Republican Legislators Plan to Restrict Ballot Access

Rolling Stone

The GOP War on Voting

In a campaign supported by the Koch brothers, Republicans are working to prevent millions of Democrats from voting next year

by: Ari Berman

vote block republican

A voter casts his ballot during the primary elections in Virginia
Matt McClain/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

As the nation gears up for the 2012 presidential election, Republican officials have launched an unprecedented, centrally coordinated campaign to suppress the elements of the Democratic vote that elected Barack Obama in 2008. Just as Dixiecrats once used poll taxes and literacy tests to bar black Southerners from voting, a new crop of GOP governors and state legislators has passed a series of seemingly disconnected measures that could prevent millions of students, minorities, immigrants, ex-convicts and the elderly from casting ballots. “What has happened this year is the most significant setback to voting rights in this country in a century,” says Judith Browne-Dianis, who monitors barriers to voting as co-director of the Advancement Project, a civil rights organization based in Washington, D.C.

Republicans have long tried to drive Democratic voters away from the polls. “I don’t want everybody to vote,” the influential conservative activist Paul Weyrich told a gathering of evangelical leaders in 1980. “As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.” But since the 2010 election, thanks to a conservative advocacy group founded by Weyrich, the GOP’s effort to disrupt voting rights has been more widespread and effective than ever. In a systematic campaign orchestrated by the American Legislative Exchange Council – and funded in part by David and Charles Koch, the billionaire brothers who bankrolled the Tea Party – 38 states introduced legislation this year designed to impede voters at every step of the electoral process.

All told, a dozen states have approved new obstacles to voting. Kansas and Alabama now require would-be voters to provide proof of citizenship before registering. Florida and Texas made it harder for groups like the League of Women Voters to register new voters. Maine repealed Election Day voter registration, which had been on the books since 1973. Five states – Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia – cut short their early voting periods. Florida and Iowa barred all ex-felons from the polls, disenfranchising thousands of previously eligible voters. And six states controlled by Republican governors and legislatures – Alabama, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin – will require voters to produce a government-issued ID before casting ballots. More than 10 percent of U.S. citizens lack such identification, and the numbers are even higher among constituencies that traditionally lean Democratic – including 18 percent of young voters and 25 percent of African-Americans.

Continue reading Republican Legislators Plan to Restrict Ballot Access

What Happens When You Have the Best State Officials Money Can Buy

Marcellus Skeptics Form Own Shale Commission

By Anya Litvak

Pittsburgh Business Times

Aug 29, 2011 – Disappointed with the work of Gov. Tom Corbett’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, a group of organizations that have aimed to temper natural gas development in the state, has formed its own panel: The Citizens Marcellus Shale Commission.

And they’re taking it on the road, with the first public hearing scheduled for Wednesday evening at South Fayette Middle School, which lies smack in the center a lawsuit filed by Range Resources (NYSE: RRC). Range is claiming the township effectively zoned natural gas drilling out of its borders.

The other four commission meetings scheduled to take place in the next three weeks will be in central and northeastern Pennsylvania, with a concluding report to follow in early October.

The commission is made up of:

  • Thomas Au, Conservation Chair, Pennsylvania Chapter, Sierra Club
  • Lynda Farrell, Pipeline Safety Coalition
  • Greg Grabowitz, Environmental Chair, Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited
  • Barb Jarmoska, Responsible Drilling Alliance
  • Anne Leisure, PA Providers Assocition
  • Rebecca McNichol, CLEAR Coalition
  • Roy Newsome Jr., Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania
  • James Schmid, Environmental Engineer
  • John Stolz, Duquesne University
  • Marybeth Sweeney/Roberta Winters: League of Women Voters
  • Ritchie Tabachnick, Equipment and Controls Africa
  • John Anthony Trallo, Residents United for Pennsylvania/Sullivan County Chapter
  • Maya van Rossum, Delaware Riverkeeper
  • Ray Werts: President of the Western Clinton County Sportsman

Continue reading What Happens When You Have the Best State Officials Money Can Buy