Tag Archive: voting rights act

Jun 25 2013

Supreme Court Guts Voting Rights Act In 5-4 Ruling, Ends Civil Rights Era

supreme_court_buildingA return to the old ways? Former Presidential candidate Howard Dean expressed his disapproval of the Court’s decision on FB alongside a bevy of candidates and elected officials. “The Court continues to destroy its own legitimacy as it descends further into politically based decision making. This decision ranks with Dred Scott, Citizens United and Bush v Gore among the most morally bankrupt and non-constitutionally based political decisions in the courts history.”

Sal Albanese, a candidate running for Mayor wrote on his FB, “In light of today’s terrible decision by the Supreme Court, I’m calling on the New York Congressional delegation – regardless of party – to unite behind new legislation that guarantees equal access to the polls for every American.

Mark Levine, a Democrat for a Manhattan based NYC Council Seat is also calling for action. “The Supreme Court’s blow to the Voting Rights Act leaves us no choice–we must push congress to take bold legislative action to protect every American’s right to vote in free and fair elections. Join the movement.

Article below:

[Huffington Post] The Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act on Tuesday, the provision of the landmark civil rights law that designates which parts of the country must have changes to their voting laws cleared by the federal government or in federal court.

The 5-4 ruling, authored by Chief Justice John Roberts and joined by Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, ruled in Shelby County v. Holder that “things have changed dramatically” in the South in the nearly 50 years since the Voting Rights Act was signed in 1965.

The court’s opinion said it did not strike down the act of Congress “lightly,” and said it “took care to avoid ruling on the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act” in a separate case back in 2009. “Congress could have updated the coverage formula at that time, but did not do so. Its failure to act leaves us today with no choice but to declare [Section 4] unconstitutional. The formula in that section can no longer be used as a basis for subjecting jurisdictions to preclearance.”

The Voting Rights Act has recently been used to block a voter ID law in Texas and delay the implementation of another in South Carolina. Both states are no longer subject to the preclearance requirement because of the court’s ruling on Tuesday.

“Our country has changed, and while any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions,” Roberts wrote.

“There is no doubt that these improvements are in large part because of the Voting Rights Act,” he wrote. “The Act has proved immensely successful at redressing racial discrimination and integrating the voting process.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/25/voting-rights-act-supreme-court_n_3429810.html

###

Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2013/06/supreme-court-guts-voting-rights-act-ends-civil-rights-era/

Oct 27 2012

Steve Israel wants to empower the popular vote

A pragmatic proposal for a constitutional amendment would make elections more competitive.

From The Huffington Post: Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman, has proposed a constitutional amendment that would award 29 extra Electoral College votes to the winner of the national popular vote in presidential elections.

The joint resolution, filed earlier this week and referred to the Judiciary Committee for consideration, seeks to alter the way in which candidates campaign for the presidency. By increasing the importance of the popular vote, the amendment would theoretically encourage candidates to devote more time and money to states they are certain to win or lose.

“The election for president should be an election for the whole country, not just the swing states,” Israel said in a statement to The Huffington Post. “Obviously I have no intention of changing the rules for the campaign that’s underway now, but believe that we would be better served in the future if presidential candidates had an incentive to campaign in places like New York and Texas, as well as swing states like New Hampshire and Iowa.”

The 29 electoral votes Israel proposes to award the popular vote winner is the average of the 55 votes allotted to California, the most in the country, and three votes, allotted to the least populated states.

John Sides, a political science professor at George Washington University, said he doubts other Democrats will back the measure, which he gives little chance of passage.

“It’s probably more likely that Democrats will conclude that Obama’s Electoral College advantage in 2012 might reflect a chronic advantage the Democrats will have going forward,” Sides said in an email. “If so, they have little incentive to reform the Electoral College.”

###

Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2012/10/steve-israel-empower-the-popular-vote/

Oct 23 2012

Steve Israel says we need weekend voting and he’s right

Should New York have early voting? The answer is unequivocally yes.

The question comes around every election: Why is voting on Tuesday? Seems like New York State has got to get with the program.

From NPR.org: It’s Tuesday — exactly two weeks out from Nov. 6, Election Day. Why is voting day for American federal elections always a Tuesday? The answer is a bit obscure and has to do with buggies.

Let me explain.

The story starts all the way back with the Founding Fathers. “The Constitutional Convention just met for a very brief time during the summer of 1787,” Senate Historian Don Ritchie says. “By the time they got finished they were exhausted and they hadn’t made up their minds on a lot of things.”

They were pooped. So they left the question of when federal elections should be held undecided. Without that laid out, states were left to set their own voting dates, which meant several decades of electoral chaos. Ritchie describes it as a “crazy quilt of elections” held at all different times, all over the country.

Finally, in 1845, Congress decided to get things under control. Ritchie says lawmakers reasoned that Monday was out because people would have to travel to the polls in their buggies on Sunday, the Sabbath (this is where the buggies come in). And in a mostly farming society, Wednesday wouldn’t work because that was often market day.

So, Tuesday was the day, and that seemed to work great for 19th century voters. “In the 1840s, elections were a big to do — there was a lot of hoopla, there were parades,” Ritchie says. “Whole families would come on wagons from the farms, people would get dressed up for the occasion.”

Though the America of buggies and markets has long since given way to minivans and grocery stores, Tuesday remains the day we vote.

“That may have made sense in 1845, but the world has moved on,” Rep. Steve Israel, a New York Democrat, says. “Democracies have moved on, and so Congress should also move on and make it easier for people to vote.”

There are, of course, other options for a lot of folks, like absentee and early voting. Still, there are voters who can’t cast ballots unless they can find a way to get to the polls on Tuesday. “In 15 states you do not have an opportunity to vote early or by an absentee ballot or by mail, which means you have to vote on Tuesday,” says Jacob Soboroff of Why Tuesday, who also is a host and producer for HuffPost Live. “It’s just ridiculous, it’s absurd. There is absolutely no good reason whatsoever to vote on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November.”

Soboroff and Congressman Israel say Tuesday voting bars access to democracy and keeps America’s voter turnout chronically low. They point to census survey data showing that 1 in 4 people says he’s too busy or his schedule doesn’t allow him to get to the polls.

Their solution? Move Election Day to the weekend. Israel has been introducing and reintroducing a bill to move voting to the weekend.

For full story, http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2012/10/23/162484410/why-are-elections-on-tuesdays

###

Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2012/10/weekend-voting-now/


Hit Counter provided by brochure holders