Nov 2, 2016 – Arsenal For Democracy Ep. 157

Posted by Bill on behalf of the team.

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Topics: Rachel updates us on voter suppression in 2016 and we discuss flaws in U.S. voting systems, including felon disenfranchisement. People: Bill, Rachel, and Greg. Produced: Oct 31st, 2016.

Episode 157 (53 min):
AFD 157

Discussion Points:

– What is the latest in U.S. voter suppression tactics in 2016?
– Should we campaign to get voting rights for felons and ex-felons restored?
– Why do Democrats focus on third party vote loss instead of voter disenfranchisement?

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California adopts automatic voter registration

Instead of an opt-in provision at the DMV, eligible Californians will now have to opt out of being registered to vote if they wish to remain unregistered, thanks to a law Gov. Jerry Brown signed today, which is set to take effect ahead of the 2016 presidential primary. It was enacted in response to extremely low 2014 turnout in the state — well below 50%.

Los Angeles Times:

“The New Motor Voter Act will make our democracy stronger by removing a key barrier to voting for millions of California citizens,” [Secretary of State Alex] Padilla said Saturday. “Citizens should not be required to opt in to their fundamental right to vote. We do not have to opt in to other rights, such as free speech or due process.”

 
In general, this seems to me like a good idea. I do wonder how well it will work in practice if a lot of people move around (even just to a neighboring precinct) without updating their license and voter registration.

I also wonder how many people who weren’t registered before will now take the opportunity to turn out, but perhaps the campaigns will be able to target Never-Voteds more effectively by mail, phone, and canvassing now that there will be a database identifying them.

This legislation could also prove important for unexpected reasons given an upcoming Supreme Court case concerning redistricting by number of residents versus by number of voters (or other alternative metrics).

California will also be increasing options for early voting ballot dropoffs and vote-by-mail, also in an effort to increase turnout.

Arsenal For Democracy’s radio show debated automatic voter registration in the first segment of Episode 131 from June 2015.

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June 17, 2015 – Arsenal For Democracy 131

Posted by Bill on behalf of the team.

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Topics: Voter registration reform and mandatory voting; China and India in a Multipolar World; 21st century Colbertism and political cliches. People: Bill and Nate. Produced: June 15th, 2015.

Discussion Points:

– Voting Reform: Should voter registration be automatic? Should voting be mandatory?
– Multipolarism: What does the military rise of China, India, and other “poles” mean for the United States?
– Cultural Austerity: Why is it now commonplace to assert there’s less money to go around, when it’s really just more concentrated than before?

Episode 131 (54 min):
AFD 131

Related Links

ThinkProgress: Congressman Asks, Why Aren’t People Automatically Registered To Vote?
Bill’s new op-ed: India’s Zero Dark Thirty Moment
Wikipedia: Colbertism

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And don’t forget to check out The Digitized Ramblings of an 8-Bit Animal, the video blog of our announcer, Justin.

US Supreme Court won’t stop plan to cut down Ohio early voting

Gregg Levine of Al Jazeera America reported on the abrupt end of Ohio’s same-day registration/early voting combo week and rollback of Sunday voting, after an emergency stay (of a lower ruling invalidating the reductions) by the Supreme Court:

[Tuesday] was to be the first day of Ohio’s “Golden Week,” a six-day overlap between the end of voter registration and the beginning of early voting for the November 4 General Election. But on Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State and allowed to go forward a plan that significantly reduced the number of days voters could cast early ballots.

 
So what was being reduced and who was being affected most by the changes?

The [2005] provisions that allowed voters to register and vote the same day (the ballot counted only if the registration checked out) proved popular in African-American communities, as did weekend voting […] Ohio’s GOP-dominated government moved to cut the number of early voting days to 28, eliminating the Golden Week, some Sunday voting, and limiting operating times of polling stations to reduce availability outside traditional working hours.

 
This goes right back to the points Nate and I discussed on Episode 101 of Arsenal For Democracy, earlier this week, about the Republican efforts to suppress early voting options that benefited minorities.

And what happened when a lower court tried to block the reduction of early voting options on the grounds that it was a violation of the Voting Rights Act because of the disparate impact on minority and low-income voters?

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted rushed an appeal to the Supreme Court…

While his appeal is pending, he received an emergency stay, which allows the new, restrictive rules to go into effect, thereby reducing early voting options significantly in this year’s statewide elections in Ohio. Which is interesting because:

Husted is, himself, locked in a tight election battle with Democrat Nina Turner, an Ohio state senator.

 
Funny how that works. Looks like the Supreme Court just interfered in a close partisan election. Woops.

Levine also warns that this emergency stay may signal an impending second round of gutting the Voting Rights Act, possibly with the effective elimination of Section 2, which relates to changes in voting practice that have discriminatory effects, whether intended or not. The Supreme Court has never issued a written opinion on Section 2 since its amendment in 1982. Last year, of course, the court canceled the geographic formula in Section 4 that required special scrutiny and explicit Federal approval for changes in certain jurisdictions with a history of egregious discrimination.