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“Targeted Demobilization Of Minority Voters”: The Most Disgraceful Practice In American Politics Today

It’s called “targeted demobilization of minority voters.” The phrase comes from Perspectives on Politics, a leading journal published by the American Political Science Association. December’s issue includes a sobering article by Keith G. Bentele and Erin E. O’Brien titled, “Jim Crow 2.0? Why States Consider and Adopt Restrictive Voter Access Policies.” The abstract tells the basic story:

Recent years have seen a dramatic increase in state legislation likely to reduce access for some voters, including photo identification and proof of citizenship requirements, registration restrictions, absentee ballot voting restrictions, and reductions in early voting. Political operatives often ascribe malicious motives when their opponents either endorse or oppose such legislation. In an effort to bring empirical clarity and epistemological standards to what has been a deeply-charged, partisan, and frequently anecdotal debate, we use multiple specialized regression approaches to examine factors associated with both the proposal and adoption of restrictive voter access legislation from 2006-2011. Our results indicate that proposal and passage are highly partisan, strategic, and racialized affairs. These findings are consistent with a scenario in which the targeted demobilization of minority voters and African Americans is a central driver of recent legislative developments…. [emphasis added]

Bentele and O’Brien’s statistical analysis of 2006-2011 data makes plain what was already pretty obvious. Republican governors and legislatures have sought to hinder minority turnout for partisan purposes. States were especially likely to pass restrictive voting laws if Republicans were politically dominant, but where the state observed rising minority turnout or where the state was becoming more competitive in the national presidential race. Variables that capture the strategic value to Republicans of minority voter suppression are more powerful predictors of restrictive voting legislation than is actual incidence of voter fraud.

This is the most disgraceful and toxic practice in American political life. It’s out there. It’s blatant. I keep waiting for decent conservatives to speak out against this stuff. Now that would be a Sister Souldjah moment worth watching. So far, no takers.

Memories of these efforts will darken the Republican Party’s reputation for many years. It certainly should.


By: Harold Pollack, Ten Miles Square, The Washington Monthly, December 30, 2013

January 2, 2014 Posted by | Civil Rights, Republicans, Voter Suppression | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“In The Face Of Federal Law”: Republicans Decided To Commit Voter Fraud To Prove That It Existed

A confusing but heartening decision in Pennsylvania today, where the judge basically ruled that people can vote with or without picture ID.

This is at least the fourth state where conservatives and Republicans trying to pursue voter suppression legislation have lost. We have Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, and now the good old Keystone State. Here for example is the Florida news from late August. And here’s a little summary. A few voter ID laws did get pre-clearance from the Justice Department, in Virginia and New Hampshire, but these are “non-strict” voter ID requirements, meaning that voters without ID can still vote by signing an affadavit vouching for their own identity.

Multiple choice quiz. What is happening here?

A. Vast conspiracy among left-wing judges, joined by the media, to let the freeloaders of America vote without paying taxes.

B. Plot by Acorn, Hugo Chavez, Bill Ayres, and Frantz Fanon, and if you think it matters that Fanon has been dead for 51 years, you don’t understand how these things work.

C. This Little Thing We Have Called Federal Law

In other words, friends, federal law very clearly, and for what I should think are rather obvious historical reasons, comes down on the default side of letting people vote. The law, and the judges seated to uphold it, will generally frown on attempts to impinge upon the franchise in the ways Republicans wish to do.

It’s also just amazing, isn’t it, that the only voter fraud scandal of this election (alleged, at this point) is a Republican one. Unable to find any cases of actual voter fraud on the Democratic side, the Republicans have apparently decided to go out and commit some to prove with finality that the problem exists!

It’s nice to see that open cheating still doesn’t work.


Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, October 2, 2012

October 3, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Negating Democracy And Equality”: What Happens If GOP’s Voter Suppression Works?

Suppose Mitt Romney ekes out a victory in November by a margin smaller than the number of young and minority voters who couldn’t cast ballots because the photo-identification laws enacted by Republican governors and legislators kept them from the polls. What should Democrats do then? What would Republicans do? And how would other nations respond?

As suppositions go, this one isn’t actually far-fetched. No one in the Romney camp expects a blowout; if he does prevail, every poll suggests it will be by the skin of his teeth. Numerous states under Republican control have passed strict voter identification laws. Pennsylvania, Texas, Indiana, Kansas, Tennessee and Georgia require specific kinds of ID; the laws in Michigan, Florida, South Dakota, Idaho and Louisiana are only slightly more flexible. Wisconsin’s law was struck down by a state court.

Instances of voter fraud are almost nonexistent, but the right-wing media’s harping on the issue has given Republican politicians cover to push these laws through statehouse after statehouse. The laws’ intent, however, is entirely political: By creating restrictions that disproportionately impact minorities, they’re supposed to bolster Republican prospects. Ticking off Republican achievements in Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives, their legislative leader, Mike Turzai, extolled in a talk last month that “voter ID . . . is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”

How could Turzai be so sure? The Pennsylvania Department of State acknowledges that as many as 759,000 residents lack the proper ID. That’s 9.2 percent of registered voters, but the figure rises to 18 percent in heavily black Philadelphia. The law also requires that the photo IDs have expiration dates, which many student IDs do not.

The pattern is similar in every state that has enacted these restrictions. Attorney General Eric Holder has said that 8 percent of whites in Texas lack the kind of identification required by that state’s law; the percentage among blacks is three times that. The Justice Department has filed suit against Southern states whose election procedures are covered by the 1965 Voting Rights Act. It is also investigating Pennsylvania’s law, though that state is not subject to some provisions of the Voting Rights Act.

If voter suppression goes forward and Romney narrowly prevails, consider the consequences. An overwhelmingly and increasingly white Republican Party, based in the South, will owe its power to discrimination against black and Latino voters, much like the old segregationist Dixiecrats. It’s not that Republicans haven’t run voter suppression operations before, but they’ve been under-the-table dirty tricks, such as calling minority voters with misinformation about polling-place locations and hours. By contrast, this year’s suppression would be the intended outcome of laws that Republicans publicly supported, just as the denial of the franchise to Southern blacks before 1965 was the intended result of laws such as poll taxes. More ominous still, by further estranging minority voters, even as minorities constitute a steadily larger share of the electorate, Republicans will be putting themselves in a position where they increasingly rely on only white voters and where their only path to victory will be the continued suppression of minority votes. A cycle more vicious is hard to imagine.

It’s also not a cycle calculated to endear America to the rest of the world. The United States abolished electoral apartheid in the 1960s for reasons that were largely moral but were also geopolitical. Eliminating segregation and race-specific voting helped our case against the Soviets during the Cold War, particularly among the emerging nations of Asia and Africa. It’s not likely that many, anywhere, would favorably view what is essentially a racially based restriction of the franchise. China might well argue that our commitment to democracy is a sham.

And what should Democrats do if Romney comes to power on the strength of racially suppressed votes? Such an outcome and such a presidency, I’d hope they contend, would be illegitimate — a betrayal of our laws and traditions, of our very essence as a democratic republic. Mass demonstrations would be in order. So would a congressional refusal to confirm any of Romney’s appointments. A presidency premised on a racist restriction of the franchise creates a political and constitutional crisis, and responding to it with resigned acceptance or inaction would negate America’s hard-won commitment to democracy and equality.

The course on which Republicans have embarked isn’t politics as usual. We don’t rig elections by race in America, not anymore, and anyone who does should not be rewarded with uncontested power.


By: Harold Meyerson, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, Originally published July 24, 2012,

August 8, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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