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fraurosena

One down. 49 to go.

Automatic Voter Registration OK'd by Illinois Lawmakers

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The Illinois Legislature has overwhelmingly endorsed a plan to automatically register qualified voters.

The proposal would register eligible individuals automatically when they visit Secretary of State's offices and several other state agencies unless they opt out. The House endorsed it 115-0 Monday. It now returns to the Senate for agreements on changes.

Democratic state Rep. Robyn Gabel of Evanston is the measure's House sponsor. She says the proposal would modernize Illinois' voter registration system and increase participation.

A previous version passed both chambers last fall but Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed it over concerns it didn't do enough to prevent voter fraud. Republican state Rep. Mike Fortner of West Chicago says this bill addresses all parties' concerns.

This is the best way to fight voter supression. 

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I have been in a state of anger and just despair for our country over this whole thing, I don't have the words. But that in this country sedition is something people are asked to resign for (Trum

I love this tweet!  

Good has prevailed over evil in Texas today.  

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47of74
21 minutes ago, fraurosena said:

It doesn't matter how much they address his concerns Rauner will still probably veto it on some made up bullshit voter fraud excuse.  If he does the Illinois legislature should override him and then watch him and the reichies whine and scream because women and minorities are voting.

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GreyhoundFan

"On voting rights, we’re becoming two separate and unequal countries"

Spoiler

America, as we all know, is a deeply divided nation, split along lines of class and race and culture and politics. And in this most polarized time, the two parties are pulling the places where they dominate further apart, creating a red and blue America that can be profoundly different depending on what side of a state line you stand on.

In few areas is this more evident than in the way the parties treat the ballot.

Consider the following. Yesterday, the Illinois House passed a bill creating automatic voter registration (AVR) in the state, so that when you get a driver’s license or interact with state agencies in other ways, you’re automatically registered to vote. The Republican governor, Bruce Rauner, vetoed a previous version of the bill, but he may end up having no choice in this blue state but to support it, in which case Illinois would join eight other states (plus the District of Columbia) that have created AVR in recent years.

But today, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case concerning Ohio’s voter purge, in which the Republican secretary of state expelled thousands of voters from the rolls because they hadn’t voted in recent elections; an appeals court had ruled the purge illegal. And meanwhile, in North Carolina, Republicans continue to move aggressively to put obstacles in front of voting despite recent losses at the Supreme Court over both their voter-ID law and their congressional districts, which the court said were drawn with an unconstitutional racial gerrymander. Here’s the latest:

Rumors are circulating here about a new Republican voter identification bill, after federal judges struck down a previous version saying it targeted “African-Americans with almost surgical precision.” Voting rights advocates are convening emergency meetings to plan legal defenses against it. Democrats are trying in sly, casual conversations with Republican colleagues to extract details on its timing and contours, but Republicans leaders have maintained a disciplined silence…

Beyond the voter identification law, almost every aspect of the state’s electoral system is now being drawn into this acrimonious political war, from the composition of local election boards and who has the power to appoint them, to rules determining the exact days, hours and operations of voting precincts.

Despite a string of losses in the courts, Republicans are going to keep trying to make voting as difficult as possible, particularly for African Americans, for one reason: It works. There are active debates about exactly how many people were kept from the polls in 2016 — for instance, some contend that Wisconsin’s voter-ID law disenfranchised enough African Americans to swing the state to Donald Trump — but every young person, urban dweller or racial minority they can keep from the polls increases the odds that Republicans will win.

And they’re optimistic, with good reason, that Justice Neil M. Gorsuch and the conservative majority on the Supreme Court will be on their side on this issue. The other four conservatives on the court have seldom seen a voting restriction they objected to, and there’s little reason to think they will in the future. Texas’s enormously restrictive law (which is still being litigated) could be the vehicle for the court to open up whole new avenues of vote suppression. If and when they do, Republican states will almost certainly rush in to pass the most restrictive laws they can.

Meanwhile, Democratic states are moving in the opposite direction, proposing measures such as automatic registration and same-day registration, in which you can register when you show up to the polls on election day (it’s in place in 13 mostly liberal states, plus D.C., while it’s been passed but not yet implemented in three more). But if they really wanted to make things easy, they’d be pushing for universal vote by mail (UVBM), which is used only in Washington state, Oregon and Colorado.

It’s something of a mystery why UVBM hasn’t been more of a priority for Democrats, because it couldn’t be easier. You get your ballot in the mail, you fill it out, you drop it in a mailbox. There’s no taking time off work, wondering where your polling place is or waiting in line. It’s particularly helpful for people who don’t have flexible schedules. While fraud is theoretically possible, in practice it’s a minuscule problem. Just ask someone from one of those three states what they think about it, and they’ll tell you how much they love it. That’s not to mention the fact that it makes elections cheaper and easier to hold, and provides a paper trail for any disputes.

Even as Republican and Democratic states move further apart, it seems clear that Republican legislators feel a good deal more urgency about this issue that Democratic ones do. You can bet that Republicans will do everything they can to make sure that changes they make this year are implemented in time for the 2018 election, in order to put a thumb on the scale in what could be a disastrous election for the GOP.

It may not be enough to help them avoid what’s coming, though. Most of the voter suppression laws are about making things just hard enough that some voters won’t bother — they can’t ban you from voting if you’re a Democrat, but they can make it more of a hassle, safe in the knowledge that the restrictions will fall more heavily on people like you. It’s a way of improving their odds. But it’s possible that in 2018, Democrats will be so motivated to get to the polls to punish Republicans that they’ll climb over any obstacle they face. North Carolina will be critical, however, because of the combination of its gerrymandered districts (in this closely divided swing state, Republicans hold 10 of the 13 House seats) and its possible voter-ID restrictions. Once those districts are redrawn, and if Republicans don’t succeed in passing a vote suppression law that survives a court challenge, the Democrats could gain a few seats just in that one state.

There’s one final piece to this puzzle, which is that it’s important to avoid the temptation to look at this conflict through a both-sides prism. You can argue that Democrats are making the same partisan calculation Republicans are, favoring the voting system that shapes the electorate in their favor. That may be true, but the fact is that Republicans are trying to make it hard for certain people to vote, while Democrats are trying to make it easy for everyone to vote. So both parties aren’t on equally firm moral ground.

Which may not matter to Republicans as long as they can hold on to the power they have. But it ought to.

An interesting analysis of the voter suppression issue.

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formergothardite

The NC GOP is freaking the fuck out about losing their ability to gerrymander and repress votes. They know that without those things it will be a lot harder for them to retain control. 

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47of74
2 hours ago, GreyhoundFan said:

"On voting rights, we’re becoming two separate and unequal countries"

  Hide contents

America, as we all know, is a deeply divided nation, split along lines of class and race and culture and politics. And in this most polarized time, the two parties are pulling the places where they dominate further apart, creating a red and blue America that can be profoundly different depending on what side of a state line you stand on.

In few areas is this more evident than in the way the parties treat the ballot.

Consider the following. Yesterday, the Illinois House passed a bill creating automatic voter registration (AVR) in the state, so that when you get a driver’s license or interact with state agencies in other ways, you’re automatically registered to vote. The Republican governor, Bruce Rauner, vetoed a previous version of the bill, but he may end up having no choice in this blue state but to support it, in which case Illinois would join eight other states (plus the District of Columbia) that have created AVR in recent years.

But today, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case concerning Ohio’s voter purge, in which the Republican secretary of state expelled thousands of voters from the rolls because they hadn’t voted in recent elections; an appeals court had ruled the purge illegal. And meanwhile, in North Carolina, Republicans continue to move aggressively to put obstacles in front of voting despite recent losses at the Supreme Court over both their voter-ID law and their congressional districts, which the court said were drawn with an unconstitutional racial gerrymander. Here’s the latest:

Rumors are circulating here about a new Republican voter identification bill, after federal judges struck down a previous version saying it targeted “African-Americans with almost surgical precision.” Voting rights advocates are convening emergency meetings to plan legal defenses against it. Democrats are trying in sly, casual conversations with Republican colleagues to extract details on its timing and contours, but Republicans leaders have maintained a disciplined silence…

Beyond the voter identification law, almost every aspect of the state’s electoral system is now being drawn into this acrimonious political war, from the composition of local election boards and who has the power to appoint them, to rules determining the exact days, hours and operations of voting precincts.

Despite a string of losses in the courts, Republicans are going to keep trying to make voting as difficult as possible, particularly for African Americans, for one reason: It works. There are active debates about exactly how many people were kept from the polls in 2016 — for instance, some contend that Wisconsin’s voter-ID law disenfranchised enough African Americans to swing the state to Donald Trump — but every young person, urban dweller or racial minority they can keep from the polls increases the odds that Republicans will win.

And they’re optimistic, with good reason, that Justice Neil M. Gorsuch and the conservative majority on the Supreme Court will be on their side on this issue. The other four conservatives on the court have seldom seen a voting restriction they objected to, and there’s little reason to think they will in the future. Texas’s enormously restrictive law (which is still being litigated) could be the vehicle for the court to open up whole new avenues of vote suppression. If and when they do, Republican states will almost certainly rush in to pass the most restrictive laws they can.

Meanwhile, Democratic states are moving in the opposite direction, proposing measures such as automatic registration and same-day registration, in which you can register when you show up to the polls on election day (it’s in place in 13 mostly liberal states, plus D.C., while it’s been passed but not yet implemented in three more). But if they really wanted to make things easy, they’d be pushing for universal vote by mail (UVBM), which is used only in Washington state, Oregon and Colorado.

It’s something of a mystery why UVBM hasn’t been more of a priority for Democrats, because it couldn’t be easier. You get your ballot in the mail, you fill it out, you drop it in a mailbox. There’s no taking time off work, wondering where your polling place is or waiting in line. It’s particularly helpful for people who don’t have flexible schedules. While fraud is theoretically possible, in practice it’s a minuscule problem. Just ask someone from one of those three states what they think about it, and they’ll tell you how much they love it. That’s not to mention the fact that it makes elections cheaper and easier to hold, and provides a paper trail for any disputes.

Even as Republican and Democratic states move further apart, it seems clear that Republican legislators feel a good deal more urgency about this issue that Democratic ones do. You can bet that Republicans will do everything they can to make sure that changes they make this year are implemented in time for the 2018 election, in order to put a thumb on the scale in what could be a disastrous election for the GOP.

It may not be enough to help them avoid what’s coming, though. Most of the voter suppression laws are about making things just hard enough that some voters won’t bother — they can’t ban you from voting if you’re a Democrat, but they can make it more of a hassle, safe in the knowledge that the restrictions will fall more heavily on people like you. It’s a way of improving their odds. But it’s possible that in 2018, Democrats will be so motivated to get to the polls to punish Republicans that they’ll climb over any obstacle they face. North Carolina will be critical, however, because of the combination of its gerrymandered districts (in this closely divided swing state, Republicans hold 10 of the 13 House seats) and its possible voter-ID restrictions. Once those districts are redrawn, and if Republicans don’t succeed in passing a vote suppression law that survives a court challenge, the Democrats could gain a few seats just in that one state.

There’s one final piece to this puzzle, which is that it’s important to avoid the temptation to look at this conflict through a both-sides prism. You can argue that Democrats are making the same partisan calculation Republicans are, favoring the voting system that shapes the electorate in their favor. That may be true, but the fact is that Republicans are trying to make it hard for certain people to vote, while Democrats are trying to make it easy for everyone to vote. So both parties aren’t on equally firm moral ground.

Which may not matter to Republicans as long as they can hold on to the power they have. But it ought to.

An interesting analysis of the voter suppression issue.

If I had my way the right to vote would be total and absolute for any US Citizen over the age of 18, and could not be abridged or denied for any reason whatsoever.  And any voter suppression or electoral fraud would be considered as serious a crime as treason, punishable by life imprisonment without parole in a maximum security institution.  (And some times when I'm in a bad mood I think it should be a capital offense).  

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fraurosena

I'm not quite sure where to post this article, as it's actually more about the Supreme Court and we haven't got a separate thread for that (yet). However, as it's about NC, I thought I'd put it here.

US Supreme Court affirms NC legislative districts as racial gerrymanders

Spoiler

The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a request from state lawmakers to review a lower court’s ruling that struck down the 2011 state legislative districts, but sent the case back for reconsideration of whether elections should be held in 2017 as the lower court ordered.

The order came five days after the justices met behind closed doors to decide whether to take up the case filed by 31 North Carolina residents in 2015.

In August 2016, a panel of three federal judges found that 28 of the state’s districts that elect members of the state House and Senate were unconstitutional racial gerrymanders.

The judges not only found that Republicans who led the redrawing of districts in 2011 relied too heavily on race, they later ordered new maps drawn by March 2017 and elections in any new districts held the same year.

State lawmakers appealed the decision in late 2016. While questions lingered about whether the country’s high court would take up the case, the redrawing of the districts was put on hold.

The Supreme Court order, issued Monday morning, was critical of how the three-judge panel came to its decision to call for new maps and special elections.

The order said the judges considered “inequities” caused by the gerrymandered maps and the great costs of ordering special elections “in only the most cursory fashion.”

“(T)he court simply announced that ‘(w)hile special elections have costs,’ those unspecified costs ‘pale in comparison’ to the prospect that citizens will be ‘represented by legislators elected pursuant to a racial gerrymander,’” the order states. “That minimal reasoning would appear to justify a special election in every racial-gerrymandering case – a result clearly at odds with our demand for careful case-specific analysis. For that reason, we cannot have confidence that the court adequately grappled with the interests on both sides of the remedial question before us.”

In court filings in late May, attorneys for state lawmakers argued against holding elections in 2017, saying it would be “exceedingly difficult (if not entirely unrealistic)” to draw new maps and hold elections in any new districts by November.

Attorneys for the challengers argued against any further delay in a court filing last week.

“The court previously called for holding elections later this year in newly drawn districts. We think there is still time to implement special elections in the impacted districts, and we will do everything we can to make sure that happens,” Anita Earls, executive director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, counsel for the redistricting challengers, said in a statement. “Many North Carolinians have been participating in unfair elections in racially gerrymandered districts for far too long. It’s time to fix this problem.”

This is the third Supreme Court decision in recent weeks on lawsuits challenging the North Carolina maps drawn in 2011 after the 2010 Census.

In May, the country’s high court agreed in a 5-3 opinion that two of the state’s congressional districts were illegal racial gerrymanders.

Last week, in light of that ruling, the justices sent a different lawsuit challenging both the congressional and legislative districts back to the state Supreme Court for a third review. The state court on two previous reviews upheld the districts, saying that though race played a role in the development of the district lines, the lawmakers had done so to comply with the Voting Rights Act.

There is a redrawing of lines for congressional and legislative districts every 10 years to respond to population changes reflected in the U.S. Census numbers.

But across the country, the political party in power often changes the lines for partisan advantage, which the courts have allowed to some extent.

The courts have not allowed mapmakers to use race as a driving force in the creation of districts, and that’s what challengers in several North Carolina lawsuits have contended happened.

The federal courts have ruled that Republicans relied too heavily on the use of race as they drew new legislative and congressional lines in 2011.

Republicans have contended that the district lines, which have been used in three election cycles for elections to the General Assembly, were drawn for partisan gain.

 

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GreyhoundFan

"In Va. state races, new Democratic activists fight to scrap party’s ‘tepid centrism’"

Spoiler

CHARLOTTESVILLE — David Toscano ought to be the most comfortable Democrat in Virginia.

He represents a university town so deeply blue that Republicans aren’t bothering to challenge him for reelection to the General Assembly. From his perch as minority leader in the House of Delegates, Toscano shapes his party’s strategy and priorities.

But he has been put on notice: Toscano has a primary opponent, a fellow Democrat trying to unseat him. And his opponent’s message is that there should be no comfortable Democrats right now.

For a party that has struggled in recent years to field candidates even against Republicans, the intramural challenge to Toscano shows a new level of restlessness in the era of Trump. Democrats motivated by last fall’s presidential defeat have poured into Virginia House races, where all 100 seats are on the ballot this fall and Republicans enjoy a 66-34 advantage.

Democrats are challenging in 54 of those Republican districts, up from 21 in 2015.

The aggressive slate of candidates, including a record number of women, is part of a national effort by Democrats to reemphasize state and local elections after watching Republicans make massive gains in recent years. Many of the new Democrats are untested, and are converging from a variety of backgrounds and progressive groups that are elbowing past the traditional party.

Nowhere is that more plain than in Toscano’s district, where his challenger’s objective is to pull the Democratic Party to the left — to abandon what he sees as the politics of compromise in favor of urgency.

“It must be scary to have a challenge to the conventional way of doing politics,” said Ross Mittiga, the 28-year-old University of Virginia instructor and graduate student who is taking on Toscano. “I’m sure in their mind, we are risking alienating some kind of center that they think they’re going to appeal to. But that’s not a winning strategy anymore.”

Mittiga has been studying another intraparty revolution: The way disgruntled Richmond-area Republicans toppled House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in that party’s primary for Congress in 2014. That dramatic upset, which put college professor Dave Brat into office, blew up the Republican establishment and marked the arrival of the tea party.

The Cantor parallel is not lost on Toscano. “There is some of that going on,” he said. “Say what you will about candidates that make you uncomfortable, but they force you to think about things. It forces me to do my homework.”

A similar dynamic is playing out in Virginia’s governor’s race, where former congressman Tom Perriello is mounting an insurgent challenge against establishment favorite Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam for the Democratic nomination.

Perriello, also from Charlottesville, is riding a surge of national support from Sen. Bernie Sanders and progressive activists who say the party machinery failed them last fall. Toscano’s race shows how far that dynamic is reaching down the ballot in this year’s state races.

Mittiga, like Perriello, has picked up an endorsement from Sanders’s political action committee, Our Revolution. He still faces extremely long odds to upset Toscano, whose name recognition and cash advantage are enormous.

But his presence is being felt. While Hillary Clinton whupped Sanders statewide for the nomination last year, it was a different story in Charlottesville: 8 of 10 precincts went for Sanders.

“That has to be at least a little bit disconcerting for Toscano,” said political analyst Geoffrey Skelley of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. “As the leader for Democrats in the House of Delegates, if he were to lose, it would be obviously surprising. But I think it would be really telling about the mood of Democrats at the moment. Also it would be sort of amazing in Virginia just from the perspective of a shift to the left for the party.”

Toscano, 66, has been around long enough to see something of himself in Mittiga — his own rise was partly to rebel against the politics of then-President George W. Bush. Toscano was mayor of Charlottesville and served on City Council before being elected to the House of Delegates in 2005.

His law office is in an old house a few blocks off the downtown pedestrian mall, which he helped rejuvenate as mayor, and his home is a five-minute walk beyond that. Toscano knows, seemingly, everyone. Couples, retirees, college kids, shopkeepers — he can hardly walk three steps without being hailed or hugged.

“He’s a Republican, but he always votes for me,” Toscano says as he shakes hands with ice cream shop owner Tony LaBua.

“I always cross lines . . .” LaBua begins.

“. . . and he’s a great American,” Toscano finishes.

While he says he welcomes the competition from Mittiga, Toscano clearly bristles at the notion that he hasn’t lived up to progressive ideals. He took part in a testy debate with Mittiga a few weeks ago, and the two have battled through social media and public statements.

“I’ll hold our record against anybody who wants to make the case that we’re not in sync with Democratic values,” said Toscano, who reminds anyone he meets in the street to vote for him in the June 13 primary.

He gets the anti-Trump fervor, he said. During floor speeches in this year’s legislative session, Toscano railed against actions taken by Trump — the travel ban, government hiring freeze, health-care repeal — and made a show of asking Republicans to sign on to letters of concern he sent to the new president.

He can tick off a list of progressive issues he agrees with: protecting the environment, raising the minimum wage, making college more affordable, reworking campaign finance, protecting women’s access to abortion.

But with a legislature controlled by Republicans, he said, progress is slow. He said he would like to reject donations from big corporations such as Dominion Energy, as Mittiga has done, but won’t until Republicans do the same.

And some issues need time to build support. For instance, Toscano said, college tuition relief seems to be gathering momentum. “I think at some point, it’s going to happen,” he said.

Mittiga has no patience for that. Raised in rural Florida, Mittiga came to Charlottesville about five years ago to study the political and ethical aspects of climate change. He worked for the Sanders campaign and grew increasingly active on environmental and progressive issues.

After Trump won election last fall, Mittiga said his despair drove him to look harder at issues close to home. One of the most urgent was the proposed construction of two natural gas pipelines through mountainous parts of Virginia. When he discovered that Toscano has not opposed the pipelines and that he has received thousands in donations from energy companies, Mittiga decided he had to act.

Toscano and most Democrats in Richmond have spent too long appeasing Republicans and corporations, he said. “They’re too cozy with corporate interests. They consistently failed to protect us from the ravages of right-wing extremism.”

Like Perriello or Sanders, Mittiga is convinced voters are far ahead of their elected officials and burning for change. Years of pragmatic compromise, he said, have led to weak policy. “Tepid centrism is not really appealing to anyone right now.”

So while Toscano may say his heart is in the right place on all those issues, that’s not good enough for Mittiga. The challenger sees immediate policy goals: universal health care, opposition to the pipelines, free college tuition, the end of private prisons, economic fairness, a “robust” inheritance tax.

His original intent, Mittiga said, was to push Toscano to the left on all that. But that has hardened into something more ambitious.

“I thought Mr. Toscano would take on my positions, but he hasn’t,” Mittiga said. “Now my sincere hope is that he’ll get out of the way.”

With his all-volunteer campaign staff, Mittiga is relying heavily on enthusiastic young supporters. It hurts that most U.Va. students won’t be in town for the June 13 primary. He’s had almost no interaction with the Perriello campaign but has drawn support from the Democratic Socialists, which has a chapter in Charlottesville.

Last month, Mittiga was among 40 novice candidates or aspiring candidates from around Virginia selected for a training session by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, the national group founded by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). The participants reflected the diverse array of Democrats suddenly motivated to get involved — first-generation immigrants and fifth-generation Virginians. Men and women. Black, white, Asian, Hispanic and Middle Eastern. Christians, Muslim, Jews and atheists.

What they had in common was a disaffection with politics as usual and a desire to win seats across the commonwealth, from school boards and city councils to the General Assembly and Congress.

This explosion of activity raises issues for Democrats, though, who don’t know whether the enthusiasm will wane or congeal into a sense of unified purpose.

In Mittiga’s case, if the predictable happens and he loses the primary, will he support Toscano in the fall? Would he support Northam if Perriello’s bid for governor falls short?

“My feeling is — keep ’em in suspense,” Mittiga said. “It’s not appealing right now for me to be afraid enough to vote for Ralph Northam and David Toscano. What’s appealing is for them to be afraid enough that they’ll lose the progressive vote that they’ll become progressives. That’s where the fear should be.”

Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer, an up-and-coming Democrat who sees himself steering the city on a progressive course, said Mittiga’s passion is exciting, but familiar.

Howard Dean, John Edwards — past Democratic presidential candidates have tapped into the same populist progressivism Sanders inspires now, he said. He sees it in Perriello, an old friend. But Signer is supporting Northam and Toscano in the primary.

At some point, he said, that zealous idealism faces the reality of governing.

“We would be in a very sad place in America if idealism had no role in our democracy,” Signer said. “Idealism sets your horizon. It sets the aspiration that realists then go about implementing.”

While I'm thrilled there are more Dems going up against Repugs here in Virginia, I wish there would be less in-fighting. We need to be united against the Repugs.

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GreyhoundFan

Oh, I would be sooooooo thrilled if one of these candidates could unseat Marshall, who is as repugnant as can be: "A transgender woman, a Sikh and 2 others vie to take on ultra conservative in Va."

Spoiler

Outspoken and often far-right enough to bewilder even some of his fellow Virginia Republicans, Del. Robert G. Marshall has been a constant target of aggressive Democratic challenges since he first won his Prince William County district in 1992.

This year, amid a massive push by Democrats to ride anti-Donald Trump sentiments to victory in Richmond, the 73-year-old legislator known for such pronouncements as calling disabled children God’s punishment on women who have had abortions may be heading for his toughest fight yet.

Vying for a chance to take him out during next week’s Democratic primary election are a transgender ex-journalist, a religious Sikh businessman and two moderate white professionals — four candidates who reflect how much Northern Virginia has changed during Marshall’s 13 terms in office.

“This year looks very different than previous election cycles,” said Stephen J. Farnsworth, a ­political-science professor at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg.

“What you see in Prince William County generally, and in this district in particular, is a growing diversity, and that growing diversity is not an ally of a Republican candidate,” Farnsworth said. “The unpopularity of Trump may be creating an environment where a lot of Democrats are more motivated this fall than they were two or four years ago.”

A fixture in Richmond with avuncular charm, Marshall has held on to his once solidly conservative district — which includes a portion of Manassas — with a bread-and-butter approach to constituent services and a candid demeanor admired by many voters.

But those victories are often overshadowed by Marshall’s fights against his own party leaders and public pronouncements that place him squarely on the conservative fringe.

Besides calling disabled children a punishment for abortions, Marshall has suggested that incest is sometimes “voluntary” and, most recently, argued that allowing transgender women to use a ladies’ restroom is an opening for sexual predators.

The four candidates hoping to be the Democrat to take him on in November have been casting the Republican incumbent as an out-of-touch ideologue while canvassing for votes in communities lined with brick rambler houses or towering McMansions.

In recent years, the 13th District has turned purple and become a battleground between the parties. In his 2013 bid for governor, Terry McAuliffe (D) squeaked to victory in the district by one percentage point. The following year, Republican Ed Gillespie — now the front-runner in his party’s gubernatorial primary race — took 51 percent of the district in his failed campaign for the U.S. Senate against Mark R. Warner (D-Va.). Democrats running in presidential contests have an easier time — Hillary Clinton won 54 percent of the vote in the district last fall, and Barack Obama carried it in 2008 and in 2012.

In the delegate primary, the four candidates have highlighted the area’s increasingly pressing problems with traffic congestion, overcrowded schools and stagnant retail strips — calling Marshall ineffective in dealing with them.

Danica Roem, a former Gainesville and Prince William Times reporter, has used her stature as a transgender candidate to criticize Marshall’s conservative stances — including a now-tabled “bathroom bill” he sponsored earlier this year that would have required people to use restrooms assigned to their original sex.

“Bob Marshall is more concerned about where I use the bathroom than how to get people to work,” Roem, 32, told one voter in Manassas before launching into a discourse on how to relieve traffic congestion along Route 28.

“For me, this is personal,” said Roem, who would be the first transgender member of the House of Delegates.

Steven Jansen, a former ­Detroit-area county prosecutor who now directs a national nonprofit group based in Alexandria that advocates for better gun-control laws, is campaigning as a “law-and-order” candidate who appeals to the district’s more moderate Republican voters.

“I’m going to actually take votes away from Bob; that’s how we’re going to win,” Jansen, 43, declared during a recent candidate’s forum. “I’m going to take moderate Republican votes.”

Andrew Adams, 29, a former Army commander who now works as an operations manager for a global pest-control company, argues that Marshall has been able to stay in office for so long because the district is drawn to include conservative precincts where voters are more active.

He wants the General Assembly to create an independent commission that would redraw state districts and guard against gerrymandering that benefits one party over another.

“I think a lot of the solutions to a lot of the problems we have come from people who are somewhere in the middle, not tied to these really deep ideological fights and really just want to get things done,” Adams said.

Mansimran Kahlon, a Sikh businessman in Gainesville, said he was inspired to run for office after a lifetime of living as “the other” in the district he has known since his family arrived in the Prince William area from India when he was age 3 — alienation that he says Marshall has fueled.

His campaign has tapped into the area’s growing South Asian community, so far raising $94,125. Jansen has raised the most with $107,534, Roem has collected $65,854 and Adams has $6,150.

“We have to expand the electorate,” Kahlon, 24, said. “Bob Marshall won’t be beat by going after his own constituents who vote for him time and again. We need to go after those voters who never show up, or who show up in a presidential election but never come out in the state elections.”

Marshall said he is unfazed by the competition.

He won his last election in 2015 by 1,555 votes — against businessman Don Shaw — and other Democrats have tried to take him out in the past.

“I’m not about to change the public policy views I’ve had,” Marshall said, proving so by doubling down on his argument against allowing transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice.

“A boy can’t say: ‘Hey, school administrator, I think I identify as a female today,’ ” Marshall said. “And that’s it; he gets to go into the girls’ shower. That is not going to fly.”

Marshall said the criticisms that he has failed to reduce traffic and resolve other problems are unfounded, and the characterization of him as too conservative is an old tactic that has won no traction with District 13 voters.

“They keep trying this, and I can only hope they’ll keep it up because it hasn’t worked,” he said.

Quentin Kidd, director of Christopher Newport University’s Wason Center for Public Policy in Newport News, Va., said whether that strategy will work this time depends on the voter turnout for the gubernatorial election in November.

Kidd noted that during the 2013 gubernatorial election — when McAuliffe beat former attorney general Ken Cuccinelli in the district by one percentage point — Marshall still prevailed in his election with 498 votes more than Atif Qarni, a Muslim American teacher.

“How big of a victory does the Democrat this year have to have in order to risk Bob Marshall’s reelection?” Kidd said. “One point is not enough.”

Some voters say they are motivated by the national political climate to weigh in locally.

Matt Hale, 33, who lives in Gainesville, said he usually votes Republican but rarely pays attention to what his delegate does.

But he will probably go against Marshall this year, he said.

“I feel like my party kind of just fell apart, and I’m looking for real actual changes,” Hale said. “From what we’ve seen in the general state of affairs, I don’t see myself voting Republican.”

I underlined some of his most repugnant pronouncements. He truly needs to go.

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clueliss

Ah Kansas.  Okay so the KS legislature passed a tax hike (to override his 2012 tax cuts that have the state all but broke).  And Brownback went all predictably "I ain't signing that"  So the KS Senate and House voted to Override his veto.

http://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article154691724.html

Quote

The Senate vote was 27 to 13, and the House followed by agreeing 88 to 31 to supersede the Republican governor’s wishes on the tax plan and force the changes into law.

 

And please note that differing opinions can work together to do what is right (in this case, suck it up and do something about the bleeding finances)
 

Quote

Lawmakers marshaled together a coalition of moderate Republicans, conservatives and Democrats to overcome the governor’s opposition to seeing his landmark tax cuts, which have in large part come to define his tenure in Topeka, fundamentally come to an end.

1

 

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GreyhoundFan

Not specifically about state houses, but Pennsylvania had an interesting twist on gerrymandering lawsuits: "Pennsylvania Lawsuit Says House Redistricting Is Partisan Gerrymander"

Spoiler

Voting-rights advocates in Pennsylvania filed suit on Thursday to nullify the state’s congressional-district map as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander, joining other court battles over the role of politics in redistricting already being waged in three other states.

It is the latest major legal effort arguing that gerrymanders have become so egregious they are subverting democracy and creating legislative races with predetermined results.

In a tactical twist, however, the Pennsylvania lawsuit was filed in a state court, which means that if the plaintiffs prevail, the ruling would set no precedent for challenges in other states.

The three other lawsuits, in Maryland, North Carolina and Wisconsin, were filed in federal court and argue that the maps of congressional or state legislative districts violate the federal Constitution.

Pennsylvania Republicans called the lawsuit baseless. In a statement, Drew Crompton, the general counsel for Republicans in the State Senate, said that the redistricting measure was enacted with some Democratic support and that some claims in the suit were “demonstrably false.”

“Serious concerns exist concerning the disenfranchisement of 12 million Pennsylvania voters if any court sides with the plaintiffs and changes the rules six years after the plan was properly passed,” the statement said.

The suit contends that the Republican-controlled state legislature redrew congressional district boundaries in 2011 with the aim of creating as many unassailable Republican House seats as possible. Pennsylvania has five registered Democrats for every four registered Republicans, but Republicans control 13 of the 18 congressional districts.

The lawsuit noted that Republicans captured those 13 seats in 2012, in the first election after the boundaries were redrawn, even though they won only 49 percent of the vote statewide.

Democrats and Republicans draw political maps to entrench themselves in power, said Chris Carson, president of the League of Women Voters, whose Pennsylvania chapter is a plaintiff in the suit. But Republicans have gained a lopsided majority of House seats since 2011, partly because of a national campaign nicknamed Redmap aimed at controlling the redistricting process. “Both sides do it when they have the opportunity, and it has a long and glorious history,’’ Ms. Carson said. “But it’s got to stop.”

While it has long been illegal to draw political boundaries to dilute the voting power of minorities, federal courts have been flummoxed by whether gerrymanders designed to weaken political opponents can be identified, and, if so, how.

The three federal lawsuits attack the issue from two sides. Two of the suits propose a simple mathematical formula to measure the partisan effect of new maps. All three contend that partisan gerrymanders violate the First Amendment, not only because they dilute the voice of political factions but because they amount to retaliation against them for expressing their political views.

The Wisconsin lawsuit, which introduced the new formula to gauge the partisan effect of maps, is now before the Supreme Court, which could decide as soon as next week whether to hear the case. Two North Carolina lawsuits have been consolidated and will be heard by a three-judge panel of the United States District Court in Greensboro on June 26.

Both of those lawsuits challenge political maps drawn by Republican legislatures. The Maryland suit challenges a Democratic-drawn map of House seats.

The Pennsylvania lawsuit relies on the freedom-of-speech argument to attack the state map of House districts. But it spurns the federal Constitution’s First Amendment guarantees in favor of those in the state Constitution, which plaintiffs say more broadly protects free speech.

Indeed, the lawsuit argues, state courts have made that explicit, particularly in a landmark decision in 2002 that stopped officials in Erie from outlawing nude dancing in an establishment called Kandyland. In that decision, the court noted the state Constitution expressly forbids muffling a citizen’s voice.

David P. Gersch, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said the current map punishes Democratic voters because of their political views. “Surely the state’s voters are entitled to at least as much protection as naked dancers,’’ he said.

 

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47of74

A story out of New Jersey.

District 38 Republican Candidate Switches Parties, Withdraws From Assembly Race

Spoiler

A Republican Assembly candidate running to represent the 38th Legislative District has withdrawn from the race, switched political parties and endorsed Phil Murphy for governor because Republicans have not made helping domestic violence survivors a priority.

Matthew Seymour of New Milford announced the move Thursday afternoon. He has volunteered assisting domestic violence victims for nine years.

 

Edited by 47of74
specifying the state
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GreyhoundFan

A little light: "Democrats see hope in Oklahoma special elections"

Spoiler

The special election in Kansas didn’t go the way Democrats had hoped. Neither did the race in Montana. And neither, most expensively, did Jon Ossoff’s run for an open House seat in Georgia.

But Tuesday night, Democrats picked up two seats in Oklahoma, a once-blue state where the Obama years had reduced them to a rump party. It was the fourth pickup in a state legislative race this year,* the only electoral bright spots for a party that is lagging in fundraising and fighting localized battles over leadership and messaging. Michael Brooks, who’d lost a 2014 race for the state’s 44th Senate District, won it by 9 points on Tuesday; Karen Gaddis, who’d narrowly lost the 2016 race for the 75th District of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, took it by 5 points this time.

...

There was celebration on progressive social media as soon as the races were called. “Turns out Donald Trump was right about one thing during his campaign — ‘We’re going to win so much,’ ” wrote Daily Kos’s political editor, Carolyn Fiddler. “Except he probably didn’t mean Democrats winning and over-performing in a ton of special elections since his election.”

Each victory — and a run of closer-than-expected races — has occurred in a low-turnout environment. In 2014, when Brooks lost the Senate race, 10,482 ballots were cast. On Tuesday, just 3,619 ballots were cast. But while Democratic turnout fell by half, Republican turnout fell by around two-thirds.

The victories also did little to slice into what, by the end of the Obama years, had become a Republican supermajority. After Tuesday, just seven Democrats will sit in the 42-member state Senate. After the 2008 election — the first since 1972 in which the Democrats’ presidential candidate carried no Oklahoma county — Democrats held 22 seats. Many of the losses since then had come in rural districts. Tuesday’s gains came in the metro areas of Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

The races marked the first wins for the party under Anna Langthorn, who got national attention for taking over the beleaguered Oklahoma Democrats two months ago — at age 24.

“Both of the races came out of Republicans resigning after sex scandals,” said Langthorn. “They didn’t do a lot of preparation, whereas we had candidates who’d run before and were willing to run again. We had a field organizer in each race, for $2,500 per month. There were campaign PACs that spent a little money. Clearly, it was worth it.”

*Democrats lost a seat in Louisiana when none of their candidates filed for a seat that had swung hard to the right.

 

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GreyhoundFan

There is a transgender candidate running against alt-right crazy state delegate Robert Marshall in Price William County, VA. He is overly concerned about bathrooms and private parts, so it's an interesting race: "A transgender candidate takes on Virginia’s ‘minister of private parts’"

Spoiler

Traffic. Schools. Jobs. Getting to their jobs, so back to traffic.

That’s what Northern Virginia voters want to talk about when a transgender woman with a rainbow headscarf and slashing black eyeliner knocks on their door.

Which is weird. Because given all the legislation proposed in the Virginia General Assembly on these constituents’ behalf, you would think the conversations would be nothing but bathrooms, abortions and sex when someone such as Danica Roem shows up.

Roem, 32, has made history, becoming the first openly transgender candidate to win a state primary in Virginia. Now, the Democratic nominee is trying to unseat her polar opposite in the 13th District: 25-year incumbent Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Prince William).

And she believes she can win exactly because she has little interest in talking about sex, body parts or gender identity — the meat and potatoes of Marshall’s public life.

In a rapidly developing part of the state that desperately needs a traffic czar, Marshall instead styles himself as Virginia’s self-appointed “Minister of Private Parts.”

He belongs to the party of small government, yet his legislative record is all about people’s sexual and reproductive behavior. Over the course of his career, he has questioned the intelligence of women who use long-term contraception, argued that some incest is voluntary, pushed for women to be legally required to have transvaginal ultrasounds before abortions, suggested that children born with disabilities are the punishment for women who have had abortions, worried that U.S. troops would catch sexually transmitted diseases if they had to serve alongside gay men and women, called for transgender service members to be kicked out of the military and authored a vicious transgender bathroom bill that would allow the government to dictate where someone can pee.

Marshall’s ironically named Physical Privacy Act was based on his fear that men and boys would pretend to be transgender to infiltrate bathrooms and locker rooms used by women and girls. “Some guys will use anything to make a move on some teenage girls or women,” he said.

And here comes his opponent in a district that backed Democrat Hillary Clinton over Republican Donald Trump in last year’s presidential election: a transgender woman who sings in a metal band, has a boyfriend and doesn’t make it a point to talk about any of it.

“Traffic. Jobs. Schools, in that order,” Roem said about her platform and her issues. “And equality.”

“Of course. I put equality on there because,” and she gestured along the length of her royal blue sheath dress, “this race will be different.”

She doesn’t shy away from her identity. The scarf she wears when she canvasses is a big, fat pride rainbow. The story of her transition and medical treatments is on her Web page.

But, unlike her opponent, she doesn’t think Manassas residents stay awake at night worrying about which bathroom she should use.

She isn’t running because she’s transgender and wants to fight Marshall’s craziness. No, she is running because of what she learned at work.

Roem is a local news reporter. And for about a decade, she has spent thousands of hours at local government hearings and meetings, poring over planning and zoning documents, proposed legislation and bids for public works projects.

She’s a policy nerd. You try to get a quick yes or no about an issue, and instead you get the memorized 25-year history of a traffic corridor, with the pinpoint details of costs, dates, traffic studies, estimates, rates and efficiencies.

She’s not big into talking points or 140-character sound bites.

“Wow. I’m impressed, you really know your details,” said Denise Coleman, 28, after she opened her door to Roem’s barrage of details on traffic.

Roem wasn’t there to talk about behind-closed-doors morality or to fight a culture war or to get Coleman to understand the two-decade, gut-wrenching journey of a transgender woman.

Nope.

Roem did a straight-from-memory deep dive into why Coleman’s commute sucks and how it can be fixed. And Coleman loved it.

“That’s what I’m talking about,” Coleman said. “This is what matters.”

Roem was on a roll. “Think you’d like a yard sign?” she asked.

“Well, not really,” Coleman said, looking down at her feet, avoiding Roem’s eyes. “My mom lives here, and, you know, she’s Catholic.”

Roem talked about all the Catholic education she has had — 13 years — but didn’t push it. She hasn’t been positioning herself as some sort of standard-bearer for LGBT rights.

In fact, it wasn’t until that bizarre Trump tweet last week that called for a ban on transgender service members in the military that Roem went on the offensive on the issue.

“For our president, who opted out of serving in the military, to attack transgender people for being unfit to serve . . . is the height of hypocrisy,” Roem told my colleague, Fenit Nirappil. “Transgender military members . . . have done more to serve and protect their country than Donald Trump ever will.”

Roem got a $50,000 donation from Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, who chairs the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund and was in Washington when Trump issued his military ban.

“You, my dear, are on everyone’s lips across the nation,” said Pam Northam, wife of Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam, when she visited Roem’s headquarters in Manassas for an ice cream social Sunday afternoon.

“I’m such a fan, I couldn’t wait to meet her,” Northam confessed to me after she and Roem hugged, smiled for the camera and talked about the knots in their stomachs both get before knocking on each door they hit.

Before heading out for Sunday evening’s door-knocking — they’ve hit 16,000 doors so far, and Roem leaves a personal, handwritten note for each constituent she doesn’t get to talk to — she met with her staff to get a field report.

“Is anyone talking about the transgender ban?” Roem asked one of her organizers, Brad Chester.

“Not really,” Chester said. “Maybe one person. Power lines, people really wanted to talk about power lines.”

And she headed out for another round of discussion about traffic, schools, property values, jobs.

The transgender thing didn’t come up. Because, really, who cares?

(Almost no one.)

I so hope she prevails. Unfortunately, Prince William County has a history of electing wack-a-doos like Marshall and Corey Stewart.

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Cartmann99

Ding-dong the Texas bathroom bill is dead:

Quote

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Texas measures criticized as being discriminatory for limiting transgender people's access to bathrooms in schools and public buildings died on Tuesday, as the House adjourned and ended its special legislative session.

Business leaders and civil rights groups had battled to defeat the bills, saying they advanced bigotry, would tarnish the state's image and damage its economy. The measures were blocked by moderate House Republicans.

Adoption by Texas, the most populous Republican-dominated state, could have fed momentum in other socially conservative states on the issue, a flashpoint in the U.S. culture wars.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-texas-lgbt-idUSKCN1AW038

The sane people won this round, but the social conservatives in Texas will keep trying on this issue.

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GreyhoundFan
2 hours ago, Cartmann99 said:

The sane people won this round, but the social conservatives in Texas will keep trying on this issue.

It will be the zombie bathroom bill, just like the Repug zombie healthcare bill.

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So glad the zombie bathroom bill is dead. Now can Texans work on getting rid of the idiots that wanted this bill. Dan Patrick I am talking about you! 

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Cartmann99
1 hour ago, Penny said:

So glad the zombie bathroom bill is dead. Now can Texans work on getting rid of the idiots that wanted this bill. Dan Patrick I am talking about you! 

Yes my friend, Taliban Dan definitely needs to go! 

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GreyhoundFan

It's payday. I just put my entire paycheck in the swear jar: "The Republicans who want to legalize running over protesters"

Spoiler

Last weekend in Charlottesville, a driver mowed down peaceful protesters and killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer. The act was reminiscent of recent terrorist attacks across Europe committed in the name of the Islamic State, which has urged followers to use vehicles to kill enemies.

As far as we know, the alleged killer in Charlottesville didn’t get instructions from the Islamic State. As far as we know, he didn’t even receive marching orders from any of the neo-Nazi groups with which he sympathized.

But he also didn’t need to turn to either of these factions for inspiration. He could just have easily have gotten the idea from a Republican state legislature.

This year, Republican lawmakers in at least six states have proposed bills designed to protect drivers who strike protesters. The first bill was introduced in North Dakota in January, and similar bills have since come under consideration in North Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, Texas and Rhode Island.

They were joined by other states trying to discourage protests — typically relating to Black Lives Matter, the Dakota Access Pipeline or other left-leaning causes — that sometimes obstruct traffic.

The North Dakota bill would shield drivers from civil and criminal liability. The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Keith Kempenich, perversely suggested that shielding drivers who kill protesters was a necessary anti-terrorism measure.

Protesters who blocked cars were committing “an intentional act of intimidation — the definition of terrorism,” he told the Los Angeles Times.

Right-wing websites and at least one well-known conservative commentator more gleefully advocated running over protesters, including by sharing a viral video montage titled “Here’s a Reel of Cars Plowing Through Protesters Trying to Block the Road.” (Tank Man didn’t make the cut, alas.)

I wonder: Did the Republican politicians and pundits who backed these measures believe too few protesters were getting hit by cars?

If not, what did they think would happen when they encouraged drivers to use their vehicles as a weapon against the public?

Because that’s exactly what these bills do.

The bills all include language about how drivers who injure or kill protesters must have done so “unintentionally” or while exercising “due care” if they wish to be spared liability. (Hitting protesters intentionally, as the Charlottesville driver appears to have done, could still make one subject to civil and criminal liability.) Even so, the foreseeable effect of passing laws like these would be to change the calculus for any frustrated driver considering whether to plow through a crowd of protesters.

Economists tend to think about decisions in terms of expected costs and benefits. By lowering the expected costs to the driver, these proposed laws would tilt the balance in favor of hitting people.

And not just any people. Protesters specifically.

In five of the six states where bills were introduced, the legislation would shield drivers who hit protesters or demonstrators only. Drivers who kill pedestrians who are not out exercising their First Amendment rights would still be subject to the usual criminal and civil liabilities.

In other words, the purpose of these proposals was to make acts of protest, and acts of protest alone, more lethal.

So far none of these bills has made it into law. Hopefully Heyer’s tragic death this past weekend destroys their chances.

Already, though, white supremacists have latched on to the rhetoric behind these bills to excuse her death. In “Vice News Tonight’s” chilling Charlottesville documentary, neo-Nazi Christopher Cantwell said her murder was “more than justified” because the driver was provoked by “stupid animals” who attacked and then “couldn’t just get out of the way” because they weren’t paying attention.

Surely the whataboutists will claim the left’s angry “resistance” rhetoric encouraged someone to attempt to murder Republican legislators. To be clear, that act was also evil. There is, however, no comparison between mean words and changing the law to indemnify people who kill others in a highly specific way.

A fairer parallel would be if Democrats had introduced bills making it legal to shoot up batting practices. Which, to my knowledge, hasn’t happened.

As I’ve previously argued, there’s plenty of blame to dump on President Trump for emboldening white supremacists and for encouraging violence against peaceful protesters. But to treat him as an aberration in encouraging violence against protesters — in particular, liberals and people of color — is flat wrong.

The moral rot in the Republican Party runs deep.

Maybe the state legislators who introduced these bills are malevolent, and maybe they’re just morons. In politics, I tend to err on the side of the latter explanation. Either way, they advocated reckless bills whose foreseeable consequence was increased vehicular killings.

These politicians are not fit to serve the public, in any level of government.

Residents of North Dakota, North Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, Texas and Rhode Island: Look these goons up and vote them out.

 

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fraurosena
1 hour ago, GreyhoundFan said:

It's payday. I just put my entire paycheck in the swear jar: "The Republicans who want to legalize running over protesters"

  Hide contents

Last weekend in Charlottesville, a driver mowed down peaceful protesters and killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer. The act was reminiscent of recent terrorist attacks across Europe committed in the name of the Islamic State, which has urged followers to use vehicles to kill enemies.

As far as we know, the alleged killer in Charlottesville didn’t get instructions from the Islamic State. As far as we know, he didn’t even receive marching orders from any of the neo-Nazi groups with which he sympathized.

But he also didn’t need to turn to either of these factions for inspiration. He could just have easily have gotten the idea from a Republican state legislature.

This year, Republican lawmakers in at least six states have proposed bills designed to protect drivers who strike protesters. The first bill was introduced in North Dakota in January, and similar bills have since come under consideration in North Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, Texas and Rhode Island.

They were joined by other states trying to discourage protests — typically relating to Black Lives Matter, the Dakota Access Pipeline or other left-leaning causes — that sometimes obstruct traffic.

The North Dakota bill would shield drivers from civil and criminal liability. The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Keith Kempenich, perversely suggested that shielding drivers who kill protesters was a necessary anti-terrorism measure.

Protesters who blocked cars were committing “an intentional act of intimidation — the definition of terrorism,” he told the Los Angeles Times.

Right-wing websites and at least one well-known conservative commentator more gleefully advocated running over protesters, including by sharing a viral video montage titled “Here’s a Reel of Cars Plowing Through Protesters Trying to Block the Road.” (Tank Man didn’t make the cut, alas.)

I wonder: Did the Republican politicians and pundits who backed these measures believe too few protesters were getting hit by cars?

If not, what did they think would happen when they encouraged drivers to use their vehicles as a weapon against the public?

Because that’s exactly what these bills do.

The bills all include language about how drivers who injure or kill protesters must have done so “unintentionally” or while exercising “due care” if they wish to be spared liability. (Hitting protesters intentionally, as the Charlottesville driver appears to have done, could still make one subject to civil and criminal liability.) Even so, the foreseeable effect of passing laws like these would be to change the calculus for any frustrated driver considering whether to plow through a crowd of protesters.

Economists tend to think about decisions in terms of expected costs and benefits. By lowering the expected costs to the driver, these proposed laws would tilt the balance in favor of hitting people.

And not just any people. Protesters specifically.

In five of the six states where bills were introduced, the legislation would shield drivers who hit protesters or demonstrators only. Drivers who kill pedestrians who are not out exercising their First Amendment rights would still be subject to the usual criminal and civil liabilities.

In other words, the purpose of these proposals was to make acts of protest, and acts of protest alone, more lethal.

So far none of these bills has made it into law. Hopefully Heyer’s tragic death this past weekend destroys their chances.

Already, though, white supremacists have latched on to the rhetoric behind these bills to excuse her death. In “Vice News Tonight’s” chilling Charlottesville documentary, neo-Nazi Christopher Cantwell said her murder was “more than justified” because the driver was provoked by “stupid animals” who attacked and then “couldn’t just get out of the way” because they weren’t paying attention.

Surely the whataboutists will claim the left’s angry “resistance” rhetoric encouraged someone to attempt to murder Republican legislators. To be clear, that act was also evil. There is, however, no comparison between mean words and changing the law to indemnify people who kill others in a highly specific way.

A fairer parallel would be if Democrats had introduced bills making it legal to shoot up batting practices. Which, to my knowledge, hasn’t happened.

As I’ve previously argued, there’s plenty of blame to dump on President Trump for emboldening white supremacists and for encouraging violence against peaceful protesters. But to treat him as an aberration in encouraging violence against protesters — in particular, liberals and people of color — is flat wrong.

The moral rot in the Republican Party runs deep.

Maybe the state legislators who introduced these bills are malevolent, and maybe they’re just morons. In politics, I tend to err on the side of the latter explanation. Either way, they advocated reckless bills whose foreseeable consequence was increased vehicular killings.

These politicians are not fit to serve the public, in any level of government.

Residents of North Dakota, North Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, Texas and Rhode Island: Look these goons up and vote them out.

 

This news just takes my breath away. They want this, even after the events in Charlottesville?

This alternately makes me feel like: :pb_surprised::angry-screaming::pb_surprised::angry-screaming::angry-screaming::pb_surprised:

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GreyhoundFan
16 minutes ago, fraurosena said:

This news just takes my breath away. They want this, even after the events in Charlottesville?

I know, right? I have the worst headache. My state isn't on the list, or I'd be driving down to the state capitol this afternoon. My state senator and rep are both reliably Democratic, but I may hit up both of their offices to ensure this isn't even in consideration by some of the BTs in the "red' parts of the state.

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Cartmann99

So, in the areas around abortion clinics, instead of angry pro and anti folks yelling at each other, they will get in their cars and kill each other. :doh:

On the bright side, it's great news for the funeral industry, so there's that.:shock:

Can I please wake-up now? Not only is this timeline eight kinds of crazy, it's mind numbingly stupid!

 

 

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GreyhoundFan

I couldn't agree more: "It’s time to start punishing public officials who disenfranchise voters'

Spoiler

In the federal government and in most states, there are consequences when governments deprive Americans of their constitutional right to liberty — through, say, wrongful imprisonment.

So why aren’t there more meaningful consequences when states deprive Americans of their constitutional right to vote?

Again and again, “voter fraud” has been shown to be virtually nonexistent. Yet in the name of eradicating this imagined scourge, state officials around the country have been systemically and aggressively disenfranchising American citizens. To prevent a handful of votes from possibly being cast illegally, officials purge thousands of eligible voters from state rolls, toss ballots and pass modern-day poll taxes.

This year alone, at least 99 bills restricting access to registration and voting have been introduced in 31 states, according to New York University School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice.

And this doesn’t even capture the full extent of voter-suppression efforts, given that some changes have been done administratively rather than through legislation.

A few states have proven to be especially bad actors.

In the 2016 election, for example, Kansas threw out more than three times as many ballots as any similarly sized state did, according to a recent Associated Press analysis.

Some Kansans’ ballots were tossed as a result of recent policy changes. But others were eliminated because of a stupid software bug. That is, some people arrived at the polls incorrectly believing they had already legally registered, because the state’s online registration system had mistakenly told them so. This glitch had been happening for months before the general election, according to emails obtained by the AP.

All this occurred of course under the leadership of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), now spearheading President Trump’s “election integrity” commission.

Texas has likewise repeatedly tried to suppress minority (and predominantly Democratic) votes.

On Wednesday, a federal court struck down the state’s voter ID laws, which the judge determined had been “enacted with discriminatory intent — knowingly placing additional burdens on a disproportionate number of Hispanic and African American voters.”

The same court had previously found the state’s voter ID law discriminatory in 2014, and Wednesday’s ruling determined a new, watered-down version was no better. While a challenge had been working its way through the judicial system, a “discriminatory” law was in effect for multiple statewide elections.

Where is the justice for those denied suffrage in Kansas, Texas and other states?

Their elections are effectively tainted, but they’re also over. Nothing to be done about them now.

There should be, though.

If we want state officials to stop erring so often on the side of disenfranchising voters, we need to change their incentives. That is, we need to start punishing them for illegally denying Americans the right to vote, rather than just have courts say, “Hey now, don’t do that again.”

The costs are much too low for public officials who, whether deliberately or mistakenly, disenfranchise Americans.

On very, very rare occasions, if a plaintiff can prove that an election was sufficiently tainted, a judge could order a new election. Also on very, very rare occasions, individuals can be charged with a criminal offense if they can be proven to have intentionally interfered with someone’s votes.

But for the most part, policies that systemically disenfranchise thousands of voters — and in the process, possibly swing election results — go unpunished.

Any remedies that do occur are generally forward-looking. That is, a state’s bad law or administrative policy gets struck down, and officials are just forced to do things differently in the next election.

In which case, state officials might respond by introducing a new bad law, a la Texas.

One way to change the system would be for courts to more often grant preliminary injunctions against new election laws undergoing a legal challenge.

“Once the damage is done you can’t really adequately repair it,” says Wendy Weiser, director of the Brennan Center’s democracy program. Courts could recognize this and err on the side of keeping the status quo, at least temporarily.

This would address only deliberate policy changes, though, not incompetence (as in Kansas’s software glitch). So why not raise the possible costs to getting things wrong, to change the calculus?

Congress or state legislatures could, for example, pass laws making it easier for state officials to be held liable for monetary damages if they have illegally denied someone their right to vote. Right now these officials likely have qualified immunity from such suits, according to Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California at Berkeley School of Law.

For American citizens, voting is a sacred and constitutionally enshrined right. It’s time the country, and those paid to serve the public, actually treat it as such.

Sadly, I can't see any state being run by Repugs doing a darned thing about it.

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fraurosena

To add to that, @GreyhoundFan, there was this news today.

Federal Court Finds Texas Political Map Discriminated Against Minorities, Again

Spoiler

The state of Texas is on an impressive losing streak in court. On Thursday evening, a three-judge panel of a federal district court in San Antonio found that the state House district map purposefully undercut the voting power of African American and Latino voters—the ninth racial discrimination case the state has lost since 2011 and the fourth in just over a week.

The ruling comes nine days after the same court found that another Texas district map, for its representatives in Congress, discriminated against minorities and ordered the state to redraw two districts. But rather than redraw the congressional and state House maps, Texas is appealing to the US Supreme Court to preserve them.

The ruling Thursday evening was the latest episode in a six-year battle over political maps drawn in 2011. In 2013, with the maps tied up in court, the state Legislature adopted new congressional and state House maps based on the 2011 maps; those maps have been in place ever since. The San Antonio court struck down both the 2011 maps and the 2013 congressional map this year as intentionally discriminatory. On Thursday, the court found that the Republican-dominated Legislature “purposefully maintained the intentional discrimination” from the 2011 map in drawing four state House districts.

While Texas appeals the rulings, the parties are due back in court in early September to begin to redraw the maps ahead of the 2018 elections. New maps would likely reduce the size of the Republican majority in the state Legislature and Texas’ congressional delegation.

But the bigger question looming over Texas is whether, after the state racked up nine findings of discrimination in six years, courts will decide to place Texas once again under federal supervision, forcing all changes to election laws to be pre-approved by the federal government. Texas and eight other states with a history of discrimination, in addition to a number of cities and counties, were subject to “preclearance” under the 1965 Voting Rights Act until 2013, when the Supreme Court gutted the law. But the Supreme Court did not remove the ability of federal courts to place jurisdictions back under federal oversight if there is a finding of intentional discrimination. In Texas, there are nine.

How anyone can pretend this is even remotely democratic is beyond me.

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sawasdee

Well, if you can't win on your manifesto, you just have to stack the deck, right?

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