In today’s Portsmouth Herald, Robert Azzi examines the racist motivation underlying restrictive voter ID laws.
“Harriet Beecher Stowe would return from the grave if she knew that Simon Legree had been resurrected to put uppity blacks back in their place,” he writes, “this time using the ballot box and intimidation rather than the whip.”
Beyond the caricatures of President Obama, beyond the finger-wagging in his face and the cries of “You lie” at the State of the Union Address; beyond the effigies, and the cartoons of watermelon patches on the White House lawn, the 2012 Republican campaign appears to synergistically link the individual interests of conservatives, Republicans and Tea-Partiers, together with racists and bigots, each group with its own separate agenda, to the attempted disenfranchisement of the president.
Azzi documents the flood of restrictive voting laws that have been enacted since 2001 — despite the fact that individual voter fraud is extremely rare. He points out those most likely to be disenfranchised by restrictive voting laws are people of color, the poor, the elderly and the young. And he assails Mitt Romney for his cowardice in not confronting the racists in his party.
I don’t care about his wealth and success. I disagree with him on both economic and foreign policy almost without exception; differences which I can express at the ballot box — if I can get there.
I do care he hasn’t condemned the attempts to disenfranchise voters. I do care that he hasn’t had the courage to separate himself from “birthers,” from climate-change deniers and creationists. I care that he cares more about winning than he cares about truth.
I care that high-tech lynchings, so decried by Clarence Thomas in 1991, have become political weapons of disenfranchisement that threaten to return America to its dark Jim Crow days, and away from the promise of America, where, “All men are created equal.”
There are a couple of interesting news items today regarding the state’s new voter ID law.
Gary Rayno reminds us that before the law takes effect, it must be approved by the U.S. Department of Justice for compliance under the Voting Rights Act. (The background on how New Hampshire came to be the only Northern state required to obtain Justice Department “pre-clearance” for election law changes is, in itself, an interesting story.)
Rayno writes that it is unlikely the Justice Department will grant unqualified approval.
Nobody believes the DOJ will simply approve the new law. The department has already found several state photo identification laws in violation of the Voting Rights Act.
It has blocked similar laws in Texas and South Carolina. South Carolina is suing over the ruling. [added link]
And Marc Fortier reports that James O’Keefe could be back in the state this week. On Saturday, convicted filmaker is scheduled to address the Coalition of New Hampshire Taxpayers in Hillsborough.
O’Keefe, you may remember, ducked out of his last New Hampshire engagement to avoid being served a grand jury subpoena. He is under investigation by the Attorney General’s office over his attempt to show “Dead People Vote in New Hampshire” but which, as Media Matters notes, “largely shows the logical incoherence of the right wing’s voter fraud paranoia.”
An editorial in the Nashua Telegraph calls for the legislature to sustain the governor’s veto of three bad bills: photo voter ID, school vouchers and medical malpractice reform.
Photo ID (SB 289)
Is the history of voter fraud here so pervasive – if it exists at all – that it merits consciously making it more difficult for some residents to vote on Election Day? For lawmakers, the answer should be a resounding no.
Education tax credits (HB 1607 and SB 372)
[N]o matter how you disguise it, you are taking money now supporting public schools and diverting it to private and religious schools, leaving cities and towns to make up the difference.
Early offer malpractice (SB 406)
The legislation is tilted so far in favor of the medical community — the maximum award would be $117,000 for a death — that it’s hard to believe it got this far even with overwhelming GOP majorities in both chambers.
The legislature convenes tomorrow to vote on the governor’s vetoes.
Media Matters weighs in on the Union Leader editorial in support of voter photo ID legislation and calls James O’Keefe “a surprising source for a mainstream publication to cite.”
SB 289, the Union Leader editors argued, is necessary to protect the integrity of New Hampshire’s electoral results from the corrupting danger of rampant voter fraud. Their evidence? The work of discredited liar and undercover videographer James O’Keefe, whose attempted investigation of “voter fraud” in New Hampshire last January drew rebukes from election law experts who believed his scheme may have broken the law.
Project Veritas, which is run by O’Keefe, is a surprising source for a mainstream publication to cite, given his history of lies, deception and hyper-partisanship. More importantly, O’Keefe’s “sting” in New Hampshire didn’t come close to establishing that voter fraud has been committed in New Hampshire at all, much less on any scale that would affect the outcome of an election.
“In fact,” the report concludes, “the specter of a voter fraud epidemic is largely a figment of right-wing imagination.”
House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt and GOP Reps. Shawn Jasper and Shaun Doherty recently published an op-ed in the Concord Monitor, “No need for fear-mongering,” which consisted of 12 paragraphs of fear-mongering. Voter fraud is rampant, they wrote. “Here in New Hampshire, we have no tangible way of ensuring” fair elections.
“We deserve honesty from House leaders,” responded three officials from the League of Women Voters of New Hampshire who proceeded to demolish every purported example of voter fraud provided by Bettencourt et al.
Bettencourt’s only allegation of voter fraud in New Hampshire was the James O’Keefe video scam. “There is no reason to believe that New Hampshire citizens engage in such un-American behavior,” the League writers countered.
Bettencourt claimed that more than 950 ballots cast in South Carolina’s presidential primary were from the “nonliving,” and nearly 100 non-citizens in two Florida counties had voted for years. The League writers explained the South Carolina Election Commission did not find a single “nonliving” voter and Florida investigations found only four non-citizens who had voted — out of over 500,000 registered voters.
Bettencourt pointed to the closeness of the Iowa caucuses as a reminder that “voter fraud is indeed real.” (?) The League writers answered, “We have close elections and many recounts, but voter fraud has never been given as a reason for a recount.”
The League writers could have taunted Bettencourt by asking, “That’s the best you’ve got?” They were a bit more restrained, but no less tough, in their conclusion.
It’s clear the authors of the column have never listened to or read any of the testimony from the many organizations — a majority at every hearing — that oppose photo ID to get a ballot. Those opposing photo ID believe creating barriers to the constitutional right to vote, especially for the elderly and disabled, is wrong. House leadership’s ranting about race-baiting and fear-mongering is offensive, an insult to our citizens and unworthy of anyone who holds elected office.
An obvious concern with voter ID laws is that the procedures intended to prevent fraudulent voting will disenfranchise some legitimate voters.
Voter ID supporters could argue that the procedures will not, in fact, deprive any citizens of their right to vote. The Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire takes a different tack with this gem, using the propaganda technique of inverting customary meanings to redefine and co-opt the word disenfranchise.
a voter ID bill is necessary to ensure that legitimate voters are not disenfranchised by votes from people who shouldn’t be voting.
George Orwell would be proud.
The latest WMUR Granite State Poll surveyed Granite State adults on several high profile issues being debated in the legislature. The results show an electorate at odds with two of the key initiatives being promoted by the House Republican leadership.
- Opposition to repeal of same-sex marriage is overwhelming
New Hampshire adults oppose repeal of same-sex marriage by a 59 percent to 32 percent margin. Among those who feel strongly about the issue, opponents of repeal outnumber supporters by a 2-to-1 margin with 48 percent strongly opposing repeal compared to just 23 percent who strongly support it. These figures have remained remarkably constant over the past year in earlier surveys from WMUR and Voter Consumer Research.
- Support for a constitutional amendment to prohibit a state income tax is far short of the required two-thirds majority
New Hampshire voters are evenly divided on a a proposed constitutional amendment to prohibit a state tax on income. 39 percent of those surveyed said they would vote for the amendment, 41 percent would oppose it. The House-passed amendment requires Senate approval before being presented to the voters. A two-thirds majority vote would then be required to amend the state constitution.
- Granite Staters support voter photo ID legislation
One Republican issue that does appear to have broad support is requiring voters to present photo identification in order to vote. 68 percent expressed support for a voter ID law compared to 24 percent who oppose it. The support crosses partisan lines with majorities among Republicans (87 to 10 percent), Independents (69 to 22 percent) and Democrats (52 to 37 percent ).
The Granite State Poll is sponsored by WMUR-TV and conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center. 527 New Hampshire adults were interviewed between January 25 and February 2, 2012 for the survey, which has a +/- 4.3 percent margin of error.
Did state House Speaker Bill O’Brien have advance knowledge that James O’Keefe would be sending his associates to obtain New Hampshire primary ballots using the names of deceased voters? Did he get a sneak preview of the video before it was made public? Writing in The Lobby, the anonymous “Mr. Snitch” suggests he did.
Bully’s sure been busy now that the session is in full swing. So busy, in fact, you’d think he wouldn’t have the time to act as a production consultant with James O’Keefe, conservative activist, pretend journalist and Mama’s Boy (what else do you call a 27-year-old male son who still lives at home, nicely ensconced in Mom-and-Pop’s North Jersey manse, Snitcherinos?)
Turns out Jimmy the Jerk, a convicted felon BTW, gave Bully a heads up on his little voter fraud skit. Explains why Bully was all set with his righteous indignation sound bites for Channel 9 after the video magically appeared.
The title of the Keene Sentinel editorial reviewing the James O’Keefe voter fraud gotcha video gets right to the point: “Right-wingers try a new tactic to justify suppressing the vote.”
The piece warns against using the stunt to justify legislation that would restrict voting rights and nails House Speaker Bill O’Brien for asserting that the revelations threaten the New Hampshire primary.
He saw fit to inflate his cause with this hot air: “I’m afraid — I hope it doesn’t come down to this — it challenges our first-in-the-nation primary position.”
If the state ever does lose its presidential primary status, the Speaker can rest assured that revelations by gotcha-video actors posing as dead people won’t be the reason; more likely a cause would be the existence of a law that suppresses the vote of people who are still alive.
“We know it was a bad week for the House speaker, what with his Newt Gingrich endorsement fizzling out and all. But did he really endorse the garbage O’Keefe grinds out all to serve his voter ID agenda?”
— Jeff Feingold, Editor of New Hampshire Business Review, on state House Speaker Bill O’Brien.
State House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt today defended the James O’Keefe video in which O’Keefe’s associates secretly videotaped themselves receiving ballots using the names of recently deceased registered voters.
Bettencourt questioned those who have called for the perpetrators of the hoax to be prosecuted by pointing out they “didn’t actually illegally vote.”
His statement puts him at odds with other Republican officials including New Hampshire Republican State Committee Chairman Wayne MacDonald and Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas. “They should be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said Gatsas.
For the record, it is a violation of Federal law to procure a fraudulent ballot. “Actually illegally” voting is not required.
The New Hampshire primary is the latest target of James O’Keefe, the infamous right-wing videographer whose video stings have staged encounters with ACORN, Planned Parenthood and NPR.
The actors in O’Keefe’s latest escapade requested — and received — ballots yesterday using the names of registered voters who died in the last three months.
In one case, the plan was foiled by a Manchester Ward 9 voting supervisor who knew the man had recently died (but not that she was the victim of an elaborate hoax).
When the pretend voter noted he almost got away with fraud, Pilotte told him: “That would be on your conscience, not mine.”
O’Keefe — who was arrested in 2010 for attempting to tamper with phones in the New Orleans office of Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu — claimed, ”We used no misrepresentation and no false pretenses.”