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Voter Suppression
  • Ohio Settles for Subtler Forms of Voter Suppression

    Seventy percent of the 270 electoral votes needed to win in 2012 will come from states that have adopted new restrictive voting laws. Among these is Ohio, the Florida of America's heartland of broken blue-collar dreams, where Republican election commissioners came up with a totally fair and equitable procedure for making sure Ohio's results — technically called The Ohio election results — do not displease Mitt Romney and his allies.

    It went like this: Due to a deadlock between Democratic and Republican election commissioners, heavily Democratic cities like Cleveland, Columbus, Akron and Toledo would have early voting limited to 8 am until 5 pm on weekdays, with no voting at night or during the weekend, when Ohio's black churches routinely carried out get out the vote drives. In strongly Republican counties like Warren and Butler, GOP-controlled election boards approved expanded voting rights to include nights, weekends and generally everything short of "ordering a chicken sandwich at Chick-fil-A counts as a vote for Romney/Ryan."

    All was going well until the NY Times editorial board and the Obama campaign and even George R.R. Martin had a sad about this perfectly equitable plan where Republican counties would have more opportunities to vote than Democratic ones and now no one is going to have weekend early voting

    Ohio's 88 counties will have uniform early voting hours to ensure residents casting ballots in the presidential election are treated equally, Secretary of State Jon Husted said.

    The Ohio Democratic Party had complained that hours for early in-person voting by absentee ballot before the Nov. 6 election were being expanded in counties that lean Republican and not in Democratic ones, to help presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

    Absentee voting starts 35 days before the election in Ohio, and Husted directed that election offices remain open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the first three weeks and until 7 p.m. on weekdays in the final two.

    See, equal protection of the laws are the reason we can't have nice things like weekend voting.

    Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

    Tags: Ohio, Voter Suppression
  • Pennsylvania Lawmakers Have a Strange Way of Defending Their Laws

    After Pennsylvania state house majority leader Mike Turzai was quoted as saying, "Voter ID, which is going to allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done," people had some slight suspicions about the motive of a harsh voter ID law passed by the state's Republican-controlled congress which could keep three-quarters of a million eligible voters from casting their ballots in November.

    And now — just ahead of tomorrow's federal trial concerning the veracity of that very same voter ID law — state lawmakers have made some other interesting comments about the need for the law

    The state signed a stipulation agreement with lawyers for the plaintiffs which acknowledges there "have been no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania; and the parties do not have direct personal knowledge of any such investigations or prosecutions in other states."

    Additionally, the agreement states Pennsylvania "will not offer any evidence in this action that in-person voter fraud has in fact occurred in Pennsylvania and elsewhere" or even argue "that in person voter fraud is likely to occur in November 2012 in the absense of the Photo ID law."

    I see… Hmmmm… Interesting concessions. I can see how that might raise some eyebrows. But, let me ask you this: Is there still a black dude named Barack Obama who could conceivably win reelection for the Democrats with the help of Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes?

    There is?

    Okay, then. Really, the bulk of their argument still stands.

    Photo by Ad Meskens/Wikimedia Commons

    Tags: Pennsylvania, Voter Suppression
  • Election Officials Keep Trying to Kill Florida Woman

    Florida primary As election officials across the country conduct purges of their voter rolls, some are wondering if the extra resources dedicated to voter suppression are really worth it. After all, can't election officials completely screw up the voter rolls without being part of any special program for purging ineligibles from registration lists? In Florida, the answer is yes, they can.

    Take the case of Connie Smith, a 61 year old voter, who received the following notice from her local Supervisor of Elections

    "This letter is to inform you that the person named above has been removed from the Orange County vote rolls after we received notification of their death."

    It wasn't the first time election officials had tried to off her. She received a similar letter in 2008, prompting a six-month ordeal during which she had to convince a slew of government agencies of her continued existence.

    Florida does have an acute zombie problem that requires taking extra precaution. What if Ms. Smith had been lying about her status as living, breathing human? The only way to fix the situation would be to show a  "non-death" certificate, which is exactly what Smith obtained from the Florida Department of Health following her original expulsion from the voter rolls.  It states that there is no record of her death.

    Unfortunately, that document did little to dissuade State and Orange County elections from declaring her deceased once again. Next time, she better ask for the long-form non-death certificate.

    Tags: Florida, Voter Suppression
  • Mississippi Achieves Platonic Ideal in Voter Suppression

    For ages, election officials and elected representatives have struggled with a major flaw in the electoral system: Some American citizens are black or Hispanic.

    Each solution to this seemingly intractable problem was met with new obstacles. Forbid blacks from voting outright? Here comes the 15th Amendment to ruin the white supremacist fun.

    Institute poll taxes and literacy tests? The 24th Amendment and the Voting Rights Act now stand in the way.

    Create voter identification requirements that make it somewhat more onerous for poor people to get ballots? Somehow, those people make it to the DMV and get themselves an ID.

    Mississippi has the solution. Under the state's newly enacted voter suppression identification law, voters must present an approved form of identification in order to vote. In order to obtain a state-approved ID, voters must present a birth certificate. However, in order to get a birth certificate, which many citizens have lost, applicants must show a valid photo ID.

    Pamela Weaver, spokeswoman of the Mississippi Secretary of State's office, confirmed the existence of this problem, as thousands of Mississippi voters asked, "Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?"

    Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

    Tags: Mississippi, Voter Fraud, Voter Suppression
  • Exploding Toilets More Common than Voter Fraud

    Over the last several years, dozens of state legislatures have moved to strengthen voter ID laws, potentially disenfranchising millions of Americans in the process. For example, nearly 10 percent of Pennsylvania's registered voters do not have photo identification cards from the DMV and could be ineligible to vote in November under the state's new Republican-backed voter ID law.

    As noted by Mother Jones, actual instances of voter fraud are remarkably rare, with "13 credible cases of in-person voter impersonation" occurring between 2000 and 2010, compared to 47,000 reported UFO sighting.

    As it turns out, many more Americans are impersonating Elvis than illicitly pretending to be a voter. Here are 10 other occurrences more common than voter impersonation…

    1. Babies named Unique (228 during the 1990s alone)

    2. Shark attacks in the US (36 in 2011)

    3. People Jack Bauer personally killed in one season of the TV show 24 (38)

    4. Americans crushed to death by their furniture or televisions (about 15 per year)

    5. Flushmate toilets that exploded on unsuspecting Americans before being recalled by the manufacturer ("304 reports of the product bursting, resulting in property damage and 14 impact or laceration injuries")

    6. Being SET ON FIRE by your doctors during surgery (at least 100 surgical fires per year)

    7. People claiming "Elvis Impersonator" as their primary occupation (84,000)

    8. Americans killed by lightning (441)

    9. Lemonade and other child-run snack stands shut down by government officials (dozens)

    10. Americans who have a favorable view of North Korea (13%)

    Photo by Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images

    Tags: Voter Fraud, Voter Suppression