Tag Archives: Elections

‘A Day That Will Live in Infamy’: This Is What It Looked Like When Wisconsin Forced In-Person Voting During a Pandemic

“People are being forced to risk their lives to place their vote or fulfill their right as an American to vote.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-7-2020

Photo: Don Moynihan/flickr

As footage of Wisconsin’s crowded polling stations flooded the internet Tuesday, public health officials and civil rights advocates condemned the state’s Supreme Court and Republican legislative leaders for allowing in-person voting during the coronavirus pandemic and thwarting Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ last-minute efforts to address voter safety concerns.

“It’s not going to be a safe election. People are going to get sick from this,” Brook Soltvedt, a 60-year-old textbook editor who is in charge of running the polling place at Thoreau Elementary School in Madison, Wisconsin’s capital, told The Cap Times. Continue reading

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‘A Harrowing Warning’ to All as Hungary Hands Far-Right Leader Dictatorial Powers Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

“We could have a parallel epidemic of authoritarian and repressive measures following close if not on the heels of a health epidemic.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-30-2020

Viktor Orban. Photo: European Parliament/flickr/CC

Human rights groups and activists issued dire warnings about the state of democracy in Hungary—and the rest of the world—after the nation’s parliament on Monday approved a sweeping emergency law handing far-right Prime Minister Viktor Orbán dictatorial powers as the European country battles the coronavirus pandemic.

The new law indefinitely suspends elections and parliament, imposes up to five years in prison for anyone who intentionally spreads what the government classifies as misinformation, and gives Orbán the authority to suspend laws by decree as he works to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. The law easily passed Hungary’s parliament, which is dominated by Orbán’s far-right Fidesz party, by a vote of 137 to 53. Continue reading

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Closing polling places is the 21st century’s version of a poll tax

Californians wait in line to vote on Super Tuesday, March 3, 2020. AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu

Joshua F.J. Inwood, Pennsylvania State University and Derek H. Alderman, University of Tennessee

Delays and long lines at polling places during recent presidential primary elections – such as voters in Texas experienced – represent the latest version of decades-long policies that have sought to reduce the political power of African Americans in the U.S.

Following the Civil War and the extension of the vote to African Americans, state governments worked to block black people, as well as poor whites, from voting. One way they tried to accomplish this goal was through poll taxes – an amount of money each voter had to pay before being allowed to vote. Continue reading

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Think the US is more polarized than ever? You don’t know history

Union dead at Gettysburg, July 1863. National Archives, Timothy H. O’Sullivan photographer

Gary W. Gallagher, University of Virginia

It has become common to say that the United States in 2020 is more divided politically and culturally than at any other point in our national past.

As a historian who has written and taught about the Civil War era for several decades, I know that current divisions pale in comparison to those of the mid-19th century.

Between Abraham Lincoln’s election in November 1860 and the surrender of Robert E. Lee’s Confederate army at Appomattox in April 1865, the nation literally broke apart. Continue reading

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What the Trump budget says about the administration’s health priorities

President Donald Trump’s budget request for fiscal year 2021. AP photo / J. Scott Applewhite

Simon F. Haeder, Pennsylvania State University

The Trump administration recently released its budget blueprint for the 2021 fiscal year, the first steps in the complex budgetary process.

The final budget will reflect the input of Congress, including the Democratic House of Representatives, and will look significantly different.

However, budget drafts by presidential administrations are not meaningless pages of paper. They are important policy documents highlighting goals, priorities and visions for the future of the country. Continue reading

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It’s 2020 and Florida’s Supreme Court Just Ruled in Favor of a Poll Tax

“Florida cannot violate the U.S. Constitution’s protections. The right to vote cannot be contingent on the ability to pay.”

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-16-2020

Florida voters in November 2018 overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment to restore voting rights to 1.4 million people with past felony convictions. (Photo: Public Citizen/Twitter)

Florida’s state Supreme Court on Thursday ruled in favor of denying convicted felons the right to vote if they do not pay fines and fees associated with their incarceration, a decision that was immediately assailed by rights activists as an unconstitutional and immoral poll tax.

In a statement condemning the ruling (pdf), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ACLU of Florida, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund said the ruling “does not—indeed, cannot—alter what the U.S. Constitution requires.” Continue reading

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Federal Judge Blocks NC’s Voter ID Law, Citing State’s ‘Sordid History’ of Racist Voter Suppression

Judge Loretta Biggs said the law’s provision preventing voters from showing public assistance ID cards to vote was “particularly suspect.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-1-2020

Photo: Pinterest

Civil rights advocates on Tuesday praised a federal judge in North Carolina who struck down the state’s new voter ID law, saying in her ruling that there was likely “discriminatory intent” behind state Republicans’ attempt to force voters to present specific forms of identification at the polls.

U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs wrote in her ruling that the law, S.B. 824, was the latest example of North Carolina’s “sordid history of racial discrimination and voter suppression stretching back to the time of slavery, through the era of Jim Crow, and, crucially, continuing up to the present day.” Continue reading

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After Admitting “It’s Always Been Republicans Suppressing Votes,” Trump Advisor Says Party Will Get Even More Aggressive in 2020

“It’s clear there’s no law Donald Trump and his right-wing machine won’t bend, break, or ignore to try to win the presidency.”

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-21-2019

Justin Clark. Photo: Political Dig

Reporting on Friday shows a top advisor for President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign caught on tape in November bragging  of the Republican Party’s history of voter suppression—and promising to go on the offensive in 2020.

The revelation came from the Associated Press in a report Friday on comments by Trump re-election advisor Justin Clark at an event in Madison, Wisconsin. Continue reading

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With Support of Just One Republican, House Passes ‘Historic’ Bill to Restore and Expand Voting Rights

“Brings us one step closer to restoring the Voting Rights Act.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-6-2019

The introduction of H.R. 4 on February 26, 2019. Photo: PFAW

Just one Republican—Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania—joined a united House Democratic caucus on Friday to pass what rights groups hailed as “historic” legislation to restore and expand voter protections that were gutted by the Supreme Court in 2013.

Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs for Public Citizen, said passage of the Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 4) is a “critical step” in combating Republican voter suppression efforts that have proliferated in the six years since the Supreme Court’s infamous decision in Shelby County v. Holder. Continue reading

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Unprecedented ‘Architecture of Surveillance’ Created by Facebook and Google Poses Grave Human Rights Threat: Report

“Their insidious control of our digital lives undermines the very essence of privacy and is one of the defining human rights challenges of our era.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-22-2019

A new report from Amnesty International says Facebook and Google have a “surveillance-based business model.” (Photo: flickr/GostGo/cc)

A new report from Amnesty International accuses Facebook and Google of having a “surveillance-based business model” that threatens users’ right to privacy and other human rights.

The tech giants, said Kumi Naidoo, secretary general of Amnesty International, have amassed “unparalleled power over the digital world by harvesting and monetizing the personal data of billions of people. Their insidious control of our digital lives undermines the very essence of privacy and is one of the defining human rights challenges of our era.” Continue reading

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