Opinion | Let the People Vote – By David Leonhardt – The New York Times

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Voters waiting in a long line to vote in the 2018 midterm general election, outside a polling station located at Robious Middle School in Midlothian, Virginia. CreditMichael Reynolds/EPA, via Shutterstock

By David Leonhardt
Opinion Columnist, Nov. 11, 2018, 197
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Voters waiting in a long line to vote in the 2018 midterm general election, outside a polling station located at Robious Middle School in Midlothian, Virginia. CreditMichael Reynolds/EPA, via Shutterstock

“The United States finally has the pro-democracy movement that it needs.

Last week, ballot initiatives to improve the functioning of democracy fared very well. In Florida — a state divided nearly equally between right and left — more than 64 percent of voters approved restoring the franchise to 1.4 million people with felony convictions. In Colorado, Michigan and Missouri, measures to reduce gerrymandering passed. In Maryland, Michigan and Nevada, measures to simplify voter registration passed. “In red states as well as blue states,” Chiraag Bains of the think tank Demos says, “voters overwhelmingly sent the message: We’re taking our democracy back.” “

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Opinion | Last Exit Off the Road to Autocracy – by Paul Krugman – NYT

“Whatever happens in the midterms, the aftermath will be ugly. But the elections are nonetheless a fork in the road. If we take one path, it will offer at least a chance for political redemption, for recovering America’s democratic values. If we take the other, we’ll be on the road to autocracy, with no obvious way to get off.

It’s a near-certainty that Democrats will receive more votes than Republicans, with polling suggesting a margin in votes cast for the House of Representatives of seven or more percentage points — which would make it the biggest landslide of modern times. However, gerrymandering and other factors have severely tilted the playing field, so that even this might not be enough to bring control of the chamber.

And even if Democrats do climb that tilted slope, anyone expecting Republicans to accept the result with good grace hasn’t been paying attention. Remember, Donald Trump claimed — falsely, of course — that millions of immigrants voted illegally in an election he won. Imagine what he’ll say if he loses, and what his supporters will do in response. And if and when a Democratic House tries to exercise its powers, you can be sure it will be met with defiance, never mind what the Constitution says.

But ugly as the scene will be if Democrats win, it will be far worse if they lose. In fact, it’s not hyperbole to say that if the G.O.P. holds the line on Tuesday, it may be the last even halfway fair elections we’ll ever have.

Opinion | Why Americans Don’t Vote (and What to Do About It) – By ALEX CEQUEA – NYT

Video by Alex Cequea Nov. 5, 201810Video00:003:363:36Why Americans Don’t Vote (and What to Do About It)If Didn’t Vote had been a candidate in the 2016 election, it would have won by a landslide.Published OnNov. 5, 2018CreditCreditAssociated PressThe United States ranks 26th out of the 32 developed countries in the world in terms of voter turnout. In the video above, we explain some of the reasons and argue that there are simple measures that would increase the number of people who show up at the polls.

Opinion | A Slow-Motion Coup in Tennessee – by Margaret Renkle – NYT

“NASHVILLE — Emblazoned on the front page of the website for Vote.org, which was founded in 2008 to increase voter turnout, there’s a quotation from Ronald Reagan: “For this Nation to remain true to its principles, we cannot allow any American’s vote to be denied, diluted, or defiled. The right to vote is the crown jewel of American liberties, and we will not see its luster diminished.”The Party of Reagan no longer shares this particular ideal, at least not here in the South. In Tennessee, transparent voter suppression efforts have included an array of tactics:Confiscating the driver’s licenses of citizens who can’t afford to pay traffic fines. This onerous law prevents the impoverished not only from voting but also from working — 93.4 percent of working Tennesseans need cars to get to their jobs — and being unable to work prevents them from paying their fines. “Since 2012, at least 250,000 driver’s licenses have been suspended for nonpayment of traffic fines and costs,” according to a class-action lawsuit filed against the state. Last month, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction in the case, ordering Tennessee to stop the practice of revoking licenses and requiring the state to allow people to apply to get their licenses back. The state is appealing the decision.Effectively disenfranchising college students. It’s not permissible to mail in a ballot in Tennessee unless you registered to vote in person before an election commission official, or have voted in a previous election. This law makes it extremely difficult for students to vote in national elections, which are, of course, held in November and thus in the middle of a school term. The rules about voting by mail in Tennessee are so complicated that the campaign staff of United States Representative Jim Cooper, a Democrat, created a graphic to help explain it. Even the graphic is complicated.NASHVILLE — Emblazoned on the front page of the website for Vote.org, which was founded in 2008 to increase voter turnout, there’s a quotation from Ronald Reagan: “For this Nation to remain true to its principles, we cannot allow any American’s vote to be denied, diluted, or defiled. The right to vote is the crown jewel of American liberties, and we will not see its luster diminished.”

The Party of Reagan no longer shares this particular ideal, at least not here in the South. In Tennessee, transparent voter suppression efforts have included an array of tactics:

Confiscating the driver’s licenses of citizens who can’t afford to pay traffic fines. This onerous law prevents the impoverished not only from voting but also from working — 93.4 percent of working Tennesseans need cars to get to their jobs — and being unable to work prevents them from paying their fines. “Since 2012, at least 250,000 driver’s licenses have been suspended for nonpayment of traffic fines and costs,” according to a class-action lawsuit filed against the state. Last month, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction in the case, ordering Tennessee to stop the practice of revoking licenses and requiring the state to allow people to apply to get their licenses back. The state is appealing the decision.

Effectively disenfranchising college students. It’s not permissible to mail in a ballot in Tennessee unless you registered to vote in person before an election commission official, or have voted in a previous election. This law makes it extremely difficult for students to vote in national elections, which are, of course, held in November and thus in the middle of a school term. The rules about voting by mail in Tennessee are so complicated that the campaign staff of United States Representative Jim Cooper, a Democrat, created a graphic to help explain it. Even the graphic is complicated.”

The Case for Allowing Felons to Vote – By DANIEL NICHANIAN – NYT

“In the 1870s, the woman’s suffrage movement claimed the right to vote by citing the new 14th Amendment’s promise that no state “shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.”

Their opponents didn’t see it that way. “Citizenship no more carries the right to vote than it carries the power to fly to the moon,” The Rochester Union and Advertiser scoffed in an 1872 editorial.But suffragists insisted. The right to vote, they argued, cannot be carved away from citizenship. “Is the right to vote one of the privileges or immunities of citizens?” Susan B. Anthony asked in an 1873 speech. Her answer: “It is not only one of them, but the one without which all the others are nothing.”

Anthony’s call remains unfulfilled today, as suppressive voting rules in nearly every state deny many Americans their voting rights. Six million otherwise eligible individuals are stripped of the right to vote because of a felony conviction, removing them from a key arena of public life.But Anthony’s words are a reminder that the right to vote is a bedrock of our ability to govern ourselves democratically. While citizenship need not be a necessary condition for enfranchisement — for example, San Francisco has enabled noncitizens to vote in school board elections — it should be a sufficient one.”

For Native Americans- a ‘Historic Moment’ on the Path to Power at the Ballot Box – The New York Times

“SAN JUAN COUNTY, Utah — In this county of desert and sagebrush, Wilfred Jones has spent a lifetime angered by what his people are missing. Running water, for one. Electricity, for another. But worst of all, in his view, is that the Navajo people here lack adequate political representation.

So Mr. Jones sued, and in late December, after a federal judge ruled that San Juan County’s longtime practice of packing Navajo voters into one voting district violated the United States Constitution, the county was ordered to draw new district lines for local elections.The move could allow Navajo people to win two of three county commission seats for the first time, overturning more than a century of political domination by white residents. And the shift here is part of an escalating battle over Native American enfranchisement, one that comes amid a larger wave of voting rights movements spreading across the country.“It’s a historic moment for us,” said Mr. Jones, during a drive on the county’s roller coaster dirt roads. “We look at what happened with the Deep South,” he went on, “how they accomplished what they have. We can do the same thing.” ”

Bravo. Here is a comment I endorse:

DW In the shadow of Monticello 38 minutes ago
it’s about time that the Native American citizens have an equal opportunity to have a proportional vote and to equalize the use of government resources (i.e., tax income) for all – not just for those who control the boundaries of voting districts in their favor.

FlagReply 9 Recommended

On Voting Reforms- Follow Illinois- Not Texas – The New York Times

“In the face of America’s abysmal voter participation rates, lawmakers have two choices: They can make voting easier, or they can make it harder.

Illinois made the right choice this week, becoming the 10th state, along with the District of Columbia, to enact automatic voter registration. The bill, which could add as many as one million voters to the state’s rolls, was signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican who had vetoed similar legislation last year.

Under the new law, all eligible voters will be registered to vote when they visit the Department of Motor Vehicles or other state agencies. If they do not want to be registered, they may opt out.”

Strong editorial, excellent comments, such as:
Bruce Rozenblit is a trusted commenter Kansas City, MO 4 hours ago

The right to vote and the requirements thereof should be nationalized. There should be no difference from state to state. Instead of exercising states rights to improve access, deep red states are using the states rights issue increase political power. This is not only un American, it is essentially stripping away the basis of our republican democracy, which is the right to vote. Nothing is more fundamental.

Texas has just experienced a disaster of biblical proportions. The costs to recover will most likely exceed $100 billion dollars. Tens of million have been hurt.

The floodwaters did not discriminate. Rich or poor, black, brown or white, the waters came. They are all in it together, bound up by their suffering and loss.

That’s how voting is supposed to work in a democracy. All are bound up together, regardless or race, creed or income.

If Texas can’t learn that lesson from Harvey, then it’s time to play hardball. I would make federal aid contingent upon Texas accepting the federal motor vehicle registration system. The cost is nil. The pain to do so is nil.

If Texas wants federal dollars to flow to help in the recovery, then the state should accept the voter requirements that allow voting in all elections.

We are all truly in this disaster together. The nation should rally to help Texas. It’s high time Texas started acting like it is part of this nation.

Reply 58 Recommended

The Voter Fraud Fantasy – The New York Times

“…..What once seemed like another harebrained claim by a president with little regard for the truth must now be recognized as a real threat to American democracy. Mr. Trump is telegraphing his administration’s intent to provide cover for longstanding efforts by Republicans to suppress minority voters by purging voting rolls, imposing onerous identification requirements and curtailing early voting.”

Eric Holder to Lead Democrats’ Attack on Republican Gerrymandering – The New York Times

WASHINGTON — As he prepared last week to deliver his farewell address, President Obama convened a trio of Democratic leaders in the White House for a strategy session on the future of their party. The quiet huddle included Senator Chuck Schumer of New York and Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the top Democrats in Congress, and Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia.One topic of urgent concern, according to people briefed on the meeting: how to break the Republican Party’s iron grip on the congressional map.

Point of View: North Carolina no longer a democracy | News & Observer | gawker.com

“In the just released EIP report, North Carolina’s overall electoral integrity score of 58/100 for the 2016 election places us alongside authoritarian states and pseudo-democracies like Cuba, Indonesia and Sierra Leone. If it were a nation state, North Carolina would rank right in the middle of the global league table – a deeply flawed, partly free democracy that is only slightly ahead of the failed democracies that constitute much of the developing world.”

Source: Point of View: North Carolina no longer a democracy | News & Observer