Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Weekend Contributor
I can still remember the first time I voted in a National election. I was a young, 18-year-old student and I could finally have a say in who was going to run the country. It was a proud day for me and the countless other 18 year olds who were also voting for the first time. I can honestly say that I have not missed voting in any election since. That includes both primary and general elections. There wasn’t always a lot to vote for in some of those primaries over the years, but I consider voting a duty, so I made sure that I made it to the polls.
It hasn’t always been easy for all citizens to cast their vote. Even in my lifetime, the Jim Crow laws of the South made it difficult, at best for African-Americans citizens to register and to cast their ballots. After years of protests and legal battles, I thought the Jim Crow style of voter suppression was a thing of the past. It turns out I was wrong. Very wrong.
Over the last several years, attempts have been made, some successfully, to suppress votes and strike legal voters from the registered voter lists, all in an attempt to prevent certain voters from casting their votes. We all remember the infamous measures taken by the Florida Secretary of State to attempt to turn the result of the Presidential election between Al Gore and George W. Bush. At least from that point forward, numerous legislative and executive actions on the State level have been brought, all in an attempt to make it difficult for people to register and to vote.
The most recent attempts at voter suppression revolve around the so-called Voter ID laws that have been put into place in several states allegedly to prevent the unproven concern of voter fraud. The fact that these voter ID laws have been promoted by one political party, even caught the idea of a prominent Republican appointed Federal Appellate Court judge.
I am talking about Justice Richard Posner, who is an appellate court judge appointed by Ronald Reagan to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. This very same Judge Posner was responsible for the seminal case approving the country’s first Voter ID law.
“It is a dissent, released on Friday, written by Judge Richard Posner, the Reagan-appointed 7th Circuit Court of Appeals judge who was the one who approved the first such Photo ID law in the country (Indiana’s) back in 2008, in the landmark Crawford v. Marion County case which went all the way to the Supreme Court, where Posner’s ruling was affirmed.
If there was ever evidence that a jurist could change their mind upon review of additional subsequent evidence, this is it. If there was ever a concise and airtight case made against Photo ID laws and the threat they pose to our most basic right to vote, this is it. If there was ever a treatise revealing such laws for the blatantly partisan shell games that they are, this is it.
His dissent includes a devastating response to virtually every false and/or disingenuous rightwing argument/talking point ever put forth in support of Photo ID voting restrictions, describing them as “a mere fig leaf for efforts to disenfranchise voters likely to vote for the political party that does not control the state government.” ‘ Salon
While I do not always agree with Judge Posner’s decisions, this dissent is even more important knowing it was written by a Judge who had recently approved of a similar Voter/Photo ID law. Not to mention that at least one organization considers Judge Posner the most widely cited legal scholar of out time. Just how did Judge Posner attack the underpinnings of the Photo/Voter ID laws in the linked dissent?
“But it was written, largely, in response to the Appellate Court ruling last week by rightwing Judge Frank Easterbrook which contained one embarrassing falsehood and error after another, including the canards about Photo ID being required to board airplanes, open bank accounts, buy beer and guns, etc. We took apart just that one paragraph of Easterbrook’s ruling last week here, but Posner takes apart his colleague’s entire, error-riddled mess of a ruling in this response.
Amongst my favorite passages (and there are so many), this one [emphasis added]…
According to an Al-Jazeera report, it’s a sentiment that the staffers at Third Sector Development are expressing. The nonprofit organization was on a mission to register as many black and Hispanic people in the state of Georgia as possible so that voter turnout for the upcoming midterm elections in November would be high. And they were successful at it, until they received word that about half of the applications they submitted for processing have gone missing in action.
“Over the last few months, the group submitted some 80,000 voter-registration forms to the Georgia secretary of state’s office—but as of last week, about half those new registrants, more than 40,000 Georgians, were still not listed on preliminary voter rolls. And there is no public record of those 40,000-plus applications, according to state Rep. Stacey Adams, a Democrat,” Al-Jazeera explained.” Crooks and Liars
The word Whoops comes to mind when I read about 40,000 “lost” registration forms. But the loss couldn’t be related to politics, could it? However, Georgia isn’t the only recent example of voter suppression that might make Judge Posner even more upset at voter suppression measures.
Recently we heard about a Koch Brothers sponsored or supported group sending out intentionally false voting information designed to confuse voters in North Carolina. Well it seems that the Americans For Prosperity have now set their voter suppression sights on my home state of Illinois.
“First it was North Carolina, now it’s Illinois. Same pattern of voter suppression by fraudulent mailing, too.
Joan McCarter at Daily Kos:
The Kochs’ Americans for Prosperity must have decided they need to do some “voter information” in what’s an awfully tight race for governor in Illinois. According to the Daily Kos Elections Outlook, there’s about a 4-point spread between Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn and Republican Bruce Rauner. Enter AFP to try to create a little chaos in the election. And like in North Carolina, where they sent hundreds of thousands of fraudulent mailers, they’re upsetting people by sending mailers to their dead loved ones.
DECATUR – It’s not uncommon for residents such as Maryilynn Baer to receive political mail before the general election.
But when recent letter came to her home that asked for her husband, Edgar, to re-register to vote before the November election, Baer was overwhelmed and upset.
Her husband had been dead since May.
“It was upsetting,” she said. “His name had already been taken off the voter registration list, and I sent the letter to (Macon County Clerk) Steve Bean and told him I had already notified him that Edgar had passed away.”
See, the mailer made it seem like it had one from County Clerk Bean. All over the state, people have been calling their county clerks to find out if they really do have to re-register, because all of the mailings from AFP are meant to look like they’re coming from elections officials. They’re also wondering why their dead relatives are getting these letters, because they’re going to a lot of deceased people. Which means elections officials are having to make a lot of apologies, even though they’re not responsible for the confusion. Says Shelby County Clerk Jessica Fox, “[w]e would never do anything, for lack of a better term, as tacky as to open up these old wounds.” ‘ Crooks and Liars
Whether it is done by legislatures under the guise of alleged, and as Judge Posner suggests, non-existent voter fraud, or by State executive branch officials as in the case of Georgia, or by partisan organizations funded by conservative billionaires, the result is the same. Legal citizens with the right to vote are being denied that right.
When will the mass media wake up to the canard of voter fraud being foisted upon the American public? Judge Posner’s stick in the eye approach just might even convince the Roberts Court. Then again, we just may be in the throes of a high-tech Jim Crow, Part Two campaign that impacts not only minorities, but also WASP voters who just happen to register as a Democrat or with a Democratic leaning organization. If these photo ID’s are so important, why do some of the states using them, outlaw student ID cards from local universities and colleges, but accept gun license cards that do not have a photo?
If they believe in their principles and ideas, why are these illegal and immoral tactics necessary? What do you think?
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