Archive for the ‘Voting Rights Act’ Category

Your morning jolt: Charter school support holds steady at 58 percent

The forces behind Georgia’s charter school amendment to the state constitution are out with a new poll this morning that shows voters still comfortably in favor of the measure.

Fifty-eight percent of voters are prepared to vote in favor of the amendment – unchanged since the previous poll in July. See the polling note from John McLaughlin and Rob Schmidt here.

The real purpose of the poll was to measure the effectiveness of arguments we’re likely to see put forward in coming weeks. Opponents have argued that giving a state agency the power to grant charter school licenses over the objections of local systems would sap education funding from traditional schools.

Here’s one test argument from the poll:

If approved, this amendment would not take a single dollar away from traditional public schools. This amendment simply provides for a fair appeals process for families that are not fortunate enough to have great public schools or enough resources to enroll in private …

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GALEO demands slice of voting power for Latinos in Gainesville

The state’s most active Latino organization has served notice that it intends to challenge the electoral system of the city of Gainesville, home to both the governor and lieutenant governor, for allegedly shutting Hispanics and other minorities out of local politics.

The Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials has sent a letter to Gainesville City Attorney James Palmour, informing him that it had retained legal counsel – Keegan Federal, the former DeKalb County judge – and wanted to negotiate a solution that would “avoid the expense of litigation which would be imposed on taxpayers in these already-difficult times.”

The issue GALEO is aiming at would be familiar to anyone who covered local government 30 or 40 years ago – Gainesville’s requirement that all members of its city council live in specific districts, but be elected citywide, rather than by single district itself.

Read Federal’s Aug. 21 letter in its entirety here. A few excerpts:

I want to …

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Dear Fulton County: Please call Brian Kemp. Really.

Jared Thomas, spokesman for Secretary of State Brian Kemp, just called to say that they’re coming across “significant issues” in Fulton County today – specifically, voters being assigned to wrong precincts.

The secretary of state’s office has attempted to contact officials at the Fulton election office, but haven’t been able to get their calls returned. “We’re not getting any cooperation,” Thomas said.

This could make for a long night, people.

If you’ve encountered any problems in your precinct, please describe them below. Meanwhile, Fulton County just sent over this statement:

During the course of today’s election, the Department of Registration & Elections became aware of a database error affecting approximately 300 registered voters on ten streets in Precinct 05A1/05A2 in Southeast Atlanta. This issue affected only the State House races for a small portion of House Districts 58 and 59. No other races were affected by this issue.

After reviewing the …

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Your morning jolt: John Barrow’s hall pass to escape convention detention

One day later, it’s become clear that U.S. Rep. John Barrow of Augusta won’t be penalized by fellow Democrats for skipping the national convention in Charlotte this September.

The Democrat in charge of congressional campaigns has given him a pass. From Reuters:

“If they want to win an election, they need to be in their districts,” New York congressman Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, [said] Tuesday.

Israel emphasized that Democratic President Barack Obama’s poll ratings – which have hovered around 50 percent – have little to do with his stance.

“I don’t care if the president was at 122 percent favorability right now,” he said. “I think (candidates) should be in their districts,” rather than spend time at the convention, which will be in Charlotte, North Carolina, September 3-6.

A few miles south of Charlotte, Gov. Nikki Haley’s choice for Congress, Tom Rice, crushed Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer in the South Carolina Republican …

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U.S. Justice Department challenges Georgia’s runoff calendar

The U.S. Justice Department is threatening a legal challenge to the way that Georgia conducts federal – i.e., congressional — runoff elections, declaring that the state doesn’t give enough time for members of the military overseas to receive and return ballots.

Federal law requires that ballots be available to overseas personnel at least 45 days before the vote. That would require ballots for an Aug. 21 primary runoff to be issued by July 7 – or three weeks before the first round of voting.

Read the original notice, received last week, here. To make sure overseas votes are counted, the DOJ has proposed a consent order – click here to read it — that would require the state to hold off declaring official winners of an Aug. 21 primary runoff by seven working days, until Aug. 31. (A similar cushion would be added to any Dec. 4 general election runoff that involves federal office.)

Secretary of State Brian Kemp has declared he won’t agree to the DOJ demands, and implies …

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Georgia settles lawsuit over voter registration for the poor

The state of Georgia has settled a major lawsuit over its failure to offer poor people who sign up for public assistance a chance to register to vote.

From the press release just issued by the plaintiffs:

A coalition of national voting rights groups have secured a landmark settlement with the State of Georgia to ensure that voter registration is offered to all public assistance applicants. The state has settled a lawsuit, brought by the coalition on behalf of the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP and the Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda, alleging widespread violations of Section 7 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA).

Georgia’s Secretary of State and its Department of Human Services (DHS) have agreed to comply with Section 7 of the NVRA, which requires that public assistance agency clients be provided with the opportunity to register to vote every time they apply for or renew benefits, or when they submit a change of address. This includes instances …

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Is the Voting Rights Act living on borrowed time?

From a Washington Post review of a number of Republican challenges – including one from Georgia – to Section 5, the potent portion of the Voting Rights Act that requires federal approval of changes to election laws in states with a history of discrimination:

The combination of skeptical justices and an increasingly partisan political environment has led some experts to predict that the end is near for that requirement, which civil rights groups have called the most effective weapon for eliminating voting discrimination.

The Supreme Court’s recent actions “have indicated that Section 5 is living on borrowed time,” Columbia University law professor Nathaniel Persily told the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights last week. “Assuming the personnel on the court remains constant, the question is not whether the court will declare Section 5 unconstitutional, but when and how.”

…The Supreme Court, in a 2009 ruling and again last month, expressed concern about “serious …

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Eric Holder targets new voting laws in MLK speech

Republicans aren’t the only ones making news in South Carolina. From

Attorney General Eric Holder used Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy on the anniversary of the civil rights leader’s birthday Monday to emphasize the Obama administration’s dedication to protecting the American people from discriminatory voting practices.

“Despite our nation’s record of progress, and long tradition of extending voting rights – today, a growing number of citizens are worried about the same disparities, divisions, and problems that Dr. King fought throughout his life to address and overcome,” Holder said at an MLK Day event in Columbia, S.C.

Holder’s remarks in the Palmetto State come just weeks after the Justice Department blocked the state’s new voter ID law from taking effect, citing an unfair burden on minority voters.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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Your morning jolt: Herman Cain’s blur of a weekend

Life has been a blur for GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain since he won that Florida straw poll. This weekend was particularly busy for entrepreneur and former radio talk show host:

– In Los Angeles on Friday, the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza — on NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” — recited his resume and reacted to being called “Herb Cain” by Sarah Palin. Cain reviewed his Muslim gaffe from the spring, and declared that Rick Perry of Texas was a good governor. Emphasis on “governor.”

– Also Friday, Cain spokeswoman Ellen Carmichael and another staffer left the campaign. CNN asked Carmichael if her departure was a sign of staffing trouble. “No comment,” she said, insisting that her departure was “amicable.”

– On Saturday, Cain won the National Federation of Republican Women’s national convention straw poll in Kansas City with 49 percent of 505 cast by women from 41 states. Following Cain were Rick Perry, 14 percent; Mitt Romney, 13 percent; and Newt …

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In appreciation of some Democratic glove work

At least in theory, a true baseball fan can root for Boston, but still appreciate – and applaud – the nifty glove work of a Yankee.

The same should apply to politics, though it rarely does.

It is too soon to tell whether state Sen. Jason Carter, D-Decatur, will go as far as his grandfather. But if he does, the nine-minute video clip below – making its way around Democratic circles — will someday be cited as a first sign that he was meant for something more than the farm leagues.

Carter spoke on Wednesday, the final day of the special session that redrew Georgia’s political boundaries. It was probably the best speech of the session and – whether you agree with him or not – deftly, without bombast, laid out the Democratic position in the coming court fight over the meaning of the Voting Rights Act:

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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