Voter Access Protection/Election Integrity

Voter Access Protection/Election Integrity (42)

Fifty years ago, African-Americans were denied the right to vote. Now the vast majority of Americans are being denied the rightful value of their vote.

In November 1963, Evelyn Butts, a seamstress and mother of three from Norfolk, Virginia,
filed the first lawsuit in federal court challenging her state’s $1.50 poll tax. Annie Harper, a retired domestic worker from Fairfax County, filed a companion suit five months later. In March 1966, the Supreme Court overruled two previous decisions and overturned Virginia’s poll tax, stating that economic status could not be an obstacle to casting a ballot.

The United States is the world’s largest democracy, we spend an obscene amount of money on elections–more than any other country–and we have the lowest voter turnout. The trend has been: the more money that is spent, the lower the turnout.

Since the 2014 election– which had the lowest voter turnout since 1942– many people have been asking: Why aren’t Americans voting? When you consider thehorrible financial mess the Tea Party is making of red states like Arizona, there also been a lot of non-voter bashing and shaming. But does that do any good? I think not.

New bill signed Monday means that any eligible voter who does business with the Department of Motor Vehicles will be automatically registered

Bucking the nation-wide trend of eroding voting rights, the state of Oregon on Tuesday signed into law a bill that will make it easier to cast a ballot—by implementing the country's first automatic registration for eligible voters when they get drivers' licenses and identification documents.

 

Electoral integrity has not improved in the U.S. over the past year, according to a new study. In fact, elections in Mexico now have more integrity than ours, the new survey, based on the observations of some 1,400 international election experts, finds.

Last year we reported: "A report [PDF] by researchers at Harvard and the University of Sydney finds the U.S. ranks just 26th on a global index of election integrity. That finding places the U.S. in the category of nations with 'Moderate' election integrity, ranking the country one notch above Mexico and one notch below Micronesia, according to the findings tracking elections in 66 countries."

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the "Bloody Sunday" assault in Alabama, where on March 7, 1965, police violently assaulted hundreds of demonstrators attempting to march from Selma to Montgomery to protest the fatal police shooting of 26-year-old Jimmie Lee Jackson.

 

Last month, I attended the Ninth Annual Voting And Elections Summit in Washington, hosted by Fair Vote, The Lawyers' Committee For Civil Rights Under Law, US Vote Foundation, and Overseas Vote Foundation, each a progressive organization dedicated to the betterment of elections in the United States. The summit was indeed a gathering of very bright, motivated, devoted, and patriotic individuals and organizations, whose efforts I deeply appreciate.

As Chuy Garcia gains momentum, another city seems possible.

As the gears of federal government have ground to a halt, a new energy has been rocking the foundations of our urban centers. From Atlanta to Seattle and points in between, cities have begun seizing the initiative, transforming themselves into laboratories for progressive innovation. Cities Rising is The Nation’s chronicle of those urban experiments. 

California has the most votes at stake on Super Tuesday, but counting those returns could take a lot longer than usual. Electronic voting machines in more than 20 counties have been scrapped because of security concerns.

In the 2000 presidential election, Riverside became the first county in the nation to move entirely to electronic voting.

Since the Bush-Cheney-Rove theft of the 2000 election in Florida, the right of millions of American citizens to vote and have that vote counted has been under constant assault.

In 2014, that systematic disenfranchisement may well have delivered the US Senate to the Republican Party. If nothing significant is done about it by 2016, we can expect the GOP to take the White House and much more.

Elections are supposed to have consequences. When countries establish electoral processes that are sufficiently free and functional to ascertain the clear will of the people—and when those votes are cast and counted in an election that draws a solid majority of eligible voters to the polls—that will should be expressed as something more than a New York Timesheadline or a Fox News alert. It should be expressed in leadership, law and governance.

That governance should be sufficient to address poverty, tame inequality and conquer injustice. And if outside forces thwart those initiatives, that government should challenge them on behalf of the common good. After all, if meaningful economic and social change cannot by achieved (or at the very least demanded) with a stroke of the ballot pen, then what is the point of an election?

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