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UPDATE: Shortly after the election, several voting rights advocacy groups released reports or statements detailing problems voters encountered at the polls. Demos put out a report describing how all the various voter suppression tactics affected the 2012 election. The American Civil Liberties Union issued a statement addressing the problems voters faced and the steps that should be taken to prevent future problems. Project Vote also released a statement praising diligent voters for overcoming adverse voting circumstances.
A few days before the election, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted ordered local election officials to reject ballots with mistakenly recorded identification information – even though the courts previously issued an order against this. Immediately following the election and with tens of thousands of ballots uncounted, Secretary Husted continued his crusade to change the rules for counting provisional ballots by issuing a directive excusing poll workers from correcting improper ballot forms, potentially invalidating many of the uncounted ballots.
Ohio members of the African American Ministers Leadership Council urged Secretary Husted to drop his attempt, with Reverend Tony Minor stating:
Despite the concerted efforts by conservative legislators to suppress voters’ rights throughout 2011 and 2012 using a number of tactics in the supposed interest to combat voter fraud, millions of Americans took time last week to cast their vote on Election Day. However, a number of problems for voters still occurred, shedding light on some obvious inadequacies within our voting process.
LATE-BREAKING: Secretary Husted has officially made the call for statewide early voting hours, 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday to start, then 8 am to 7 pm Monday through Friday for the last two weeks.
UPDATE: Secretary Husted said Monday that he may impose statewide early voting hours following criticism of his actions at the county level. Following an ACLU request, Husted said that it is unclear whether state law gives him such authority, but that he will look at the matter and listen to what feedback I get. He also claimed to CNN that he has been a champion of uniformity. The concern is that uniformity would likely come in the form of across-the-board restrictions on voting hours, rather than the expansion that voting rights supporters want to see. Reverend Tony Minor of the African American Ministers Leadership Council (AAMLC) vowed vigilance, No matter how hard they try to stop us, we will fight back against these restrictions and we will show up at the polls and vote." Click for more from the New York Times and The Nation.
Voting rights advocates in Ohio are outraged as Secretary of State John Husted has decided to end the evening and weekend voting in Cuyahoga County that have benefitted voters there in four of the past five years. He broke a tie vote after county election board members deadlocked along party lines about whether to maintain extended voting hours. Polls will now be open on weekdays only, from 8:30 a.m. until just 4:30 p.m.
Voting rights and voter suppression, especially voter ID, continue to make headlines in many states. Below is a sample of the latest. For more information, click here and also check out The Right to Vote under Attack: The Campaign to Keep Millions of Americans from the Ballot Box, a Right Wing Watch: In Focus report by PFAW Foundation.
In an effort to ensure equal opportunity, the Department of Education’s Civil Rights Data Collection surveys schools nationwide on a range of topics including staffing and finance; college and career readiness; and discipline. The most recent survey, for the 2009-2010 school year, asked about bullying and harassment for the first time in its 44-year history. The American Association of University Women analyzed the data on sex-based bullying and harassment.
I started out in the progressive movement through the amazing fellowship of Young People For. As part of the introductory class (2005) the camaraderie between the fellows as well as staff was high and genuine; never before had I experienced such a feeling of support and understanding around issues that were important to me. Often times I ponder the opportunities given, the people I have had the pleasure of meeting, and the relationships developed because of my involvement with YP4. During this time the thought which emerged was “where would my activism be?”
(hat tip to Daily Kos)
Alicia Sears Castillon was murdered recently by her boyfriend. She had tried to gain a protection order, but in March 2005, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the state's newly passed marriage amendment barred the state from "recognizing a relationship other than marriage," which included heterosexual unmarried couples. Since granting an unmarried woman a protection order would constitute "recognizing" the relationship, un-married women in Ohio (and potentially any state with a marriage amendment) lost domestic violence protection.
My favorite Randi Rhodes quote of the week. I hear a lot of people who go on about the voter suppression we saw in 2000 and 2004, who seem to have thrown their hands up in the air in defeat. Yes, there are an array of attempts by certain people in power to suppress democracy in this country, but they haven't won yet and the way we can act to stop them now is to show up in droves on election day and make our voice heard. Voter suppression efforts are not yet effective enough to keep down an overwhelming majority in this upcoming election. So stop whining and vote!
And rest assured that there are number of people and organizations already working to guarantee our right to vote, not the least among them the People For the American Way Foundation. Recently, PFAWF investigated concerns of voter purge in Ohio as a number of activists were concerned with voters being disenfranchised because of mailings from county election officials being returned as undeliverable. Given their Secretary of State (and coincidentally gubernatorial candidate) Ken Blackwell's propensity for disenfranchising Ohio voters, their concerns are certainly understandable, but happily seem to be unfounded in this case. According to Ohio law, these voters should still be able to vote a regular ballot as long as they show proper ID. That's assuming the poll workers have been properly educated, which may be a big assumption.