Election Protection: Our Broken Voting System and How to Repair It

Desiline Victor, you are not alone.

A report released on February 12, 2013 by the Election Protection coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, pledges to address the “endemic yet solvable problems [that] continue to plague our system of elections and prevent too many eligible voters from fully participating in our democracy.”

UPDATE: Reported Voting Troubles

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.

GOP Electoral College Scheme Advances in Virginia

It’s been less than three months since the presidential election, but GOP leaders unhappy with November’s results are already developing a multi-state plan that would further disenfranchise voters in their quest to achieve victory in 2016. On Wednesday, Republican state senators in Virginia cleared the first hurdle in their push to fundamentally change how state Electoral College votes are allocated. The Associated Press reports that under the proposed bill, Virginia would:

Reported Voting Troubles

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.

UPDATE: State legislation shines national spotlight on voter ID

UPDATE: Back in March, we turned our attention to the 47th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. In the months since, we’ve crisscrossed the nation and detailed how the fights of 50 years ago are being resurrected today. The Atlantic’s Andrew Cohen yesterday offered his own telling, invoking Dr. King’s famous quote, “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice,” to break down the dangerous myths and machinations of voter suppression, concluding that “[t]hese new laws seek to bend the arc backward again, to take away from people their effective right to vote.” It’s important that we remain vigilant over the next nine weeks, so that on November 6 eligible Americans are able to cast a vote and have it count. In the words of LBJ, “Then with his vote and his voice he is equipped with a very potent weapon to guarantee his own dignity.” Click here and here for more from Andrew Cohen.

Virginia Board of Elections Calls the Right’s Bluff

Voter suppression remains a hot topic in Virginia

Back in April, instead of signing the voter ID bill, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell sent it back to the legislature for several amendments, with mixed results. He ultimately decided to sign it into law, but issued an executive order mandating that the State Board of Elections conduct voter education and provide all registered voters with free ID.

The politics, however, remain a concern. ALEC Exposed reports that the lead sponsor of the original Senate version, Stephen Martin (R-11), is ALEC’s Virginia Chair and the lead sponsor of its House companion, Mark Cole (R-88), is also affiliated with ALEC. So is Governor McDonnell, who voting rights advocates say continues to ignore another source of disenfranchisement in his state.

Governor McDonnell set to make decision on voter ID in Virginia

Last month, instead of signing the voter ID bill, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell sent it back to the legislature for several amendments, with mixed results:

UPDATE: Virginia poised to tighten voter ID requirements

4/13/12: Good news! Governor Bob McDonnell has not yet signed SB 1.Instead, he sent the bill back to the Senate for several amendments:

But McDonnell, often mentioned as a possible vice presidential contender, sent the measure back to lawmakers, saying voters should be given more time - until the Friday after an election - to present proper identification.

McDonnell also proposed allowing officials to validate provisional ballots given to those without proper identification by comparing their signatures at the voting booth with those on file with the state election board in the absence of valid identification.

[ . . . ]

McDonnell's proposals in Virginia also include broadening acceptable identification to include community college identity cards and removing a clause relaxing the voter ID requirements if an election officer recognizes the voter.

The Virginia General Assembly will consider the amendments when the session reconvenes next week.

State legislation shines national spotlight on voter ID

March 7, 2012 marked the 47th anniversary of the “Bloody Sunday” when voting rights marchers were beaten in their attempt to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. NAACP President Ben Jealous joined activists from then and now in marking the occasion with another march, saying protest is just as necessary now as it was then.