TPM Voting Rights

South Carolina Lawmaker Said 'Amen' To Email Comparing Blacks To 'Bees Going After A Watermelon'

State Rep. Alan Clemmons, who authored the South Carolina voter ID law being argued in federal court this week, admitted on Tuesday he welcomed a racist email he received from a friend in support of the law.

Clemmons replied with "Amen" and "thank you for your support" after a man named Ed Koziol wrote that black and poor voters would "be like a swarm of bees going after a watermelon" if the legislature offered a reward for obtaining identification cards, according to McClatchy.

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Why South Carolina Wants To Ban Student IDs At The Polls But Is Just Fine With Military IDs

Updated: August 27, 2012, 6:15 PM

WASHINGTON — Neither a student ID nor a military ID will prove someone is a resident of South Carolina, but the attorney general there said on Monday that one of those forms of identification is still somehow superior under the state's contested voting law.

Speaking with TPM during a break in the federal trial over whether the law violates the Voting Rights Act, Attorney General Alan Wilson defended its provision that allows voters to use things like military identification and passports to cast a ballot but bans them from using student IDs.

Wilson said the reason was that students were largely "transient" and a school identification card "doesn't prove you're a resident."

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Voter ID: South Carolina Says Law Will Keep Whites From Voting, Too

WASHINGTON — Lawyers for South Carolina argued in a federal courtroom on Monday that its contested voter ID law would actually affect more white than minority voters and should be approved under the Voting Rights Act.

Howard Christopher Bartolomucci, a former Bush-administration official and partner at Bancroft PLLC who is arguing the case with a group of lawyers including Paul Clement, said during opening arguments that in pure numbers, more white voters than minority voters would be kept from the polls by the law, known as R54. Bartolomucci argued that even though data showed minority voters were less likely to have state-issued ID, the law would affect white and minority voters in "near equal measure."

"There is no conflict between the right to vote and R54," Bartolomucci argued before a three-judge panel examining whether South Carolina had met its burden in proving the law wouldn't hurt minority voting under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

The Justice Department blocked South Carolina's voter ID law back in December. Officials with DOJ's Civil Rights Division found that the state's very own data demonstrated that non-white voters were 20 percent more likely than white voters to lack state-issued identification.

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RNC Platform Formally Backs Voter ID Laws (VIDEO)

The GOP platform committee adopted language on Tuesday supporting states that have passed voter ID and proof of citizenship laws. The citizenship amendment, proposed by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), would support laws that make voters prove their citizenship before they are allowed on the voter rolls.

"I think it's important that the Republican Party stand firmly behind the principle that we verify citizenship. There are a lot of other states that would like to move in this direction, and this platform will give them a boost in doing so," Kobach said.

GOP delegates supporting the amendments alleged that Democrats were stealing elections through voter fraud.

"I think we have to acknowledge and be bold that people on the progressive side are willing to cheat in ways we could never before fathom," Tamara Hall from Montana said. Hall said she had a disabled daughter who cannot read, write, count or tell time who voted without her permission.

"For cookies and milk they had her vote," Hall said. "You have no idea the extreme these people will go to to steal an election."

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'A Lot Is At Stake': Voting Rights Advocates Gear Up For Huge 2012 Battle

WASHINGTON -- Two blocks from the White House, in a conference room on the fourth floor of a nondescript office building, voting rights advocates are fighting on the front line of the voting wars.

Welcome to the headquarters of Election Protection, a program run by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and a multitude of civil rights organizations that seeks to combat the wave of restrictive voting laws that have swept state legislatures in the past few years.

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Justice Department Approves Va. Voter ID Law

The Justice Department approved changes to Virginia's voter ID law Monday, suggesting there is a way forward for such laws -- even in states that must have election laws pre-cleared under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act -- so long as they're written in a way the federal government will sign off on.

Unlike voter ID laws passed in South Carolina and Texas (both of which have been opposed by the Justice Department under President Obama), Virginia's voter ID law allows voters do show a wide range of types of identification to cast a ballot. The law, labeled a "strict non-photo identification law" by the National Conference of State Legislatures, OKs types of identification more likely to be held by voters who lack a state-issued photo ID.

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Penn. To DOJ: Forget Voter ID, What About The New Black Panther Party?

Updated: 4:11PM

Pennsylvania's Republican leadership doesn't think the Justice Department should be wasting its time looking into whether the state's voter ID law discriminates against minority voters. Instead, Gov. Tom Corbett's administration says DOJ should reexamine a nearly four-year-old voter intimidation case involving the New Black Panther Party that has been a conservative cause célèbre throughout the Obama administration.

While the state said it would provide a number of documents related to the voter ID law if the Justice Department signs a confidentiality agreement, General Counsel James Schultz said in a letter to the Justice Department that it would not provide information backing the state's (unsupported) claim that 99 percent of residents had a valid form of photo identification.

"In light of the absence of authority for your request for information, I question whether your inquiry is truly motivated by a desire to assess compliance with federal voting rights laws, or rather is fueled by political motivation," Schultz, who works for Gov. Tom Corbett (R), wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by TPM.

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Obama Campaign: Ohio Early Voting Decisions Are 'Arbitrary'

The Obama campaign said in a court filing Sunday that Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted's decision to eliminate all weekend early voting brings "the arbitrary and often indeterminate nature of the State's actions and positions" on their opposition to early voting into "sharp focus."

President Obama's campaign is suing Ohio to make sure that the right to vote in-person in the three days before the election -- a right the state made available only to members of the military and Americans living overseas -- are available to all eligible Ohio voters, as it was in 2008. The Mitt Romney campaign had used the suit to launch a false attack on Obama, accusing him of trying to restrict military voting.

Husted has now ordered all counties to implement the same voting hours (hours which don't include weekend voting). The Obama campaign's legal team also accused the state of flip-flopping on whether so-called "UOCAVA voters" -- those covered by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act -- would be guaranteed the right to vote in the three day period before the elections.

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Ohio GOPer: We Shouldn't 'Contort' To 'African-American Voter-Turnout Machine'

An advisor to Gov. John Kasich is taking heat for comments that Democrats say point to a Republican effort to suppress black turnout in Ohio in November.

"I guess I really actually feel we shouldn't contort the voting process to accommodate the urban -- read African-American -- voter-turnout machine," Doug Preisse, chairman of the county Republican Party and elections board member, told the Columbus Dispatch. "Let's be fair and reasonable."

Preisse voted against weekend early voting hours, days that have traditionally resulted in high African-American turnout.

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Hans von Spakovsky Helped Rick Scott's Office With Voter Purge Media Push

Hans von Spakovsky, the controversial Bush administration official who writes in support of restrictive voting laws, worked with the office of Gov. Rick Scott on the rollout of Florida's voting list purge, according to documents shared with TPM.

Emails show that Scott's communications staff planned to offer von Spakovsky up to local radio station as an expert on Florida's effort to purge their voting lists back in June. While the purge targeted non-citizens, the state was using faulty data that included numerous legitimate voters.

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Federal Court Rules Florida's Shortening Of Early Voting Discriminates Against Blacks

A panel of federal judges ruled late Thursday that a Florida law that limits the number of early voting days cannot be implemented in several counties because it would have an adverse impact on minority turnout.

Several counties in Florida are covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires certain areas with a history of racial discrimination to have changes to their election laws and procedures precleared by either a federal court or the Justice Department.

The three judge panel ruled that minorities "will be disproportionately affected by the changes in early voting procedures because they disproportionately use early in-person voting."

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Judge Won't Block Pennsylvania's Voter ID Law

A state judge on Wednesday refused to block Pennsylvania's controversial voter ID law. Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson's 70-page order ruled that opponents of the law failed to establish "that disenfranchisement was immediate or inevitable."

Simpson did not rule on the case's merits, only on whether it could be enjoined. Opponents of the law are expected to appeal to the state's Supreme Court.

"We're not done, it's not over," Witold J. Walczak, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who helped argue the case, told the Associated Press. "It's why they make appeals courts."

Simpson ruled that the law "does not expressly disenfranchise or burden any qualified elector or group of electors. The statute simply gives poll workers another tool to verify that the person voting is who they claim to be."

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Study: Voter Impersonation Fraud, Target Of Voter ID, 'Virtually Non-Existent'

Voter impersonation fraud, the type of voter fraud which could be prevented by the types of voter ID laws that have swept through mostly Republican-controlled state legislatures over the past few years, is virtually nonexistent, according to a new study.

News21, a Carnegie-Knight investigative reporting project, sent public information requests to all 50 states (though not all of them responded) and found 10 cases of alleged in-person voter fraud since 2000. Out of the 146 million registered voters in the U.S., that number represents one case of voter impersonation fraud for every 15 million potential voters. Of the 10 cases of voter fraud, five of them involved family members illegally voting on behalf of relatives.

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Meet The 'Super Voters' Who Could Be Disenfranchised By Pa. Voter ID Law

Johnson-Goldwater. Nixon-Humphrey. Nixon-McGovern. Carter-Ford. Reagan-Carter. Reagan-Mondale. Bush-Dukakis. Clinton-Bush. Clinton-Dole. Bush-Gore. Bush-Kerry. Obama-McCain.

There's a small group of Pennsylvania voters who have cast a ballot in each of those elections -- and every November election -- the state has held over the past 50 years. But thanks to the new voter ID law passed by Republicans last year, a large chunk of them don't currently have the means to participate in 2012.

Nearly one-fourth of the senior citizen voters who have cast a ballot in the past 50 consecutive elections (including November 2011) lack a valid state-issued ID and could be prevented from casting a ballot in November, according to a new PA AFL-CIO analysis of data provided by the state.

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John Fund: Sure, Republicans Focus On Voter ID For Political Reasons

John Fund, the former Wall Street Journal columnist who has been promoting voter ID laws for years, admitted Tuesday that some Republicans focus on voter ID laws which restrict in-person voting over laws which could limit absentee voting because the GOP has a perceived electoral advantage when it comes to voting by mail.

"Absentee vote ballot fraud is the tool of choice amongst fraudsters," Fund told a group of bloggers munching on Chick-Fil-A at the conservative Heritage Foundation on Tuesday. "Everytime you see a truly massive, coordinated effort at voter fraud, it usually relies in part on absentee voter fraud."

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Romney Camp Still Won't Say If Vets, Firefighters, Cops Deserve Early Voting Rights

Days after falsely accusing the Obama campaign of working to restrict the voting rights of members of the military, the Romney campaign still won't say whether they believe Ohio cops, firefighters and veterans are worthy of early voting rights.

The Romney campaign has failed to respond to multiple inquires from TPM on whether they believe Ohio veterans, cops and firefighters should also be allowed to vote in-person during the three days before an election.

Joe Davis, a spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, told TPM that the VFW doesn't see the Obama campaign's suit as a veterans' issue, but said the VFW wouldn't object to veterans (and the general public) being allowed to vote in the three days before the election.

"The way we read the actual suit was, they wanted to match it to allow the rest of the Ohio citizens to early vote in-person up until the Monday before the election on Tuesday," Davis said.

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Veterans: Romney Lying About Obama Suit's Effect On Military Voters

Several veterans slammed Mitt Romney on Monday for opposing and mischaracterizing an Obama campaign lawsuit which would expand early voting rights to veterans, cops, firefighters and all Ohio voters.

Romney had claimed -- falsely -- that the Obama campaign opposed allowing members of the military and their families to vote in-person in the three days before the election. Actually, the Obama campaign wants all people in Ohio -- including, for example, veterans, cops and firefighters -- to be able to vote during that period.

The Romney campaign has not responded to TPM's multiple requests for comment on whether they believe Ohio firefighters and cops are worthy of early voting rights.

"When it comes to Mitt Romney, I feel like he lives in bizarro world," Iraq veteran and former Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA) told reporters in a conference call organized by the Center for American Progress on Monday. "He's suppressing millions of votes across our country in this election, and then he lies and says that President Obama is trying to do the same thing, when it couldn't be further from the truth."

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Romney Falsely Accuses Obama Campaign Of Trying To Restrict Military Voting Rights

Mitt Romney attacked a lawsuit brought by President Obama's campaign seeking the restoration of early voting rights for Ohio voters by falsely implying that Obama is trying to take away the early voting privileges for members of the military.

"President Obama's lawsuit claiming it is unconstitutional for Ohio to allow servicemen and women extended early voting privileges during the state's early voting period is an outrage," Romney said in a statement Saturday.

Actually, the Obama campaign's lawsuit, filed by the campaign in mid-July, explicitly asks a federal court to restore in-person early voting rights to all eligible Ohio voters on the three days preceding Election Day.

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Voter Fraud 'Study' Authored By Republican Who Pleaded Guilty In Abramoff Scandal

A new paper claiming that voter ID laws actually protect rather than disenfranchise minority voters is getting play in conservative circles. What isn't being mentioned so much is the background of the paper's author.

Horace Cooper, the author of the paper, told the Daily Caller this week that voter fraud "criminals -- more often than not -- are Democrats violating the rights of people who tend to be black or senior."

Cooper may not have any expertise on voter fraud, but he does know a thing or two about falsifying documents. Cooper was indicted in 2009 on five public corruption charges, charged with exchanging political favors for gifts from Jack Abramoff. Cooper allegedly accepted bribes as a staffer to former Majority Leader Dick Armey, as chief of staff for Voice of America and when he worked for the Department of Labor. Cooper later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of falsifying a disclosure report and was sentenced to 36 months of probation.

Cooper asked a judge to shorten his sentence earlier this year so he could travel to Central Fiji on a trip paid for by Qorvis Communications, writing in a court document that he was hopeful a "more permanent employment relationship may develop" after the trip. [Late update: Qorvis' Seth Thomas Pietras tells TPM the filing "must be the result of a misunderstanding and no employment offer was ever made of him."] A judge denied the motion. Currently, he is "self-employed as a writer and legal commentator, and operates a PR consulting service," according to a court filing.

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