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Legal Fights Deepen On Voting Problems, Solutions

Legal Fights, Policy Debates Deepen Over Voting Problems and Solutions

The divisions over what's wrong in America's elections are deepening on the eve of what may be the biggest turnout in decades

By Steven Rosenfeld, Alternet
Posted October 29, 2008

For full story see…
Legal Fights, Policy Debates Deepen Over Voting Problems and Solutions

With one week to go before the 2008 presidential election, the differences between the political left and right over what is wrong in American elections – and the solutions for Election Day – may be at their most stark and divisive in decades.

On the political right, led by Republican officials and officeholders, is an ever-increasing drumbeat that illegal voters are poised to steal the election. This claim is not hyperbole, but the opening line of a new radio ad by the Ohio Republican Party that began airing Tuesday. Meanwhile, in Lake County, Illinois, a Chicago suburb, the Illinois Republican Party is suing to force all voter registration forms turned in by a low income advocacy group – not ACORN – to be separated, flagged and treated as a second-class of ballots that would have to be validated after Election Day before being counted.

The legal action comes after Lake County Clerk, Willard Helander, a Republican, said that she had received about 1,000 questionable voter registrations from this group, in a county with 400,000 registered voters. Nevermind that the number of voter registrations in question, at least when Helander was interviewed two weeks ago, was .25 percent of her county’s total voters, or as Stephen Weir, President of the California Association of Clerks and Elected Officials, said in a recent e-mail, for registration drives the “rough rule of thumb, (is) 44 percent are new registrants, the others are change of name, change of party, change of address, and some are just duplicates.”

The point is that Republicans, first and foremost, see an American electorate that is more interested in voting than at any time since the civil rights era of the 1960s, and instead of embracing those voters, their response has been to demonize the citizenry, vilify voter registration groups, and go to court to create bureaucratic obstacles to block a free and fair vote.

On the center-left, led by voting rights groups whose philosophical roots are in the civil rights movement, are lawyers and voting rights activists who believe that the historic promise of American democracy is based on expanding the right to vote and engaging Americans in elections. Their priority is to ensure the widest possible voter turnout, especially among new voters. This places them at philosophical odds with today’s Republicans -- who are not exactly emulating the party of Lincoln.

These modern civil rights groups have been fighting -- and winning -- most court battles with the GOP in recent weeks over who can vote and which ballots will count. But there are new concerns in recent days that have overtaken their attention. Groups such as the NAACP, Advancement Project, Voter Action, Demos, and others now believe some swing states are not prepared to accommodate a big turnout on Election Day. Moreover, when scrutinizing plans -- such as voting machine and poll worker assignments and new voter registration data -- they see many instances of white communities receiving a disproportionate share of resources when compared to minorities.

For full story see…
Legal Fights, Policy Debates Deepen Over Voting Problems and Solutions


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