Republicans gear up to kill any federal voter protections to replace the VRA

7 years of conservative posturing on voting rights continues:

House Republicans are diving into the battle over renewing the Voting Rights Act, scheduling their first hearing on the issue for this Thursday.
The hearing, confirmed by a GOP source and the House Judiciary Committee, marks the GOP’s first tangible legislative attempt to respond to the Supreme Court’s Shelby decision in June, which invalidated part of the VRA.
The move suggests that Republican leaders, who mostly offered evasive statements after the Shelby decision, have decided they should engage some kind of legislative process to discuss the ruling. In fact, the hearing will come just one day after the Senate Democrats’ first hearing on the VRA. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear testimony on the VRA’s history from strong backers of the legislation, Rep. John Lewis and Rep. James Sensenbrenner.
The move also shows, however, that some House Republicans are aiming to kill any voting rights reform. That’s because Republicans handed the hearing to Trent Franks, one of just 33 Republicans who voted against the last VRA re-authorization in 2006. (A total of 390 House members voted for it.)
Franks chairs the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, which is holding the hearing. (By contrast, the Senate hearing is before the full committee.)
Recently, Franks acknowledged that Republican leaders have been circumspect about the Supreme Court decision in Shelby, saying that while John Roberts’ decision “said what many of us have believed,” it was risky to openly oppose the Voting Rights Act. Holding back was probably “a wise decision” for Republicans,

In 2006, Republicans and former President Bush made a “wise” political decision to publicly back the VRA, although they opposed it. Now that the Supreme Court has gutted the VRA, Republicans have made another political decision to publicly back federal voter protections, while actually intending to kill any federal voter protections that may come up.

Meanwhile, outside of whatever “wise” political machinations are going on in the GOP Ohio voters won one and got a permanent order to correct “right church/wrong pew”:

Yesterday, a federal judge in Ohio issued a permanent injunction in the ongoing dispute over how to handle so-called “right church, wrong pew” provisional ballots; i.e., ones that are cast in the correct polling place but in the wrong precinct because of polling place error.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley last week addresses voting errors at polling locations where more than one precinct conducts voting and a poll worker directed the voter to the wrong precinct. It makes permanent rules used in the 2012 election.
The decision drew praise from voting advocates who said to do otherwise would punish voters when poll workers mistakenly sent them to the wrong place to vote.
Misdirected voters could cast provisional ballots, but prior to the injunction their ballots could be rejected for being cast at the wrong precinct.
With this permanent injunction, provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct will be counted unless a poll worker has determined the voter’s correct precinct and directed the voter there, but the voter disregards that information and votes in the wrong precinct anyway, according to the ruling.
“If the county board of elections cannot verify that the poll worker directed the voter to the correct precinct, the votes cast on the provisional ballot must be counted in all races and for all issues for which the voter would have been eligible to vote if he/she had cast the ballot in the correct precinct,” Marbley wrote in his ruling.

I maintain that it is unusual for a modern political party to adopt a platform that is based on targeting individual voters not for their vote, but to take away their vote. We’ll have to see how it plays out for them, but I continue to be surprised that this is treated as a legitimate political position. Can politicians really say “You know what I want? FEWER VOTERS. There are too many of you!”
I get Democratic politicians battling Republican politicians. I would submit we’ve entered a whole different realm when Republican politicians go after individual voters. I can’t help but think that isn’t wise at all.

43 replies
  1. 1
    Mike in NC says:

    In this state, the governor and GOP-controlled legislature are hell-bent on making voting as onerous as possible. They plan to start by abolishing early voting, then move on to making sure there are fewer polling places and voting machines to go around on Election Day.

  2. 2
    Mandalay says:

    Can politicians really say “You know what I want? FEWER VOTERS. There are too many of you!”

    No, of course not. But it’s an irrelevant question because we all know that is not what they will say.

    They will huff and puff about ensuring the integrity of the electoral process, and preventing voter fraud, and ensuring that corruption is eradicated when selecting our politicians.

  3. 3
    Violet says:

    Democrats need to go on offense. Or at least Democrat SuperPACs do. Ads saying things like “Republicans don’t want you to vote. Are you going to let them take away your right to vote?” should be all over the place. And Republicans can then play defense as to why they want to eliminate early voting, which everyone loves, etc. Make the Republicans own what they are doing.

    Equating “Republican” with “Don’t want you to vote” is the goal. It turns Republican into a dirty un-American word.

  4. 4
    Kay says:

    @Mike in NC:

    I think it’s actually good in your current situation, because voting rights people are good allies to have in the rest of the battles going on there.
    They’re a dedicated bunch, and, obviously, they’re about VOTING, at the end of the day. They vote. They get other people to vote.

    I think they may regret including voting restrictions in that barrel of shit they threw at you.

  5. 5
    Roger Moore says:

    @Mandalay:

    They will huff and puff about ensuring the integrity of the electoral process, and preventing voter fraud, and ensuring that corruption is eradicated in selecting our politicians.

    This. Making voting harder is not a popular position, but the voter fraud lie gives them a plausible sounding excuse for doing it anyway. I think that general restrictions on voting, like fewer polling places, fewer machines, etc. will sell as well as voter ID-type restrictions.

  6. 6
    The Dangerman says:

    This is what happens when your Voter Outlook evolves into Voter LOOKOUT (for the wave)! Stupid fuckers have no clue how to hold onto their declining base and grow that base. We are watching the death of a national party; it’ll take a few years, but they are done.

  7. 7
    👾 Martin says:

    Can politicians really say “You know what I want? FEWER VOTERS. There are too many of you!”

    No, but they can say “I want better voters” and they won’t get much disagreement there. If they can tar the voters they don’t like as criminals/stupid/irresponsible then they’ll get away with it – as they always have.

  8. 8
    gbear says:

    I called all of my senators and legislator about this last week to urge them to get a new bill passed. Given that my district has 100% democratic representation now, it was already guaranteed that they’d feel the same way I do. Is there any way to kick the junk of reps when you’re not in their district?

  9. 9
    Cacti says:

    Voter ID at least provides them the cover of wanting to “ensure the integrity of elections”.

    There’s no such fig leaf for attacks on early voting. Rolling back early voting is anti-voter, period.

  10. 10
    BGinCHI says:

    The GOP is like a 5-year-old: when out of ideas and in trouble for what you’ve done, lash out then start crying when it comes back at you.

  11. 11
    c u n d gulag says:

    @The Dangerman:
    Yes, they’re essentially done – dead.

    But the fact is, they want to take all of us with them!

  12. 12
    Mandalay says:

    @BGinCHI:

    The GOP is like a 5-year-old: when out of ideas and in trouble for what you’ve done, lash out then start crying when it comes back at you.

    I see the GOP as a team that can’t win fairly, so they cheat.

  13. 13
    raven says:

    @BGinCHI: Why you wanna talk about special timmeh that way? I see people are still engaging him/her, what a waste of time.

  14. 14
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    I think the driving thing in all this is for a GOP House member this is wining issue with their base in their (gerrymandered) district but a killer for the GOP on the national level. The GOP just loves the idea that those others are legitimate Americans somehow.

  15. 15
    BGinCHI says:

    @raven: Well played.

  16. 16
    eyelessgame says:

    . I would submit we’ve entered a whole different realm when Republican politicians go after individual voters. I can’t help but think that isn’t wise at all.

    Only if they can’t get it done before being voted out. If they can change the rules so only their supporters get to vote, then it doesn’t matter how many of the other people it pisses off. Which is what they’re counting on.

  17. 17
    BGinCHI says:

    @Mandalay: I think conservatives must read Lord of the Flies and think: ahh, now that’s how you run an island!

  18. 18
    Chris says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Making voting harder is not a popular position

    No, but just like privatizing the safety net and cutting taxes on billionaires down to zero, it’s pretty much the mainstream position within the Republican Party – and by “within the Party” I mean among voters, not just party elites.

    People were saying a couple threads ago that anyone who thought racism was over should read comments sections. In the same way, read comments sections on any wingnut site and you’ll find that abolishing universal suffrage is pretty much the mainstream position. “The 47% who don’t pay taxes” shouldn’t be allowed to vote. The children of illegal immigrants shouldn’t be allowed to vote. Etc, etc, etc.

  19. 19
    gelfling545 says:

    Am I misremembering or didn’t some politician in TX say almost exactly that: he didn’t want any more voters because they wouldn’t vote the right way?

  20. 20
    Betty Cracker says:

    Well, to some extent, Rick Scott’s voter suppression effort here in FL blew up in his face. It was obviously crafted to deliver the state to Romney (fail) and target specific voter groups (some success), but it put the ugliness of the enterprise on display for the entire country.

    When Scott gets bounced next year after a single term, that’ll be one of the reasons. And meanwhile, he and the wingnut super-majority legislature solidified the GOP’s anti-minority and anti-working people’s image in the public’s mind for a generation. Please proceed, governor.

  21. 21
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    I am glad to see that Judge Marbley continues to do well. When he was first appointed, he said that he had no interest in a Circuit gig. He had his dream job and he was going to so what he thought was right and legally correct; if he got reversed, fine.

  22. 22
    Chris says:

    @eyelessgame:

    Only if they can’t get it done before being voted out. If they can change the rules so only their supporters get to vote, then it doesn’t matter how many of the other people it pisses off. Which is what they’re counting on.

    This.

    I’m far less optimistic than people who think this is going to end them. A read of nineteenth century (and much twentieth century) history will show that it’s staggering how long elites were able to maintain control of the voting process at the expense of voters through technically-legal-or-maybe-not-but-it-doesn’t-matter-because-we-run-the-courts maneuvering. They fully intend to take us all the way back to the Gilded Age, and that’s a key part of the model. I’m not going to say it can’t work.

  23. 23
    Roger Moore says:

    @Chris:

    No, but just like privatizing the safety net and cutting taxes on billionaires down to zero, it’s pretty much the mainstream position within the Republican Party – and by “within the Party” I mean among voters, not just party elites.

    I think this is a general product of the Republican reality distortion field. Their leaders only have to come up with plausible excuses for their policies and publicize them, and the rank and file will listen and believe the message.

  24. 24
    Mandalay says:

    Only slightly OT, the differences between states on voting rights for felons are amazing.

    Those in Maine and Vermont can vote from prison, but this is how we roll in Florida:

    On Mar. 9, 2011 the Florida rules of Executive Clemency were toughened. Automatic restoration of civil rights and the ability to vote will no longer be granted for any offenses. All individuals convicted of any felony will now have to apply for executive clemency after a five year waiting period. Individuals who are convicted, or who have previously been convicted, of certain felonies such as murder, assault, child abuse, drug trafficking, arson, etc. are subject to a seven year waiting period and a clemency board hearing to determine whether or not the ability to vote will be restored.

    So even after you get out of prison in Florida, in order to vote you must wait a few years, then get down on bended knees and beg for clemency. WTF?

    It’s pretty obvious why Republicans are so keen on our obscene drug laws. They don’t give a really give a shit either way about drugs per se, but they love the voter suppression that it provides!

  25. 25
    BGinCHI says:

    @Roger Moore: I wonder how much Fox News contributes to this. It’s a propaganda tool with unprecedented reach and power in this country (I think).

  26. 26
    IowaOldLady says:

    Is NC talking about completely abolishing early voting? Surely that will make long lines even where they don’t want them.

    Or maybe not. I guess I don’t know who decides how voting booths are distributed. At what level is that done?

  27. 27
    BGinCHI says:

    @Mandalay: So Rick Scott couldn’t vote for himself?

  28. 28
    gene108 says:

    @Cacti:

    Maybe a fiscally prudent thing to do, as elections cost state and local governments money to run. /wingnut talking point

  29. 29
    Shakezula says:

    I maintain that it is unusual for a modern political party to adopt a platform that is based on targeting individual voters not for their vote, but to take away their vote.

    Really? It seems to me the brief period where elected officials didn’t openly participate in voter suppression efforts was the fluke.

  30. 30
    Mandalay says:

    @BGinCHI:

    So Rick Scott couldn’t vote for himself?

    Sadly, it was Scott’s company (Columbia Hospital Corporation) that committed the felonies rather than tricky Ricky.

    But corporations are people too my friend! So I guess Columbia Hospital Corporation won’t be able to vote in Florida until Scott grants them clemency.

  31. 31
    Kay says:

    @IowaOldLady:

    It depends. It was up to counties in Ohio, but then they put in a fail-safe, a reporting check after the clusterfuck of 2004.
    Three quarters of voting problems can be solved with competent administration.
    It’s what doomed the PA law in 2012.
    They had absolutely no idea how they were going to make it work. They put it in in March, and did nothing until they were sued. They were just completely unprepared.

  32. 32
    boatboy_srq says:

    @Mandalay: Exactly.

    Because there are hordes of illegals scaling the fences separating the US of A from Mexico and Canada just to f##k with US elections, donchano, and an ACORN army out to stuff ballot boxes for the next Kenyan ineligible Democrat.

  33. 33
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    Or maybe not. I guess I don’t know who decides how voting booths are distributed. At what level is that done?

    @IowaOldLady: You have figured out how the scam works.

    Really? It seems to me the brief period where elected officials didn’t openly participate in voter suppression efforts was the fluke.

    @Shakezula: I was born in a time when this kind of suppression was common, and it may well become common again – and I’m not fifty years old.

    It’s been a VERY brief period.

  34. 34
    IowaOldLady says:

    I have to say I love voting here. Not only can anyone early vote for weeks ahead of time, but if the state gets enough requests, they set up a satellite voting place for a limited time. That can be at a university, at an old folks’ home, anywhere. I once saw one in a grocery store.

  35. 35
    gene108 says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Rick Scott’s voter suppression effort here in FL blew up in his face.

    Is there any pent-up backlash regarding Katheline Harris and the 2000 election hi-jinx and all the votes that were not counted?

    I know the general reaction for large parts of the country was ‘meh’ and there really wasn’t a major backlash regarding preventing voter purges.

    Also, this lack of backlash may have emboldened Republicans to where they are today.

  36. 36
    Yatsuno says:

    @IowaOldLady: Voting in WA and OR:

    1) Get ballot in mail.

    2) Take 2-3 weeks to peruse ballot.

    3) Mail in before deadline.

    It’s just so damn simple it drives Repubs crazy.

  37. 37
    Jebediah says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:
    OT, but I found something regarding your monument: there is a cheese called “pyramide.”

    When do we start building?

  38. 38
    p.a. says:

    To paraphrase John Doe: they’re desperate. get used to it.

    I have to think what Rugby calls the BigMoneyBoyz know vote suppression is a loser in the long run, but the rabid dog they’ve been nurturing since Goldwater has slipped the leash.

  39. 39
    p.a. says:

    Digby, not rugby. Damn autocorrect. Dead thread anyway.

  40. 40
    Burnspbesq says:

    @Mandalay:

    They will huff and puff about ensuring the integrity of the electoral process, and preventing voter fraud, and ensuring that corruption is eradicated when selecting our politicians.

    Probably not. They actually have strong incentives to be candid about what they are doing and why. If they can’t convince the base that they are delivering on their promises, they’ll gets impaired from the right.

  41. 41
    Burnspbesq says:

    @gbear:

    Is there any way to kick the junk of reps when you’re not in their district?

    You can only vote where you live. Your checkbook can vote anywhere. UNLIMITED CITIZEN CASH, mofos.

  42. 42
    Dolly Llama says:

    @Mike in NC:

    In this state, the governor and GOP-controlled legislature are hell-bent on making voting as onerous as possible. They plan to start by abolishing early voting, then move on to making sure there are fewer polling places and voting machines to go around on Election Day.

    I know I’m way-late to this thread, but I live in North Carolina as you do, and if this is the GOPers’ strategy, they may be just as fucking dumb as they seem. If their hope is that people of color will get frustrated and just walk away in the face of long waits at the polls, I’m going to laugh my fucking ass off when it turns out the “get pissed off and go back home without voting” rate is even higher among their dumbass redneck base.

  43. 43
    JR in WV says:

    @Mandalay:

    Absolutely! I knew they were goners back when GWBush had to cheat with the aid of a Republican Corrupt Supreme Court to win his election.

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