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Shelby County v. Holder could be the biggest civil rights case of our time

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case on February 27th.

Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is under attack by conservatives. Section 5 requires that states “preclear” any changes to voting “qualifications or prerequisite to vote, or standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting” within “covered jurisdictions.” This preclearance goes through the Justice Department or a three judge panel of the U.S. District Court of D.C. to make sure that these new changes are not discriminatory practices towards minority voters.

Conservatives are bringing the argument that the Voting Rights Act, specifically Section 5, is antiquated and outdated, but this could not be further from the truth. Section 5 is a flexible mechanism that has evolved and adapted over time to continue to serve as a remedy for voter disenfranchisement. Look no further than the recent stories coming out of Texas and South Carolina.

Progressives can take solace in knowing that precedent is on our side. The Voting Rights Act has been under attack by conservatives since it was passed and it has already been upheld four times by the Supreme Court in prior cases. Not only is precedent on our side, but facts are on our side. Discrimination still happens. Political tactics to suppress the votes of minorities still occur. Jurisdictions that are covered under this Act have demonstrated a strong enough history of implementing discriminatory restrictions on voting to be included. It is not picking on any one state or just Southern states; portions of California, New Hampshire, and even New York are also covered by the Voting Rights Act. This Act serves as way to protect voters from such disenfranchisement. If we wait for them to pass their discriminatory laws first and then go after it in the courts, people have already been disenfranchised. That doesn’t make sense.

It is important that we all fully understand what is at stake here and stand together demonstrating why keeping this Act in place is so vital to keeping a true and fair democracy. We cannot afford to allow ourselves to move backwards in civil and voting rights. And we will continue to stand strong against any and all attempts of conservatives to suppress the votes of anybody.

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Virginia GOP Continues Their Assault on Voters

New laws passed in the state legislature to make it more
difficult for Virginians to vote.

Virginia’s state legislature has moved forward on Voter ID bills that will make it harder for the average voter to cast their ballot. The most current bill passed eliminates several currently-valid forms of Voter ID’s. This includes a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck that shows the name and address of the voter, or even a social security card. This is the third Voter ID bill in the past couple of years for the GOP-led state.

If every time a voter goes to the polls there is a new change, how are they going to know what they need to cast their vote? GOP state Reps and Senators have consistently rebuffed any effort in voter education efforts to keep people informed on such activity calling it a “waste of taxpayer dollars.” However, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling sided with Democrats in delaying implentation until July 1, 2014 to give an appropriate amount of time to get out and spread the word to voters of these new policies.

These bills are clearly another conservative attempt to suppress votes and make casting a ballot in elections more difficult. Why is it so important for the GOP to continue to make it more and more difficult for people to vote? What is the absolute necessity to continue to create more added confusion at the polls?

Voting is our established, constitutional right; It should be easy. It is already difficult enough to take time off of work and stand in the unnecessary long lines to make this happen. Voters don’t need added hoops to jump through.

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No room for dirty politics!

Reince Priebus and the RNC have pushed hard for swing states to change the way they allocate their Electoral College votes to favor the GOP’s nominee. However, Governor McDonnell and two Republican state Senators have publically stated their opposition to the measure in Virginia. As such, it seems that this bill will die in committee and not be brought to the floor for a vote.

In other news, the GOP state Senate majority leader, Randy Richardville, has also spoken out against similar legislation being proposed in the Michigan state House. Lund has publically stated, "I don't know that the system now is broken. So I don't know that we need to fix it," and that changing the system is not on the state Senate's agenda. Gov. Snyder had recently stated that he was "open minded" to changing the way the state of Michigan allocated its EC votes, but as of today has begun backtracking from that comment. On BloombergTV he has spoken out saying that, he is now "very skeptical" of the proposed legislation and doesn't think now is the appropriate time for it. He went on to say that the Electoral College should reflect the vote of the people and that, "this could challenge that."

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AV IN HUFFINGTON POST: Stealing the White House One Gerrymander at a Time

Joan Fitz-Gerald speaks out against the GOP's threat to hijack the White House.Read her new piece in the Huffington Post here.A special thanks to friend of AV, Chrstine Pelosi, for the re-tweet:

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GOP stages coup of Washington state Senate

Republican state Senators in Washington managed to grab the mantle of power from Democrats by convincing two Democratic Senators to cross party lines and caucus with them.

State Senators Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon have entered into an unholy alliance with the GOP on promises of power in this new 25-24 majority. Tom is the new majority leader and Sheldon has become president pro tempore. This new majority is calling themselves the Majority Coalition Caucus and says they are doing this in order to create “bipartisan solutions” for the state.

Democratic Senate leaders are calling this farce for what it is: BINO; “Bipartisan In Name Only.” The new 2013 legislation session has already begun divisively because this is not a move about creating actual solutions, but rather a power grab by Republicans to keep Democrats and progressives from moving forward with the agenda that they were elected on.

Democratic leaders have already moved forward with purging Tom and Sheldon from their websites and databases and pledging zero percent support for their re-election.

Democrats were elected into a majority to push forward with real progressive ideas. The voters should be able to depend on their electors to stand on what they ran on. For these two state Senators to go against this merely for the sake of holding a title shows exactly how little respect they have for their party, their own values, and true progress for the state of Washington.

As far as Senators Tom and Sheldon are concerned, they should enjoy their reign of “power” while they can. Elections for the state legislative body happen every two years in Washington, and progressives will be ready to take these seats back.

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A Win for the Middle Class in Wisconsin

Today, Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos stated that he would not push for a "Right to Work for Less" bill during the upcoming legislative session.

State Democratic and union leaders were worried that after the passing of the terrible legislation that ended collective bargaining rights for unions, that Republican leadership would push to make Wisconsin a "right to work" state.

Vos put our minds at ease, for now. It appears the state GOP doesn't want a recurrance of the bad publicity and protests that occured last time as we get closer to the 2014 Governor race.

Republicans may be trying to paint themselves as bipartisan for now, but we all know the truth. Their policies hurt the middle class.

America Votes will continue to work with our partners to fend off any chance of "right to work" legislation in the state and continue our pursuit for progressive goals for all citizens of Wisconsin.

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The Loss of Civility in Modern Politics

Speaker Boehner tells Senator Harry Reid to “Go f--- himself!”

The “f-bomb” is no stranger to modern politics these days, but there comes a point where a little tact is necessary. The recent episode of John Boehner going off on Sen. Reid shows just how ugly and partisan the Republican Party has become. One might excuse such an occurrence were it just this one time, but there are multiple disgusting examples of how the GOP holds zero amount of respect for the opposition party.

Remember the Tea Party rallies on Capitol Hill where protestors were spitting on Democratic members of Congress and using racial and homophobic slurs? Remember the infamous “You lie!” outburst from Joe Wilson during Obama’s 2009 Presidential Address?

Republicans all over the country use their buzz words of “fascist” and “socialist” to describe our President. They prey upon people’s fears of change in order to stymie any real attempt at true progress. When you truly look at the people that represent the leadership within the national Republican Party, you should ask yourself this question, “What does a party of fear, hate, and arrogance have to offer me?”

We need to come back to civility and be able to remain humble when things do not always go the way we want. One does not have to say everything that comes to mind. There is no real excuse for rude outbursts and public displays of disdain. 

The American people should tell the GOP that they have had enough of the playground antics and to get to work to help create real solutions for tomorrow. They need to be able to come together with Democrats, sit at the table respectfully, share their ideas and be willing to make realistic compromises. We have to be able to work together in order to continue to move our country forward.

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The GOP’s Plan to Destroy the Electoral College

GOP leaders want to do away with the popular vote in awarding states’ Electoral College (EC) votes and replace it with a gerrymandered map created by state legislators.

As of right now, there are only two states that don’t award their EC votes on a winner-takes-all basis -- Maine and Nebraska. Instead, they allocate their votes by Congressional districts. Republicans are now making a push for the swing states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan to follow suit.

Conservatives have acknowledged that demographics are no longer on their side, and in a move that can only be seen as extreme desperation, they are ready to play dirty. By having complete control of these states’ governments, they are ready to move forward with this power grab to change the course of Presidential elections as we know it.

The GOP lost the national popular vote for their House candidates by more than one million votes, yet still maintained control of the chamber. This was only possible through extreme gerrymandering of Congressional districts -- squeezing all urban areas into smaller districts, while creating huge sprawling rural districts where less people live. These tactics not only decrease the voices of the majority, but give underrepresentation to them as well.

Now, they want to use these unfair and misappropriated maps in the Presidential elections.

Republican leaders should be working towards building a more inclusive platform for their party, but instead are busy with dirty politics as usual. Fair warning: there will be political fallout should they attempt to push these measures through. Not only will we as progressives work to fight against them, but we will be on the frontline banging the battle drum.

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Thank you!

We want to say "thank you" to our partners, donors and friends who may this year's Post-Election Summit such a great success.

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Enough is Enough

First, the GOP says there is left-wing bias in the media so they create Fox News. Then, they say all the polls are biased so they create Now, there is a growing movement of them that are unhappy with the election results and are signing petitions for their states to leave the Union. When does the madness stop?

When conservatives don’t like reality, they create their own.

Wanting to secede from the United States is not only disrespectful to the office of the presidency but it is highly disrespectful to the country itself, our troops that serve to protect this country and every citizen that resides within. That kind of attitude is unpatriotic and downright un-American. Thankfully, only a little over 35,000 people have signed the Texas petition out of over 25 million people that reside in the state.

One person does not speak for many; neither does a minority speak for a majority. Within a democracy, the majority rules and here the majority has clearly spoken. Republican ideas were once again rejected and progress has won out. But the time has come for these silly parlor games and extreme bitterness and anger to end. We need real solutions to our nation’s problems. We need cooperation and togetherness, not obstruction and divisiveness. If we work together, we can continue to prove what makes this country so great and that we can work through our differences and continue to make it better.

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