One fine day open line | Arkansas Blog

Sunday, April 14, 2013

One fine day open line

Posted By on Sun, Apr 14, 2013 at 5:27 PM

Here you go. But if you'd like something to read, read this:

* VOTER ID/THE NEWFANGLED WAY TO ATTACK CIVIL RIGHTS: Salon writes on Voter ID laws and how they've been used by rising Republican majorities (see Arkansas this year) to roll back a half-century of civil rights advancements. From an excerpt of an important book: “Bending Toward Justice: The Voting Rights Act and the Transformation of American Democracy” by Gary May.

All across the country following the 2010 midterms, Republican legislatures passed and governors enacted a series of laws designed to make voting more difficult for Obama’s constituency — minorities, especially the growing Hispanic community; the poor; students; and the elderly or handicapped. These included the creation of voter photo-ID laws, measures affecting registration and early voting, and, in Iowa and Florida, laws to prevent ex-felons from exercising their franchise. (Florida’s governor, in secret, reversed the policies of his Republican predecessors Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist, policies that would have permitted one hundred thousand former felons, predominantly black and Hispanic, to vote in 2012.) Democrats were stunned. “There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the Jim Crow burdens in voting, the determined effort to limit the franchise that we see today,” said President Bill Clinton in July 2011. Once again, the voting rights of American minorities were in peril.

The newly elected Republican officials were able to act so quickly because they had the help of an ultraconservative organization known as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Its founder was the late Paul Weyrich, a legendary conservative writer and proselytizer who founded both ALEC and the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank dedicated to limited government, an economy free of federal regulations and the sanctity of traditional marriage. Backed by conservative corporations such as Coca-Cola, Philip Morris, AT&T, Exxon Mobil and Walmart, among many others, and funded by right-wing billionaires Richard Mellon Scaife, the Coors family and David and Charles Koch, ALEC provided services for like-minded legislators and lobbyists. ALEC wrote bills and created the campaigns to pass them. Its spokesmen boasted that “each year, more than 1,000 bills based on its models are introduced in state legislatures, and that approximately 17 percent of those bills become law.”

High on ALEC’s agenda were voter identification laws, which it hoped would have the effect of undercutting Obama’s support base so that conservative politicians who supported ALEC’s goals could be elected.

The story of Gail Butterfield of Wisconsin, a disabled elderly woman, and the obstacles thrown up to keep her from voting should make you weep for the country. But she's but one example of voter purges, bogus criminal investigations and other outrages, all aimed at suppressing votes unfriendly to Republicans. And it works, un-American though it might be. Watch Mark Martin go to work on it here for the Arkansas GOP in 2014.

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