Tag Archives: voting rights

Press Release of the Week – April 3, 2021

American Airlines Statement on Texas Voting Legislation

Thursday, April 01, 2021, 4:23 PM

Earlier this morning, the Texas State Senate passed legislation with provisions that limit voting access. To make American’s stance clear: We are strongly opposed to this bill and others like it. As a Texas-based business, we must stand up for the rights of our team members and customers who call Texas home, and honor the sacrifices made by generations of Americans to protect and expand the right to vote.

Voting is the hallmark of our democracy, and is the foundation of our great country. We value the democratic process and believe every eligible American should be allowed to exercise their right to vote, no matter which political party or candidate they support.

We acknowledge how difficult this is for many who have fought to secure and exercise their constitutional right to vote. Any legislation dealing with how elections are conducted must ensure ballot integrity and security while making it easier to vote, not harder. At American, we believe we should break down barriers to diversity, equity and inclusion in our society – not create them.

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Photo of the Week – March 27, 2021

Georgia State Rep. Park Cannon (D-Atlanta) is placed into the back of a Georgia State Capitol patrol car after being arrested by Georgia State Troopers at the Georgia State Capitol Building in Atlanta, Thursday, March 25, 2021. Cannon was arrested by Capitol police after she attempted to knock on the door of the Gov. Brian Kemp office during his remarks after he signed into law a sweeping Republican-sponsored overhaul of state elections that includes new restrictions on voting by mail and greater legislative control over how elections are run.  Photo: Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP

To anyone familiar with the history of race relations in the United States, the image of an African-American getting arrested by a bunch of White police officers in a Southern state over a dispute about voting rights is inescapable.

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Worst Quotes of the Week – March 20, 2021

“It was Barack Obama himself who knew about the dangers of ballot harvesting in the state of Texas because under his administration, he sent his U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Texas, as well as the FBI, to south Texas to arrest and to prosecute people who were involved in ballot harvesting that were using cocaine to buy votes through the ballot harvesting process in the state of Texas.”

Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX), claiming efforts by the Democratic National Party to secure elections would result in people using cocaine to buy votes

Abbott went on to say, “And when you look at some of the things that they are talking about with regard to H.R. 1, they are trying to institutionalize voter fraud in the United States of America. They want to make mail-in ballots permanent. Everyone knows – including Democrats in Texas – have said that one of the easiest ways to cheat in elections is through these mail-in ballots.”

“Even though those thousands of people that were marching to the Capitol were trying to pressure people like me to vote the way they wanted me to vote, I knew those were people that love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law, and so I wasn’t concerned… Now, had the tables been turned – Joe, this could get me in trouble – had the tables been turned, and President Trump won the election and those were tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters, I might have been a little concerned.”

Sen. Ron Johnson, on the January 6 Capital Hill riots

“There’s old sayings in Texas about, you know, find all the rope in Texas and get a tall oak tree.  You know, we take justice very seriously and we ought to do that.  Round up the bad guys.  That’s what we believe.”

Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), mentioning lynching as a form of justice during congressional hearings about anti-Asian-American violence

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Political Cartoon of the Week – March 13, 2021

Khalil Bendib

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Worst Quotes of the Week – March 13, 2021

President Trump with Republican National Convention Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel and Michigan Republican Party Cochair Terry Bowman in 2019. Photo by Max Elram

“If you donate to our Save America PAC at (DonaldJTrumpDOTcom), you are helping the America First movement and doing it right. We will WIN, and we will WIN BIG! Our Country is being destroyed by the Democrats!”

Former President Donald Trump, pleading for donations to his new political action committee

“The RNC, NRSC and NRCC are grateful for President Trump’s support, both past and future. Through his powerful agenda, we were able to break fundraising records and elect Republicans up and down the ballot. Together, we look forward to working with President Trump to retake our congressional majorities and deliver results for the American people.”

Ronna Romney McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC); Sen. Rick Scott, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC); and Tom Emmer, who chairs the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), responding to Trump’s pitch above

“Everything in this bill is rotten to the core.  This is a bill as if written in hell by the devil himself.”

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), about HR1, also known as For the People Act of 2021, which would expand voting rights

“There’s a fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans.  Democrats value as many people as possible voting and they’re willing to risk fraud.  Republicans are more concerned about fraud, so we don’t mind putting security measures in that won’t let everybody vote – but everybody shouldn’t be voting.”

Rep. John Kavanaugh (R-AZ), on new proposals in the Arizona State Legislature supposedly designed to strengthen protections against voter fraud

“Pregnant women are going to fight our wars.  It’s a mockery of the U.S. military.  While China’s military becomes more masculine as it’s assembled the world’s largest navy, our military needs to become, as Joe Biden says, ‘more feminine’ – whatever ‘feminine’ means anymore, since men and women no longer exist.”

Tucker Carlson, criticizing new uniform designs for pregnant female military personnel

Carlson’s lament has drawn sharp rebuke from military veterans, including Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) who lost both of her lower legs while serving as a combat pilot in Iraq in 2004.  Duckworth tweeted this about Carlson.

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Best Quotes of the Week – March 6, 2021

“Abbott has purposefully injected a new infection into the state in the form of irresponsible policies that will promote unnecessary infection, hospitalization and death.”

Dr. Kavita Patel, on the announcement by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to reopen the state 100% to retailers, restaurants and other businesses, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic

“The Republican Party’s biggest problem is that too many people of color are exercising their right to vote.  The party’s solution is a massive push for voter suppression that would make old-time Jim Crow segregationists proud.”

Eugene Robinson, in a Washington Post editorial

“I think a lot of us assumed that we were the dominant gene – if only because the country was changing so much – that out of its own self-interest the party would have to change.  We saw the dark side.  We thought it was a recessive gene.  And I don’t know any conclusion to come to except that we were wrong.”

Stuart Stevens, on MSNBC’s “The 11th Hour with Brian Williams” 03/03/21

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Best Quotes of the Week – December 5, 2020

“Just 100 days to mask, not forever – 100 days.  And I think we’ll see a significant reduction.”

President Elect Joe Biden, urging Americans to wear masks to help stop spread of COVID-19

“To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election.”

– U.S. Attorney General William Barr, confirming that various complaints by the Trump Administration of voter fraud in the recent elections are unfounded.

“Mr. President, you have not condemned these actions or this language. Senators, you have not condemned this language or these actions. This has to stop. We need you to step up, and if you’re going to take a position of leadership, show some.”

Gabriel Sterling, the Voting Systems Manager for the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, during a press conference Tuesday afternoon after weeks of harassment, threats, and division

Sterling called out President Trump and Georgia Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler for not condemning ongoing threats made against Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, his wife, and numerous elections officials and contractors.

Sterling said the “straw that broke the camel’s back” occurred when a 20-something contractor discovered a noose in front of his home with his name on it after an online video claiming to show him “manipulate data.”

“He just took a job,” Sterling said, adding he chose to have a high-profile job, but the young man who was threatened was just doing his job.  “People started accusing him of treason.”

“I am not going to be intimidated by these threats from telling the truth to the American people.”

Christopher Krebs, former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, in an essay for the Washington Post

Donald Trump had terminated Krebs via Twitter on November 17 after CISA rebuked the President’s claims of rampant voter fraud in the November 3 elections.  Trump campaign lawyer Joe di Genova had suggested Krebs should be shot.

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A Guide to Women NOT Voting

This year marks a century since the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution assured women the right to vote.  But it’s tough to imagine that only now will we be getting our first female vice-president.  Still, it’s equally difficult to understand there was a time when the concept of women voting was radical and almost subversive.  The old guard of White men who bore something like 99% of the nation’s wealth and power 100 years ago usually had trouble extending those privileges.

In 1917, the National Woman Suffrage Publishing Company (the publishing arm of the National Woman Suffrage Association) came out with “This Little Book Contains Every Reason Why Women Should Not Vote.”  And all of its interior pages were blank.  It was essentially a comical publication, but at its core was a serious message: there are no good reasons to deny women the right to vote.

Granting women the right to vote was just one major step in the ongoing struggle for voting rights in the United States.  As much as detractors tried, they couldn’t squelch the myriad movements to ensure that very basic right, such as the 1965 Voting Rights Act.  Considering what’s happened in this year’s elections, it appears that struggle is not over.

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Barrett Block

“It has been 80 years since a Supreme Court vacancy was nominated and confirmed in an election year. There is a long tradition that you don’t do this in an election year.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), February 14, 2016, “Meet the Press”

“The court — we are one vote away from losing our fundamental constitutional liberties, and I believe that the president should next week nominate a successor to the court, and I think it is critical that the Senate takes up and confirms that successor before Election Day,” Cruz said. “This nomination is why Donald Trump was elected. This confirmation is why the voters voted for a Republican majority in the Senate.”

Cruz, September 18, 2020, hours after the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

If hypocrisy was a virtue, many politicians would be among the most honorable of citizens.  Sadly, political environments seem to have no room for such people.  Hypocrisy reigns, as U.S. Senate Republicans rammed through the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett this week, in order to fill the seat left by the death Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last month.  Ginsburg’s failing health and ultimate death had been the subject for years among Supreme Court watchers.  Liberals and even moderates feared her death would come at such a pivotal moment in U.S. history as we’re in now.

Allegations of a double standard aside, my biggest concern with Barrett is her unwillingness to answer questions regarding one particular issue, the most sacred element of democracy: voting.  I’ve always found it odd that conservatives will move mountains to protect gun rights, but unleash similar amounts of energy to thwart voting rights.  It’s obvious this matter is critical because we are on the cusp of a presidential election.  Yet, the right to cast a ballot has come under threat since Barack Obama fairly and legitimately won his first election in 2008.  (Understand there’s never been any question of the validity of Obama’s elections.)  States with predominantly Republican legislatures suddenly became concerned with voter fraud and began implementing measures to combat it.  Similar reactions erupted after passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and ratification of the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1971.

My home state of Texas, for example, was among the first to tighten voter identification.  College ids and utility bills were nearly eliminated as proof of one’s existence or residency, but they retain their positions as supplemental forms of identification.  Other measures, such as fingerprints and retina scans were proposed – all in a futile attempt to combat the mystical voter fraud; much the same way Ted Cruz managed to fight off myriad communist sympathizers on the manicured grounds of Princeton University.

In the midst of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the idea of standing in crowded places to cast a ballot made many people shudder.  Generally, senior citizens and the disabled were among the few granted the privilege of mail-in voting.  But, as the novel coronavirus remains highly contagious, mail-in voting became more palatable.  Then, as if on cue, President Donald Trump and other right-wing sycophants raised the ugly specter of voter fraud.  And, of course, mail-in voting – just like the overall right granted by the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – was in jeopardy.

When voting rights advocates tried to compromise by pushing for drop-off ballot boxes, conservatives again balked.  On October 1, Texas Governor Greg Abbott mandated that only one drop-off box would be acceptable per county.  That works great for tiny Loving County (pop. 169), but not for massive Harris County (pop. 4.7 million).  U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman overruled Abbott; denouncing the governor’s proclamation as “myopically” focused.  But the governor persisted, and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with him.

Earlier this week, however, Judge Barrett couldn’t seem to bring herself to declare the importance and value of voting rights.  Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar asked Barrett about the freedom of the formerly incarcerated to regain their voting rights.  She highlighted one of Barrett’s 2019 dissent in Kanter v. Barr that voting should be granted only to “virtuous citizens.”  In the Kanter case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit ruled it reasonable that the litigant, Rickey Kanter, lose his right to own firearms after a felony conviction for mail fraud.  Barrett was the only member of the 3-judge panel to resist and brought up the “virtuous citizens” remark, which subsequently invoked discussions of what constitutes virtuous.  As with any moral declaration, the concept of virtue can be purely subjective.  Yet Barrett didn’t stop there.  In her dissent, she went on to write that the application of virtue should limit the right of citizens to vote and serve on juries.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard conservative political figures announce their support for ex-convicts to regain their right to bear arms, if they’ve served their full sentences.  None, however, have expressed similarly ardent advocacy for the same ex-convicts to earn back their right to vote.  I suspect this is because they all realize the significance of the power of voting and the power it gives even to the poor and disenfranchised.  Hence, measures in the past with poll taxes and “grandfather clauses”.

Barrett still wouldn’t clarify what she meant by “virtuous”.  In response to Klobuchar, she said, “Okay. Well, senator, I want to be clear that that is not in the opinion designed to denigrate the right to vote, which is fundamental … The virtuous citizenry idea is a historical and jurisprudential one.  It certainly does not mean that I think that anybody gets a measure of virtue and whether they’re good or not, and whether they’re allowed to vote. That’s not what I said.”

Klobuchar persisted.  In citing Justice Ginsburg’s writing in the landmark voting rights case Shelby County v. Holder, she asked, “Do you agree with Justice Ginsburg’s conclusion that the Constitution clearly empowers Congress to protect the right to vote?”

Shelby County v. Holder was crucial in the contemporary assault on voting rights.  It addressed Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which requires certain states and local governments to obtain federal preclearance before implementing any changes to their voting laws or practices and Section 4(b), which contains the coverage formula that determines which jurisdictions are subjected to preclearance based on their histories of discrimination in voting.  The seminal 1965 act was not-so-subtly aimed at southern states.  When the case arrived at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013, where a 5-4 ruling declared Section 4(b) unconstitutional because it was based on data over 40 years old.  The high court didn’t strike down Section 5.  Previous research had showed that both sections had led to increases in minority voting since the 1960s.  Contemporary voting advocates, however, claimed that recent efforts – especially after Obama’s 2008 victory and mainly in the South – made it easier for election officials to impose greater restrictions on voting.

Again, Barrett just couldn’t (more likely wouldn’t) bring herself to state her position clearly.  “Well, Senator, that would be eliciting an opinion from me on whether the dissent or the majority was right in Shelby County,” she told Klobuchar, “and I can’t express a view on that, as I’ve said, because it would be inconsistent with the judicial role.”

Klobuchar then brought up alarming news that Atlas Aegis, a Tennessee-based company, was trying to recruit former members of the U.S. military to show up at various polling places while armed; all in a supposed effort to ensure the security of voting.  The image of such activity has become plausible as even President Trump advocates for armed poll-watchers to prevent voter fraud.  Whether these people should be armed with bazookas or cell phones hasn’t been made clear, but the threat is obvious.

“Judge Barrett,” asked Klobuchar, “under federal law, is it illegal to intimidate voters at the polls?”

“Sen. Klobuchar, I can’t characterize the facts in a hypothetical situation and I can’t apply the law to a hypothetical set of facts,” Barrett said.

Well, that’s a nice, safe response.  And I have to concede it’s only proper in such a setting.  A fair jurist can’t logically state a position without knowing the facts.  As the late Justice Antonin Scalia, Barrett’s self-admitted idol, once declared, “I want to hear your argument.”  But that should apply only to specific cases.  There should be no doubt about the concept of voting.

Barrett was also evasive in answers to other questions, such as abortion – the perennially key issue among conservatives – and the Affordable Care Act.  Trump had made it clear from the start of his presidential campaign that he wanted to overturn both the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and the ACA.  While he and social and religious conservatives offer no concessions for Roe, the president often mentioned a replacement for ACA, which has yet to materialize and – as far as I’m concerned – doesn’t exist.  Roe will always remain a thorn in the fragile ribs of conservatives, but the idea of eliminating health care coverage for all citizens – particularly while we remain mired in this pandemic and flu season already underway – is infuriating.  Not-so-ironically the high court is set to review the validity of the ACA next month.  As with the upcoming election, Trump wants to ensure a conservative majority on the court before both events.

Trump has already stated – as he did in 2016 – that he will only accept the results of the election if he wins.  Whatever fool is surprised, please raise your hand now, so we full-brain folks can laugh at you!  Loudly.  Yet it’s clear: Trump realizes this election could end up like 2000, when the Supreme Court ordered the state of Florida to stop its ballot recount and thereby hand the presidency to George W. Bush.  That Bush’s younger brother, Jeb, was governor of Florida in 2000 wasn’t lost on most.  The “good-old-boy” network was alive and well at the turn of the century!

And it thrives in the anti-First Amendment actions of Republican governors across the nation.  I feel that Barrett is basically their puppet; their tool in resolutions to ensure a conservative majority in the Supreme Court.  As with any justice, Barrett’s place on the court could impact generations of people.  As a writer, I’m a strong free speech advocate, which equals the right to vote.  They’re intertwined.  And I feel that many conservatives view the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as available to only a handful – people like them.  People who share their narrow view of the world and what is appropriate in order to function within it.

Thus, the U.S. Senate’s kangaroo confirmation hearings for Barrett are ominous.

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Worst Quotes of the Week – September 26, 2020

“Well, we’re going to have to see what happens.  You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster.”

President Donald Trump, expressing concerns over voter fraud during a White House press briefing

“We’ve hit — they say — an ominous number, ladies and gentlemen. Two hundred thousand people have died from the coronavirus. That is the biggest lie this century.”

Mark Levin, on his radio program The Mark Levin Show

Levin went on to declare, “Two hundred thousand people died who may have had the coronavirus, but less than 10,000 died from and only from the coronavirus.”

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