none of the rights guaranteed herein to Citizens.
7. Corporations shall have all of the rights guaranteed herein to Citizens, and then some.
8. No White Male shall be denied equal protection of the law through Affirmative Action or otherwise. In keeping with the intent of the Framers, as discerned by the Honorable Justice Antonin Scalia, distinctions on the basis of sex shall not be deemed to deny equal protection.
9. The right to be uninsured and make other people pay the costs of one’s Health Care shall not be infringed under any circumstances.
10. Congress shall make no law limiting Americans’ right to warm the Planet by using all the energy they darn well please.
11. The Unborn shall have the rights to life, to vote, to bear arms, to practice Religion except in a mosque in Lower Manhattan (see First Amendment) and to make campaign contributions, but once the child is born, it shall have no rights if it is an Alien (see Sixth Amendment).
12. No one may be required to do anything He or She does not want to do. Ever.
Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the Members present the Sixth Day of January in the Year of our Lord Two Thousand and Eleven. In witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our names, [REDACTED]
By: David Cole who teaches Constitutional Law at Georgetown University and is the legal affairs correspondent for the Nation : Published, Washington Post-January 6, 2011