After 2008 Election, Some States Want to Make Voting Easier; Others Determined to Make it Harder

Cross-posted at Project Vote's blog, Voting Matters

Weekly Voting Rights News Update

By Erin Ferns

Following an historic turnout in the 2008 election comes a flurry of election reform agendas from both sides of the battle over voting rights. Since November 4, some state lawmakers have seized on the success of early voting and Election Day Registration (EDR) as models for facilitating voter registration, while others appear to have been threatened by the heightened turnout and inspired to introduce restrictive voter ID and proof-of-citizenship bills for the 2009 legislative session.

Following what appears to be significant progress this year in closing participation gaps among historically underrepresented young and minority voters, we review Election Day stories in states with voter ID and EDR laws, and preview next year's legislative battle for election reform.

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Election Reform: Universal Registration and Early Voting Take Lead in Voting Rights Discussions

Cross-posted at Project Vote's blog, Voting Matters

Weekly Voting Rights News Update

By Erin Ferns

Following one of the most momentous elections in the nation's history, officials and advocates across the country are already turning their attention to the future of American democracy. After a grueling battle over voter registration, voter roll maintenance, and ballot access for the ever growing electorate, leaders and advocates are evaluating what worked this year and considering major administrative and legislative overhauls before coming elections.

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Republican Affirmative Action: Presidential Fail Edition

Shocker political subtext of 2008:

Incompetent female figurehead picked by misogynist political party for superficial reasons unfairly scapegoated by also incompetent campaign professionals.

WTF else was going to happen?

As I've said before, the Palin pick exemplifies exactly what Republicans really believe affirmative action is all about. That getting more women in the workplace, for example, is purely a matter of finding people with the requisite gonads to fill a job - hopefully ones that aren't too uppity, and definitely not ones that are unhappy with the status quo. If they screw up, well, isn't that just like a woman?

And if the pool of applicants was therefore thin, ie, there aren't many sane-seeming black people as bigoted as Alan Keyes or as self-loathing as Michael Steele, hey, look at their skin, yeah? What more did You People want? And it was hard to find a woman who was contemptuous enough of other women to satisfy the GOP base. The party faithful would have none of the qualified but insufficiently heartless Hutchisons or Snowes, so we HAD to go with someone a McCain staffer now characterizes as a Wasilla hillbilly.

And that's ... Palin's fault?

Look, these people have been campaigning for the presidency for two years straight by now, and this won't be their first national race. They've been in politics for a long time, including, and especially, McCain. Palin's the governor of a small state, unknown even to national Republican leaders, and joined the campaign on a lark a couple months ago. (And if someone affiliated with Obama had ever referred to the Palin clan as "Wasilla hillbillies" ...) Is it remotely possible that McCain and company couldn't have figured out she wasn't ready in advance if they'd done their bloody jobs and spent a few days asking her questions and investigating her background?

Imagine the cringe-worthy moments they could have spared the nation if Palin had gone through a vetting as tough as the typical middle management interview process.

I mean, consider my parents. They're nice people, more or less typical Los Angeles natives and there's nothing wrong with that, but neither of them is qualified to be the president-in-waiting. Nor are they qualified to handle nuclear reactors, pilot planes, work on deep sea drilling rigs, file court briefs or perform brain surgery. I'm sure they'd tell you so themselves. Anyone who said otherwise would prove themselves automatically less qualified to staff and run a presidential campaign than Palin was to be vice president.

That's a low bar to crawl under. Then consider that the job of the executive branch includes setting regulations for people who do handle nuclear reactors and pilot planes. Shiver.

The whole issue should rightly come back to the seemingly endless parade of newspaper editorial endorsements for Obama that mentioned McCain's judgment in selecting Palin as one of the biggest knocks against him. McCain picked her. McCain's vetting team, such as it was, picked her. Then they brought her out in front of the country and swore to God and everybody that she was ready to be the understudy for the most powerful role in the world.

What were they thinking? That's the big question. Their incompetence is the real story. Not some distracting yarn about the woman who supposedly shopped the campaign into the ground.

I'll grant that the wardrobe amounts were excessive. Offensively so. But is that seriously the most damning thing about the running mate of a man who wears $520 loafers, the man whose wife's outfit for one night at the RNC cost $300,000? Not the White Pride barnstorming? Not the McCarthyite desire to sort out the supposedly fake Americans from the real ones? Not the incessant lying about her record and that of her opponents? Not the callous indifference to the suffering of others? Is that all they've got, that Palin was vain about her clothes and talked as if George 'Shop or the Terrorists Win' Bush had been her history teacher?

Hell, by Bush's lights, wasn't that whole $150k shopping spree just a big middle finger in Osama bin Laden's face? We may have lost our homes, our jobs, our fellow citizens, our global approval/credit rating, a few buildings, eventually a whole city, and our Constitutional rights, but we still have our capitalist designer stores, m*f*er, so take that!

The Republican Party is going to spend a long time in the wilderness if they can't figure out what really went wrong here. Good riddance.

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Let's Talk About The Economy

One in five homeowners owes more on their mortgage than their home is worth. The year 1991 was the last year consumer spending dropped for even one quarter.

But John McCain still doesn't want to put the economy front and center, he'd rather focus on Joe the Plumber. Oh, you can find a whole section on the economy under the Issues tab, sure, but consider:

I guess John McCain really is going to lose.

How'd that chant go again? Drill, baby, drill? Nah. Those guys need a new slogan. What about ... gone, baby, gone.

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Barack the Vote

... please, do it for Pam. As you can see in the video to your right, this poor, poor woman, Pam Geller, is in dire need of better prescription coverage. Electing Barack Obama to the presidency will be a great stride towards the goal of getting it for her.

Now you might say, "But Natasha, that woman is so over-the-top guano, if she didn't exist, she'd have to be invented. She's hilarious. Fix her problems, and the nice bloggers at Sadly, No will have to find new, perhaps even more toxic, sources of guano to mock for our eventual amusement."

But look, we should not be selfish. If Pam were your sister, daughter, or even friend, I'm sure you'd want to see her get help. Well, as Obama reminded us all the way back in 2004, we are our sisters' keepers. Even if they aren't our sisters. Or something like that.  

Pam's plight doesn't move you? Then do it for Dana. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), that is. Dana is a 61 year old man who's been reduced to being the "biggest blithering idiot" in Congress. You may not know this, and I wouldn't want to alarm you, but there is some stiff damn competition for that title. Even when you've gotten to the point where you're reduced, as he is in the video to your left, to babbling about "dinosaur flatulence" in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence that you're dead wrong.

I mean, that might not even be in the all-time top 10 dumbest things said by a congresscritter.

Dana would retire, so he could save some of his dignity, but with his party in control of any of the levers of power in Washington, DC, that's a precarious thing to do. Republicans are just no good for retirement security. So poor Dana approaches his twilight years forced to continue working long past time when the skills he was trained in (showboating, crossdressing) are really good fits for his job. Instead of being able to cheer the Russian invasion of Georgia in the comfort of his jammies at home, Dana had to do so in a suit in front of the media. So sad.

Won't you please help Dana retire in peace? You can do it today by supporting Debbie Cook, his opponent, and a Way Better Democrat. Debbie will help make sure that all Americans are not only taken care of in retirement, but that there's a decent future for their descendants. Debbie Cook doesn't want any of our seniors to have to worry themselves sick, that's just the kind of stand up person she is.

So for Pam, Dana, and all the other Americans who are hoping that next Tuesday will be a giant stride towards their most cherished dreams, we must Barack this vote. Following are a few places where you can get a hand with that ...

-- The AFL-CIO has produced these state-by-state voting rights fliers that you can distribute in your area if you're worried about disinformation campaigns.

-- A guide to voter suppression in key swing states can tell you what to look out for, or what to warn friends about if they live in a swing state.

-- If you're on Twitter, you can use the #votereport tag to get breaking election news out from your area via mobile text, details at the link.

-- Are wikis more your speed? Check out the voter suppression wiki or the election protection wiki.

-- This has nothing to do with voting rights, but I couldn't resist sharing a George Will column entitled, "Call Him John the Careless". Priceless.

Now are we ready to rumble? Yes. We. Are. Let's do this thing.

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