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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag: voting rights

Massive Petition Fraud Roils GOP’s Michigan Governor Primary

The primary race for governor in Michigan proves once again that if there’s going to be election fraud happening, Republicans are going to be doing it. In this case, it’s five—five—Republicans who have been found to have turned in enough fraudulent signatures for the primary ballot to be disqualified. Among them is presumed frontrunner and former Detroit Police Chief James Craig. When conducting a review of qualifying petitions, the state Bureau of Elections staff “identified 36 petition circulators who submitted fraudulent petition sheets consisting entirely of invalid signatures.”

That leaves five candidates—half of the current field—without sufficient signatures to qualify for the Aug. 2 primary ballot, elections staff wrote. This is not a normal thing. At all. “[T]he Bureau is unaware of another election cycle in which this many circulators submitted such a substantial volume of fraudulent petition sheets consisting of invalid signatures, nor an instance in which it affected as many candidate petitions as at present.” That includes, again, petition sheets made up entirely of fraudulent signatures.

The five candidates the board found don’t have enough qualifying signatures, along with Craig, are Perry Johnson—a millionaire who has already spent millions of his own money in the primary so far—Michael Brown, Michael Markey Jr., and Donna Brandenburg. The board doesn’t make the final decision; the bipartisan Board of State Canvassers will meet on Thursday to consider the recommendation that the candidates are disqualified. If they end up tossed from the ballot, expect lawsuits.

The elections bureau “does not have reason to believe that any specific candidates or campaigns were aware of the activities of fraudulent-petition circulators,” staff wrote. They identified 30 individuals who submitted the fraudulent petitions for at least 10 campaigns, and six others who are accused of forging signatures for just one campaign. They are all apparently associated with the firm First Choice Contracting LLC, which is headed up by Michigan resident Shawn Wilmoth. According to a link to a news story included in a footnote in the report, Wilmoth was convicted on two counts of election fraud in 2011.

Michigan Democrats and one other Republican gubernatorial candidate, conservative Tudor Dixon, had filed complaints challenging the signatures. Dixon has a major endorsement in his race, by the way: the DeVos family. Dixon also had enough qualifying signatures: 29,041 valid signatures, 199 invalid signatures. However, the fraud was discovered by the elections bureau in their usual verification processes, not as a result of those complaints.

Johnson, the self-funder, is attacking Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and the signature gatherers both. Campaign consultant John Yob released a statement saying the “staff of the Democrat secretary of state does not have the right to unilaterally void every signature obtained by the alleged forgers who victimized five campaigns.” Which isn’t how this works anyway; the four-person bipartisan canvassers board decides that. “We strongly believe they are refusing to count thousands of signatures from legitimate voters who signed the petitions and look forward to winning this fight before the board, and if necessary, in the courts.”

Candidates for governor need at least 15,000 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot, with 100 from each congressional district. Johnson submitted 13,800 valid signatures, with 9,393 invalid. Craig had 10,192 valid signatures, and 11,113 invalid ones. All in all, the 36 petition circulators submitted 68,000 invalid signatures.

The petition circulators apparently used outdated voter lists to find names, meaning that there were lots of dead voters on the petitions, as well as outdated addresses for voters. The elections board also noted that many of the sheets were too pristine, showing no signs of being exposed to weather, folded, scuffed, or passed among hundreds of hands. Some sheets looked like they had been “round-tabled,” or passed around a group of individuals with every person signing one line on the sheet “in an attempt to make the handwriting and signatures appear authentic and received from actual voters.”

The staff of the elections bureau checked petitions for all the races and found two identical sheets submitted for two different judicial candidates. So Wilmoth’s people didn’t even try particularly hard to obfuscate the fact that they were committing fraud.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

When Worries Haunt Jim Clyburn, It's Time To Fear For  America

When I interviewed House Majority Whip James Clyburn in 2014 about his memoir Blessed Experiences: Genuinely Southern, Proudly Black, the South Carolina Democrat was confident in America’s ability to find its way, no matter how extreme the political swings might appear at any given time.

“The country from its inception is like the pendulum on a clock,” the congressman told me. “It goes back and forward. It tops out to the right and starts back to the left — it tops out to the left and starts back to the right.” And remember, he said, it “spends twice as much time in the center.”

I have always appreciated Clyburn’s wisdom, his passion, and his commitment to his constituents. But most of all, I have admired the optimism of this child of the South, who grew up hemmed in by Jim Crow’s separate and unequal grip, yet who believed in the innate goodness of America and its people. Clyburn put his own life on the line to drag the country — kicking and screaming — into a more just future.

He was convinced, I believe, that no matter how off balance America might become, the country would eventually right itself.

A lot has changed since that afternoon, when he sat at a long table, signing books and chatting in the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture in Charlotte, North Carolina, right beside his beloved wife. Emily Clyburn, a passionate civil rights activist, died in 2019, though Clyburn often references her wise words.That optimism, however, has lost its glow.

Clyburn’s worries drove our conversation in July 2021, the second of two times he was a guest on my CQ Roll Call “Equal Time” podcast. The topic was voting rights, and Clyburn had opinions about the Senate procedure that would eventually stall legislation to reform those rights and restore provisions invalidated by a Supreme Court decision in 2013.

“When it comes to the constitutional issues like voting, guaranteed to Blacks by the 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution, that should not be filibustered,” he said. And about restrictive laws being passed in states? “I want you to call it what it is. Use the word: nullification. It is voter nullification.”

“This isn’t about just voting; this is about whether or not we will have a democracy or an autocracy.”

With those remarks in the back of my mind, it was still startling to hear Clyburn last week on MSNBC, talking about his GOP House colleagues, including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, and their waffling about complying with subpoenas from the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack.

When asked if the government and Capitol Hill could “be fixed,” Clyburn, known for his philosophical “this too shall pass” mantra, instead replied, “I don’t know.” He talked about threats to undermine democracy and said the country is “teetering on the edge.”

And that was before the shooting in Buffalo that claimed the lives of ten beautiful Americans doing something as routine as Saturday supermarket shopping. African Americans were targeted by an 18-year-old who wore his “white supremacist” label like a badge of honor in a heavily plagiarized racist screed, a man whose stated goal was to “kill as many blacks as possible.”

Is it any wonder Clyburn’s optimism has been waning in these times?

Among Clyburn’s current House colleagues sits Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, the number three House Republican, whose Facebook ads echoed the “replacement” conspiracy theory swallowed hook, line and sinker by the Buffalo shooter. “Radical Democrats are planning their most aggressive move yet: a PERMANENT ELECTION INSURRECTION,” was one message shared by the once moderate congresswoman, who replaced Wyoming Republican Liz Cheney in House leadership.

Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) has said many Americans believe “we’re replacing national-born American — native-born Americans — to permanently transform the political landscape of this very nation.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), someone you can always count on to say and do the very worst thing, has co-signed the near nightly rantings of a Fox News host, once tweeting, “Tucker Carlson is CORRECT about Replacement Theory as he explains what is happening to America.”

While most Republican House members skirt the edges of the most incendiary claims, you don’t hear them loudly denouncing or disavowing them.

The accused Buffalo shooter was straightforward in his intentions as he found heroes in the racist and conspiracy-driven murderers who have cut a hateful swath through Norway, New Zealand, El Paso, Pittsburgh and Clyburn’s own home state of South Carolina, at places of worship, whether they be church, synagogue, or mosque.

The problem is much deeper than the availability of guns, and it didn’t surface in just the past few years, though the Obama family in the White House woke those uncomfortable with an evolving country and President Donald Trump cannily dug into a “Make America Great Again” slogan that looked back, not forward.

An accurate reading of history might have taught the shooter that scapegoating African Americans for his own emptiness and rot is not new, and that online conspiracies crumble when bombarded with truth. But many of the same people dismissing Saturday’s planned killing spree as the aberrant act of a disaffected and deranged “youth” would replace real history with rose-colored propaganda in the nation’s classrooms. Many Americans could use an education when polls show a third of them — and nearly half of Republicans — buy into the “replacement” lie.

It was the ugly truth, not fantasy, when President Joe Biden on Tuesday became counselor in chief, a role I’m sure he wishes he never had to play. When he and first lady Dr. Jill Biden traveled to Buffalo, the president blessedly took the time to note each individual — beloved wives and husbands, daughters and sons, brothers and sisters — emphasizing the humanity a shooter wanted to erase.

“In America, evil will not win, I promise you. Hate will not prevail. White supremacy will not have the last word,” he proclaimed.

But when it’s stoked by the rhetoric of fear and blame of the other, hate too often finds a way.

Maybe that is what’s haunting Clyburn, hero and longtime fighter, because he has seen so much. Now, when democracy is at stake, where will the pendulum stop?

Reprinted with permission from Roll Call.

Mary C. Curtis has worked at The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, and The Charlotte Observer, as national correspondent for Politics Daily, and is currently a senior facilitator with The OpEd Project. Follow her on Twitter @mcurtisnc3.

Trump’s Georgia Rally Drew Only 5000 — And Some Kooky Candidates

Saturday evening, former failed President Trump was in Commerce, Georgia, for a rally. Trump’s mouthpiece claimed the crowd was “massive,” and that the “Fake News Media” didn’t show it. But local reporters from Georgia say the gathering was scant and similar to others held across the state recently.

Greg Bluestein, a politics reporter from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, tweeted: “This is the smallest crowd I’ve seen at a rally of his in Georgia since he won the 2016 election—significantly smaller than the crowd in Perry [Georgia] in September.”

Georgia Public Broadcasting reporter Stephen Fowler tweeted: “It’s almost time for Trump to speak here in Georgia and there’s probably no more than 5,000 people here, the smallest Trump rally I’ve ever covered here. Way less than the Perry rally in 2021 (closer to 10k).”

Trump was in Georgia to stump for a bunch of Republican primary candidates. But, mostly he spent his time ravaging Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger for their lack of support in overturning his loss in 2020 to President Joe Biden.

"You know what, if Kemp wins, I think Herschel Walker is going to be very seriously and negatively impacted because Republicans that happen to like Donald Trump—MAGA Republicans—are not going to go and vote for this guy Kemp," Trump said Saturday. "And if they don't vote for Kemp, they're not going to be able to vote for a great man right there, Herschel Walker. And we don't want that to happen. So a vote for Brian Kemp, RINO, in the primary is a vote for a Democrat senator who shouldn't be in the Senate."

And Trump’s tone set the tone for the evening. GOP candidate after GOP candidate slammed Kemp and alleged a stolen election.

Gubernatorial candidate David Perdue chummed the audience with the old standby conspiracy that the “elections were absolutely stolen.”

Of course, the blame was placed directly on the shoulders of Gov. Kemp, even stoking the crowd with a promise that if he wins the governor's seat, he would send “whoever was responsible” for the alleged theft to “jail.” The MAGA crowd went wild, and began shouting, “Lock him up!”

Perdue wasn’t alone in using the Big Lie to rile up Trump supporters for 2024, true deplorable Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green referred to Vice President Kamala Harris as “supposed” and Sen. Burt Jones, who’s running for lieutenant governor, declared a ban on ballot drop boxes and an end to “cursed Dominion machines,” according to the AJC.

Even virtually unknown John Gordon, who is challenging Chris Carr for Attorney General insisted that if elected, he would open an investigation into the 2020 presidential election.

“We are going to uncover the facts, we will expose the truth and we are going to hold the people responsible accountable,” Gordon ranted, per the AJC. “It will never happen again.”

Despite the fact that some in the Republican party have suggested that it’s in fact time to move on from the Big Lie, it seems like it remains a requisite in order to keep Trump’s support. Ask GOP candidate for Senate in Alabama, Mo Brooks.

Brooks mentioned his desire to move past Trump’s loss in 2020, prompting the petty former president to pull support of him.

According to one AJC reporter, the mini-crowd Saturday only really roared to life when the candidates decried Kemp and cited the bogus conspiracy of a stolen election.

“I’m doing my research, but I know I’m backing Perdue. Kemp threw Trump under the bus after the election,” Dale Branham, a teacher from Sandy Springs, told the AJC. “Everyone else who watched what went on knew what was going on. And David Perdue never doubted what happened.”

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

'I've Never Missed A Vote':Texas Voter Suppression Laws Screws Over WW2 Veteran Voter

Here’s a headline Texas Republicans probably weren’t looking for when they passed SB1, their voter suppression law: "‘I’ve never missed a vote’: 95-year-old World War II Veteran says his mail-in ballot application has been denied twice due to new requirements.”

“I’ve been voting many, many years and I’ve never missed a vote,” Kenneth Thompson told local news reporter Taisha Walker. He’s been voting so long he paid a poll tax. (The official kind that’s now been replaced with endless and sometimes costly hoops to jump through.) But Texas Republicans have jeopardized Thompson’s unbroken record.

Voters asking for a mail ballot are now required to include a partial Social Security number or driver’s license number on the ballot application—and that number has to match what’s on their registration record. But when Kenneth Thompson registered to vote in the 1940s, voter registrations did not include those numbers, so he literally cannot provide the information required. There is no number that would match his voter registration. As a result, his ballot application was denied twice, even after his daughter contacted both county and state officials to try to get the issue resolved.

“We know it’s a new law, we’re happy to correct it,” Thompson’s daughter, Delinda Holland, said. “He’s a law-abiding citizen. He doesn’t want to miss voting, and yet, there’s no mechanism to add that driver’s license to your record.”

Instead, Holland finally re-registered her father—after he’d been voting for more than seven decades—to ensure that he’d be eligible to vote. He says if he doesn’t get a mail ballot, he will vote in person, but he’s concerned about people for whom that’s not an option.

”I can get out and move around and go to a regular polling place, but these people, lots of people just can’t.”

Elderly white men who served in World War II are not who Texas Republicans were aiming to disenfranchise with this law. But the fact that they cast a net broad enough to catch at least one such person shows how many voters are going to run into problems—problems that in the case of people in groups that lean Democratic are fully intentional. A new analysis by Mother Jones showed that a Georgia law similarly aimed at making it more difficult to vote worked as planned, leading to dramatic increases in the number of mail ballot applications and mail ballots rejected in the state’s 2021 municipal elections. Texas appears to be on track for the same stellar results.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Mitch McConnell Says Republicans Will Do 'Fine' With  Black Voters In 2022

In an interview with CNN, GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell managed to impart one truism amid the web of fantasy he spun.

"I still say it's 50-50," McConnell said, handicapping the GOP's chances of retaking the Senate in November.

That seems close, if not a tad optimistic given the GOP’s emerging class of candidates. But other than that, McConnell said everything was going perfectly according to plan for Senate Republicans in 2022.

Donald Trump endorsing an alleged wife-beater for an open Pennsylvania Senate seat who was then forced to bow out after losing custody of his children? Perfect.

McConnell being forced to bow to Trump's wishes on endorsing alleged wife-beater and violence-prone former football star Herschel Walker? Just swell.

Trump sparring with McConnell-aligned Senate Republicans over whether he actually lost the 2020 election? No worries.

McConnell just wanted to make one minor tweak to Trump's Big Lie—which is now the central organizing feature of Trump’s entire life.

"It's important for candidates to remember we need to respect the results of our democratic process unless the court system demonstrates that some significant fraud occurred that would change the outcome," McConnell said.

Righto. All those GOP candidates running around courting Trump's endorsement by spewing election fraud lies should keep that small reframe in mind.

Asked if he was worried that the united GOP front against passing federal voting protections might hinder Republicans' appeal to Black voters, McConnell scoffed.

"I think I can pretty confidently say, we won't lose any elections over that issue, anywhere in the country," McConnell said. "I mean, the thought that a single Senate race in America would be decided over that issue strikes me as being wildly out of touch with what the American people are interested in."

Demonstrating once again that McConnell doesn't exactly consider Black Americans to be Americans.

Because there was that historic election a year ago when Georgians voted the state's first-ever Black senator, Rev. Raphael Warnock, into office. Seems like Black voters in Georgia, among others, might be interested in the voting rights issue. That's "a single Senate race in America" that could prove consequential, is it not?

Basically, the entire interview was a lesson in the fact that no one should take McConnell's proclamations about the upcoming elections and the state of the GOP too seriously. He's shoveling just as much crap as Trump.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Spurs’ Coach Popovich Dunks On GOP, Manchin And Sinema Over Voting Rights

The fact that not everyone in Texas is a far-right Republican was evident on Sunday, January 23, when San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich was interviewed by reporters and spoke his mind about voting rights — slamming not only Republicans, but also, two centrist Democrats: Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

Before the Spurs’ game against the Philadelphia 76ers — the basketball team known for everyone from Julius Erving, a.k.a. Dr. J., to Allen Iverson — the 72-year-old Popovich told reporters:

“As many have said, it’s been time, it’s past time for hardball. The Republican Senate will just not participate, they just will not. So, whatever can be done needs to be done. And Sinema and Manchin, they get it, but they don’t get it. They know what’s going on. They understand. But there are more important things to them, and it’s damn selfish and dangerous to our country," said Popvich.

Although Manchin and Sinema have voiced their support for voting rights — Manchin has pushed the Freedom to Vote Act as an alternative to the more comprehensive For the People Act — they are adamantly opposed to altering the filibuster, which requires 60 votes for most legislation to pass. And Democrats, with their narrow Senate majority, don’t have 60 votes.

Some voting rights activists have proposed a compromise to Manchin and Sinema: keep the filibuster on the whole, but create an exception for voting rights. Manchin and Sinema, however, are even opposed to that.

Popovich, who is vehemently opposed to the voter suppression bills being proposed by Republicans in state legislators, told reporters, “It’s ironic, but as much as the community of color has been oppressed and denigrated, those are the people who try to save this damn country from itself. It’s just ironic to me.”

Popovich continued, “Every time we take steps forward, you get the backlash. The fact that the voting rights issue is in the situation it’s in is just mind-boggling to me in one sense, because we’ve already gone through this back in the ‘60s — and we know what the Supreme Court did earlier in gutting it. But it's like, we don’t get it. It’s like, maybe there wouldn’t be a democracy if it wasn’t for Black people.”

Popovich, a U.S. Air Force veteran, has been the Spurs’ coach since 1996.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Mitch McConnell Goes Full-Blown Jim Crow On Voting Rights (VIDEO)

While Americans were attuned to the Senate's seemingly doomed voting right's bill--failing to advance in a 48-52 vote due to fake Democrats Sinema and Manchin--Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell delivered a speech reminiscent of George Wallace in the old segregated south when he essentially deemed African-American voters as not "real" Americans.

In a video that has since gone viral, McConnell addresses the press about the voting rights bill, calling the “concern” about minority voters having less access to the ballot box “misplaced.”

"If you look at the statistics, African-American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans, "said McConnell

McConnell appears to be molding himself into a less offensive Strom Thurmond or Jesse Helms, only far more calculating and savage. Either we impose term limits on these ancient old racists or we make sure they feel the pain at the ballot box. Oh wait, that was just made more difficult due to two cosplaying Democratic Senators' bizarre love affair with an outdated Senatorial procedure that a majority of voters want to be eliminated.