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VOTING RIGHTS

On 1/25/17, Trump launched a "major investigation" into non-existent voter fraud. What's next? "Our voting system is so corrupt, so flawed, that we might as well not vote anymore"?

(See updates below, then scroll down to #7 to take immediate action)

Make sure your voter registration is active! Check your voting registration here--weekly--and click on "tools."

UPDATE 9/12: (1) Supreme Court struck down appeals court ruling, allowing TX to maintain its discriminatory voter ID law, intentionally crafted to discriminate against minorities (who most often vote Democratic); see more below. (2) Conservative Heritage Foundation pushed back on allowing any Democrats, mainstream Republicans or "intellectuals" onto Trump's "voter fraud" commission. (Campaign Legal Center) 8/23: Appeals court rejected TX effort to maintain its discriminatory voter ID law (see 3/10; New York Times).7/7: Trump's "voter fraud commission" wants to know the voting history, party identification, and address of every American voter in every state, and has sent a request to each state requesting that information. All are refusing except Arkansas. (Washington Post).

LEARN: 2016 was the first election without the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which was repealed in 2013 by the Supreme Court because it wasn’t “necessary any more” (Justice Roberts). The VRA had prohibited discriminatory practices which significantly impacted Blacks’ ability to vote in this country. Because Blacks overwhelmingly vote Democratic, gutting the VRA meant that a key group of the Democratic voting base was suppressed. North Carolina Republican lawmakers carefully compiled statistics about which parts of the state had large populations of Democrats and Blacks, before passing a raft of voting restrictions which were harder for Blacks to clear. That prompted a federal judge to conclude they had targeted African-Americans ‘with almost surgical precision.’” Black turnout was down 16% in NC alone. (Cooper, The Week, 11/7/16) That case has now been decided by the Supreme Court, against Republican gerrymandering.

Right after election day, the NAACP called for restoration of the VRA: “Now that the election is over, the first priority for a new Congress and a new president must be restoring the badly-broken Voting Rights Act.” (NAACP, 11/9/16) Blacks weren’t the only group affected. “In Wisconsin, a clerk argued against an early voting station at a local university because "students lean more towards the Democrats.” And, although several alt right media outlets (and the President) continue to claim that millions of undocumented Hispanic immigrants, spurred on by President Obama, voted in the Presidential election, that claim is absolutely false. The NC effort to suppress the non-GOP vote has spread across the country, with 31 states (as of July) attempting to restrict voters' rights and access, citing non-existent "voter fraud." Nearly all of the states in which voting protections have been rolled back were won by Republicans.

There has been success in the courts; however, suppressive actions by states are being taken faster than the courts' ability to keep up. In late January, 2017, a Wisconsin judge ordered the state to redraw its GOP gerrymandered legislative districts (Salon). In 1/23/17, the Supreme Court refused to hear Texas’s appeal to restore their strict voter ID law: “Federal courts have repeatedly ruled that the law is racially discriminatory.” However, Justice John Roberts Jr. issued an ominous, “unusual statement,” saying the Court, “remains free to consider the case again” after it returns to the lower courts (Liptak, New York Times). This happened in September, when the Supreme Court overturned the lower appeal courts ruling. Now, Texas is allowed to require voters to carry IDs, a practice research demonstrates suppresses the vote of minorities.

Voting Machines: Perhaps even more troubling and dangerous to any democracy, is if and how votes are counted. Since the advent of the voting machine, concerns have been expressed their vulnerability to hacking. Here is an excellent November, 2012 article about unexplained data activity from voting machines (Collier, How to Rig an Election, Harpers). Following the US intelligence community's assessment that Russia strove to disrupt our election process in order to get Trump elected (and is still conducting propaganda ops here), concerns grow more urgent. In July, 2017, hackers descended upon Las Vegas's DefCon Voting Village to attempt to hack voting machines. They were able to access them within 120 seconds, and then, wirelessly (Newman, 8/1/17 Wired). Said one hacker, "I was in the dark without any knowledge of these devices, and found multiple attack vectors using a computer..." And another, "I want to emphasize that all these machines are known to be hackable."

However, on 2/7/17, the House voted 6-3 to eliminate the Election Assistance Commission, the job of which is to help states improve their voting systems--i.e., the ONLY governmental agency to ensure voting machines do not get hacked. Members voting to eliminate: Gregg Harper R MS, Rodney Davis, R IL, Barbara Comstock R VA, Mark Walker R NC, Adrian Smith R NE, Barry Loudermilk R GA. Opposed: Robert Brady D PA, Zoe Lofgren D CA, Jamie Raskin D MD. We will remember! (see Take Action #7, below)

In a positive move, which should sweep across the nation, Virginia decertified its most hackable machines. (Hatmaker, 9/8/17, techcrunch.com), Michigan is replacing all of its voting machines in 2017, and a lawsuit sought to void Georgia's special election due to voting machine errors potentially caused by Russian hacking (New York Times).

Legislation affecting voting access: 99 bills in 31 states have been introduced so far this year to restrict voters' rights and access. This is unprecedented. If we can't vote and be counted, democracy is done for (NBC News). (take action below) States with current legislation to restrict voting rights:

Take action for the rights of all Americans to vote in fair and free elections!

TAKE ACTION

Join and support those now working to restore the Voting Rights Act:

(1) NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice

(2) ACLU

(3) NAACP

(4) League of Women Voters

(5) Join flippable.org to help elect legislators who will protect voting rights (also, see Flip Congress Blue section). 2018 efforts have started!

(6) Thank Reps. Robert Brady D PA, Zoe Lofgren D CA, Jamie Raskin D MD who voted 2/7 against closing the only agency we have that protects voting machines from being hacked. Oppose Reps. Gregg Harper R MS, Rodney Davis, R IL, Barbara Comstock R VA, Mark Walker R NC, Adrian Smith R NE, Barry Loudermilk R GA who voted against protecting voting machines. We Will Remember in 2018 when they're all up for re-election!

(7) Remember that members of Congress are MOST concerned about their own re-election (all House members and 1/3 of Senators are up in 2018!). If they get the sense we will vote based on their position on an issue, they will listen! It really does take only a handful of phone calls on a given topic from a representative's own constituents to influence them. Who are your representatives? General House of Representatives number in DC: 866-948-8977 General Senate number in DC: 866-985-2543 Don't know your Congressman's phone number? Call 202/224-3121, put in your zip. You’ll be transferred. Shy to call? Don’t be concerned; you’ll likely be sent to voicemail. Explain that you strongly support restoring the Voting Rights Act for all Americans, that you want oversight and protection of voting machines, you're keeping track of their actions, and that you vote. If you're not in their district, explain you will be calling their voters in 2018.

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