Archive for the ‘Voting Rights Act’ Category

Feds okay a floating presidential primary in Georgia

The U.S. Justice Department has given its stamp of approval to state legislation passed this spring to give Secretary of State Brian Kemp the power to set the date for next year’s presidential primary, Kemp’s office announced this afternoon.

Three other election measures signed by Gov. Nathan Deal also survived the DOJ scrutiny required by the Voting Rights Act. In sum:

HB 454, sponsored by Mark Hamilton, R-Cumming, allows Kemp to set the date of next year’s presidential primary by Dec. 1. The election can be no sooner than late January, and no later than mid-June.

– HB 92, also sponsored by Hamilton, reduces in-person early voting to three weeks prior to Election Day, down from 45 days. Counties complained of the extra costs, but some Republicans were also eager to curtail the emphasis that, in 2008, Barack Obama was able to getting voters to the polls six weeks before Election Day.

– HB 158, sponsored by James Mills, R-Gainesville, switches the date of judicial and other …

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Your morning jolt: Arizona sues over Voting Rights Act

Because we’re still in the midst of a redistricting session, this from Politico.com is worth noting:

The state of Arizona filed a lawsuit Thursday challenging the federal government’s authority to enforce part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, becoming the first state to challenge the constitutionality of sections of the federal law that bars states from denying or limiting a person’s right to vote based on their race or color.

Specifically, state Attorney General Tom Horne is questioning the provision that requires U.S. Department of Justice review of all changes to that state’s election laws. Georgia is subject to the same pre-clearance requirement, which Horne declares to be archaic.

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Hurricane Irene has forced the postponement of the formal unveiling of the Martin Luther King Jr. monument in Washington D.C. this weekend. But news outlets are still cranking out interview with King’s lieutenants.

Here’s former Atlanta mayor and gubernatorial candidate Andrew Young on the …

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Your morning jolt: Georgia Democrats discover power of the word ‘no’

Like Republicans in Washington, Democrats in the state Capitol may have just learned of the power behind the word “no.”

Similarly, Georgia Republicans may have just experienced the first consequence of their plan to render the Democratic opposition irrelevant in the state.

Removal of Democrats from the political equation on Wednesday resulted in a GOP paralyzed by a clash between its two dominant factions – a tea party opposed to new taxes under any circumstance, and business interests who see slow-moving disaster in Georgia’s stubborn failure to invest in its own infrastructure.

By now, you know of Gov. Nathan Deal’s announcement late Wednesday that he – and leaders of the state Capitol – have abandoned efforts to shift the vote of next year’s regional transportation sales tax vote from the July primary to the November general election.

Look for business leaders and political strategists today to express confidence that the shift can be accomplished when the Legislature …

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Possibly, a GOP contribution to a Democratic voting rights suit

A circular thought worth pondering when it comes to the intersection of redistricting and the move to shift next year’s transportation sales tax vote:

– Many Democrats in the Legislature have pulled their support for moving the date of the ’12 transit tax vote because of the GOP decision to seek dominance of local legislation affecting Fulton and other Democratically controlled counties by packing the local delegations. In the Senate, Republicans sliced Fulton into 11 pieces in order to assure themselves of a 7-4 majority.

– Democrats say that such packing amounts to a dilution of African-American voting power, but it is a largely untested area for litigation. Republicans dismiss objections as nonsense, because local legislative delegations are merely advisory in nature. The U.S. Justice Department doesn’t concern itself with window-dressing.

– Because Democrats have pulled their support from the T-SPLOST shift, Republicans in the Capitol will need all the votes their caucuses …

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Your morning jolt: Senate Republicans uneasy about shifting T-SPLOST vote

With a deal struck among Republicans on congressional maps, attention is quickly turning to the remaining issue facing the Legislature during its special session – passage of a measure shifting next year’s regional T-SPLOST votes from the July primary to the November general election.

Last week, Gov. Nathan Deal met in private session with House Republican members to argue for passage. But he may need to do the same with GOP senators.

We’re told that – right now – the bill wouldn’t win a majority of the Senate Republican caucus vote. That’s especially important when Democrats in the chamber – specifically members of the Legislative Black Caucus – are still in a pique over the Senate Republican effort to take control of local legislation affecting Fulton and other counties.

No gubernatorial counseling session has yet been scheduled – but keep an eye out for it.

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Regardless of when the regional transportation tax vote is held, proponents have their work cut out for them – …

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Karma and the drawing of Georgia’s political boundaries

Ten years later, what went around, came around.

Last week, our Republican-led Legislature plunged into the ruthless process known as redistricting.

Constitutionally, it is an occasion to pay homage to the concept of one person, one vote. In reality, redistricting is the irresistible opportunity for the ruling forces of the Capitol to redraw the state’s political boundaries — with the object of securing their own power for the next decade.

Congressional lines will be tackled this week. U.S. Rep. John Barrow, the Democrat from Savannah, is advised to reserve a moving van — Republicans are almost sure to force him out of his district, again.

A ghost of 2001: Senate District 51 required an eight-hour trek by car

A ghost of 2001: Senate District 51, occupied by Republican Bill Stephens, required an eight-hour trek by car

But the true blueprint for power in Georgia was largely settled on Thursday, when House and Senate Republicans passed separate district maps — intended to give their party super-majorities in each chamber.

In the House, white …

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Your morning jolt: Jon Huntsman, Christine O’Donnell headed to state Capitol

Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman announced via Twitter on Thursday that he’s a thoroughly modern man when it comes to Darwin and climate change – unlike a certain Texas governor.

From the Associated Press:

“To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy,” Huntsman tweeted.

Although Huntsman didn’t mention Perry by name, the tweet was sent within hours of a campaign stop by Perry in New Hampshire where was asked by the crowd about both topics.

While Perry dodged a question about climate change, he has previously said the theory is unproven. On Thursday, he defended the teaching of creationism in schools because evolution “has some gaps to it.”

Why is this worth a mention? Because on Wednesday, Huntsman will be at the state Capitol in Atlanta to meet Gov. Nathan Deal and as many state legislators as possible.

Perry already has a firm contingent of supporters in the Capitol, and Deal is still formally tied to Gingrich – a …

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Your morning jolt: Warm, fuzzy feelings are first casualties of redistricting session

The first casualty of this month’s special legislative session on redistricting may have already fallen – a cordial relationship that had developed between House Speaker David Ralston and Stacey Abrams, the Atlanta leader of the Democratic opposition.

Last night, Abrams told more than 300 people at a discussion of voting rights that Republicans are systematically trying to purge the General Assembly of white Democrats. From my AJC colleague Aaron Gould Sheinin:

….Abrams said Republicans are using the Voting Rights Act as a weapon because the landmark law generally prevents the dilution of minority voting strength. That means any proposed map must not feature fewer majority-minority districts than are currently featured.

“What they’ve said to every member who questioned [why] they were going to get competition … they said the Voting Rights Act made me do it,” she said. “When you use suppression by inclusion it is a violation of the Voting Rights spirit. It is a craven and …

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Your morning jolt: Patient in Shepherd stem cell experiment is an Alabama nursing student

Six months ago, scientists announced that a partially paralyzed patient at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta had become the first to be infused with a drug made from human embryonic stem cells.

The Washington Post this morning identifies the patient:

Recently, rumors began circulating in Internet chat rooms that details about the closely guarded experiment were finally about to be revealed.

Now, a 21-year-old Alabama nursing student who was paralyzed from the chest down in a car crash in September has come forward to identify himself as the volunteer.

“I was the first patient,” Timothy J. Atchison of Chatom, Ala., said in a telephone interview with The Washington Post on Wednesday evening. “I’m doing well.”

Atchison, known as T.J. to his family and friends, was a student at the University of South Alabama College of Nursing when his car crashed on Sept. 25, which, Atchison noted, was the birthday of Christopher Reeve, the actor who suffered a devastating spinal cord injury.

After …

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Barack Obama a hero, Nathan Deal a villain in mailer

President Barack Obama may have just made his first appearance in Georgia’s race for governor – as a hero rather than a villain.

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Republicans – chiefly through the Republican Governors Association – have spent millions to tie Democrat Roy Barnes to Obama, casting the president as the symbol of an out-of-control federal government.

Democrats have been less enthusiastic about using the president’s name. But Republicans sent over a mailer this afternoon that’s clearly aimed at boosting turnout among African American voters.

The mailer takes a very tough line toward Republican Nathan Deal.

“We fought against the Voting Rights Act. You may remember that,” it quotes Deal as saying at a tea party forum.

On the opposite side – the one with Obama — the mailer says the following:

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“Why would Deal fight against your right to vote? Because he doesn’t think you should have that right. Earning the right to vote didn’t come easy. Many sacrificed and some even gave their lives for that right. …

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