Department of Justice Launches Against Republican Led Voter Suppression Law in South Carolina

DOJ has also objected to discriminatory new voting restrictions in Florida and Texas under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Section 5 mandates that covered jurisdictions with a history of electoral discrimination—which includes parts or all of sixteen states, including much of the South—receive approval from DOJ or a federal court in Washington for any voting-related change to ensure that it does not make it harder for minority citizens to be able to vote. On August 16, a federal court found that Florida’s cutbacks to early voting violated the Voting Rights Act, since African-American voters were twice as likely as white voters to use early voting during the 2008 election. Seven GOP states are now challenging the constitutionality of Section 5 before the Supreme Court. Not surprisingly, South Carolina is one of them.

A few updates on the case:

-During the trial on Tuesday it was revealed that South Carolina GOP State Rep. Alan Clemmons, author of the voter ID bill, received an email from a supporter of the voter ID law, Ed Koziol of Greenville, suggesting that if black voters received a reward for obtaining the voter ID “it would be like a swarm of bees going after a watermelon.” To which Clemmons replied, “Amen, Ed, thank you for your support.” Clemmons also said he did not recall “distributing packets of peanuts with cards that read ‘Stop Obama’s nutty agenda and support voter ID,’” McClatchy reported, despite prior testimony to the contrary.

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South Carolina Case Displays Blatant Voter Suppression from Republicans

Her testimony on Tuesday and Wednesday bordered on the absurd at times. Not because Andino is a poor witness, not because she’s a zealot, but for precisely the opposite reason.

Relentlessly, professionally, candidly, she has revealed to the world the utter lack of sense behind the new law — the lack of foresight on the part of the legislators, the Tea Partyers, and the conservative radicals, who scrambled to enact the odious measure in the face of reasonable, bipartisan, biracial alternatives. Under cross-examination by Garrard Beeney, Andino has delivered a river of evidence proving that the state’s minorities — and its poor, and its ill — will effectively be disenfranchised by the new law.

Here, for example, is the transcript from Wednesday morning’s session of the federal court trial now underway before three (largely baffled) judges. Take a few moments to read for yourself how unprepared South Carolina is to ensure, come November, that registered voters — men and women who have voted without incident before — will have their votes counted this election season. Below is my favorite passage from the morning session — but first here is a little bit of background for it.

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Court Smacks Down Republicans and Voter Suppression, Victory for Students

TALLAHASSEE, FL, Aug. 30, 2012 – Civic groups and Florida voters won a huge victory when a federal judge indicated he will permanently remove some of the most restrictive parts of Florida’s new voter registration laws, which have made it harder for student governments and civic groups to help register young people to vote.

“This is an absolute victory for students and the civic minded world. Engaging our students in this election is of utmost importance to the Student Government Association at Florida State University. We are thrilled that students now have easier access to register to vote and exercise their rights as United States citizens,” said Harrison DuBosar of the Florida State University Student Government Association.

This fall, Florida PIRG’s New Voters Project, a non-partisan effort, is working with campuses across the state to help young people register and turn out so that their voices can be heard on the issues they care about.

The League of Women Voters of Florida, Rock the Vote, and the Florida Public Interest Research Group Education Fund filed a lawsuit last December challenging the restrictions. Federal Judge Robert L. Hinkle temporarily blocked enforcement of the law in May, saying the restrictions violated the U.S. Constitution and federal law.

Yesterday, Judge Hinkle issued an order stating the court will grant the groups’ request to permanently remove the restrictions once he receives confirmation that a federal appeals court has dismissed the case.

“This order is a decisive victory for Florida voters,” said Lee Rowland, counsel for the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program, one of the attorneys who argued the case for the plaintiffs. “The Florida legislature has tried repeatedly to stifle access to voter registration opportunities, and once again a federal court has stopped them in their tracks. We are thrilled that voter registration groups can now get back to what they do best — expanding our democracy.”

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Judge Rules Against Republican Push for Voter Suppression in Florida

Three months after a federal judge blocked much of Florida’s year-old voter suppression law as an unconstitutional infringement on speech and voting rights, the same judge agreed Tuesday to permanently remove the restrictions on voter registration drives, pending final confirmation that a federal appeals court has dismissed the case. In a settlement, the civil rights groups challenging the law and the state agreed not to appeal the case.

HB 1355, enacted by the state legislature’s Republican majority and signed by Gov. Rick Scott (R) — went into effect last July, putting major new restrictions on groups who work to register new voters. The law imposed harsh new restrictions on third-party voter registration groups, requiring them to turn in completed registration forms 48 hours — to the minute — after completion, or face fines.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle, in his May order, put the restrictions on hold, finding “the statute and rule impose burdensome record-keeping and reporting requirements that serve little if any purpose, thus rendering them unconstitutional even to the extent they do not violate the [National Voter Registration Act].”

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Judge’s Decision for Justice : Rock the Vote and League of Women Voters Smack Down Gov. Scott’s Voter Suppression in Florida

A judge said on Wednesday he would issue a permanent injunction against controversial restrictions on voter registration drives in Florida put in place under a new state election law backed by the state’s governor.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle temporarily prohibited Florida in May from enforcing parts of the law that tightened deadlines for groups conducting voter registration drives to submit registration forms.

In a ruling on Wednesday, Hinkle said he would grant a permanent injunction against the law’s provisions if the case is not appealed to a higher court. The state of Florida and civic groups have agreed not to appeal the ruling.

The case is among several legal battles over voting laws that have played out in Florida, which is expected to be a key swing state in November’s presidential election.

The law has been challenged by civic and voting rights groups, including the League of Women Voters and Rock the Vote.

“This order is a decisive victory for Florida voters,” Lee Rowland, a lawyer for the Brennan Center for Justice, a plaintiff in the case, said in a statement.

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Department of Justice Works to Halt Republican Led Voter Suppression in South Carolina

What justifies making it so difficult for certain segments of the population to exercise one of the country’s most basic constitutional rights? South Carolina Republicans claim the law will stop a massive outbreak of voter fraud. Yet DOJ noted that “the state’s submission did not include any evidence or instance of either in-person voter impersonation or any other type of fraud.” A separate investigation by the South Carolina Elections Commission, based on the hysterical claim by the South Carolina Attorney General that 900 dead people voted in the 2010 election, also found no evidence of voter fraud or zombie voting

DOJ has also objected to discriminatory new voting restrictions in Florida and Texas under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Section 5 mandates that covered jurisdictions with a history of electoral discrimination—which includes parts or all of sixteen states, including much of the South—receive approval from DOJ or a federal court in Washington for any voting-related change to ensure that it does not make it harder for minority citizens to be able to vote. On August 16, a federal court found that Florida’s cutbacks to early voting violated the Voting Rights Act, since African-American voters were twice as likely as white voters to use early voting during the 2008 election. Seven GOP states are now challenging the constitutionality of Section 5 before the Supreme Court. Not surprisingly, South Carolina is one of them.

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Allevents.in Florida : Community March and Rally Against Republican Backed Voter Suppression in Florida Aug. 28th, 5pm

One of the most charged issues has been voter suppression that aims to rob the vote from communities of color. Across the country, the same lobby corporations like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) are pushing the racially discriminatory SB 1070 in Arizona and HB 56 in Alabama to chase out their undocumented immigrants are now trying to push voter suppression laws.

Florida is only one example of voter suppression this year. In Florida, a state with a reputation for egregious voter rights violations, they have been pushing ID requirements they know will disproportionately affect Latinos, African Americans, and youth. Other attempts have included using faulty methods to check citizenship to disenfranchise Latino voters, shortening early voting, and pushing a requirement that volunteers registering people turn in registrations in 48 hours, leading to a high school teacher facing thousands in fines for registering her students. This measure chased the League of Women Voters out of the state, who said that it made voter registration drives impossible since registration workers cannot make the deadline. The League estimated that this would discourage 20% of voter registration, to address voter fraud, which, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, occurs .0004% of the time.

It’s a transparent farce, and, luckily for voter drives, the courts have stepped in to block the worst of it, such as the 48 hour law. This won’t stop Republicans and their corporate supporters from trying, however. DREAMers will be leading organizing efforts to take a stand against voter suppression!

Location:
Centennial Park
1800 East 8th Ave, Tampa FL

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