Category: Voter Rights (Page 2 of 15)

The Shocking Racism of the Virginia Republican Party

Washington Post Editorial
September 5, 2016

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/virginia-republicans-essentially-racist-project/2016/09/05/54a51c18-713c-11e6-8533-6b0b0ded0253_story.html?utm_term=.ddd13a405da3


IN ABOUT 40 states
, people convicted of serious crimes regain their voting rights upon discharge from prison or completion of parole. In a handful of others, convicts either are never disenfranchised or automatically regain their rights after a waiting period. These rules amount to an American consensus on what constitutes a reasonable and humane approach to redemption in a modern democracy.

In just four states are felons permanently barred from voting absent action by the governor. And in one of them, Virginia, lawmakers are considering an even more restrictive regime that would forever foreclose the possibility of redemption for tens of thousands of citizens.

Virginia state Sen. Thomas K. Norment (R-James City)

Sen. Norment

For this essentially racist project, Virginians can credit the ethically challenged majority leader of Virginia’s state Senate, Thomas K. Norment Jr. (R-James City). He filed legislation last week that would bar people convicted of violent felonies, in Virginia disproportionately African Americans, from ever having their voting rights restored.

It’s impossible to say precisely which offenses would trigger permanent disenfranchisement under Mr. Norment’s proposed constitutional amendment, which would leave it to the GOP-dominated legislature to define violent felonies. However, they might easily include categories of assault or drug crimes that might earn a young convict a few years in prison, followed by a lifetime banned from the voting booth.

Mr. Norment’s amendment would leave Virginia as an extreme outlier in terms of restoration of rights. It would strip the governor of any role in the process by automatically restoring voting rights for nonviolent felons — a category that would also be defined by lawmakers — after they had completed their sentences and paid court costs and restitution, which often amount to thousands of dollars.

For Mr. Norment, the bill is retribution against Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), who has infuriated Republicans by attempting to restore voting rights to some 200,000 ex-convicts, nearly half of them African Americans and many of them disenfranchised decades after the completion of their sentences. While Mr. Norment’s constitutional amendment could not take effect for several years — it would require legislative enactment and approval at referendum by voters — it would strip future governors of any role in restoring voting rights, a power enshrined in Virginia’s constitution for more than a century.

Before Virginia tightened its laws in response to a scandal involving former governor Robert F. McDonnell (R), Mr. Norment was notorious as the recipient of lavish hunting trips paid for by corporate bigwigs seeking favorable legislative treatment. Last year, it was reported that he was interviewed by the FBI for conduct arising from his personal relationship with a female lobbyist whose firm regularly pushed for legislation that he voted for and, in two cases, personally sponsored; he neither recused himself nor disclosed the relationship in a timely way.

Mr. Norment, who was charged with no crime, admitted to “exceedingly poor judgment” in the affair. Maybe his voting rights should be rescinded.


The Democratic Party of Virginia is united in our efforts to elect Democratic leaders of character, integrity, ability, vision, and commitment to delivering results for Virginians. If you’d like to learn more, you can visit our website by clicking here. If you’d like to make a contribution and help to turn Virginia blue, click here.

McAuliffe says he has once again restored voting rights to 13,000 ex-felons

Gov. Terry McAuliffe will announce today that he has restored the rights of more than 13,000 felons on a case-by-case basis, two sources said.

During a noon ceremony at the Virginia Civil Rights Memorial on Capitol Square, the governor also is expected to detail his rights-restoration process for other felons who have completed their terms.

In a 4-3 ruling on July 22, the Supreme Court of Virginia struck down as unconstitutional McAuliffe’s April 22 executive order that restored voting and other civil rights to about 206,000 felons who had completed their terms.

The court ordered the Virginia Department of Elections to cancel the registration of all felons who had been “invalidly registered” under McAuliffe’s actions.

The governor had promised to swiftly restore rights a second time for the roughly 13,000 ex-offenders who registered to vote under his order before the Supreme Court’s ruling. His office termed Monday’s event a “major restoration of rights announcement.”

via THE DAILY PROGRESS

The truth about voter ID laws

Congress has refused to do anything to restore the law’s protections, so litigation has remained the only real recourse for advocates trying to stop these voter suppression tactics more and more state legislatures have been adopting.

In Virginia, a three-judge federal court held that legislators racially gerrymandered Democratic Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott’s district, purposefully packing far more blacks into it than necessary. On appeal to the Supreme Court, prominent conservative lawyer Mike Carvin argued repeatedly that the legislators packed black voters for partisan reasons, not racial ones, as if that makes a difference.

Out of many, we are one: The Official 2016 Democratic Party Platform

2016 Democratic National ConventionIn 2016, Democrats meet in Philadelphia with the same basic belief that animated the Continental Congress when they gathered here 240 years ago: Out of many, we are one.

Under President Obama’s leadership, and thanks to the hard work and determination of the American people, we have come a long way from the Great Recession and the Republican policies that triggered it. American businesses have now added 14.8 million jobs since private sector job growth turned positive in early 2010. Twenty million people have gained health insurance coverage. The American auto industry just had its best year ever. And we are getting more of our energy from the sun and wind, and importing less oil from overseas.

But too many Americans have been left out and left behind. They are working longer hours with less security. Wages have barely budged and the racial wealth gap remains wide, while the cost of everything from childcare to a college education has continued to rise. And for too many families, the dream of homeownership is out of reach. As working people struggle, the top one percent accrues more wealth and more power. Republicans in Congress have chosen gridlock and dysfunction over trying to find solutions to the real challenges we face. It’s no wonder that so many feel like the system is rigged against them.

Democrats believe that cooperation is better than conflict, unity is better than division, empowerment is better than resentment, and bridges are better than walls.

It’s a simple but powerful idea: we are stronger together.

 

Restore the Voting Rights Act

Three years ago this week — on June 25, 2013 — the U.S. Supreme Court in its Shelby County v. Holder decision gutted the Voting Rights Act (VRA), a civil rights law signed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965 to ban racial discrimination in voting. Within minutes of that decision, then-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott tweeted that the state’s strict voter ID law should go into effect immediately. The following day, Alabama said it would finally start enforcing the photo ID law it had passed two years earlier. And weeks later, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed a monster voter suppression law (H.B. 589) that is still today being challenged in court — and for good reason. North Carolina voters like Dale Hicks, featured in the video below, couldn’t vote in 2014 because of H.B. 589.

Hicks isn’t alone. Voters across the country are facing new voting restrictions passed in the wake of Shelby. In their recent report, “Democracy Diminished: State and Local Threats to Voting Post-Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder,” NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) details both proposed and implemented state, county, and local voting changes in the last three years in jurisdictions formerly covered by the VRA. Beginning in June 2014, for example, Virginia had implemented a photo ID law even though nearly 200,000 voters in the state lacked a driver’s license. This list of voting changes goes on. And on.

The time is now to #RestoreTheVRA

The time is now to #RestoreTheVRA

Five of the states previously covered by the VRA (Arizona, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas) are also competitive in this year’s general election — in the presidential race, but also some senatorial and gubernatorial races. In a new report, “Warning Signs: The Potential Impact of Shelby County v. Holder on the 2016 General Election,” The Leadership Conference Education Fund found that the voter suppression in these states unleashed by Shelbycould impact this year’s election. Now that they’re no longer subject to oversight or accountability, each state has enacted its own set of voting laws that harm voters of color. Unfortunately, leaders in Congress have yet to show any interest in working to solve the problem.

Follow THE LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE to learn more

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