Voters and others

Elizabeth Drew, celebrating the determination of voters:

Despite their considerable efforts the Republicans were not able to buy or steal the election after all. Their defeat was of almost Biblical nature. The people, Democratic supporters of the president, whose votes they had plotted, schemed, and maneuvered—unto nearly the very last minute—to deny rose up and said they wouldn’t have it. If they had to stand in line well into the night to cast their vote they did it. The lines were the symbol of the 2012 election—at once awe-inspiring and enraging.
On election night, the Romney camp had at least four planes ready and aides had bags packed to take off as soon as a state’s result appeared narrow enough to warrant a challenge. But they ended up with nowhere to go. The Republicans’ effort to stop enough votes of Obama supporters to affect the outcome in any given state—even prevent the president’s reelection—failed. Obama’s margins, while narrow, were sufficient to render any challenge futile. So the nation was spared the nightmare of reliving Florida 2000, a fear that had gripped many until late Tuesday night.
Yet the fact that the Republicans’ voter suppression effort didn’t succeed doesn’t mean it didn’t cause a lot of damage: to individuals who had to struggle or weren’t able to exercise their right to vote; and to the soul of the democratic process. Small minded men, placing their partisan interests over those of the citizenry, had concocted schemes to subvert the natural workings of our most solemn and exhilarating exercise as a self-governing nation. By the time of the election, more than thirty states had passed laws requiring voters to present some form of identification, often a government-issued photo ID card that they didn’t possess and couldn’t obtain. The point was to make it more difficult for constituent groups of the Democratic Party—blacks, Hispanics, low-income elderly, and students—to exercise their right to vote.

I just wanted to show you what voters and democracy enthusiasts had to go through at the state and federal level to achieve the victories over voter suppression. We’ll use this handy map compiled by the Brennan Center For Justice:

There were four approaches that were employed to combat voter suppression: vetoes by governors, vetoes by voters, state court actions and federal court actions.

There was pushback from Democratic governors in Minnesota, North Carolina, New Hampshire and Montana. There was pushback from a GOP governor in Michigan. In Maine and Ohio, voters fought back. Ohio was sort of extraordinary, because we had a petition drive to put the voter suppression law to a referendum, an action that stayed the new law, and then two court cases over early voting and provisional ballots, respectively. Wisconsin and then Pennsylvania had state court actions.The DOJ sued in South Carolina, Florida and Texas, (partly) relying on the Voting Rights Act.

This map is current as of October 2, 2012, so it does not include the rejection of voter suppression efforts in Minnesota on Election Day.

There were so many and varied efforts this cycle I couldn’t keep up. Whether it was purging voter lists in Florida, targeting students in Maine, disenfranchising old people in Tennessee or limiting early voting in Ohio, it was difficult to follow state by state. This map a good overview of where we were successful in fighting back.

50 replies
  1. 1
    Brendan says:

    Unfortunately, you can remove the pushback from NC. The voters, in their infinite wisdom, just elected a Republican governor to go along with Republican State Houses. They’ll get their voter ID law signed sometime in 2013. And it will, no doubt, be restrictive.

  2. 2
    some guy says:


    Governor Lex Luthor is toast.

  3. 3
    Kay says:

    @some guy:

    I hope so. Is anyone afraid he won’t leave office if he’s beaten? Change the locks the moment he steps out :)

  4. 4
    Culture of Truth says:

    I’m not, because GOPpers don’t like holding office. They can’t wait to get out and grift more openly.

  5. 5
    some guy says:

    Lex Luthor’s favorability is at 35, with a 48 negative rating.

    toast. he trails a generic Dem 48/44 according to PPP.

  6. 6
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    The best Republican Governor we here in Misery have ever had, Jay Nixon (D), at least had the good sense to veto our Neo Confederacy photo ID law in 2011. This after the First Generation Wingnuts in the Legislature passed one in 2006 only to see it overthrown by the state Supreme Court.

    But they never give up. I keep telling people that this is how the Repups are winning the long game: they dominate at the state and local level and are like the Terminator, they just keep coming back with the same shit until it gets passed.

  7. 7
    El Cid says:

    “And we woulda got away with, it, too, if it hadn’t’a been fer those meddlin’ voter do-gooders!”, said the Republican party leaders at the old ‘haunted’ voting park when their New Black Panther masks were pulled off.

  8. 8
    El Cid says:

    I think the NAACP and all sorts of other groups should make it among their highest priorities to lead an effort to help poor and minority and elderly voters to obtain photo ID’s, including fund raising and transportation and help with paperwork.

  9. 9
    Kay says:

    @some guy:

    I’ve never understood why conservatives think running chaotic, insane election processes indicates “competence” to ordinary voters (as opposed to their rabid base). A mess is a mess and no one is happy about standing in line. Is screwing up the election process worth it? Why can’t they run an election properly? It’s a pretty fundamental state duty. Big failures at that, consistently.

  10. 10
    Peej says:

    I live in Maryland, where we do not have voter I’d required. All we have to do is verbally give the poll worker our name, address, and date of birth. It’s that simple. And it should be that simple e everywhere.

  11. 11
    BGinCHI says:

    Kay, you have been so good on this issue, educating everyone here on what is going on with voter suppression efforts around the country (and especially in OH).

    Three cheers for Kay, hip hip hooray.

    I demand that Cole give you either a medal or a trophy or a gilded pet calendar.

    Seriously. Thanks.

  12. 12
    Yutsano says:

    @Kay: If they were really honest, they would just admit they don’t want any elections at all and want a restoration of a good strong white male monarch. Who will put all those other people in their place.

  13. 13
    Geeno says:

    Now if we can just get the same effort in an off year election.

  14. 14
    Kay says:


    They’re so inconsistent. They were screeching about Real ID not long ago. OPPOSED. I got an email yesterday where they think Obama is going to implant a chip to track their medical usage under the PPACA. Yet they’re ALL FOR voter ID. The whole thing reminds me of the birth certificate insanity. An ordinary state record process becomes this malicious, unknowable conspiracy. I mean, Jesus Christ. How do they function in the world?

  15. 15
    👽 Martin says:

    @Yutsano: Well, to be honest, I’d be fine with a korean-persian lesbian atheist with a physical disability as queen, especially if our first lady was a black-latino trans hindu with tourettes.

    I’m just waiting for our new monarchy to arrive. I’m patient.

  16. 16
    red dog says:

    Vote by mail works very well in CA…no lines and no problems once you are verified by picture ID at the registrars.

  17. 17
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Kay: The theory is that they don’t have to project competence; the public anger will be directed at “government”, which they can then continue to run against, as the people who will dismantle government to protect the people from the likes of themselves.

    I think the strategy actually worked for a while, but it’s wearing thin.

    Meanwhile, within the wingnutosphere, it’s a common opinion that it ought to be difficult to vote, because you don’t want lazy people determining the outcome. But this position seems to have limited general appeal.

  18. 18
    BGinCHI says:

    Any idea whether voter suppression actually suppressed GOP votes? I would guess quite a few older voters who tend to vote GOP couldn’t get it together.

    I still think the whole voter suppression effort raised consciousness and ramped up voter turnout through Dem GOTV efforts.

  19. 19
    Kay says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    because you don’t want lazy people determining the outcome.

    That’s what was so beautiful about the lines in Florida. Hours. To vote. I’m in awe of that. I myself would get extremely hungry and then faint, or talk a lot about how I might faint any moment :)

  20. 20
    Kay says:


    We had a lot of people who were pissed off that they weren’t told that if they applied for an absentee ballot they couldn’t then vote in person with an ordinary ballot on election day. They had to vote provisionally. I knew that would happen, that people would use a sort of belt and suspenders approach, treat it like an option. It was predictable for anyone who has dealt with the public. But not our Secretary of State!

  21. 21
    some guy says:

    from today’s Times:

    Republicans insist that changes in the major entitlement programs be on the table in exchange for their willingness to accept increases in tax revenue. But Democrats have given no indication that they are willing to consider policy changes or savings of the magnitude demanded by Republicans. The underlying dispute highlights a reason the politics of the deficit are so thorny: even as many voters say they want Washington to reduce the budget deficit, they oppose many of the benefit cuts and tax increases that could help achieve that goal. As the negotiations enter a crucial phase, influential outside advocacy groups like AARP and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare are weighing in, alerting their members to possible changes in the popular programs.

    gee, nobody saw that one coming. I was assured by the BJ Center-Rightists that no such thing could ever occur, much less in a lame duck session.

    As part of a deficit reduction plan unveiled in April 2011, when he delivered an address on fiscal policy at George Washington University, Mr. Obama proposed “Medicaid savings of at least $100 billion over 10 years.” Liberal Democrats and health care providers expressed dismay, saying the changes would hurt children, older Americans, poor people and those with disabilities. Mr. Obama scaled back the proposals. In his budget in February, he proposed legislative changes that would save Medicaid $55 billion over 10 years, mainly by reducing federal payments to states. In the wake of the Supreme Court decision, Mr. Obama is coming under pressure from his allies to drop these proposals.

    good thing the liberals in Congress are fighting back.

  22. 22
    redshirt says:

    As Maine goes, so goes the nation.

    2008 – big wins for Obama, state Dems.
    2010 – Teabaggers sweep the state houses; teabagger wins governorship because of split ballot with 34% of the vote; claims MANDATE. Begins all kinds of Wingnutty stuff, including a removal of same day voter registration.
    2011 – Mainers get signatures for a referandum to keep same day registration, get it on the ballot, and it wins handily.
    2012 – Obama wins state handily; Dems sweep out the Wingnuts from both state houses, and vote in a new US Senator who will caucus with the Dems.

    Follow our lead, America.

  23. 23
    r€nato says:

    Here in AZ, we have nobody to blame but ourselves. Voters passed the Voter ID law in 2004 (Prop 200). It was largely responsible for the long delay in counting all the ballots in Maricopa County, yet the media has largely failed to place the blame where it belongs.

    In fact, our county recorder (the politician in charge of running the elections dept) recently floated a proposal to pass a law which automatically removes voters from the permanent early voting list if they show up to cast a ballot at the polling place. No mention of the role that Voter ID played in this mess.

  24. 24
    Yutsano says:

    @Kay: Of course if you present them with the obvious solution (a national ID card) the howls of SOCIALISM!! and BLACK HELICOPTERZ!! gets louder and louder. You start to wonder if maybe, just maybe, it’s not about identity authentication? But then you get lost in the acting/being dichotomy that Jay Smooth (PBUH) warned us about.

  25. 25
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @El Cid:

    I think the NAACP and all sorts of other groups the US Federal Government should make it among their highest priorities to lead an effort to help poor and minority and elderly voters to obtain photo ID’s, including fund raising and transportation and help with paperwork.

    If states can legally pass new photoID requirements (and they can, have and will continue to do so), access to said ID is a 14th Amendment Equal Protection clause issue so far as I’m concerned, which makes it a federal issue. I’d be happy to live in a country where obtaining a valid photoID didn’t need to be a basic civil right (because IDs didn’t matter that much), but nobody asked me, and if individual states can take away fundamental Consitutional rights based on possession of such ID or the lack thereof then the federal govt damn well better get its act together and create programs to make it easy to obtain them.

  26. 26
    Patricia Kayden says:

    “On election night, the Romney camp had at least four planes ready and aides had bags packed to take off as soon as a state’s result appeared narrow enough to warrant a challenge. But they ended up with nowhere to go.”


  27. 27
    Big R says:

    N.B.: Mississippi also had DOJ pushback against voter ID. Once again, coastal elites forget us.

    ETA: I had a bit to indicate that the “coastal elite” business was a joke. FYWP.

  28. 28
    Kay says:

    @Big R:

    Thanks. I knew I would miss someone.

  29. 29
    Robert says:

    And it just so happens that the SCOTUS is going to review the VOTING ACT? And they don’t see ANY corruption in this last election? Were is the IRS? Where is the DOJ? The fight is NOT over…It is in the states where this will be won or lost, and so far by virtue of less than honest elections, republicans have taken over quite a few states…and it is within these States’ Constitutions that the power of the people really resides…especially voting rights…This is why the Koch brothers the Heritage Foundation, and the rest of the right wing sponsored think tanks have quietly focused on the states…They are in it to win it…let’s not let them have an easy time of it…

  30. 30

    Big “G” over Montana. Sigh, I’m going to miss Brian Schweitzer.

  31. 31
    johnny aquitard says:


    It was predictable for anyone who has dealt with the public. But not our Secretary of State!

    Just from the scale of voter suppression effort as evidenced by your map, I’d say your Sec of State in fact was aware or was made aware that would happen. Because it is apparent it was all part of a plan.

    That map blows me away because it also shows the enormous organized effort Republicans took to plan and fund their attacks.

    How the hell is that legal? I understand they pass laws to make it so, like the voter id law, but at some level the real intent to disenfranchise was there, its real purpose had to have been acknowledged and there had to be people making plans on how to get the law to cover it.

    How is it that making up shit to get legal cover to do something that is illegal means it is still legal? Is this not prosecutable?

    How is this any different from ginning up stories about weapons of mass destruction in order to get legal cover for invading another country? In both cases they invented boogeymen to get legal cover to do what they knew was criminal.

    You know who else did that kind of shit?

    Yeah, that guy.

  32. 32
    Culture of Truth says:

    How is it that making up shit to get legal cover to do something that is illegal means it is still legal? Is this not prosecutable?

    Is it illegal to disenfranchise people?

  33. 33
    denali says:

    Thank Kay, for this very informative article. It is evident that the federal government is going to have to help in providing a photo ID for everyone ; otherwise these people will never ever shut up.

  34. 34
    Lurking Canadian says:

    @johnny aquitard:

    How is this any different from ginning up stories about weapons of mass destruction in order to get legal cover for invading another country?

    Lying, except under oath, isn’t usually illegal. Politicians are free to lie and the electorate is free to reject those lies.

    If only there were some group of people, a Fourth Estate, say, who could point out the truth behind the lies so voters could make educated decisions.

    Oh well, just a pipe dream, I guess.

  35. 35
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    We fought a fuckin’ revolution over 200 years ago about this shit, and those who didn’t like it were expelled to Canada.

    Now Canada is more democratic than we are.


    Baffles me it does. It seems that Sideshow Bob had it right about the masses wanting to be ruled.

  36. 36
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Lurking Canadian:

    Lying, except under oath, isn’t usually illegal. Politicians are free to lie and the electorate is free to reject those lies.

    In Oregon, telling a lie in the voter’s pamphlet will get you in a world of hurt. Just ask Wes Cooley

  37. 37
    MomSense says:

    While I do love Ohio, I will remind you that Mainers also successfully put repeal of the restrictive voter laws to a referendum vote via a successful petition drive.

    We then made thousands of calls and knocked on thousands of doors to make it happen. At the time the Chair of the Maine Democratic Party called it the first victory of the 2012 campaign and it turned out to be. The Democrats have retaken the Maine House and Senate.

  38. 38
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    Mainers rock and roll, ayup!

  39. 39
    rikyrah says:

    They think somebody is playing with them. NOBODY is playing with them. Voting rights isn’t theoretical – it’s real. People have REAL LIVE RELATIVES that have told them the stories – nobody is going backwards for these racist muthafuckas.

  40. 40
    Dennis G. says:


    How goes the counting of the 325,000 outstanding ballots in Ohio?

    Isn’t the State supposed to certify results this week?


  41. 41
    bemused says:

    Ari Berman in The Nation noted that MN voters defeating voter ID constitutional amendment was the first time voters had rejected a voter ID ballot initiative in any state which has ramifications beyond MN.

    Dan McGrath who led Take Action Minnesota campaign against the amendment reframed the issue. They didn’t use the word “fraud” focusing instead on the cost, complications and consequences of the amendment. McGrath said the assumption of political will for restricting the right to vote backfired on the GOP. Voter ID didn’t turn out the conservative voters the way Republicans thought it would. It had the opposite effect inspiring progressive voters who felt under siege from voter ID amendment and the marriage amendment.

    Doug Grow in Minnpost reported on Nov. 7, the petty loser comments by soon to be former House Speaker Zellers and Majority Leader Dean. They insisted the two controversial amendments had nothing to do with losing majorities in both the MN House and Senate. They claimed they were outspent.
    Zellers: We don’t have fat-cat donors.
    Dean: DFL campaigns were well coordinated and excruciatingly unfair.
    Zellers repeatedly said the amendments weren’t “our message”. The MNGOP message was balancing the budget without raising taxes.
    Not very smart of them to muddy up their “message” with two highly controversial amendments to our constitution.

    59 MN newspapers came out with editorials against Voter ID. Counties, cities and township associations wrote opinion pieces in local MN papers against voter ID voicing grave concerns about costs, complications, and lack of information on implementation. The writers of the amendment simply kicked those issues down the road to the next legislature to handle. MN voters paid attention.

  42. 42
    rikyrah says:

    thank you Kay. for paying such terrific attention to this issue and keeping us informed during the election season and beyond.

  43. 43
    Kay says:


    otherwise these people will never ever shut up.

    That’s how I feel. I’m not even outraged in any high-sense-of-purpose way anymore. I just want them to stop fucking with….THINGS. We did just fine for decades without voter ID. They make everything so hard. It’s exhausting.

  44. 44
    Kay says:

    @Dennis G.:

    Husted has until December 7th to certify. They have a statehouse race that is 14 votes apart (after counting provisionals) so that will be a recount. Democrats are desperate to avoid a GOP supermajority in the statehouse because labor is convinced the GOP are going to launch Right to Work, so every vote counts there. I had a visit from a local labor leader the day after the election to see if I was interested in RTW. He was all fired up. I almost hope they try it.

  45. 45
    Bubblegum Tate says:


    That’s what was so beautiful about the lines in Florida. Hours. To vote. I’m in awe of that.

    Totally agree. I have it easy when it comes to voting (I’m a middle-class white guy, so nobody’s trying to suppress my vote), so I really have to stand, salute, and applaud all those people who persevered in the face of truly disgusting suppression attempts to make their voices heard.

    Oh, and fuck the GOP.

  46. 46
    Lex says:


    Yeah, what Brendan said. The General Assembly is full of wingnuts, and although Gov.-elect McCrory MIGHT not be a wingnut himself (you don’t win seven two-year terms as mayor of Charlotte that way), he has ambitions and so will sign every damnfool thing the Leg sends his way.

    What we need to see, what we OUGHT to be seeing, is DOJ criminal investigations in every state where this crap went on, because conspiring to deny citizens their civil rights is a felony, and quite a serious one.

    But we have a worthless AG in Eric Holder, so nothing will happen. Although it would be priceless to see some rogue U.S. Attorney somewhere (the Northern Judicial District of Florida, which includes Tallahassee, say) convene a grand jury to go after these bastards and dare Eric Holder to stop him/her. Yeah, a Democratic, African American attorney general telling a U.S. attorney to stop an investigation into criminal, racist voting-rights conspiracies. I know I’m tempting fate by saying this, but surely even the Democrats wouldn’t be THAT stupid. Would they?

  47. 47
    RaflW says:

    We’re incredibly proud of what we did as citizens in Minnesota. Kicking the GOP on both amendments was wonderful. Throwing them out of both the MN house and senate? Fantastic blowback!

  48. 48
    Mike E says:

    @Brendan: @Lex: Aww, shucks…NC can finally become that paradise called Mississippi, where men are men and women are chattel. We here in Mayberry used to feel smug about SC and their backwards ways, even rewriting their motto to read: Thank God for Mississippi! Our new motto is almost a given now, and SC can have ours in a trade: To seem, rather than to be.

    As far as voter rights goes (and teh gay marriage et al) the court system will be positively humming with activity, trying to keep up with all the brazen and shameless ineptitude. I’m not so bearish about the outcomes.

  49. 49
    Greyjoy says:

    As Maine goes, so goes the nation.

    I’ll order my copy of World of Warcraft right now!

    Totally kidding. I already have a copy.

    As a Minnesotan, I too share the triumph of being the first in the nation to vote a resounding “no” on both a gay marriage ban and voter ID in the Constitution. It sure beats being the dozenth or so state to do something so stupid and repressive, and frankly while I was glumly preparing myself for stupidity to reign supreme, I’m absolutely delighted to have my faith in our voters restored. Of course, as a resident of the 6th district, all I can say about Bachmann is, well, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.

    As for the MNGOP, a worse bunch of clowns we never saw, especially coming from a state with a history of common-sense Republican governors like Arne Carlson. Between Brodkorb’s affair with Amy Koch, the Vikings stadium, the two amendments, the government shutdown and the absurd financial issues the MNGOP found themselves in (tens of thousands in debt, being evicted from their headquarters for lack of payment), they proved themselves to be wholly unfit for leadership. Glad our electorate was paying attention.

  50. 50
    Lex says:

    @Mike E: Funny you should mention Mississippi; I’ve said since the election that given how far over a barrel the GOP has McCrory bent, NC will be lucky not to look like Mississippi by 2016.

    Even more damning, my wife, who grew up in NC but lived in MS for a decade before moving back here last year, calls MS “bat country” (As in, “We can’t stop here — this is Bat Country!” from Hunter Thompson’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”) and says things like, “Dammit, this is what I moved out of Bat Country to get away from.”

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