Democrats Push to Expand Ballot Access, Republicans Trample on Voting Rights
August 5, 2017
Tomorrow marks 52 years since President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law. 52 years later, voting rights are still under attack as President Trump and Republicans across the country attempt to restrict access to the ballot box, gerrymander legislative districts, intimidate eligible voters, and rig the rules of our democracy in their favor.
Democrats continue to fight for expanded access to the ballot box for all Americans, because our democracy is strongest when more people participate in our elections – not fewer. So while Donald Trump has joined efforts by Republicans to roll back voting rights protections in the wake of the Supreme Court’s disastrous decision to gut the Voting Rights Act, Democrats are working tirelessly to restore the Voting Rights Act and doing everything in our power to defend the one right that preserves all others — the right to vote.
Trump launched his presidency by baselessly claiming that millions voted illegally.
Washington Post: “President Trump continues to say he believes that 3 million to 5 million ballots were illegally cast during the election, his press secretary said on Tuesday, without providing evidence to back up the president's claim, which is not supported by any verifiable facts.”
Trump created a sham voter fraud commission led by Kris Kobach, the poster boy for Republican voter suppression.
ACLU’s Dale Ho: “Kris Kobach is the king of voter suppression. He has an obsession with trying to show that there is widespread cheating in our elections when there isn’t. In Kansas, he’s instituted a ‘Show Me Your Papers’ law which requires people to show a birth certificate or passport when they register to vote. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, in a unanimous opinion by Judge Jerome Holmes, who was appointed by George W. Bush, found that Kobach had engaged in ‘mass denial of a fundamental right’ by blocking 18,000 motor voter applicants from registering to vote.”
New York Times Editorial Board: “This electoral limbo amounts to crude voter suppression, and no one seems certain whether all qualified citizens in Kansas will be allowed to vote in the primary election in August for state offices and in the November general election … The registration law took effect in 2013 as the Republican lawmakers voiced familiar but widely debunked warnings of rampant voter fraud. The issue has been driven by the Kansas secretary of state, Kris Kobach, a conservative firebrand who pushed the Legislature last year to give him Javert-like authority to prosecute voter fraud.”
The president’s sham commission is already accomplishing its intended goal: preventing eligible voters from casting ballots.
Washington Post: “While civil-liberties advocates are concerned with what Kobach might do with what would amount to a nationwide voter file, privacy advocates worry about the implications of making such data available to the public, as the commission says it intends to do. It hasn’t specified how it would make the data available.”
Denver Post: “Nearly 3,400 Coloradans canceled their voter registrations in the wake of the Trump administration’s request for voter info, the Secretary of State’s Office confirmed Thursday, providing the first statewide glimpse at the extent of the withdrawals.”
Of the 14 new state voter restrictions signed into law last year, every single one was signed by a Republican.
Brennan Center for Justice: “After the 2010 election, state lawmakers nationwide started introducing hundreds of harsh measures making it harder to vote. The new laws range from strict photo ID requirements to early voting cutbacks to registration restrictions. … In 2016, 14 states had new voting restrictions in place for the first time in a presidential election. Those 14 states were: Alabama, Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.”
Federal courts continue to expose Republican voter suppression tactics for what they truly are: a disgraceful attack on African Americans, Latinos, working families, students, first-generation Americans and the elderly.
NPR: “A panel of federal judges ruled on Friday that three of Texas' congressional districts are illegal, violating the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act. The panel found that Republicans had used race as a motivating factor in redistricting. Judges Xavier Rodriguez and Orlando Garcia wrote the court's decision, which comes after a protracted and complex legal battle that began when the new districts were drawn in 2011, following the last census.
NPR: “’The U.S. Supreme Court has once again declined to reinstate North Carolina's strict voter ID law, which was struck down last year after a court ruled it was intentionally designed to stop African-Americans from voting.’ (…) ‘In its ruling, the appeals court said the law was intentionally designed to discriminate against black people. North Carolina legislators had requested data on voting patterns by race and, with that data in hand, drafted a law that would ‘target African-Americans with almost surgical precision,’ the court said.”
Republicans have repeatedly used gerrymandering to rig the system in their favor, serving themselves instead of the people who elected them.
CNN: “…judges on Monday set a September 1 deadline for state lawmakers to ‘adopt and enact remedial districting plans’ after they had ruled last year that 28 legislative districts were unconstitutional racial gerrymanders. The US Supreme Court had affirmed the lower court's findings in June.”
While Republicans try to rig voting laws in their favor, Democrats standing up to these attacks and working tirelessly to expand access to the ballot box.
Washington Post: “California recently passed the New Motor Voter Act, a law designed to register eligible residents to vote by default when they use the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), unless they decline. Other states have or are considering similar laws. But because of California’s diversity and size — the 2016 population was 39.2 million and climbing — the Golden State’s law garnered special interest when it passed last fall.”
The Hill: “Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) has signed a bill allowing qualified people in her state to automatically register to vote, making it the ninth state to allow automatic voter registration. State officials touted the measure on Wednesday, as the Trump administration's voter fraud panel gathered in Washington, D.C., for its first meeting.”
Associated Press: “The Illinois Legislature has overwhelmingly endorsed a plan to automatically register qualified voters. The proposal would register eligible individuals automatically when they visit Secretary of State's offices and several other state agencies unless they opt out. The House endorsed it 115-0 Monday. It now returns to the Senate for agreements on changes. Democratic state Rep. Robyn Gabel of Evanston is the measure's House sponsor. She says the proposal would modernize Illinois' voter registration system and increase participation.”
Spokesman-Review: “The Idaho Democratic Party has filed a lawsuit seeking a temporary restraining order to block Secretary of State Lawerence Denney from sending any voter information to President Trump’s election integrity commission. The Democrats are arguing that the commission’s request is illegal under Idaho’s public records law, because it would release private information for commercial use.”
Kentucky Secretary Of State, Alison Lundergan Grimes: “Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said she did not intend to release voter data… She told MSNBC that ‘there’s not enough bourbon here in Kentucky to make this request seem sensible.’”
California Secretary Of State, Alex Padilla: “Secretary of State Alex Padilla said in a statement he would not hand over the state’s voting data. ‘California’s participation would only serve to legitimize the false and already debunked claims of massive voter fraud made by the President, the Vice President, and Mr. Kobach,’ he wrote. ‘The President’s Commission is a waste of taxpayer money and a distraction from the real threats to the integrity of our elections today: aging voting systems and documented Russian interference in our elections.’”
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf : “Gov. Tom Wolf tweeted that Pennsylvania ‘will not participate in this systematic effort to suppress the vote.’”
North Carolina Governor, Roy Cooper: “‘My staff has told the State Board of Elections that we should not participate in providing sensitive information beyond what is public record as it is unnecessary and because I have concerns that it is an effort to justify the President’s false claims about voter fraud,’ Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement.”
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe: “I have no intention of honoring this request. Virginia conducts fair, honest, and democratic elections, and there is no evidence of significant voter fraud in Virginia. This entire commission is based on the specious and false notion that there was widespread voter fraud last November. At best this commission was set up as a pretext to validate Donald Trump’s alternative election facts, and at worst is a tool to commit large-scale voter suppression. The only irregularity in the 2016 presidential election centered around Russian tampering, a finding that has been confirmed by 17 of our intelligence agencies and sworn testimony delivered to several congressional committees.”