Voting Rights & Issues

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  • It Is "Such A Load Of Bunk": Fox's Andrea Tantaros Downplays Restrictive Impact Of Voter ID Laws

    Blog ››› ››› LIS POWER

    Fox News' Andrea Tantaros criticized Hillary Clinton's focus on improving voting access, claiming it is "such a load of bunk" to argue that some people don't have the ability or money to get an ID for voting purposes during the June 5 edition of Fox News' Outnumbered.

    However, a 2012 study by the Brennan Center for Justice found that "many citizens will have trouble making [the] trip" to obtain ID and that restrictive voter ID laws "will make it harder for hundreds of thousands of poor Americans to vote." 

    Restrictive voter ID laws disenfranchised voters in the 2014 elections, when voters were turned away after failing to obtain the select kind of identification required to vote. And 2015 has already seen 113 bills introduced to restrict access to registration and voting in 33 states -- nearly half of which "are aimed at establishing or tightening voter ID requirements," according to the Brennan Center. 

  • Fox's Doocy Parrots RNC Talking Point To Attack Clinton's Support Of Early Voting

    Blog ››› ››› LIBBY WATSON

    Fox host Steve Doocy parroted a Republican National Committee (RNC) attack on Hillary Clinton's voting rights proposals, without disclosing the source.

    In a June 4 speech at Texas Southern University, a historically black college, Hillary Clinton proposed significant voting law reforms, including universal automatic voter registration and at least 20 days of early voting. The Washington Post reported that  Clinton criticized Republican support for policies that disenfranchise voters, saying: "Today Republicans are systematically and deliberately trying to stop millions of American citizens from voting." 

    On the June 5 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy took issue with Hillary Clinton's focus on voting rights (emphasis added):

    DOOCY: But what's interesting is, remember she was the U.S. senator from the state of New York which is a Democrat state. And yet New York does not allow early voting while dozens of Republican-led states do. So, I mean if she's going to be talking about voting, how about early voting in New York, Madam Secretary?  

     

    But the Fox & Friends hosts did not acknowledge that Doocy's attack came directly from the RNC. Orlando Watson, the RNC communications director for black media, criticized Clinton on June 4, saying her "shameless attacks ignore the fact her Democrat-led home state of New York does not allow early voting while dozens of Republican-led states do."        

    And as The New York Times noted at the time, Republicans in New York's state legislature opposed the 2013 early voting measure proposed by Democrats to improve the state's low voter turnout (emphasis added):

    All but one Republican voted no. And Senate Republicans are resisting, too. Why? Not, they say, because they want to discourage voting. Their complaint is that early voting would be too expensive for upstate counties. That problem could be addressed by cutting back on the extra hours and adding a little extra state money.

  • The Dark Money Media Shouldn't Forget In Coverage Of Texas Voting Rights Case

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL CALVERT

    Edward Blum

    Media should take note that a new Supreme Court voting rights case with important implications for Latinos is being advanced by Edward Blum, an anti-civil rights advocate with past ties to the right's "dark money ATM" and a long history of using the courts to undermine decades of anti-discrimination precedent.

    On May 26, the Supreme Court agreed "to decide whether the Constitution requires only eligible voters be counted when forming legislative districts" in a lawsuit brought by anti-Voting Rights Act (VRA) activist Edward Blum:

    The lawsuit was advanced by Edward Blum, whose Austin-based Project on Fair Representation has been litigating for years to roll back affirmative action, Voting Rights Act enforcement and other policies intended to benefit minorities.

    The group's goal is to remove noncitizens and illegal immigrants from the legislative district count, but the Supreme Court has the option of considering whether other nonvoters should be excluded in calculating voting district sizes, such as minors, felons and even people who are eligible to vote but haven't registered.

    The case represents a massive shift from the current system of calculating total residents and would benefit Republicans by shifting electoral clout away from Democratic-leaning urban areas. The change would dilute Hispanic communities' representation and "devastate" Latino voting power. Although currently focused on undocumented immigrant populations, Blum's latest efforts could also exclude minors, felons and eligible but unregistered voters from being counted, according to The Wall Street Journal.

    The Project on Fair Representation has seen some success in undermining the VRA. Blum masterminded Shelby County v. Holder in 2013, in which the Court overturned a key section of the VRA that prevented states from making potentially discriminatory changes to election law or district maps without Department of Justice approval. That decision cleared the way for numerous states to pass voter suppression laws in the lead-up to the 2014 midterm elections. In the lead-up to Shelby, Blum was allowed to push falsehoods about the VRA and voter suppression in The Wall Street Journal, while right-wing media figures hyped unfounded fears of voter fraud and distorted the continued need for voter protections.

    In addition to voting rights, Blum has gone after affirmative action policies aimed at improving diversity in higher education. Although ultimately unsuccessful in the courts, Blum's affirmative action challenge was based on frequently cited myths about affirmative action's benefits.

    Blum's efforts to undermine voting rights and eliminate affirmative action have been bankrolled by the conservative Donors Trust, deemed the "dark money ATM of the conservative movement" by Mother Jones.

    Despite Blum's extensive anti-civil rights resume, mainstream media have historically failed to report his ties to conservative dark money, a mistake they should not repeat as his latest voter suppression effort makes its way to the Court.

  • Hannity: Selma's John Legend "Doesn't Know Anything" About Voting Rights

    Fox Host Gets Voting Rights Act And Voter ID Wrong In Attack On Legend's Oscars Speech

    Blog ››› ››› MEAGAN HATCHER-MAYS

    Fox News Host Sean Hannity is criticizing singer John Legend's Oscars speech, which invoked the civil rights movement and the ongoing fight for racial and social justice. In response to Legend's completely accurate statement that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is under attack today, Hannity disagreed and appeared to argue that the seminal civil rights law was irrelevant to strict voter ID laws.

    On February 22, Legend and co-writer Common won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for "Glory," from the film Selma, a historical drama about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s fight for equal voting rights. In his acceptance speech, Legend noted that the civil rights struggle represented in the movie continues "right now": "We wrote this song for a film that was based on events that were 50 years ago, but we say that Selma is now, because the struggle for justice is right now. We know that the Voting Rights Act that they fought for 50 years ago is being compromised right now, in this country, today."

    On the February 23 edition of his show, Hannity complained that Legend "decided to make all things political." Even though Legend didn't explicitly bring up voter ID laws in his speech, Hannity went on to suggest that it was inappropriate for Legend to "equate the Voting Rights Act with showing an ID to get to vote so we can keep honesty and integrity in our elections ... I like John Legend as a musician, but he doesn't know anything about politics":