Republicans lied in Wisconsin: Here’s how you know the state’s voter ID law is a complete sham

Republicans lied in Wisconsin: Here's how you know the state's voter ID law is a complete sham

REUTERS/Yuri Gripas – RTR4NN60(Credit: Reuters)


No rule in politics is absolute, but, generally speaking, you’d be well served to keep this one in mind: If a politician is not willing to spend money on something they say they support, then their support is about as real as Santa Claus.

Unless you view politics as nothing more than an entertaining pastime for overeducated squares who weren’t cute enough to make it in Hollywood — i.e., you actually look forward to “nerd prom,” God help you — then the point of the whole endeavor is to get big things done.

And getting big things done not only requires money but, perhaps more importantly, requires conflict. This is often because someone’s going to have to pony up, I’ll admit. But that’s not always the case; and sometimes the rejection involves turning down money, too. (See: the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion.)

All of which is to say something that’s been said about politics countless times already, and will no doubt be said again and again and again: Talk is cheap. And cheap is something that public policy — if it’s good, at least — usually is not.

So when you read this report from Pro Publica’s Sarah Smith, what it should tell you, as if you didn’t know already, is that the legislature in Wisconsin couldn’t care less when it comes to improving its elections. Because that is not what its voter ID law is about:

On April 5, when voters cast ballots in Wisconsin’s Republican and Democratic primaries, the state’s controversial voter ID bill will face its biggest test since Governor Scott Walker signed it into law in 2011. For the first time in a major election, citizens will be required to show approved forms of identification in order to vote. The law mandates that the state run a public-service campaign “in conjunction with the first regularly scheduled primary and election” to educate voters on what forms of ID are acceptable.

But Wisconsin has failed to appropriate funds for the public education campaign. The result is that thousands of citizens may be turned away from the polls simply because they did not understand what form of identification they needed to vote.

Doesn’t look too good for those who argue that, contrary to Democrats’ claims, voter ID laws are not intended to suppress the Democratic vote, does it? Well, it gets worse.

Because this isn’t a case of bureaucratic miscommunication; this isn’t about the state government’s left hand not knowing what its right hand is doing. According to Smith’s reporting, the decision to provide a statewide education campaign with all of zero dollars was about as intentional-looking as it gets:

Wisconsin’s failure to fund these public-service ads comes after a clash between the Government Accountability Board, the nonpartisan agency responsible for producing voter education materials, and the Republican-controlled legislature. In October, the agency met with Republican State Senator Mary Lazich, who was a primary sponsor of the voter ID bill in 2011, to inquire after funding and received a tepid response.

The board told Lazich that it would need $300,000 to $500,000 from the state legislature to broadcast advertisements. The legislature had twice appropriated money for public information campaigns during the 2012 and 2014 election cycles, but the ads barely hit the airwaves before court injunctions delayed the law from going into effect.

According to Kevin Kennedy, the board’s director and general counsel, Lazich thanked the board for the information, but didn’t make any promises. Lazich did not respond to requests for comment from ProPublica.

It gets better (by which, again, I mean worse). Not only did Lazich essentially ghost the Government Accountability Board, but the board was unable to find some other ally in the legislature. Why? Because the legislature was in the process of destroying the board altogether:

After the meeting, the Government Accountability Board decided against making a formal funding request to the legislature, which had already introduced a bill to dismantle the agency.

“We weren’t sure we would have a receptive audience,” Kennedy told ProPublica.

Two days after the meeting, the Wisconsin Assembly voted to replace the nonpartisan board with two partisan agencies by the end of June 2016. Since 2012, Republicans have attacked the board after it investigated, among other things, whether Governor Walker coordinated with outside political groups during the recount battle that gripped the state. Judicial orders stalled the investigation, and the board eventually took itself out of the probe. Walker, cleared of wrongdoing, survived the scandal.

The whole thing is so shameless and tawdry, you could be forgiven for wanting to simply shake your head and think about something else. And if you did, you’d simply be following the state legislature’s lead.

After all, it’s not like there’s a problem, here — at least as far as they see it. With anywhere between 200,000 to 350,000 Wisconsin citizens potentially facing disenfranchisement, according to Smith’s report, the voter ID law is on pace to work exactly as intended. Not in word, but deed.

With Voter ID Law On Hold, Wisconsin Republican Urges Supporters To ‘Challenge’ Voters At The Polls

Voters | Credit: AP Images

Think Progress

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN—Less than one week after the Supreme Court delayed the implementation of Wisconsin’s voter ID law until after the midterm elections, a GOP official urged Republican activists to take matters into their own hands to prevent voter fraud.

Milwaukee County’s Republican Elections Commissioner Rick Baas warned a crowd of volunteers and supporters Friday night to be “concerned about voter fraud,” and urged the hundreds of attendees to take an “extra step of vigilance.” “You as a Wisconsin resident can challenge people who are not supposed to be voting,” he said at the Milwaukee County Republicans event. “You’ve got to do that.”

Under state law, voters, election workers, official observers, or any member of the public can challenge the validity of someone’s vote, but to do so, they must swear under oath that they have firsthand knowledge that the person is not qualified to vote. A challenge cannot be based on a mere suspicion or hunch.

“Providing those parameters would be important to any discussion related to voter challenges,” Milwaukee City Election Commission Director Neil Albrecht told ThinkProgress. “Failure to provide has the potential to incite unsubstantiated challenges and a disruption to voting.”

Others echoed this concern that Baas’ invocation for “challenging” at the polls would hurt legitimate voters. “There’s a fine line by legitimate questions and harassment and intimidation,” said Darryl Morin, the Midwest vice president of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). Morin told ThinkProgress that as a Republican it is “disappointing” to see such rhetoric coming from “a party that claims to be reaching out to minorities.”

Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) signed a law earlier this year allowing poll observers to be as close as three feet to a voter. Democratic lawmakers and progressive organizers haveexpressed concern that the measure could lead to greater harassment and intimidation and Morin said that some of LULAC’s Wisconsin members have already experienced such treatment when going to cast a ballot.

“We completely agree that the vote is a very precious thing, but to put barriers before people who are eligible to vote just should not be allowed. When you look at the law that was passed in Wisconsin and the people who were impacted—the majority of them Hispanics or African Americans—it’s hard to believe that it happened just by chance,” Morin added.

LULAC, which has been involved in voting rights struggles since the days of the poll tax, has been battling Wisconsin’s voter ID law for the past few years on behalf of its Latino members who would be disenfranchised by the measure. Morin said he’s frustrated by politicians who feed “the false impression that if you have a dark tint to your skin, you’re obviously illegal and a criminal and you’re dealing drugs.”

Commissioner Baas was one of many officials at the Milwaukee County Republican Party event to lament the recent Supreme Court ruling putting Wisconsin’s voter ID law on hold for this November’s election.

Republican Dan Sebring, who is running for the fourth time against Gwen Moore (D-WI) for her seat in the House of Representatives, said that the ruling “stinks,” while the Republican candidate for Attorney General, Brad Schimel, called it “bad news”—prompting the whole crowd to boo the high court. He then counseled them: “The best way you can prevent someone from stealing your vote is if you use your vote. Make sure no one can go in and take your line in the ballot box.”

Schimel and others at the event said repeatedly that they were concerned about voter fraud. But countless studies in Wisconsin and around the country have found in-person voter impersonation to be nearly non-existent. And the kinds of fraud that are more common—like fake absentee ballots, vote buying, fake registration forms, and ballot box stuffing by officials in on the scam—would not be prevented by a voter ID law. And most ironically, the one case of voter fraud cited in court is against an elderly supporter of Walker.

10 things you need to know today: October 18, 2014

Staff from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, in Dallas, hold signs of support for Ebola patient Nina Pham.
Staff from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, in Dallas, hold signs of support for Ebola patient Nina Pham. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

The Week

President Obama appoints Ron Klain ‘Ebola czar,’ the Supreme Court rules that Texas can enforce its voter ID law, and more

1. President Obama names Ron Klain ‘Ebola czar’
President Barack Obama appointed Ron Klain the administration’s “Ebola czar” on Friday. Klain will be responsible for ensuring the government response to any threat of a U.S.-based Ebola outbreak is handled correctly. Formerly chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden, Klain also helped Obama prepare for presidential debates. He is president of Case Holdings and general counsel for Revolution, an investment firm. [CNN]


2. Supreme Court rules that Texas can enforce voter ID law
The Supreme Court ruled early Saturday morning that Texas can go ahead with S.B. 14, its voter ID law that has been called one of the toughest in the United States. A federal judge had found the law to be unconstitutional, but a lower appeals court put that ruling on hold. Echoing three other voter ID cases (Ohio, North Carolina, Wisconsin) on which it has ruled in past months, the Supreme Court did not offer a reasoning behind the ruling. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented, along with Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. [The Washington Post]


3. Nigeria brokers ceasefire with Boko Haram extremists
A top Nigerian military official announced on Friday that the government had reached a ceasefire with Boko Haram’s Islamic extremists, to begin immediately. Air Marshall Alex Badeh, Nigeria’s chief of defense staff, said the ceasefire would “end five years of insurgency that has killed thousands and left hundreds of thousands homeless.” Another government official said the hope was that negotiations for the release of 219 schoolgirls who were kidnapped in April and still being held by Boko Haram could begin this week. [The Associated Press]


4. Federal judge strikes down Arizona’s ban on gay marriage
A federal judge ruled on Friday that Arizona’s ban on same-sex unions is unconstitutional. U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick wrote in his brief explaining the decision that a recent appeals court ruled “that substantially identical provisions of Nevada and Idaho law that prohibit same-sex marriages are invalid,” and Arizona would thus follow suit. [The Arizona Republic]


5. Michael Dunn, the ‘loud music killer,’ sentenced to life in prison
Michael Dunn, who was found guilty of killing unarmed black teenager Jordan Davis in November 2012, was sentenced to life in prison without parole — life plus 105 years — on Friday. Dunn shot Davis, who was 17 at the time, at a Jacksonville, Florida, gas station following an argument about the volume of music emanating from an SUV in which Davis and his friends were sitting. [First Coast News]


6. NASA discovers one of the farthest galaxies away ever seen
NASA announced on Thursday that it had discovered “one of the faintest galaxies ever seen,” as part of its three-year program to investigate the universe’s formative years. The faint galaxy is about 13 billion light-years away, and it is five hundred times small than the Milky Way, and still evolving. NASA scientists said the discovery was important because it would help inform how galaxies and the universe have evolved over time. [NASA]


7. Two tourists allegedly snuck onto White House grounds in 2008
In the midst of a deluge of poor publicity for the Secret Service, a new report claims that in the summer of 2008, a pair of German tourists entered the White House grounds after peeling off from a legitimate tour group, only being noticed and then apprehended when they began using unauthorized cameras to take pictures near the White House’s North Portico. The Secret Service subsequently installed “a serpentine bike rack to make it more difficult to enter the White House grounds.” [The Washington Examiner]


8. Israel has begun construction on vertical cemeteries
Israel has given cemeteries the go-ahead to build vertical burial grounds, even getting approval from rabbis who declared the practice kosher and “effective…in an era when most of the cemeteries in major population centers are packed full.” Yarkon Cemetery, outside Tel Aviv, has begun construction of the vertical plots; now cemeteries in other high-population countries such as Brazil and Japan are following suit. [The Associated Press]


9. Study: Exercising three times a week lowers risk of depression
A new study published this week in JAMA Psychiatry shows that research subjects who exercised three times per week reduced their risk of depression by 19 percent. And, each additional workout session on top of the base three further reduced the subjects’ depression risk by another six percent. “Importantly, this effect was seen across the whole population, and not just in those at high risk of clinical depression,” Christine Power, a senior author on the study and professor of epidemiology and public health at the Institute of Child Health at UCL, said. [Medical News Today]


10. Bono reveals the reason for his sunglasses is he has glaucoma
U2 frontman Bono is rarely seen without his signature shades, but he revealed during a taping of BBC One’s Graham Norton Show that the reason for his sunglasses is not fashion-based, but medically necessitated. “I’ve had glaucoma for the last 20 years,” Bono said. “I have good treatments and am going to be fine.” Those who suffer from glaucoma are often sensitive to light, and they wear dark glasses to alleviate the pain. [The Telegraph]

10 things you need to know today: October 16, 2014

A health care worker who contracted Ebola is rushed to a hospital in Atlanta. 
A health care worker who contracted Ebola is rushed to a hospital in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

The Week

Ebola patient’s flight triggers new precautions, Arkansas high court blocks the state’s voter ID law, and more

1. Ebola patient’s flight triggers new precautions
The news that the second Dallas nurse diagnosed with Ebola had been allowed to board a commercial flight despite a low fever triggered new precautions on Wednesday. Health officials began tracking down all 132 people on Monday’s Cleveland-to-Dallas flight with the patient, Amber Vinson, who was being monitored after treating the first Ebola victim on U.S. soil, Thomas Duncan. Frontier Airlines put the crew on paid leave, and two school districts in Ohio and Texas closed schools Thursday because a teacher and students had been on Vinson’s flight. [The Washington Post]


2. Arkansas high court blocks the state’s voter ID law
Another voter ID law was struck down on Wednesday — this time in Arkansas. The state’s Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that declared the law unconstitutional because it restricted voting. The law took effect on Jan. 1 after the state’s GOP-controlled legislature overrode Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe’s veto. The constitutionality of such laws, passed by Republicans in several states, remains unresolved. The U.S. Supreme Court recently let North Carolina start enforcing its ID law, but blocked a similar rule in Wisconsin. [The Associated Press]


3. Leung offers to talk with Hong Kong protesters as tensions rise
Hong Kong police used pepper spray against pro-democracy demonstrators who were trying to block a major road near the office of the Chinese-controlled city’s embattled chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, early Thursday. The clash came as public anger was high following the appearance of a viral video showing police beating a protester this week. Leung sought to defuse tensions by renewing an offer to open talks with protesters next week. [Reuters, Australian Broadcasting Corp.]


4. Stock volatility rises
Disappointing economic news sent U.S. stocks plummeting on Wednesday — with the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropping as much as 460 points — before regaining some ground. The Dow closed down 173.45 points, or 1.1 percent. The S&P 500 briefly lost the last of its gains for 2014, and U.S. Treasury yields sank to their lowest point in 16 months as investors sought safe investments. “A lot of people, even the most experienced guys, are dazed by this,” said one equities researcher. [Reuters]


5. Obama orders more aggressive Ebola response after meeting with health officials
President Obama said after a White House meeting with health officials on Wednesday that he had ordered the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to send out a rapid-response team within 24 hours of any new Ebola case. Obama likened the responders to a medical “SWAT team,” saying it was part of a “much more aggressive” effort to handle the threat of Ebola after two nurses in Texas contracted the virus. [ABC News]


6. HBO prepares to offer its video-streaming service as a stand-alone product
HBO plans next year to sell its popular HBO Go video streaming service as a separate product from its cable channels. The change comes as cable channels adapt to changing viewing habits, with more and more consumers ditching satellite and cable TV and watching their favorite shows online or on mobile devices. Industry analysts said the move would “force a change” in the cable industry, although the impact of HBO’s gamble depends on how prices for video streamers compare to those for cable viewers. [The Associated Press]


7. Himalayas storm kills 20
At least 20 people were killed in a blizzard and avalanche in Nepal’s Himalayas climbing region, officials in the area said Wednesday. Dozens more climbers were missing. The death toll surpassed that of the last major climbing disaster in the storied mountain range — 16 Sherpas were killed six months ago in the deadliest incident ever on Mount Everest. Authorities believe as many as 200 climbers were climbing in the area when it was hit by the blizzard. [The New York Times]


8. Court lets work resume on California’s high-speed rail project
California’s highest court cleared the way for work to resume on building the nation’s first bullet train on Wednesday, declining to hear an appeal by opponents of the controversial $68-billion project. California High Speed Rail Authority officials said the decision would allow them to move ahead with work on the first 130-mile section of track in the state’s Central Valley, although they face other legal and financial obstacles. [Los Angeles Times]


9. Neil Patrick Harris reportedly picked to host the Academy Awards
Neil Patrick Harris has been chosen as the host of the next Oscars ceremony, which is scheduled for Feb. 22, Variety reported Wednesday. Harris has received glowing reviews for past hosting jobs, including last year’s Tony Awards and the Emmy awards in 2009 and 2013. He also has performed in past Academy Awards presentations, but this will be his first appearance as host. Harris also has appeared on the shows as a winner, taking home five Emmys and, this year, a Tony for the lead role in the musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch. [Variety]


10. Kansas City Royals advance to the World Series
The Kansas City Royals capped a sweep of the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday to win a spot in the World Series for the first time in 29 years. The Royals clinched the American League championship on two runs they scored in the first inning. Then the Royals, who got into the playoffs as a wild card, relied on their bullpen to hold the Orioles to just one run, sealing the sweep with a 2-1 win. The Royals will host the first two games of the World Series next week against the winner of the National League championship between the Giants and the Cardinals. [Fox Sports]

Justice Department to challenge North Carolina voter ID law

Eric Holder is pictured. | AP Photo
The justices’ 5-4 ruling outraged civil rights advocates. | AP Photo


The Justice Department will file suit against North Carolina on Monday, charging that the Tar Heel State’s new law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls violates the Voting Rights Act by discriminating against African Americans, according to a person familiar with the planned litigation.

Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to announce the lawsuit at 11 a.m. Monday at Justice Department headquarters, flanked by the three U.S. Attorneys from North Carolina.

The suit, set to be filed in Greensboro, N.C., will ask that the state be barred from enforcing the new voter ID law, the source said. However, the case will also go further, demanding that the entire state of North Carolina be placed under a requirement to have all changes to voting laws, procedures and polling places “precleared” by either the Justice Department or a federal court, the source added.

Until this year, 40 North Carolina counties were under such a requirement. However, in June, the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the formula Congress used to subject parts or all of 15 states to preclearance in recent decades.

The justices’ 5-4 ruling outraged civil rights advocates, but did not disturb a rarely-used “bail in” provision in the law that allows judges to put states or localities under the preclearance requirement. Civil rights groups and the Justice Department have since seized on that provision to try to recreate part of the regime that existed prior to the Supreme Court decision.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed the voter ID measure into law last last month.

“Common practices like boarding an airplane and purchasing Sudafed require photo ID and we should expect nothing less for the protection of our right to vote,” McCrory said at the time. “This new law brings our state in line with a healthy majority of other states throughout the country. This common sense safeguard is common-place.”

A law mandating a photo ID for voting was not on the books in North Carolina during the 2012 presidential election. Such a measure passed in 2011, but it was vetoed by then-Gov. Bev Perdue (D). The legislature failed to override her veto.

According to the source, DOJ’s lawsuit will object to the law’s photo ID requirement as well as three other key provisions: the elimination of the first 7 days of early voting that took place in 2012, the end to same-day voter registration during the early voting period, and the end to the option of provisional ballots for voters who show up at the wrong polling place.

The complaint will allege that the law was passed with discriminatory intent and as part of a deliberate effort to deny African Americans the right to vote, the source said. A North Carolina Board of Elections study in April of this year found that more than 300,000 registered voters in the state did not have a Department of Motor Vehicles-issued ID. African Americans accounted for 34 percent of those who did not match with the DMV records, although they account for only about 22 percent of registered voters in the state.

DOJ moved in July to put Texas, which had been subject to preclearance statewide until the June Supreme Court ruling, back under preclearance requirements. That move came first in a pending lawsuit over redistricting in the state and later in another case over that state’s voter ID law.

Judges have yet to act on those requests. However, Gov. Rick Perry (R) complained that the Justice Department’s demand disrespected the Supreme Court decision.

“This end run around the Supreme Court undermines the will of the people of Texas, and casts unfair aspersions on our state’s common-sense efforts to preserve the integrity of our elections process,” Perry said in a statement.

In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled, 6-3, that an Indiana voter ID law was constitutional. However, the justices did not deal with the question of whether that law or a similar law in another state might violate the Voting Rights Act. Civil rights advocates have insisted that the Voting Rights Act puts a greater burden on states seeking to restrict voting when doing so disproportionately affects minority groups.

Penn. state Rep.: Photo ID law only disenfranchises the ‘lazy’ 47 percent

Daryl Metcalfe (YouTube)

The truth about state sponsored voter ID laws is seeping out at a steady pace…

The Raw Story

A Republican state representative in Pennsylvania is defending the state’s voter photo ID law by claiming that people who were too “lazy” to have identification were probably included in the 47 percent of Americans who Mitt Romney claims don’t pay income taxes.

During a radio interview with KDKA on Wednesday, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe defended Pennsylvania’s controversial photo ID law by bringing up a recently-released leaked video of Romney telling wealthy donors that it wasn’t his job to worry about the 47 percent of people who refused to “take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

“I don’t believe any legitimate voter that actually wants to exercise that right and takes on the according responsiblity that goes with that right to secure their photo ID will be disenfranchised,” Metcalfe insisted. “As Mitt Romney said, 47 percent of the people that are living off the public dole, living off their neighbors’ hard work, and we have a lot of people out there that are too lazy to get up and get out there and get the ID they need.”

The lawmaker added: “If individuals are too lazy, the state can’t fix that.”

Earlier this year, state officials estimated that 758,00o registered voters in Pennsylvania did not have valid photo IDs.

Listen to this audio from KDKA via Think Progress, broadcast Sept. 19, 2012.

Tea Party Threatens Revenge Against Pennsylvania Justices For Not Upholding Voter ID Law


Someone please explain this to me:  How in the hell did the Tea Party turn into an intimidation , extortion and revenge organization?

They’re talking about “exacting revenge” on a group of State Supreme Court Justices who didn’t think that voter intimidation was just and decided to send the case back to the lower court and commented that the law should be suspended immediately.

Who are these people and what do they really want from us, in addition to getting the “black guy” out of office?

Think Progress

Earlier this week, every single sitting Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice rejecteda lower court decision allowing that state’s voter ID law to take effect. Four justices joined a majority opinion requiring the lower court judge to look at the case again due to concerns that voters were unable to obtain the IDs they were supposed to have easy access to as a matter of law, and two more justices joined a dissent arguing that the law should simply be suspended right away. Three of the justices in the majority were Republicans.

Nevertheless, a Tea Party group is now threatening to exact revenge upon the state supreme court for refusing to uphold a law that prevents many low-income, student and minority voters from casting a ballot:

A Philadelphia-area tea party group says it will work to defeat two state Supreme Court justices next year if the state’s new voter identification law isn’t in effect for the Nov. 6 election.

The Independence Hall Tea Party on Thursday also criticized the court’s decision to send a legal challenge to the law back for a lower court review.

It called the decision “a cowardly move” to “punt the ball.”

Chief Justice Ronald Castille, a Republican, and Justice Max Baer, a Democrat, are each finishing a 10-year term in January 2014.

These kinds of campaigns of vengeance against justices who place the law ahead of conservative’s policy preferences are increasingly common. Two years ago, a Florida Tea Party group launched a similar revenge campaign after the Florida Supreme Court kept an unconstitutional ballot initiative attempting to nullify the Affordable Care Act off the state ballot. Similarly, anti-gay groups poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into a successful effort to remove three Iowa supreme court justices because they had the audacity to recognize that the state’s constitution does not permit discrimination against gay couples.

As a recent Center for American Progress report explains, corporate interest groups have alsospent big money to stack state judiciaries with friendly judges and justices. In one of the most egregious cases, a West Virginia coal baron spent $3 million to buy a seat on the state supreme court for a justice who later went on to strike down a $50 million verdict against his company, although the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately ruled that the bought-and-paid-for justice should have recused himself.


James O’Keefe Scams Voter Fraud and Voter ID Laws Into Existence

The Nation

I told myself I wasn’t going to write about James O’Keefe, mostly because his sophomoric pranks are mostly for the net effect of making his pockets fat. He has his hands out, and I’m not trying to help him get paid. I no more want to discuss voting by reference of O’Keefe than I want to write about Middle East affairs by reference of Sacha Baron Cohen in The Dictator.

But his influence on voting rights opponents and legislators alike is particularly jarring. When you hear activists and state senators say we need voter ID laws because of voter fraud, instead of citing data, or even anecdotes, lately they’ve been citing O’Keefe. When I was in Houston at the True the Vote conference I was hardly surprised when the audience erupted in applause as O’Keefe took the podium. You would’ve thought Tim Tebow entered the room. And sure enough, he presented one of his “Project Veritas” videos of himself telling unsuspecting poll workers in Minnesota that he wanted to register “Timothy Tebow” to vote before given a stack of voter registration applications.

See? There is how fraud happens, O’Keefe told the crowd. What was surprising was that no one dared to speak up that no fraud had actually happened. What was O’Keefe’s point in showing this? Yes, it’s true. Someone can fill out a registration card with a fictitious name and address. It’s also true that election officials will verify that the person on the registration card exists, and toss those that don’t. Before that happens, if the person or party handling the registration cards finds something fishy—a dubious name or sketchy address—they’ll often report it to election officials themselves if they don’t discard it, as what ACORN did, contrary to popular opinion. But no crime has been committed, and photo voter ID laws wouldn’t prevent such registration problems anyway.

But O’Keefe isn’t looking for veritas or accuracy—he just needs the perception that something fishy is going on so that he can direct you to his page and have you contribute to his fairy tale fund. That’s how hustles work. Right now, on his website he invites people to fork over the dollars because “Our work in North Carolina as draining on our staff and funds—but we produced jaw-droppiong [sic] results once again!”

Continue reading here…

Conservative Group With Abramoff Scandal Ties Picks Up Voter ID Issue Where ALEC Left Off

One has to wonder, why the GOP think that they will truly suppress tens of thousands of voters without a valid ID from casting their ballots on election day.  If their strategy was to make sure those tens of thousands don’t vote, activists and civil rights advocates are making an effort to help voters with the process of obtaining an ID before election day.

In the meantime, some of us sit and watch this attack on democracy try to take hold, but I am certain those leading the effort to retain our democratic principles will eventually rule the day.  I intend to do my part.

TPM Muckraker

Shortly after the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) announced it was dropping voter identification laws from its agenda, another conservative group is stepping in to fill the void.

The National Center for Public Policy Research announced this week it had formed a “Voter Identification Task Force” to continue ALEC’s “excellent work” in “promoting measures to enhance integrity in voting.” Describing itself as a “conservative, free-market, non-profit think-tank,” the group was established in 1982.

“The fact that ALEC is no longer going to be offering the services it did got us interested in doing something,” National Center for Public Policy Research executive director David Almasi told TPM. “We obviously can’t do everything ALEC did, but we can do something to make sure the issue doesn’t go away.”

“This is something that we picked up because someone else dropped it and not because anyone has come to us and said here’s a check, do it. It’s something that we feel strongly enough about that we’re willing to do it off our regular strategic plan,” Almasi said.

“We’re putting the left on notice: you take out a conservative program operating in one area, we’ll kick it up a notch somewhere else,” Amy Ridenour, chairman of the National Center for Public Policy Research, said in a statement. “You will not win. We outnumber you and we outthink you, and when you kick up a fuss you inspire us to victory.”

Corporate CEOs who “cower in the face of liberal boycott threats need to understand that the left never gives up,” Ridenour said. “If these corporations do not reverse course and immediately grow enough of a backbone to say no when the left tells them what to do, conservatives may as well consider them part of the organized left. It doesn’t matter if corporate executives have free-market sentiments hidden deep inside them if they continually surrender to the left’s Trotskyite strategy of making relentless demand after demand in public.”

While several conservative organizations have taken up the issue of voter identification, no national group that considered voter ID their central issue has existed since the American Center for Voting Rights disappeared back in 2007. More recently, the Tea Party group True the Vote has held a national conference to address the issue and James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas has produced a number of “undercover” videos in an attempt to show why they believe voter ID laws are necessary.

The NCPPR got a bit tangled up in the Jack Abramoff scandal a few years back. The Center for Media and Democracy points out that a Senate investigation found that Ridenour directed money received by the NCPPR at Abramoff’s direction. The group reportedly covered the cost of several of former Rep. Tom Delay’s overseas junkets. Nobody from the group faced charges.

Voter Suppression 101

Undermining Democracy is a very serious offense against our Constitution.

Yet Republicans, with the help of Right-Wing front group ALEC, have done just that on a massive scale.

The following is just a small segment of a brief  the Center for American Progress compiled…

Center For American Progress

How Conservatives Are Conspiring to Disenfranchise Millions of Americans

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Read the brief in your web browser (Scribd)

The right to vote is under attack all across our country. Conservative legislators are introducing and passing legislation that creates new barriers for those registering to vote, shortens the early voting period, imposes new requirements for already-registered voters, and rigs the Electoral College in select states. Conservatives fabricate reasons to enact these laws—voter fraud is exceedingly rare—in their efforts to disenfranchise as many potential voters among certain groups, such as college students, low-income voters, and minorities, as possible. Rather than modernizing our democracy to ensure that all citizens have access to the ballot box, these laws hinder voting rights in a manner not seen since the era of Jim Crow laws enacted in the South to disenfranchise blacks after Reconstruction in the late 1800s.

Talk about turning back the clock! At its best, America has utilized the federal legislative process to augment voting rights. Constitutional amendments such as the 12th, 14th, 15th, 17th, 19th, 23rd, and 26th have steadily improved the system by which our elections take place while expanding the pool of Americans eligible to participate. Yet in 2011, more than 30 state legislatures considered legislation to make it harder for citizens to vote, with over a dozen of those states succeeding in passing these bills. Anti-voting legislation appears to be continuing unabated so far in 2012.

Unfortunately, the rapid spread of these proposals in states as different as Florida and Wisconsin is not occurring by accident. Instead, many of these laws are being drafted and spread through corporate-backed entities such as the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, as uncovered in a previous Center for American Progress investigative report. Detailed in that report, ALEC charges corporations such as Koch Industries Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and The Coca-Cola Co. a fee and gives them access to members of state legislatures. Under ALEC’s auspices, legislators, corporate representatives, and ALEC officials work together to draft model legislation. As ALEC spokesperson Michael Bowman told NPR, this system is especially effective because “you have legislators who will ask questions much more freely at our meetings because they are not under the eyes of the press, the eyes of the voters.”

The investigative report included for the first time a leaked copy of ALEC’s model Voter ID legislation, which was approved by the ALEC board of directors in late 2009. This model legislation prohibited certain forms of identification, such as student IDs, and has been cited as the legislative model from groups ranging from Tea Party organizations to legislators proposing the actual legislation such as Wisconsin’s Voter ID proposal from Republican state Rep. Stone and Republican state Sen. Joe Leibham.

Registering the poor “to vote is like handing out burglary tools to criminals.”

-Conservative columnist Matthew Vadum

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