A movement to reform the Electoral College and elect the president based on the national popular vote has half the states it needs.
Republican Senator Mitch McConnell calls it “absurd and dangerous.” The Wall Street Journalsays it deserves to “die.” The Heritage Foundation calls it “unconstitutional.” The Washington Post calls it “flawed.” A Republican National Committee resolutionsays it is a radical, un-American, “questionable legal maneuver.”
It is awarding the presidency to the candidate who wins the most votes.
“The United States is not a democracy and shouldn’t be,” said Michael Munger, Duke University’s Political Science Department chairman and a 2008 Libertarian gubernatorial candidate attacking it at a League of Women Voters forum. “There is NO moral force in the majority. It is just what most people happen to think.”
These right-wingers are truly worried that a plan reforming the way the president-electing Electoral College works is gaining legal ground and could bring the biggest change in the political landscape in decades. The National Popular Vote plan would replace the current system, in which states award Electoral College delegates to whomever wins the presidential vote in that state, with a new interstate agreement where a participating state’s delegates would be bound to the national popular vote winner.
In other words, as soon as states with a total of 270 Electoral College delegates sign on—and they are halfway there—presidential elections where one state swayed the outcome, such as Ohio in 2004 and Florida in 2000, would be no more.
“It is born from a frustration of a system that is inherently broken, a system that allots two-thirds to three-fourths of resources in a presidential campaign in the last six or seven weeks to six states. That isn’t democracy,” said Pam Wilmot, Common Cause’s National Popular Vote coordinator. “We cannot and should not have a small number of states deciding the outcome of presidential elections for the rest of us.”
The idea that voters across the country—not just in politically split battleground states—would elect the president scares the Republican Party and arch conservatives on so many levels. It would upend the way candidates and political parties and consultants now work to retain their power and influence. It would force presidential nominees and parties to campaign in more racially diverse states, more cities and suburbs, addressing those communities and their concerns.
“We need to kill it in the cradle before it grows up,” McConnell told a Heritage Foundation audience last December.
Right-wingers say these changes are terrible, and not just because they might empower Democrats and relegate the GOP as it now exists to history’s dustbin. But even worse, they say this is a constitutional coup because the founders’ great insight was that some branches of the government—such as the presidency and Senate—had to be set apart from the passions of majority opinion and the tyranny of mob rule.
“It is a completely faulty intellectual argument,” said NPV founder, Stanford University’s John Koza. “It is oblivious to the fact that the mob rules now. In the first presidential election, only five states let people vote for president. And many of the founders, like Alexander Hamilton in New York, were very happy that the people did not vote for president. But it was left up to the states if people voted for president, and now 100 percent of the states let people vote for president.”
“So if you are against mob rule, you are against what we have now,” he continued. “The mob is Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida, which dominate presidential elections. The question is whether there is some virtue in having the mob in 35 states ignored in preference to the mobs in 15 states. It is a completely silly argument.”
National popular vote’s right-wing detractors are first drawn to the partisan implications, suggesting that this is a potential blue-state bonanza born out of revenge for Al Gore’s loss to George W. Bush in Florida in 2000. Then they are quick to point out that widely held contemporary notions of what our democracy consists of are wrong—and are not what the founding fathers envisioned at all.
“Democrats love this idea,” said Michael Uhlmann, professor of politics and policy at Claremont Graduate School and frequent Heritage Foundation speaker, in a recent debate with Koza. “Any Republican and conservative who signs onto it needs a psychiatric examination. These people aren’t foolish. There are real constraints imposed by the Electoral College system.”
Right-wingers like Uhlmann say that because human nature cannot be trusted, the founders created key governing bodies that were not elected, but instead consisted of wiser "elders" whose decisions put brakes on more impulsive majorities. The U.S. Senate was one such body and until the 17th Amendment passed in 1913, senators were appointed, not elected. The Electoral College, where 48 states (Nebraska and Maine are exceptions) award all their delegates to the state’s presidential victor, is another, because it spreads the real constitutional act of electing the president to special legislators who meet once every four years.
“The criticisms of the institutions of the Electoral College, based on an assumption that there is a mystical ‘will of the people’ that can be divined through elections, are misguided,” said Munger. “There is no better system for controlling political excesses, and forcing presidential candidates to represent the entire nation, that that created out of the original wisdom and compromises of the early 19th century.”
But according to Koza, who launched the National Popular Vote movement, there is a far better system: engaging the majority of American voters in choosing the president.
A national popular presidential vote is the natural next step in the country’s constitutional evolution that has expanded voting rights to all citizens in every state; not just to males, millionaires, landowners and slaveholders, as was the case when the nation was founded, Koza said. NPV elevates voters in every state, not just in tightly divided battleground states. Moreover, the conservatives’ obsession about insulating the presidency from mob rule does not hold up to reality, he said.
But it is perhaps the best argument the hard right has—because everything else they have thrown at NPV and are likely to throw at it as it comes closer to becoming a political reality—eight states plus the District of Columbia have signed on—is unlikely to prevail in federal court. Even noisy critics, like the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto, admit NPV “is not unconstitutional.” He just hopes it is “unenforceable.”
“Our bill is an interstate compact,” Koza said. “A state cannot get out of an interstate compact except on the terms of the compact itself. There’s 200 years where no court has ever allowed any state to weasel out of an interstate compact. It’s higher than the state Constitution. When a state enters into an interstate compact, it’s more binding than the state Constitution is.”
NVP: The Fine Print
The idea of a national popular vote to elect the president is not new. What is new is using the legal vehicle of an interstate compact, not a constitutional amendment, to get there.
The current national popular vote movement emerged out of a growing frustration with recent presidential campaigns. What happened in 2000 in Florida, when Al Gore won more popular votes nationally than George W. Bush but the Supreme Court intervened and awarded the presidency to Bush, was a turning point. But there have been other long-simmering frustrations with the way presidential elections unfold, most notably how most of the country is left watching the action in a few other states.
“You just can’t have an election coming down to 500 people or 20,000 people in an entire nation. It’s just crazy,” said Common Cause’s Wilmot. “The reason that it has such appeal is a basic sense that is consistently held in every demographic—Republican, Democratic, old, young, black, white—that the person with the most votes should win, and that every person’s vote in the election should count the same. And neither of those are true in our current system. And they feel it is wrong. And it is wrong.”
Wilmot is correct about NPV’s support. Majorities of American overwhelmingly back replacing the current Electoral College system with popular vote election of the president, according to Gallup, whose polls have tracked the issue for years. And it is not just Democrats who support this, although 71 percent of Democrats said they did, compared to 61 percent of Independents and 53 percent of Republicans polled last fall. But the Republicans who support NPV are cut from a different political cloth than the RNC leadership or conservative think tanks.
“I believe this is a center-right country and that our conservative ideas and ideals will win the day if we take the argument to all the people, not just those in battleground states,” wrote Laura Brod, a Republican member of Minnesota’s House since 2002. “There is a conservative story in favor of a national popular vote to be told.”
The U.S. Constitution grants state legislatures complete power over selecting Electoral College delegates. So the National Popular Vote movement has been working in 42 states to push for identical legislation to join an interstate compact binding their delegates to a presidential popular vote winner once enough states representing 270 delegates sign on—the Constitution’s requirement to elect a president.
Since 2007, eight states—Maryland, Illinois, Washington, New Jersey, California, Vermont, Hawaii, Massachusetts—and the District of Columbia have passed identical legislation, representing 132 delegates. The Republican critics like to note these are all blue states. Koza, in contrast, calls them “spectator states” that are tired of sitting on the national political sidelines.
“Every state that has enacted this is a spectator state,” he said. “And it is a much more difficult sell in the battleground states because the desires of the people who run the legislatures appreciate the current system, even though the voters of those states don’t support the current system. Look at the polls.”
The NPV compact does not replace the Electoral College; it modifies how states instruct their presidential electors to proceed, which is exactly what the Constitution tells states to do in Article Two. Massachusetts, for example, has done that nearly a dozen times in the past 200 years. It does not tell states or parties that they cannot hold the primaries and caucuses as they are now doing, starting in Iowa and New Hampshire. But after parties nominate their candidates, their picks would need to campaign in far more states and regions than is now the case. In effect, presidential elections would become national contests where candidates would have to speak to a broader range of voters.
“You’ll have to turn out your base,” said Wilmot. “There will be a get-out-the-vote effort everywhere, because you need to turn out your voters and every single one that you turn out is going to add to your total nationwide. And every one that is left at home is one you have to replace somewhere else, or else the other side will beat you in the ground game.”
A handful of states may pass the compact in 2012, Koza said, but presidential election years typically see shorter legislative sessions. Connecticut is a priority for Common Cause, Wilmot said. Other states are holding hearings, like Kansas and Alaska recently did. And there are ongoing efforts in states like New York, where it passed one legislative chamber but was not adopted by the other.
Here Come the Lawyers
The NPV compact’s authors know the law will be challenged in federal court once states representing 270 Electoral College votes sign on. They are confident that the compact is constitutional, which even some right-wing critics concede. Opponents have begun to claim it is unenforceable, saying that the chief election officer in a compact state cannot order a political party’s slate of presidential electors to vote for a candidate who did not win in their state. But Koza and other NPV backers say, yes they can, because state legislatures have absolute authority under the U.S. Constitution to do that.
That scenario, which one critic in Connecticut said “would substitute the will of outsiders for the determination of Connecticut citizens,” is a non-issue, Wilmot said, because Article Two gives states "plenary," the legal term for complete, power to establish rules over their state’s presidential electors.
“The election [of the next president] is in December [when the Electoral College meets], but for all intents and purposes for the American public, it’s on Election Day in November and the winner is declared at that time,” she said. The December meeting essentially becomes a “ceremonial, rubber stamp.”
Legal challenges would not delay the seating of the next president, she said, because the U.S. Constitution sets a timetable. That is different from Minnesota’s 2009 recount in its U.S. Senate race between Al Franken and Norm Coleman, which took months, because the U.S. Constitution does not have a timetable for seating U.S. senators.
Still, there will be no shortage of fear-based criticisms aimed at NPV as it edges closer to having states sign on with the needed 270 Electoral College delegates, but most of those have been rebutted in Koza’s book (available as a free download at the NPV Web site). That chapter, responding in great detail to “myths” about NPV, is 248 pages long.
One big misconception is the 12 largest states would become presidential deciders, Koza said. “That’s based on the misconception that the 12 largest states are controlled by the same party, but they’re not,” he said. Another misconception is the big cities will edge out small states in the presidential election process. “That’s factually wrong. A small state, Iowa or New Hampshire, is playing a big role in the nomination process,” Koza said, noting that NPV only affects the November election results. “Small states don’t become the presidential battlegrounds. They are just as ignored as the Californias.”
NPV would change the way money is spent in campaigns. No matter what vote counting system is in place, presidential campaigns always seek to raise as much money as they can—and then are forced to spend it wisely. NPV’s impact would be on the spending side, as the campaigns create and budget for messaging in different regions and media markets.
“Currently, TV is the biggest way money is spent. Remember TV markets are not just limited to cities,” Koza said. “They would campaign the way they do now. They would have personal messages and buy TV and radio and bumperstickers and print leaflets and do precinct walking—all of which can be delivered to any point in any state.”
And what of the right-wing critics who will continue to assert that America is not a democracy but a constitutional republic where the majority of voters should not get to vote for president—and for good reason, because of the tyranny of mob rule?
“Open a dictionary,” Koza replied. “Whether you are a democracy or not has nothing to do with whether you have a winner-take-all [Electoral College] rule. The president will still serve for four years. The federal legislature will still serve for two or six years, and they will make decisions on behalf of the public between elections. That’s the definition of a republic. These people who babble about democracy versus republic have never looked in the dictionary.”
Link to original article from AlterNet
Steven Rosenfeld covers democracy issues for AlterNet and is the author of "Count My Vote: A Citizen's Guide to Voting" (AlterNet Books, 2008).
Clean, Fair, Transparent Elections -
In 2013, some state legislators continue to push laws that would make it harder for eligible American citizens to vote. But there’s good news, too. More and more states are pressing measures to improve elections.
Below you will find a regularly-updated, comprehensive roundup of introduced, pending, active, and passed voting laws. (See a detailed summary of restrictive legislation, as of April 5th.)
Numbers Overview Since the beginning of 2013, restrictive voting bills have been introduced in more than half the states:
At least 80 restrictive bills were introduced in 31 states.
Of those, 62...
Brennan Center for Justice 23 Apr 2013 Hits:719 Resources and Papers
Over the last couple days, voter registration booths have been popping up in Ferguson. There was one by the ruined site of the recently burned-down QuikTrip convenience store, which has become a central gathering site of the protests, and another near the site where Michael Brown was shot.
Voter turnout was just 12 percent in Ferguson's last municipal election, and in a city that's 60 percent black, virtually all city officials are white. In December, the black superintendent of the Ferguson-Florissant school district was fired by the then all-white school board, and...
Tasneem Raja | Mother Jones 28 Aug 2014 Hits:464 CFTE Articles
On April 15, 2014 Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York State quietly signed into lawthe National Popular Vote, making New York the 10th state -- along with the District of Columbia -- to support this effort, while also boosting the total numbers to 165 of the 270 electoral votes needed to make a true national popular vote a reality. Every member of Congress has one Electoral College vote, which, along with D.C.'s three votes, makes a total of 538. Not an issue that receives much media coverage, this bill could be the...
Pearl Korn | Huffington Post 17 Jun 2014 Hits:611 CFTE Articles
Working ballot by ballot, county by county, the Republican Party is attempting to alter voting laws in the biggest and most important swing states in the country in hopes of carving out a sweeping electoral advantage for years to come.
Changes already on the books or in bills before state legislatures would make voting harder, create longer lines, and threaten to disenfranchise millions of voters from Ohio to Florida, Pennsylvania to Wisconsin, Georgia to Arizona and Texas.
Efforts underway include moving election days, ending early voting and forcing strict new voter ID...
Zachary Roth | MSNBC 25 Nov 2013 Hits:775 CFTE Articles
From courtrooms to the streets, civil rights advocates and grassroots organizations nationwide are doubling down to protect voters. Over the past few years, we witnessed an aggressive assault on voting rights, with a wave of policies making it harder to vote either passed or proposed in a majority of states. These measures included laws requiring current state-issued photo ID to vote, cuts to early voting and same-day registration and “show me your papers” proof-of-citizenship practices. The unprecedented attacks on democracy disproportionately affect voters of color. They are widespread, targeted and...
Judith Browne Dianis | BET 25 Nov 2013 Hits:787 CFTE Articles
Some states that have tightened their voter identification laws are using workarounds to avoid voting problems for women whose names have changed because of marriage or divorce – even as opponents of the laws warn there is still potential to disqualify female voters.
Voter ID laws are intensely controversial: the Justice Department is currently suing Texas and North Carolina to block their new, stricter laws, and lawsuits in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have also prevented voter ID laws from being implemented. Legislators supporting voter ID laws say they are necessary to prevent...
Martha T. Moore | USA Today 03 Nov 2013 Hits:638 CFTE Articles
A measure to scrap a new Republican-backed election law has enough signatures to qualify for the 2014 ballot, but legal challenges are expected.
A ballot measure to overturn a Republican-backed state bill that made sweeping changes to Arizona election law was certified this week as having more than enough valid signatures, but on Friday opponents vowed to challenge those signatures in court.
The effort to block the measure is the latest round in a growing fight in Arizona that revolves around voter participation and allegations of fraud.
Democrats contend that the Republican-led Legislature...
Cindy Carcamo | Los Angeles Times 02 Nov 2013 Hits:378 CFTE Articles
It is the kind of thought that rarely passes the lips of a member of the federal judiciary: I was wrong.
But there was Richard A. Posner, one of the most distinguished judges in the land and a member of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, saying he was mistaken in one of the most contentious issues in American politics and jurisprudence: laws that require people to show identification before they can vote.
Proponents of voter identification laws, who tend to be Republican, say the measures are necessary...
John Schwartz | The New York Times 18 Oct 2013 Hits:833 CFTE Articles
The man who wrote Arizona's "Papers Please" law before running for Kansas Secretary of State in 2010 on the premise of stamping out "voter fraud" there ... before winning and subsequently not being able to find much, if any of it, at all, is nonetheless still at work attempting to keep legitimate voters from being able to cast their vote under the premise that thousands of non-citizens are somehow, secretly, illegally voting in the state of Kansas.
"In Kansas, the illegal registration of alien voters has become pervasive," Kris Kobach's personal...
Brad Friedman | The Brad Blog 18 Oct 2013 Hits:844 CFTE Articles
ALEXANDRIA Virginia Democrats on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit against Republican Ken Cuccinelli, Gov. Bob McDonnell and the state elections board, claiming tens of thousands of voters are at risk of being wrongly purged from voter rolls ahead of the state’s gubernatorial election. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, was not listed on the court’s electronic docket, but a copy was obtained by The Associated Press. The Democratic Party of Virginia accuses election officials, including Cuccinelli in his role as Attorney General, of pressing forward with a...
Associated Press 04 Oct 2013 Hits:684 CFTE Articles
Suppression of the black vote has been a flashpoint since June, when the U.S Supreme Court struck down a key section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The decision opened the door for historically racist regions(mostly in the South) to pass anti-voter laws such as ID requirements that disproportionately disenfranchise Black, Latino and poor people—who happen to overwhelmingly vote Democratic. The GOP is happily charging ahead.
But a robust counteroffensice is underway, buoyed by the 50th anniversay of the March on Washington. Speakers such as presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinto, and...
James Thindwa | In These Times 23 Sep 2013 Hits:725 CFTE Articles
Attorney General Eric Holder said Friday that the Justice Department will continue its efforts to protect voting rights in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision which gutted the Voting Rights Act earlier this summer.
During remarks to the Congressional Black Caucus, Holder explained that the lawsuits filed to stop Texas’s discriminatory redistricting and voter ID laws are “just the beginning.”
“Thanks to the hard work of our Civil Rights Division, we are continuing to refine and re-focus current enforcement efforts across the country,” he said. “And while the suits we’ve filed...
Morgan Whitaker | MSNBC 23 Sep 2013 Hits:656 CFTE Articles
It will probably come as a surprise to most Americans that there is no affirmative right to vote in the U.S. Constitution as is the case, for example, with the 1st Amendment’s express affirmation of citizens’ constitutional rights relative to speech, press, religion, assembly and petition—rights which are fundamental to the maintenance of a liberal democracy.
Yet, we speak often of the right to vote in reverential terms and with the belief that it is as fundamental a right as those rights ensconced in the Constitution. Consent of the governed is...
Edwin Brown | Independent Voice 23 Sep 2013 Hits:682 CFTE Articles
Much has been justifiably made about the damage the Roberts Supreme Court has done to voting rights in their recent decision, Shelby County v. Holder. However, a potentially more insidious plot denying the precious right to vote is occurring in my own state of Michigan, where Republican Governor Rick Snyder has appointed an emergency manager to run Detroit in place of the duly elected mayor and City Council. Even more troubling, the governor did so after Michigan voters had rejected the emergency manager law at the ballot box, when late...
Rep. John Conyers, Jr | Huffington Post 16 Sep 2013 Hits:415 CFTE Articles
The Justice Department is preparing to take fresh legal action in a string of voting rights cases across the nation, U.S. officials said, part of a new attempt to blunt the impact of a Supreme Court ruling that the Obama administration has warned will imperil minority representation.
The decision to challenge state officials marks an aggressive effort to continue policing voting rights issues and follows a ruling by the court last month that invalidated a critical part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Justices threw out Section 5 of the landmark...
Sari Horwitz | The Washington Post 25 Jul 2013 Hits:615 CFTE Articles
The Senate Judiciary Committee held its first hearing today on the Voting Rights Act since the Supreme Court gutted the landmark civil rights law last month. The key witnesses were civil rights icon Representative John Lewis and Representative James Sensenbrenner, the former chair of the House Judiciary Committee who led the effort to overwhelmingly reauthorize the VRA in 2006.
In his testimony, Lewis described how he almost died fighting for the right to vote in 1965 and how friends of his never made it out of Mississippi alive. “I remember these...
Ari Berman | The Nation 22 Jul 2013 Hits:702 CFTE Articles
Access to the polls has not always been assured for all Americans, and before the Voting Rights Act of 1965, many were subjected to so-called literacy tests and poll tax.
The law was created to tackle such injustices, but in June, the of the legislation. Section 4 established a formula determining which states and localities had to get federal approval (known as pre-clearance) before changing their voting procedures.
The provision applied to nine states, mainly in the South, with a history of voter discrimination. The court deemed it unconstitutional for relying on...
Staff | NPR 22 Jul 2013 Hits:597 CFTE Articles
In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court has ruled Section 4 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act unconstitutional.
“Section 4’s formula is unconstitutional in light of current conditions,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote. “Coverage today is based on decades-old data and eradicated practices.”
The Court did not issue a holding on Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Basically, what this means is that while the Justice Department still has the authority to approve voting-related statutes in areas with a history of racial discrimination, the formula used to determine what those areas...
Aaron Blake | The Washington Post 25 Jun 2013 Hits:812 CFTE Articles
States may not require additional proof of citizenship on federal forms designed to streamline voter-registration procedures, the Supreme Court ruled Monday.
The court rejected a requirement passed by Arizona voters in 2004 that potential voters supply proof of eligibility beyond an applicant’s oath on the federal form that he or she is a citizen.
The court ruled 7 to 2 that the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 trumps Arizona’s Proposition 200.
The federal law “precludes Arizona from requiring a federal form applicant to submit information beyond that required by the form itself,”...
Robert Barnes | The Washington Post 17 Jun 2013 Hits:1176 CFTE Articles
A pair of Democratic congressmen is pushing an amendment that would place an affirmative right to vote in the U.S. Constitution. According to Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), who is sponsoring the legislation along with Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the amendment would protect voters from what he described as a “systematic” push to “restrict voting access” through voter ID laws, shorter early voting deadlines, and other measures that are being proposed in many states.
“Most people believe that there already is something in the Constitution that gives people the right to vote,...
Hunter Walker | TPM 28 May 2013 Hits:813 CFTE Articles
"The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which other rights are protected," wrote Thomas Paine in 1795.
Yet contrary to popular belief, there is no affirmative right to vote in the U.S. Constitution. This gap in our founding document has provided an opening for the wave of voter suppression measures that swept the country in recent years, and before that, the poll taxes and Jim Crow restrictions that disenfranchised millions. This week, two Congressmen -- both from states at the epicenter of today's voting rights struggles --...
Brendan Fisher | PR Watch 19 May 2013 Hits:1960 CFTE Articles
Federal Amendments of the 113th Congress
H.J.RES.29 introduced on February 15, 2013 by Rep. Richard M. Nolan. Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States providing that the rights extended by the Constitution are the rights of natural persons only.
H.J.RES.25 introduced on February 6, 2013 by Rep. Donna Edwards. Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to clarify the authority of Congress and the States to regulate the expenditure of funds for political activity by corporations.
S.J.RES.5 introduced on January 28, 2013 by Sen. Max Baucus. A joint resolution proposing...
26 Mar 2013 Hits:912 CFTE Articles
Posted Monday, March 4, 2013 by Molly Miller
From Campus Progress (Center For American Progress)
For many young people, even modest campaign contributions cut into a narrow personal budget. It's no wonder, then, that there is now such wide opposition to the 2010 Citizens United ruling, which established that corporations and s could make unlimited campaign contributions. Recently, West Virginians for Democracy took their discontent to the state capitol, calling upon state legislators to support a resolution that would encourage Congress for a constitutional amendment that would nullify the ruling.To date, eight...
Molly Miller 26 Mar 2013 Hits:678 CFTE Articles
From Progressive States Network
Charles Monacoon March 1, 2013 - 6:00pm
At least 6 of the 9 states covered in full by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act saw voter suppression efforts passed by their legislatures in 2012.
(Sources: Center for American Progress, Campus Progress and Fair Elections Legal Network)
26 Mar 2013 Hits:1009 CFTE Articles
As President Obama unveiled a statue of Rosa Parks at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, the Supreme Court considered overturning a key achievement of the civil rights movement: the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Signed in 1965 by President L. Johnson, the law requires several states and counties with a history of racial discrimination to clear election-related changes with the federal government. While the Supreme Court’s four liberal justices appeared willing to back the Voting Rights Act, conservative justices were much more critical. Justice Antonin Scalia described the law as a...
Democracy Now 26 Mar 2013 Hits:768 CFTE Articles
Dr. David Gill isn’t a “mad scientist,” nor was he, as a Bloomington, Ill. emergency room physician, out to destroy Medicare. However, the American Action Network (AAN), a 501(c)(4) “social welfare organization,” spent $1.5 million in 2012 telling the voters of the 13th Congressional District in Illinois exactly that. As a result, Gill, a Democrat, was forced to spend much of the waning days of his campaign responding to these anonymously funded attack ads. He lost his race against U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) by only .36 percent.
Now Gill is...
Rick Cohen | Nonprofit Quarterly 21 Feb 2013 Hits:991 CFTE Articles
Desmond Meade stood with his wife on the National Mall on that sunny Inauguration Day, listening to a speech delivered by a president he did not vote for. But he followed attentively, hoping to hear just a few words that might address a man like himself:
African-American, one-time homeless, recovered from substance abuse, and formerly incarcerated. His felony status kept him from voting for Obama, because as a Florida citizen he is not eligible to vote at all. He would leave D.C. disappointed, not only because he heard nothing about felony disenfranchisement,...
Brentin Mock | The Nation 09 Feb 2013 Hits:631 CFTE Articles
WASHINGTON — With studies suggesting that long lines at the polls cost Democrats hundreds of thousands of votes in November, party leaders are beginning a push to make voting and voter registration easier, setting up a likely new conflict with Republicans over a deeply polarizing issue.
White House officials have told Congressional leaders that the president plans to press for action on Capitol Hill, and Democrats say they expect him to highlight the issue in hisState of the Union address next week. Democrats in the House and Senate have already introduced...
JEREMY W. PETERS | The New York Times 05 Feb 2013 Hits:890 CFTE Articles
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Reps. John Lewis (D-Ga.), James Clyburn (D-S.C.), and Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) introduced tandem legislation to update the nation’s antiquated voting systems.
The bills launched last week on the 49th anniversary of the 24th Amendment, which eliminated the poll tax. They closely follow the Brennan Center’s longstanding recommendations for voting reform.
“The ramshackle voter registration system is a prime cause of long lines and Election Day chaos. We have a chance to modernize our elections so that every eligible citizen is on the rolls, with...
Brennan Center for Justice 31 Jan 2013 Hits:1370 CFTE Articles
As Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus promotes one of the most blatant assaults on democracy in modern times—a scheme to gerrymander the Electoral College so that the loser of the popular vote could win key states and the presidency—the number-one question from frustrated citizens is: What can we do about it?
After so many assaults on voting rights and the electoral process itself have been advanced, it is easy to imagine that Priebus, Karl Rove and their team could get away even with so audacious an initiative as the rigging...
John Nichols | The Nation 29 Jan 2013 Hits:794 CFTE Articles
As it is said when it comes to voting technology: As California goes, so goes the nation. To that end, there is some disturbing news on the horizon from BlackBoxVoting.org as the Internet Voting virus threatens to spread to the Golden State.
If you're not familiar with the many insane dangers of this idea, and if the Academy Awards' recent nightmare wasn't enough, here's an article or two or three or four from the past year or two here which should do well to appropriately scare the hell out of you.
Brad Friedman | BradBlog 29 Jan 2013 Hits:797 CFTE Articles
President Barack Obama won a commanding victory in this November’s elections, defeating Republican candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by nearly 4 percentage points in the popular vote. In doing so, President Obama became the first president to twice win more than 51 percent of the popular vote since President Dwight D. Eisenhower did so in 1956.
If a Republican plan to rig the Electoral College had been in effect in 2012, however, it is reasonably likely that President Romney would be the one...
Ian Millhiser | Center for American Progress 25 Jan 2013 Hits:992 CFTE Articles
Mickey Duniho: Evidence of Vote Counting Fraud in Pima County?
Editor's Note: With the analysis is a full video of the Election Integrity Commission's emergency meeting held on October 26th to hear retired NSA analyst Michael Duniho's
explanation of how his study of local elections support nationwide trends found in a paper published by Francois Choquette and James Johnson. Commission member Dr. Tom Ryan has a PhD in computer programming and agrees with what Duniho has discovered. The video begins with Benny White...
27 Dec 2012 Hits:1191 CFTE Articles
11/05/2012 [originally published at Election Protection Action, Inc.]
by Jill Simpson and Jim March [Download PDF of this article (MOVE Act nov 5th article.pdf ~2.5 Mb).]
The federal MOVE Act of 2009 (Military Overseas Voting Empowerment) was supposed to improve ballot access for every sort of overseas and/or military-away-from-home voter.
It had the unfortunate side-effect of opening up the single worst security hole in the US election process ever seen. This is...
27 Dec 2012 Hits:2121 CFTE Articles
“I want to thank every American who participated in this election,” President Obama said in his acceptance speech Tuesday, “whether you voted for the very first time or waited in line for a very long time.”
At the mention of long waits, Obama paused. “By the way, we have to fix that.”
Election Day saw news story after news story about interminable lines at polling stations. In some areas, people waited for two hours, three hours or more. To many observers, it seemed ludicrous that a country as advanced and as wealthy...
Brad Plumber | The Washington Post 09 Nov 2012 Hits:886 CFTE Articles
Two of the pivotal field offices in the country making phone calls to voters in swing states aren’t in Ohio or Colorado—they’re in Idaho Falls and Rexburg, Idaho.
Frank VanderSloot, head of a controversial “multi-level marketing” corporation that sells dietary supplements and cleaning supplies, is donating two of his company’s offices to Americans for Prosperity (AFP) to “create one of the largest call enters in the nation.”
Lee Fang | The Nation 30 Oct 2012 Hits:1090 CFTE Articles
The Free Press has previously reported, Scytl, a Barcelona based e-voting company will be counting votes in 26 states. They will be doing so through something called the Federal Overseas Voting Program or FVAP. FVAP is a program designed to allow military personnel and other overseas Americans to vote in their home districts seamlessly through electronically delivered absentee ballots.
Intercepting and changing these ballots, as well as voting electronically on behalf of service people that have no idea such a thing is happening, is...
Gerry Bello and Bob Fitrakis, The Free Press | Report 22 Oct 2012 Hits:1321 CFTE Articles
Electronic voting machines owned by Mitt Romney's business buddies and set to count the votes in Cincinnati could decide the 2012 election.
The narrative is already being hyped by the corporate media. As Kelly O'Donnell reported for NBC's Today Show on Monday, October 8, Ohio's Hamilton County is "ground zero" for deciding who holds the White House come January, 2013.
O'Donnell pointed out that no candidate has won the White House without carrying Ohio since John Kennedy did it in 1960. No Republican has ever won...
Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman | Common Dreams 14 Oct 2012 Hits:1254 CFTE Articles
Nine Republican governors have the power to put Mitt Romney in the White House, even if Barack Obama wins the popular vote.
With their secretaries of state, they control the electronic vote count in nine key swing states: Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, Arizona, and New Mexico. Wisconsin elections are under the control of the state's Government Accountability Board, appointed by the governor.
In tandem with the GOP's massive nation-wide disenfranchisement campaign, they could---in the dead of election night---flip their states' electronic votes to Romney and give him a victory in...
Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman 26 Sep 2012 Hits:6264 CFTE Articles
Because Bev Harris of Black Box Voting found a scheme of digital voter suppression in Shelby County (Greater Memphis), TN, by inspecting the voter history databases compared over several elections, activists are being encouraged to submit public records request for these databases.
In Shelby County, which is in the district of Rep. Steve Cohen, a rare Democratic House member from TN, voter histories were being retroactively erased to allow the voters to be purged as Inactive. 98% of the voters affected were African-American Democrats.
To deter this scheme elsewhere - especially where...
Mimi Kennedy - PDA Advisory Chair 25 Sep 2012 Hits:1043 CFTE Articles
In a setback for those trying to curb the secrecy behind election year 'issue ads' funded by shadowy special interests groups, the DC Circuit Court today overturned a lower federal court’s ruling which made public disclosure of such spending a statutory requirement.
The earlier decision, in the case Van Hollen v. Federal Election Commission, stipulated that nonprofit 501(c)(4) organizations like Americans for Prosperity and Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS as well as 501(c)(6) associations like the Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute would...
Common Dreams Staff 22 Sep 2012 Hits:1060 CFTE Articles
Why would I even ask that question? I've been trying (with virtually no success) to get everyone to drop the election obsession and focus on activism designed around policy changes, not personality changes. I want those policy changes to include stripping presidents of imperial powers. I don't see as much difference between the two available choices as most people; I see each as a different shade of disaster. I don't get distressed by the thought of people "spoiling" an election by voting for a legitimately good candidate like Jill Stein. ...
David Swanson | War Is A Crime 18 Sep 2012 Hits:918 CFTE Articles
Pity the poor Blue Dog. The ranks of self-proclaimed conservative Democrats have been decimated in recent years, victims of increasing polarization in Washington and the sweeping Republican takeover of the House in 2010.
But a new advocacy group has popped up this year with hopes of bolstering the remaining Blue Dogs and perhaps even helping a few new centrist lawmakers win election to Congress.
The nonprofit group, called Center Forward, has poured nearly $4 million into broadcast commercials aimed at helping conservative House Democrats keep their...
Don Eggen | The Washington Post 13 Sep 2012 Hits:1026 CFTE Articles
Having a home is not a prerequisite to vote in the United States. But activists and homeless service providers still face major challenges trying to help homeless Americans register.
Pitts v. Black (1984) and several subsequent cases in the 1980s and '90s established that homeless people could not be denied the right to vote because they did not live in a traditional residence. A shelter, park or street corner can be designated as a residence. In states that require...
Jin Zhao | AlterNet 10 Aug 2012 Hits:1033 CFTE Articles
Your presence is needed to send a message that elections matter and they must be verifiable.
Fact: “At the present time it is easy to cheat using our election computers and impossible to challenge a rigged election. The ease of cheating when matched with the impossibility of challenging any specific election requires court intervention in order to protect the purity of elections and ensure that we will have free elections.” Attorney Bill Risner
New Motion filed Aug 6th: The county ‘we only cheated once’ argument: http://tinyurl.com/cp928z7
John R Brakey | AuditAZ 08 Aug 2012 Hits:1081 CFTE Articles
Could a narrow focus on Citizens United actually set back our drive for democracy?
That's been a real worry of mine, but my thinking has been fussy. So I was relieved to see Matt Bai, the New York Times Magazine's political correspondent, take on the challenge of deciphering what can and cannot be laid at the feet of this awful ruling.
In "How Did Political Money Get This Loud?" Bai suggests that Citizens United mainly "intensified" unintended consequences of earlier reforms. He argues that the burst of political spending...
Frances Moore Lappé | Common Dreams 31 Jul 2012 Hits:1232 CFTE Articles
NEW CERTIFICATIONS, PLANNED EXPANSION:
Black Box Voting has been investigating and reporting on this disconcerting trend for nine years now. Everything we've been reporting has not only turned out to be true, but is increasing. A press release today about the planned expansion of Unisyn into more USA locations renews attention on foreign ownership of corporations selling voting systems into the United States.
Unisyn is owned by a Malaysian gambling outfit. Another major elections industry player, Canada's Dominion, purchased the massive Diebold Election Systems division (which it shares with ES&S); Dominion also...
Black Box Voting 20 Jul 2012 Hits:1128 CFTE Articles
Leaders in the House of Representatives introduced The Voter Empowerment Act of 2012 to protect and promote our freedom to vote. This bill seeks to provide more access to the ballot, more efficiency in our election systems, and more accountability in our elections.
The ability to cast a ballot that will be counted is a fundamental freedom that protects the other essential rights that Americans hold dear. The freedom to vote is how Americans, regardless of privilege or economic status, maintain the power to hold...
DEMOS 20 May 2012 Hits:1022 CFTE Articles
WASHINGTON -- Advocacy groups spending millions of dollars in the 2012 campaign are now faced with the prospect of having to reveal the donors who have been secretly financing their efforts after a federal appellate court panel refused to block a lower court order requiring the move.
In a 2 to 1 decision issued Monday evening, a U.S. Court of Appeals panel in Washington declined to stay a ruling by a federal judge requiring organizations that run election-related television ads to disclose their donors.
Matea Gold | LA Times 17 May 2012 Hits:1018 CFTE Articles
We saw him just the other day. He makes a great impression: well dressed, articulate, at ease in front of an audience. He is young (forty,) passionate about his convictions, well-versed in domestic and foreign policy. His positions would warm the heart and conscience of any liberal/progressive Democrat. He has graduate degrees, has worked to educate and train convicts, teaches history to middle and high school students, and has taught college and graduate courses. He does work for the Humane Society. His resources exceed...
Sam and Stephanie Levine | PDA Palm Beach 18 Mar 2012 Hits:1108 CFTE Articles
A federal court has rejected an appeal from the Republican National Committee to modify a 30-year-old legal agreement that prevented it from engaging in one of the most offensive forms of voter suppression: targeting minority voters whose credentials were to be challenged once they enter polling places.
The unanimous opinion of the three-judge-court of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit was a stunning rebuke of an ongoing effort by the RNC to use any means necessary to game the outcome of elections.
Steven Rosenfeld | Sourced from AlterNet 08 Mar 2012 Hits:1845 CFTE Articles
SUMMARY While it seems like everything can be done online these days, that's not actually the case when it comes to elections. Science correspondent Miles O'Brien explores the security, logistical and secrecy challenges of Internet voting.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Now another kind of election story, as both parties ramp up their efforts to get voters to the polls this fall.
NewsHour science correspondent Miles O'Brien explores why most people still can't vote online.
NATALIE TENNANT, West Virginia secretary of state: We don't have archives. There are some secretaries around the...
Miles O'Brien | PBS News Hour 19 Feb 2012 Hits:1502 CFTE Articles
THE 2012 general election campaign is likely to be a fight for every last vote, which means that it will also be a fight over who gets to cast one.
Partisan skirmishing over election procedures has been going on in state legislatures across the country for several years. Republicans have called for cutbacks in early voting, an end to same-day registration, higher hurdles for ex-felons, the presentation of proof-of-citizenship documents and regulations discouraging registration drives. The centerpiece of this effort has been a national...
Alexander Keyssar | New York Times Opinion 19 Feb 2012 Hits:1239 CFTE Articles
A movement to reform the Electoral College and elect the president based on the national popular vote has half the states it needs.
Republican Senator Mitch McConnell calls it “absurd and dangerous.” The Wall Street Journalsays it deserves to “die.” The Heritage Foundation calls it “unconstitutional.” The Washington Post calls it “flawed.” A Republican National Committee resolutionsays it is a radical, un-American, “questionable legal maneuver.”
It is awarding the presidency to the candidate who wins the most votes.
“The United States is not a democracy and shouldn’t be,” said Michael Munger, Duke University’s Political Science...
Steven Rosenfeld | AlterNet 07 Feb 2012 Hits:2283 CFTE Articles
The argument over whether voters should have to present photo identification at the polls usually splits along party lines. Republicans who favor the requirement say it prevents ballot fraud. Democrats and election rights groups who oppose it say it is meant to suppress turnout.
And people of all political stripes wonder what all the fuss is about.
Most Americans are accustomed to whipping out photo IDs at work, the bank or even their own apartment buildings. And their driver's license — perhaps the most common...
Corey Dade | NPR 28 Jan 2012 Hits:1211 CFTE Articles
The voting systems in use for the nation's first three all-important electoral contests in the 2012 primary --- from Iowa to New Hampshire to Saturday's South Carolina Primary --- go from pretty great to intolerably horrible. And then comes Florida, which deserves its very own special category, thereafter.
The "First-in-the-Nation" caucuses in Iowa allowed voters to vote on hand-marked paper ballots, counted by hand in front of the public at the caucus site, with results announced to everyone right then and there before being called in...
Brad Friedman | The Brad Blog 20 Jan 2012 Hits:3973 CFTE Articles
As we enter another election cycle, our most urgent challenge will be to ensure that the right to vote and the right to have that vote counted is protected. It comes as no surprise that this “basic right, without which all others are meaningless” has come under massive attack as we prepare to re-elect the first Black POTUS, who was swept into office by voters of color, youth and women.
Voter suppression efforts take a variety of forms. Certainly there are the blatant efforts to legislatively restrict...
Nancy A. Heitzeg, Critical Mass Progress | News Analysis 08 Jan 2012 Hits:1565 CFTE Articles
Senators Ben Cardin (Md.) and Charles Schumer (N.Y.) have introduced a bill that would impose greater criminal and civil penalties for individuals who attempted to trick voters for political gain.
The legislation is an effort to crack down on misleading campaign literature like the 2010 Maryland “robocall” incident during the state’s gubernatorial election.
“Efforts to mislead and confuse eligible voters by distributing false and deceptive voting information and campaign literature is part of what seems to be a larger strategy to keep certain voters away from the...
Jon Christian | Sourced from Campus Progress 17 Dec 2011 Hits:1247 CFTE Articles
"We need to pay attention to this, " says Ed Schultz. "171 electoral votes are in play."
He calls it a series of laws that could have a "political tsunami" effect ont he rights of groups like the elderly, the poor, minorities, the rural and students to vote in the next election--and potentially even have an effect on the election's outcome. These are "laws across more than a dozen states designed to severely reduced voter participation." And the voters from these groups are Democratic constituents.
Sarah Seltzer | Sourced from AlterNet 17 Dec 2011 Hits:1110 CFTE Articles
Austin, Texas - Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Tuesday entered the turbulent political waters of voting rights, signaling that the Justice Department would be aggressive in reviewing new voting laws that civil rights advocates say will dampen minority participation in next year’s elections.
Declaring in a speech that protecting ballot access for all eligible voters “must be viewed not only as a legal issue but as a moral imperative,” Mr. Holder urged Americans to “call on our political parties to resist the...
Charlie Savage, New York Times News Service | Report 14 Dec 2011 Hits:1302 CFTE Articles
Last-minute robo-calls in 2010 tried to discourage African-American vote
A Maryland jury on Tuesday convicted Paul E. Schurick, the 2010 campaign manager for Republican ex-Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., of four counts of election law violations stemming from an Election Day decision to make thousands of recorded telephone calls into African-American homes telling likely voters that the Democratic candidate was on his way to winning -- implying there was no need for them to vote. The gambit came after exit polls showed Ehrlich losing.
Steven Rosenfeld | Sourced from AlterNet 06 Dec 2011 Hits:1236 CFTE Articles
Dwight Eisenhower backed the 18-year-old vote nearly 60 years ago. Richard Nixon backed it a decade and a half later. Forty years ago, every Republican in the Senate supported amending the Constitution to lower the voting age to 18 across the nation. Only 19 Representatives opposed the amendment in the House.
The key argument: If you're old enough to get drafted and die and kill for your country, you're old enough to cast ballots for the people likely to order you into battle. The only way...
Meteor Blades | Sourced from Daily Kos 05 Dec 2011 Hits:1281 CFTE Articles
DCCC Chairman Steve Israel announced a major Voter ID education initiative to be headed by House Assistant Leader Jim Clyburn (D-SC).
“The DCCC will be announcing a major voter protection initiative headed by Jim Clyburn that will deal with legal, public relations and related strategies to make sure every American who has the right to vote is able to vote,” Chairman Israel said.
“If the Democrats have one scintilla of a chance of either taking the House back or keeping the Senate or retaining the Presidency we...
Lauren Victoria Burke | Politics 365 22 Nov 2011 Hits:3160 CFTE Articles
“This year, thirty-four state legislatures introduced bills requiring photo identification in order to vote. This rash of legislation classifies several previously accepted IDs as unacceptable, and will affect roughly 21 million Americans if they are passed.”
Ninety-seven-year-old Emma Lee Green balances an armload of old books and yellowing papers around the stacks of musty files in her San Bernardino attic. She remembers well the days of Jim Crow, poll taxes and literacy tests that barred many African-American citizens from the voting booth.
Americans set their...
Chris Levister | New America Media 19 Nov 2011 Hits:1236 CFTE Articles
House Democratic members held a forum on recent voter identification requirements in Kansas, Tennessee, and Wisconsin, which had passed voter identification measures requiring a photo ID to vote. They focused on the potential impact of these laws on minority, low-income, elderly and student voters.
C-SPAN 14 Nov 2011 Hits:946 CFTE Articles
“Folks like the Koch brothers are attempting to ensure that as few people of color and as few young people show up as possible,” says NAACP President Ben Jealous.
Today residents of Mississippi will decide whether voters must produce a government-issued ID in order to cast a ballot and voters in Maine will choose whether to keep or overturn a new law banning election day voter registration, which had previously been on the books since 1973.
These votes occur amidst the backdrop of an unprecedented, ...
Ari Berman | Nation of Change 07 Nov 2011 Hits:1085 CFTE Articles
Our freedom is under attack.
This year alone, 30 state legislatures have introduced bills intended to make it harder for you to exercise your right to vote. This effort is coordinated and targeted, and it is a throwback to a time that no one in our nation will want to revisit.
We will not stand by silently and let this happen. In states across the country, the NAACP and our allies are leading a wide-ranging coalition of organizations to make sure that your rights are protected. But...
Benjamin Todd Jealous |NAACP 05 Nov 2011 Hits:1288 CFTE Articles
Contact us at:email@example.com
Listen to this month's call with special guest Ohio State Rep. Alicia Reece, sponsor of the Ohio Voter Bill of Rights. Rep. Reece will discuss where they are now in the process, what PDA members can do to help and the electoral transition from...
Listen in this month as we review currently endorsed legislation (S 123/HR 12, HR 280 and HR 281, and HJ Res 44), legislation under consideration (S 2516 and HR 148), and candidate endorsements of Eliott Faucz and Tate McCall.
Listen to this month's call as we endorse HR 292/S 132 New Columbia Admissions Act, which would grant Washington, DC state status, thus, ending their disenfranchisement. This is also the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, so listen in as we...
Listen to this great call as the team shares what is happening on the ground in states around the nation, discusses plans for addressing it, and prepares to take concrete action on voter suppression and voting irregularities going in the 2014...
Discussion of the Democracy Restoration Act - a bill to restore voting rights in Federal elections to people with past felony convictions upon release from prison, plus the challenges we are facing and how we will prepare our communities for...
Listen as Andrea Miller leads the call and discusses with the group plans and strategies for getting HR 12, the Voting Empowerment Act, passed.
PDA is organized around several core issues. These issues include:
Each team hosts a monthly conference call. Calls feature legislators, staffers and other policy experts. On these calls we determine PDA legislation to support as well as actions and future events.