Tag Archives: DOJ

Holder and DOJ Need to Act to Stop Voter Suppression on Steroids

polling_place_photoNew Orleans An lead article in the Sunday New York Times was a wan effort to footnote the partisan efforts of Republicans controlling an increasing number of state legislatures to suppress the ability and access to voting for lower income citizens, elderly, infirm, and others without current picture identifications.  There was a weakly researched editorial comment inserted on the front page by reporter Lizette Alvarez slamming ACORN:  “In 2008 ACORN, a group organizing minority and low-income communities, became a particular target, with Republicans asserting that ACORN was trying to steal the election with large voter-registration drives, some of which were found to be seriously flawed.”  I read all of these articles pretty carefully and though I know Ms. Alvarez is right that the Republicans have been beating this drum without rhyme or reason for their own purposes for many years, I’m not sure when she talks of the efforts having been “found to be seriously flawed” what she might be referring to, since for all of the storm and fury around the 2008 election, it is now hard into 2011, and virtually nothing has been established anywhere to back the partisan histrionics at that time.

But I digress, since my real issue here is that the systematic efforts, aided and abetted by sloppy reporting like that done by the Times as a matter of policy it seems, must be stopped.

The article mentions that these efforts have “advanced” in “13 states in the last two months,” though unfortunately there is no listing or reference to which 13 states they might be counting in this particular rogue’s gallery.  The article mentions only Wisconsin, Texas, Florida, Kansas, and South Carolina as having curtailed voting rights with Ohio and Pennsylvania moving in the same direction.  That’s 7 states.  There’s every indication that this problem is even worse than we imagined:

The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that eight states — Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, and South Dakota –currently require or request that voters present a photo ID at the polls. Another 20 or so states ask for some form of identification but do not require a photograph. And new, restrictive laws have been proposed in more than 30 states, include provisions that require voters to provide proof of citizenship.

We need the Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice to step up right now and enforce the Voting Rights Act.  Southern states, like Texas, have to undergo a preclearance anyway to assure that any new laws impacting voting do not adversely impact minorities, and it hard to argue that more expansive and rigid poll-tax like ID’s are exactly doing just that.  Without clearance the Texas law and any new law in the South cannot move forward, which would include South Carolina and new modifications in Florida.

For those with short memories when Georgia implemented voter ID requirements under the last Bush administration the staff of the DOJ ruled that the new provisions should not be allowed because they violated the Voting Rights Act provisions.  They were politically overruled by the Bush Administration and emerged in the light of day to do their dirty deeds.

The precedents for action now are clearly established and Holder needs to step up and do the right thing  in the South.

The DOJ also has a duty to enforce the Voting Rights Act everywhere, not just in the South.  In the same way that Holder finally stepped up in Arizona on the human rights violations of immigrants, the DOJ needs to move to challenge all of these new voting curtailments for what they are:  systematic disenfranchisement of the poor, minorities, and all of the differently able.

This is a national phenomenon and part of a state-by-state strategic and conspiratorial campaign to stop people from voting.  It has to be stopped now!


Immigration is All Politics: Arpaio Whitewash, DREAM Deferred

Dream Act RallySeoul No way! Reading the papers from Seoul (props to ROK as the most internet connected country in the world with free hookups at the airport!), I’m reading that Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Maricopa got good and passing grades from the federal Marshall’s audit of his jails in September 2009 and recently.   How can you get good grades with inmates living in tents in 120 degree weather and wearing pink pantsuits?  Something is wrong here!   Sheriff Joe of course threw the DOJ division back at the DOJ and its lawsuit on discrimination.

He says it’s “all politics.”  He’s right.  Why aren’t we doing better then?  Why are we not punishing politicians where there are immigrant voting blocks in the districts?

The ease with which the DREAM amendment suddenly materialized with Senator Reid in deep trouble for his reelection in Nevada would seem to be proof positive that when the case is clear, action can happen.  Why didn’t this happen earlier?  Of course the confusion in strategy between a half-loaf, the whole loaf, and not a single slice pretty much doomed us.  Two votes blocking debate from Arkansas from Lincoln and Pryor make no sense when the demand for increase immigration has been on the front pages for years from Tyson, Wal-Mart, and the tomato industry in the southern part of the state.  We have to be ready or not, and in this case it seems “not” was the answer.   Worth noting again as I have before that the courage of the DREAM marchers and others that have stood up in the face of certain deportation in the future fuels this fire.  We need the same courage on other issues.

Time to start playing hardball for immigration reform and admitting that without a better grassroots political strategy, nothing is going to happen good anytime in the future on this issue.