Aug. 31, 2021

Voting Rights

Voting Rights

In this episode I go into the Voting Rights Issue, from the "For the People Act", which I talked about in a previous show, to the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.  I look at how far we have come in voting rights, from 1787 when only white, Anglo-Saxon, male, Protestant land owners could vote to the Supreme Court Case Shelby County v Holder.  I also look at claims of fraud or fake news or rigged elections which some in this country are using to stir up violence.

America should absolutely have free and fair elections.  I am 1,000% behind that idea.  But they have to be fair for everyone.  What does that look like?  It doesn't look like closing several polling stations in a particular county where the majority of the population is Black or Latin. 

Thank you for listening.  Let's talk about it, shall we?



Hello everyone and welcome to the Pork Pond Gazette,  I am your host Mike Rathbun.  We’re going to talk today about voting rights, but there's something I needed to get off my chest first and get it out of the way; and that's these protests at school board meetings. If any of you have had kids in sports; soccer, baseball,  t-bal, hockey, football whatever the case may be you know that parent right? The one that, like, will start a fight with your kid over a play at the plate in the parking lot after the game. Yeah these people that are showing up at school board meetings demanding that they have their kids medical freedoms and they don't want to allow masks and mandates that sort of thing these are those sports parents on steroids. It's crazy I've been watching it all for the last few months anyway, and you know, in a perfect world we shouldn't have to tell people to wear masks but we know how People are in this country we saw you when you protested against lockdowns and mask mandates last year and we know we can’t trust you to do the right thing without a mandate so you know I'm just tired of seeing these over dramatic people threatening the medical professionals. I mean the governor of, I want to say it was Maine, was followed out of a school board meeting by angry parents. Very, very in close, in yelling and screaming at him and this is ridiculous. If you people had behaved the way you were supposed to behave, if we could trust you to do the right thing, this stuff wouldn’t be necessary. So that's it that's all I'm going to say on that.

Okay I feel so much better y’all. Let's get into the show. There has been a lot of talk this year about voting rights. Thanks to the former presidents proof less claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election Republicans have rushed to create laws I'm doing air quotes here, air-quote alert. To protect the vote. This past Saturday though thousands marched in Washington DC to protest those laws and to make their voices heard concerning two bills that attempt to make voting if not easier at least more fair.  Back at the end of the episode, at of the end of March excuse me, I did an episode titled “For the People Act;  Good for the Country or Power Grab”  I spoke with a Democrat from Illinois and at that point it had just been introduced in the US House. Now the bill does a lot of things to make voting more open to people legally eligible to vote such as allowing more more early voting reducing gerrymandering and removing dark money or are quotes from political campaigns among other things the bill has passed the house and is languishing in the Senate and Republicans have vowed to use the filibuster to kill it. The same is true with the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.  But let's take a step back here and look at where we've come from in this country as far as voting rights are concerned. Now while it's not my intention, or the intention of the show, to deliberately anger anyone I am sure there are some who are currently running for election for school board in Anoka County Minnesota who will not appreciate this portion of the show because well, history.  

So to accomplish this look back I'm going to borrow the Wayback machine from Mr. Peabody and if you get that reference we should totally be friends. We're going to travel back to 1787 when the Constitution was ratified by 39 of 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention. At the time the Constitution left voting rights up to the states and for the most part  the states generally preserved for white, male, Protestants and landowners. So if you worked as a baker in town and had no land you didn't vote. In fact, when George Washington was elected as our first president only 6% of the population of America at the time voted. In the mid to late 18th century so  the 1780s 90s some states dropped the property requirement but held on to the tax requirement for voting. By the time of the 1820 election most of the older States had dropped the property qualification except for Rhode Island, Virginia and North Carolina. No new States had property requirements but 3 had tax-paying qualifications; Ohio Louisiana and Mississippi. only Louisiana's last He's only Louisiana's lasted any amount of time. In 1821 the state of New York held a constitutional convention where they removed property qualifications for white male voters but introduced a new requirement to own $250 of property over and above all debts. Specifically  for as, they called them, quote persons of color un-quote.  White male voters were required to pay a tax but this rule was struck down in 1826. In 1848 Mexicans living in US territories are declared citizens by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo although they were discouraged from voting. In 1870 the 15th Amendment to the Constitution says that states cannot withhold the right to vote on grounds of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. The shenanigans started soon after that. Southern States passed Jim Crow laws and amendments to make sure that black men had the hardest time possible voting I say black men because women regardless of color still could not vote in Most states.  These states used tactics such as poll taxes, paying of which was required before registering to vote, grandfather clauses which allowed for example those who were allowed to vote prior to the Civil War to not pay a poll tax or take a literacy or residency test which were other ways of keeping black men out of the polling booth. Poll taxes existed in many of these states until 1965.
In 1875, the Supreme Court ruled in
Minor V Happerstett  that while women are no less citizens than men are, citizenship does not confer a right to vote and therefore States laws barring women from voting are constitutionally valid.  In 1876 Native Americans are ruled as not American citizens and therefore ineligible to vote by the Supreme Court. In 1920 women are finally guaranteed the right to vote by the 19th Amendment to the Constitution although, to be fair, the same tactics used to prevent black men from voting were equally effective on black women.  That brings us to 1935 and the Grovey v. Townsend Supreme Court case. It was a decision that held a re-formulation of Texas’ White primary system to be constitutional.  The case was the third in a series of Court decisions known as the Texas primary cases.  The first one is Nixon vs Herndon, 1927, Lawrence A. Nixon sued for damages under federal civil rights laws after being denied a ballot in the Democratic Party primary election on the basis of race.  The court found in his favor on the basis of the 14th Amendment which guarantees equal protection under the law while not discussing his Fifteenth Amendment claim.  After Texas amended its statute to authorize the political parties State executive committee to set voting qualifications, Nixon sued again. In Nixon v Condon 1932 the court again found in his favor on the basis of the 14th Amendment.  The Democratic party of Texas State Convention then adopted a rule banning black voting in primary elections. R. R. Grovey, a black Texas resident, sued Townsend a county clerk enforcing the rule for violation of Grovey’s civil rights under the 14th and 15th Amendments.  The court unanimously upheld the party's rule as constitutional distinguishing the Discrimination by a private organization from that of the state in the previous primary cases.  In 1964 the polll tax payment was prohibited from being used as a condition of voting by the 24th Amendment to the Constitution. In 1965 Congress passed and President Lyndon Johnson sign the Voting Rights Act which protects voter registration and voting for minorities. In 1966 the Supreme Court struck down tax payments requirements in the state elections. 1982 President Ronald Reagan signs a 25 year extension of the Voter Rights Act.  1993 the national voter registration act passes and is meant to make voter registration available in more locations. Many people referred to this as the Motor Voter law.  In 2006 the Voter Rights act receives its fourth extension under President George Bush again for 25 years. In 2013 the Supreme Court rules in Shelby County V Holder that certain aspects of the 1965 Voting Rights Act are unconstitutional.  The sections in question were 4(b) and 5.  Section 5 basically says, in layman's terms, that states, counties and municipalities that had a history of creating laws that were intended to make voting more difficult For certain classes of people had to seek preclearance from either the Department of Justice or the federal district court in DC before passing any new laws. Selection 4(b) was basically the formula for determining which places were required to submit to section five. The justices found that the formula used in section 4(b)was updated last in 1975 and was therefore out of date which basically meant that section 5 was unconstitutional. In 2021 the Supreme Court heard Brnovich versus Democratic National Committee.  The case primarily dealt with two election-related policies in Arizona. One being passed as a result of Shelby County.  Arizona was one of the 15 states that have been included in the section 4 (b)/ 5 preclearance requirements until they were nullified by the Shelby County case. One policy was an existing out of Precinct policy from 1970 that was shared by other states and requires election officials to reject ballots placed by voters that voted in the wrong Precinct including their votes for state and federal office.  The new law which was passed in 2016 as Arizona H3 2023 by the Republican-controlled Arizona state legislature made it a felony for any other than an election official, family member or care-giver to handle or to collect a completed early voting or absentee ballot.  The law thus banned ballot collection a practice that critics called ballot harvesting. Arizona governor Doug Ducey a Republican signed the bill into law and framed the legislation as similar to measures in 18 other states.  Democratic lawmakers in Arizona questioned the lack of evidence related to voting fraud used to back the Bill's passage. 

So you see, to paraphrase an old cigarette ad, we've come a long way baby from the time when only white male Anglo-Saxon Protestants who owned land were able to vote to today we've made a lot of gains. We need to talk about the claims of election fraud the thing that's dropped all these stricter election laws across the primarily Republican states what's going on there I mean most of the Republican Party believes there was fraud even though all 50 states and the District of Columbia Certified their election results in 2020 there must be something to it right for decades now Republican politicians including Representatives state legislators and governors and even one president have been saying there is voter fraud in US elections And not just voter fraud, massive voter fraud, but none was louder than Kris Kobach.  Who's Kris Kobach? He was the former secretary of the state of Kansas and he would tell anyone who even pretended to be interested about how thousands of dead people and millions of unauthorized aliens were voting illegally in every election. Nevermind that most States had audits and those audits found little to no fraud, he was there to root it out.  In the 2016 election Donald Trump insisted even though he had won that he had been denied a victory in the popular vote by 3 million to 5 million unauthorized immigrants voters. He wanted it investigated saying,  “Why not just look? What's the harm?  He provided no evidence for the claim because there was none but he insisted on creating a commission to study it.  This was a high-ranking presidential commission as evidenced by the chairman of the commission Vice President Mike Pence who was put in charge.  The driving member of that commission was; you guessed it, Kris Kobach.  The commission was announced in May of 2017 and almost immediately ran into trouble.  With no credible or even uncredible evidence to start with, it felt that they needed to turn up something fast in June of that year he sent a letter to all 50 states asking for all publicly available voter data including names, addresses, voting history, party affiliation, felony convictions and the last four digits of social security numbers.  Not surprisingly there was an uproar from Democratic Secretaries of State voicing concerns over taxpayer costs, privacy intrusions or the fact that they doubted Kobach’s request could do much to stop fraud.  Interesting though several Republicans also voiced objections. The most colorful by far was that of Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann who said, quote “My reply would be they can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi is a great state to launch from.”.In the end according to several estimates as many as 45 States opted out of sending any information to Kobach’s commission.  These denials proved an uncomfortable reality for Kobach.  Although most Republican election officials support stricter voting laws they also take seriously that their job is to run the elections smoothly and prevent fraud and they weren't too pleased about the implication that they were failing. without the data it has requested and without any other evidence of fraud, the commission was stalled.  In September it held a meeting in New Hampshire to investigate claims by Trump of fraud there but Bill Gardner, New Hampshire Secretary of State and commission member rebutted the claim.  By October two of the group's Democrats were complaining that they had been shut out of deliberations and meetings.  One of them was  Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlop who sued to demand access to commission material and won.  In January the group was finally put out of its misery without releasing any findings.  The Trump Administration said it would not hand materials over to Dunlop because the commission no longer existed, but a judge disagreed and in August of 2018 Dunlap released the documents he had obtained. They showed that in it’s month of work, the commission had uncovered no evidence of fraud. So what does all of this tell us?  First it tells us that voter fraud on the scale necessary to rig an election is nonsense.  Just proud of her absolutely no doubt there were several accounts from both sides of the island 2020 of people voting for others who have passed away of people who had attempted to vote when their past felony convictions disqualified them from doing so the Heritage Foundation a conservative icon founder to be 1333 proven instances of voter fraud in the 2020 election out of 159633096 votes cast that is a 0.000 8 4% fraud rate hardly massive. So why the claim of voter fraud as an excuse to write more restrictive laws?  Here's my take, for what it's worth, every single American should demand a free and fair election. Every single American who is eligible to vote should have that right without hardship.  If I'm living in a poor section of a city and have to travel dozens of miles away to get to a polling place and someone in an upscale part of town can walk to their polling place, that’s a problem. In theory, I have no problem with voter IDs honestly. I can easily prove who I am where I live and anything else needed if I lost my birth certificate and need it to be able to get a voter ID and I have to pay what maybe the last $25 I have until payday to get a copy of that birth certificate even though the ID itself maybe free that's a problem.  You want to make sure your elections are fair and free? Great!  Just make sure that laws you pass to get there are fair and free as well.

 And that will be a wrap 4 episode 44 of the porcupine because that my friends I thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for joining me I hope we gave you something to think about something to talk about dinner table conversations?  I remember as a kid there would be one topic of conversation at our dinner table each night and usually about politics but other stuff too.  Do people still do that? I don't know.  If they do, I hope this can be one of those conversations. Thank you so much for joining us. As always if you would like to support the show go to the website click on the Buy Me a Coffee button or the Kofi button.  Is that pronounced Kohfi or coffee?  I don’t know,  That one will support me too,  And any event in any event there we go enjoy your weekend look forward to seeing you for the next episode until then be happy be healthy and God bless.