But Sanford still enjoyed the advantage that most winners of congressional races in the United States have. He was nominee of the party that the district was drawn, with painstaking attention to collecting all the Republican and Republican leaning support that could be found on the South Carolina coast, to support.
Partisan redistricting—not just classic gerrymandering but a variety of structural factors—assures that the vast majority of congressional districts in the vast majority of states produce predictable results. Even if the candidate of the dominant party is flawed, even if a challenger has financial advantages, FairVote executive director Rob Richie reminds us that “partisanship is the dominant factor in determining election outcomes.”
Another reform group, Common Cause explains, “For decades partisan wrangling has led to gerrymandered redistricting maps, collusion among the major political parties to create safe Congressional and state legislative districts, and the packing and splitting of concentrations of voters to weaken or strengthen their influence to gain partisan advantage.”
Common Cause notes, correctly, that the circumstance is growing worse, explaining that “advances in information and mapping technology has enabled a level of precision in district drawing that in effect, enables legislators to choose the voters they wish to represent and makes it difficult for voters to hold their elected officials accountable.”
This is the structural reality that shapes our politics.
And it shapes the governing that extends from that politics. Almost everything about what’s happening now in Washington can be linked to the design of our congressional districts, and to the elections that shape the House of Representatives.
“On Nov. 6, Democrats won the most votes in contested House races,” explains Richie. “FairVote’s post-election analysis of partisan voting trends suggests an underlying national preference toward Democrats of 52 percent to 48 percent. (If there had been no incumbents and each party had run a candidate in every district, the Democrats would have won 52 percent of the votes.) With a comparable edge in 2010, Republicans gained sixty-four seats to take the House. But this year, winning a House majority would have required a much bigger swing toward Democrats, as much as 55 percent of the vote, a historical high.”
1. For the first time ever, the black voter turnout rate in a presidential election exceeded the white voter turnout rate—66.2% versus 64.1%
2. Hispanics continue to punch below their weight.
3. Youth voter turnout rates also declined from 2008 to 2012, contrary to initial reports based on the national Election Day exit polls, which had shown the youth voter turnout rate holding steady.
4. Despite the low turnout rates for Hispanics, their high share of the under 18 population of the U.S. means that, by dint of generational replacement, they will become a more important voting bloc in future elections.
5. Likewise, the so-called Millennial generation (adults, born after 1980, who are now ages 18 to 33) is certain to become a growing share of the electorate.
6. Non-whites were 26.3% of all voters in the 2012 election, a record high share. But they compose an even higher share of all U.S. adults age 18 and older—33.9%. By 2020 this share will rise to 37.2%, and by 2060 it will be 54.8%, according to Census Bureau projections. If the racial voting patterns from the 2012 election persist, the electoral playing field for future Republican presidential candidates will become increasingly difficult. (GOP candidate Mitt Romney received just 17% of the non-white vote.)
See also LGF
All of these points can be seen as reasons why Republicans have come to the inevitable conclusion that they have a problem with all voters that aren’t “old, white, evangelical men”. So, it explains their comical attempts at rebranding and their simultaneous various attempts at voter suppression across the many states that they control.
Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a provision that requires sixteen states with a history of voter suppression and racial discrimination to clear any proposed changes in voting laws with the Justice Department before they can go into effect. It is being challenged in the US Supreme Court, and today was the first day oral arguments were heard, and it wasn’t pretty. Justice Antonin Scalia unintentionally made the case for why Section 5 is still very much needed:
The Voting Rights Act took a beating from conservative justices Wednesday during oral arguments at the Supreme Court.
At issue is the constitutionality of Section 5 of the 1965 law, which requires state and local governments with a history of voter disenfranchisement to pre-approve any changes that affect voting with the Justice Department or a federal court.
Oral arguments showed a sharp divide along ideological lines and suggested that the conservative majority is strongly inclined to overturn Section 5 of the half-century-old law.
Justice Antonin Scalia attributed the continued congressional reauthorization to the “perpetuation of racial entitlement” and suggested that it will be renewed endlessly because members of Congress would never let it lapse for fear for political repercussions.
“I don’t think there is anything to be gained by any Senator to vote against continuation of this act,” Scalia said. “They are going to lose votes if they do not reenact the Voting Rights Act. Even the name of it is wonderful — the Voting Rights Act. Who is going to vote against that in the future?”
Here are Scalia’s full remarks, via the Daily Kos
JUSTICE SCALIA: …This Court doesn’t like to get involved in — in racial questions such as this one. It’s something that can be left — left to Congress.
The problem here, however, is suggested by the comment I made earlier, that the initial enactment of this legislation in a — in a time when the need for it was so much more abundantly clear was — in the Senate, there — it was double-digits against it. And that was only a 5-year term.
Then, it is reenacted 5 years later, again for a 5-year term. Double-digits against it in the Senate. Then it was reenacted for 7 years. Single digits against it. Then enacted for 25 years, 8 Senate votes against it.
And this last enactment, not a single vote in the Senate against it. And the House is pretty much the same. Now, I don’t think that’s attributable to the fact that it is so much clearer now that we need this. I think it is attributable, very likely attributable, to a phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement. It’s been written about. Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes.
I don’t think there is anything to be gained by any Senator to vote against continuation of this act. And I am fairly confident it will be reenacted in perpetuity unless — unless a court can say it does not comport with the Constitution. You have to show, when you are treating different States differently, that there’s a good reason for it.
That’s the — that’s the concern that those of us who — who have some questions about this statute have. It’s — it’s a concern that this is not the kind of a question you can leave to Congress. There are certain districts in the House that are black districts by law just about now. And even the Virginia Senators, they have no interest in voting against this. The State government is not their government, and they are going to lose — they are going to lose votes if they do not reenact the Voting Rights Act.
Even the name of it is wonderful: The Voting Rights Act. Who is going to vote against that in the future?
Hat tip - Crooks and Liars
A mayor of a northern New Mexico city has resigned over what he calls is the city’s “discriminatory” form of government against Hispanic residents.
Raton Mayor Charles Starkovich said in a letter Wednesday that he was resigning as mayor and city commissioner in protest to Raton’s at-large voting system. Starkovich said the system violates the federal Voting Rights Act and that he plans to file a formal complaint with the U.S. Justice Department.
Short excerpt from a short article. Read the whole thing here.
The Pentagon is fending off criticism that its efforts to ensure troops can vote are limited and ineffective, a problem critics say could result in a lower military turnout in this fall’s presidential election.
The Defense Department Inspector General released a scathing report Sept. 4 that found its own investigators were unable to make contact with roughly half of the 224 Installation Voter Assistance Offices that the military says it maintains at bases and posts worldwide.
A 2010 federal law requires the military to maintain those offices at most installations and provide direct support to service members who are trying to vote, either locally or by absentee ballot.
The Pentagon pushed back against the IG report, saying those offices are all fully operational and the IG’s findings are flawed because investigators were using an outdated contact list.
Some political experts say the military vote could be decisive in the November presidential election because several key swing states have large military populations, including Virginia, Florida, Ohio and Colorado.
But there is little reason to believe the Pentagon’s reported problems with voter assistance reflect partisan maneuvering, said Eric Eversole, executive director of the Military Voter Protection Project.
‘The military voting issue has existed long before the current administration. I simply don’t see any politics at play,’ Eversole said.
Never mind that a 14-inch-by-18-inch portrait of former Reno County District Court Judge Richard Rome hangs on the third floor of the courthouse.
When Rome, 77, decided last week to cast an advance ballot in the courthouse basement while at the courthouse to sign journal entries, he was denied a ballot because he did not have photo identification.
Rome recently renewed his driver’s license and was given a piece of paper for the interim, and also was advised he could throw the old license away.
Jubilant Libyan voters marked a major step toward democracy after decades of erratic one-man rule, casting their ballots Saturday in the first parliamentary election after last year’s overthrow and killing of longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi. But the joy was tempered by boycott calls, the burning of ballots and other violence in the country’s restive east.
In the capital Tripoli, residents turned out in droves to cast votes for the 200-seat legislature. Lines began to form outside polling centers more than an hour before they were scheduled to open. Policemen and soldiers were guarding the centers, searching voters as well as election workers.
“I have a strange but beautiful feeling today,” said dentist Adam Thabet, waiting outside a polling center. “We are free at last after years of fear. We knew this day was coming, but we were afraid it could take long to come.”
In Ohio some want you to vote with God, atheist or not…
Voting rights advocates are criticizing possible designs for Ohio’s voting stickers which include the state motto: “With God, All Things are Possible.”
The word “God” is included on two of six new voting sticker designs proposed by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, who is inviting people to vote to pick the new sticker that voters can wear on Election Day.
Husted spokesman Matt McClellan said the office has had no complaints about the decision to include designs with the state motto. He said if people feel strongly about it they should go to ElectYourSticker.com and vote for a different sticker.
“It’s certainly not trying to push anything on anyone,” said McClellan.
Voting rights advocate Ellis Jacobs questions the decision to use the word “God” on the popular voting stickers.
“The ones that have the state motto on it would kind of put atheists in a bind, wouldn’t it?” said Jacobs, senior attorney for Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, based in Dayton. “There are a heck of a lot of atheists out there. They shouldn’t be made uncomfortable when they go to vote.”
Even Before NH Voter ID Bill Becomes Law, Illegal Signs Appear At Polling Stations To Disenfranchise Voters
New Hampshire House Speaker Bill O’Brien (R) took to the House floor this morning to defend Senate Bill 129, which would require voters to show photo identification in order to vote. But even before the bill became law, a sign was hanging on the door of a polling station in O’Brien’s own district, demanding that voters show ID before they could vote. The progressive blog Blue Hampshire first reported the placement of the signs, which were hanging outside polling places for the special election to replace state Rep. Robert Mead (R):
Signs posted at the New Boston Elementary School, one of the five polling locations in the district, this morning read, “Per pending legislation you will be required to produce a photo ID in order to receive a ballot.” They were removed at the request of the New Hampshire Attorney General, but not before voters on their way into the polls turned saw them and turned around.
“Law abiding New Hampshire citizens were discouraged from voting this morning as a direct result of Speaker’s O’Brien terrible piece of legislation, SB129,” said Harrell Kirstein, press secretary for the New Hampshire Democratic Party. “Just moments before O’Brien defended this reckless bill in Concord, voters in his own district were walking away from the polls without having cast a vote.”
ThinkProgress has documented recent efforts by legislators in as many as 22 states, including South Carolina, Florida, and Wisconsin, to disenfranchise voters through voter identification laws and other methods. Republicans often justify these proposals by spreading fear about widespread voter fraud, but voter fraud is, in fact, extremely rare.
See original for more with supporting links. Just another day for the GOP, another try to
Rock Block the Vote.
South Carolina Republican Named ‘Legislator of the Year’ For Writing A Bill That Disenfranchises Voters
Governor Nikki Haley (R-SC) is expected to soon sign a Voter ID bill passed by both chambers of the South Carolina Legislature. When she does, South Carolina will become the second state in the country to pass such legislation this year, although Voter ID bills are being considered by GOP-led state legislatures nationwide. According to the ACLU, “nearly 180,000 voters in South Carolina – most of whom are elderly, student, minority or low-income voters – will be disenfranchised as a result of this discriminatory bill.” The NAACP adds that it “immediately disenfranchises eight percent of registered voters in the state.”
But while the new law will be very bad for the voting rights of minority groups, it’s already been very good for one person: the man who proposed it. State Rep. Alan Clemmons (R) received the South Carolina Republican Party Legislator of the Year Award this week for his role writing and sponsoring a bill that will kick thousands of South Carolinians off the voter rolls