How Republicans plan to purge more voters from rolls for 2018 and 2020.

By Jacinta Quesada – This image is from the FEMA Photo Library., Public Domain

Also published on Crooks & Liars and Liberal, Progressive Democrat News. http://crooksandliars.com/2017/02/heres-how-republicans-plan-purge-more

After 9/11, the Bush administration began working on the implementation of a national ID. Its stated purpose was to assist national security agencies in better enabling them to identify terrorists. Though I fail to see how an ID will help them identify terrorists when many attacks in the U.S. are committed by Americans. Nonetheless, the result was a project supported by the conservative think tank, The Heritage Foundation, called the REAL ID Act.

Though the deadline for states to comply has been extended in the past, there is no reason to believe that it will be extended again. About half of the states are already in compliance, and they just happen to be red states. As of January 22, 2018, you will have to have one of these IDs. To obtain this new federal ID, you will need:

  • a valid photo ID or non-photo ID that shows your full legal name and birth date
  • your social security card
  • your birth certificate
  • proof of citizenship (it does not say what this means or why it is needed)
  • two forms of proof of residence such as a utility bill and phone bill

Your state is then required by law to digitally photocopy all of the above documents and attach them to your file. This file is then legally required to be shared with all other states and the federal government to include all government agencies.

Anything that requires a photo ID will require this federal ID. That means you will need one to drive, to fly, obtain a marriage license, to fish, hunt, buy a gun, to rent a car, a hotel room, to buy a cell phone, open a bank account, to apply for a job, buy cold medicine and other prescriptions, go to the hospital, adopt, enroll your kid in school, visit a military base and to visit your representative’s office in D.C. You will also be unable to apply for welfare, food stamps, unemployment, medicaid, medicare or social security without obtaining this new ID.

The REAL ID Act is an unfunded law. This means that states will be required to foot the bill for changing all IDs to federal IDs. And since states are funded by taxpayers, you will have to pay higher fees for those new licenses and ID cards. If you are like me, you will also have to pay for this new ID even though your current one is not expired.

For the most part, the new IDs will look similar to your old one and contain the same information. The difference is in the bar code. All your information will be stored in this bar code to include every time it was swiped and where. The federal government will know every time you rent a hotel room, where and for how long. They will know if you own guns, how many and of what type. The federal government will know what type of meds you take and why. They will be able to track your purchases and movements each and every day.

The real purpose of the REAL ID Act:

At the moment, feds are claiming they won’t be used for voting, but then why collect information on your citizenship if it’s not going to be used for voting purposes? And like I said, most terrorist attacks in the U.S. have been committed by U.S. citizens. Make no mistake, this is one of the main purposes of this federal ID. It was put forth by the party that claims to want less government, less regulations and red tape. But that is only for their businesses and not for citizens. When it comes to voters, the Republican Party and The Heritage Foundation have long touted that less voters means more republicans win.

Mark my words, this is how they will purge voter roles in 2018 and 2020. The 2018 midterms are in November so this ID could be required for that election. The poor, elderly, and minority voters will not be allowed to vote because they could not obtain these new federal IDs. All this time, we thought the closing of DMV centers in black and poor districts was to make it hard to register to vote. That may have been a side benefit, but the actual purpose was to make it as difficult as possible to obtain these new IDs that will be required to vote.

Welcome to the United States of Not So Free After All.

To see if your state has yet complied, go to https://www.dhs.gov/real-id-enforcement-brief.

How to Beat Republicans at Their Own Game

I’m worn out. Trying to keep up with *45 and every ludicrous policy that comes out of his mouth or his stubby little fingers is exhausting. Then add to that his army of evil minions and the greedy, power hungry Republicans in the legislature that would sell not only their souls but their first born to maintain power, and we liberals are starting to feel like we’re swimming upstream with a tractor tire tied to our legs. And they just keep adding to that weight. From nominees that have numerous conflicts of interest and Republican attempts to hide them by limiting the confirmation process, to immigration bans on Muslims, pulling funding from women’s health programs, Russian hacking, *45’s tax returns, violations of Emoluments Clause, pay for play schemes and…and…ughhhh! I need a Valium and a latte.

It’s almost as if they planned it this way. Hmmmm? What to do. What to do.

When I remove my emotions, my anxiety from the onslaught, I see one thing. Regardless of what the opposition is doing, we are being forced into a defensive, reactionary position. This is not a good place to be in since it inhibits action and growth. When you are in this position, all of your energy goes to trying to hold the line. Nothing is left over for a proactive, forward thinking strategy.

Don’t get me wrong. There is a need to work the defensive line. We have to have a defense. Marching for women’s rights and immigrant rights is fundamental to who we are as Democrats, liberals and progressives. It is vital to loudly address the blatant abuse of power we find ourselves in today. Protesting is an American right. It is the one thing politicians are forced to listen to. Consistent, vocal and demonstrative protests force action. Republicans can pass all the laws they want and hide in their offices disconnecting their phones, but they cannot stop the protests. They cannot stop thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of protesters. Let them try. And when their jails are full, they’ll be thousands more to take their place. Besides, being arrested for protesting is on my bucket list anyhow.

By FrigeEnterprises – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

But like any decent sports team, we have to develop an offensive strategy as well. Plus, marching and protesting isn’t everyone’s bag of chips. Some are afraid to protest publicly, and rightly so. We are just steps away from local police becoming immigration agents. If you are not white, public protesting can have a significant risk. Yes it is racist and wrong, but that is the fact of where we are in this country right now.

If you find being on defense all the time too stressful, join the offense. It might not be as sexy as marching with thousands of people, but it is equally if not more important. This is the grunt work that takes dedication and commitment.

The number one most important task for our offensive strategy has to be voting. Nothing will change if we don’t regain control of at least one of the legislative houses. Ideally of course we want both. We must hold our currently elected officials responsible for maintaining a defensive position in regards to new voting restrictions. Any and all laws regarding voting rights put forward by Republicans will be met with a strong, united Democratic front.

The second part of the plan, the offensive part, involves getting Democrats out to actually vote. Since Republicans have rigged the system to disenfranchise our base, we have to construct a plan that works within their regulations. It is the Democratic Party’s responsibility, their mandate, to invest in a plan to make this happen. Districts where disenfranchisement has occurred must be identified. This is more than just sitting at the mall registering voters. Many of these districts, thanks to Republicans, only allow voters to register one day out of the month at a facility that is hundreds of miles away. Add to that ridiculous requirements of multiple forms of identification and other obstacles, and many voters just cannot make registration happen.

I am reminded of how civil rights workers ensured that African Americans were registered to vote in the south during the 1960’s and 1970’s. Today is no different. They worked within the system as it were and so will we today. Starting now, not next year, Democrats have to start organizing to get these people registered to vote. This means volunteers educated in what the registration requirements are for that state, and they must in turn inform voters of said requirements. A combination of using voter rolls and going door to door will identify those in need of assistance. Should voters not be able to get to the registrar of voters, the party will be required to provide assistance. I imagine a volunteer driving a van of those prospective voters on that one day out of the month. If a state law requires a state ID to register to vote and the voter cannot afford the fee, it could be paid for by donations from party members.

The Democratic Party must also develop a plan in regards to Republicans stripping liberal leaning districts of voting polls and actual voting machines. Legislatively our leaders must start putting forth two bills in regards to these blatantly prejudicial laws:

  1. A federal law requiring districts maintain a predetermined amount of polls and working machines per the percentage of voters within those districts is mandatory.
  2. A federal law is needed stating that any registered voter in line before posted closing hours is allowed to vote.

I realize these are not likely to pass the current Congress. However, I believe in the strategy of submitting bills regardless of their likelihood of passing. This will inform the American voters what exactly the Democratic Party stands for. It will also show them that the Republican Party does not want Americans to vote. Start calling and visiting your representatives and local Democratic Party office. Demand that they start submitting these two bills.

On election day 2018, “follow through” is the name of the game. Volunteers and organizers must be prepared to get people to the polls even if that means driving them there. They must also have a team in place at polling sites in these troubled, Republican manipulated districts. Any and all reports of voter disenfranchisement must be documented.

Go to your local Democratic Party office an volunteer to register voters.

Once we win back the legislature, we can begin the offensive strategy to undo all the damage *45 and the Republicans have done.

To Win, Dems Have to Revisit Voting Rights Act

I was never under the illusion that the Electoral College would save us from Dear Leader Trump. Much of our reaction as Dems has been a sort of knee jerk one. The simple truth that none of us can prevent is that he will become our 45th president. That is not to say we should just give up. There are serious issues being raised with his presidency even before he takes the oath that must be addressed. He will be impeachable due to his violation of the Emoluments Clause, his ties to foreign governments, the Russians hacking in order to assure him the presidency, etc. All need to be discussed at length. After all, Trump, like any other elected official, should be held accountable and scrutinized if he wants to hold the highest office in the land.

But none of those investigations will occur with this Republican held Congress. Modern day Republicans have proven time and again that they care little about America nor about working with the other party to make this country “great.” Their interests lie in obstructionist politics and are about power, money and control. But if Democrats want to start winning, and so far I’ve seen little evidence of this, they have to start working the long game. They have to start figuring out how to win elections. Republicans have been playing this long game since Reagan. Trump’s election is the result of 30 plus years of plotting, organizing and executing by groups like the Heritage Foundation and not some fly by night op.

One of the main areas Democrats need to work on is voting rights. Without it, they will always be pushing that boulder uphill. A reminder:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the

United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.” 1

Seems fairly straight forward to me, but racist legislatures being the jerks that they are, don’t think so. Oddly enough, these men were Democrats who were angry at the Lincoln Republicans for freeing slaves. (Yes, I admit that in the beginning Republicans were on the side of civil rights, but things have changed.) Once this Amendment was passed in 1870, they went to work establishing the Jim Crow laws. These laws, predominantly used in Southern states, implemented not only the “separate but equal” laws but voting restictions that were not only selectively enforced, but were biased against minorities. To vote, African Americans were required to pass literacy tests, prove they paid their taxes, not been in prison, etc. If that wasn’t enough, legislatures even purged voter rolls of minorities. A wee bit too familiar eh?

Yoichi Okamoto

Thanks to President Johnson, the Voter Rights Act was passed in 1965 to end all such minority voter disenfranchisement. Knowing that these racist state legislatures would continue to try and pass such laws, Section 5 stated that any proposed voting law would have to be approved by the Department of Justice before implemented. That didn’t stop them from trying though. Even as the parties switched sides, Democrats becoming more inclusive and championing minority rights while Republicans became more exclusive, Southern state legislatures and local governments continued to challenge the law.

In 2013, they finally won with Shelby v. Holder; a case that was not won in U.S. District or Appellant Courts but solely in the Supreme Court by a 5-4 margin. The court held that though Section 5’s preclearance was constitutional, the manner in which the federal government determined which states would be required to meet the standard, Section 4, was not. According to Chief Justice Roberts:

“There is no denying, however, that the conditions that originally justified these

measures no longer characterize voting in the covered jurisdictions.”

He based his decision on the most current Census Bureau statistics stating that African American voter turnout was larger in 5 out of the 6 states affected. In other words, Blacks were no longer afraid to vote, and legislatures were no longer racist.2

Really.

Within two hours of the court’s decision, Texas passed their first voter restriction, the voter ID requirement. Other states followed. It just so happened that all the states that the federal government had deemed in the past to be too racist to be trusted in regards to voters’ rights started working on their own voter restriction laws under the guise of protecting elections from voter fraud. Not one state has ever produced evidence of sufficient voter fraud to effect an election. Yet these states have passed a multitude of laws regarding who can and cannot vote: Texas, Arizona, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina….get the picture?

Voter ID is the most common restriction. The problem with this law is that not everyone can afford to pay for an ID. To deny someone their right to vote because of money is akin to the poll tax laws under Jim Crow. To combat this, some of these states have made it free. Fair enough, problem solved you say? Not so fast. These states then turned around and began closing their departments that issue said IDs and polling sites saying that it was in an effort to save money. Actually, it is just another way to keep minorities from voting. In state after state, the closures occurred in only districts with high Black or Hispanic populations, not in predominately white districts. Not only did voters have to travel as far as 250 miles (Texas) to obtain said ID, they then had to travel to other districts just to find their assigned polling stations.

Another common tactic used by these Republican legislatures is redistricting. This is occurring in both state and local governments. As an example, instead of having 10 districts with mixed populations, they are redrawn so that 8 or 9 of the districts contain majority whites and the remaining are Black or Hispanic. This leaves minority communities with less representation by diluting their vote. Some legislatures have even further divided white communities so as to give them more representatives on local councils and state legislatures.

Other tricks include changing polling sites at the last minute without notifying voters, moving elections from November to July, holding minority polling sites in police stations, eliminating same day registration and Sunday voting and only opening ID issuing offices one day a month. All of these have been statistically proven to reduce minority turn out. They have even changed the dates of elections just as was done under the Jim Crow laws.

As it stands now, the federal government is being required to challenge each and every law passed in court using valuable time and money to fight the same fight over and over. It’s the same plan Republicans use in regards to abortion: overwhelm the opposition in court battles. Meanwhile, the laws will stand until the cases work their way back through the courts only to end up with the same result. North Carolina’s recent debacle with their voter restriction laws is a prime example. North Carolina Republicans knew these laws were racist and didn’t even try to hide the fact before the court. The goal was simply to tie Democrats up in court and suppress their vote until after the 2016 election.

Democrats have more than enough ammunition to prove Justice Roberts wrong. Unfortunately, there is still one party willing to violate the 15th Amendment to control legislatures. There is no doubt that this is a blatantly racist tactic used by Republicans to gain control over local, state and federal elections. Republicans can and will continually challenge these laws. Democrats need to continually challenge these voter restriction laws and work to get Shelby v. Holder overturned no matter the costs. It does not matter if they lose. They must take a stand. If not, we will become a party of one.

This article was written in reference to: “History of the VRA,” The Leadership Conference, retrieved Dec. 20, 21016, www.civilrights.org.