Rig the Vote

by Leo Gerard

USW President Leo Gerard

USW President Leo Gerard

Rig the Vote is the evil opposite of Rock the Vote. Rock is the campaign by a nonprofit to increase political engagement and register young people. Rig is the campaign by the GOP to suppress political engagement and subvert balloting.

The GOP rigged the vote by limiting registration, demanding specific photo ID at the polls and creating hours-long waits in poor and minority districts.  The GOP also connived to re-apportion state electors to the Electoral College. And if six key states had adopted the change, President Obama, who received the majority of the popular vote by a margin of nearly 5 million, would not be president.

All of this was calculated to stifle and sabotage voting by those who lean Democrat, particularly the 47 percent of Americans who Republicans disdain. Republicans, who grovel to the 1 percent, realized they weren’t going to win if they played fair and square by those pesky old American tenets of one-person-one-vote and majority rule. They figured the more Democrats they could prevent from voting, the weightier Republican ballots would become. In this scheme, Republicans wouldn’t have to bother winning the hearts and minds of the majority. Instead, this bull-dozing of democracy would enable rule by the minority. Continue reading

Voter Suppression and Union Suppression Deny Basic Civil Rights

By Richard D. Kahlenberg & Moshe Z. Marvit

In a period where political purposes were behind several near government shutdowns, and on the brink of the first ever United States default, the most shocking political action has been the move by many Republican state legislatures to disenfranchise groups of voters that traditionally vote Democrat through new voter ID laws. These laws, passed in Alabama, Kansas, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania (and being pushed in many others), appeared to come out of nowhere to solve a problem that has not been shown to exist.

They are being presented as apolitical solutions to a pervasive problem, but political statements by architects of the new laws show that there is an anti-democratic political culture at play: House Majority Leader, Mike Turzai of Pennsylvania commented that the Voter ID law that he worked hard to pass would “allow Governor [Mitt] Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.” While drafting South Carolina’s Voter ID law, State Representative Alan Clemmons responded “amen” to a constituent’s email that counseled against offering help to poor, black voters that lacked transportation to get new IDs, that described this constituency to “a swarm of bees going after a watermelon.” An Ohio County GOP chair explained the state’s reason for limiting early voter hours for certain groups, saying, “I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter-turnout machine.”

Attorney General Eric Holder linked these new laws to an ugly American past of political exclusion when, at the annual gathering of the NAACP — the group that has been at the helm of the national effort for the political and social inclusion of minorities for over a century — he likened these voter ID laws to poll taxes.

The blatant denial of civil rights coupled with transparent political manipulation rightly outrages fair-minded people. But there is a parallel form of voter suppression taking place that denies basic civil rights for partisan gain yet has received much less attention. This voter suppression effort is the decades-long effort to suppress workers’ rights to form or join a union. And just as the voter ID bills are purely political attempts to disenfranchise potential Democratic voters, union suppression efforts are in large part an attempt to splinter the Democratic coalition.

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USW Blog Stands Out with Member Views

by Stuart Elliott

I read  lots of union websites, blogs, rss feeds, tweets. and emails; sometimes my eyes get blurry and sometimes I don’t remember where I saw something of interest.  But among all those labor spots, one that stands is the USW blog.  To start with there are the insightful and stirring columns by USW President Leo Gerard, and guests like Robert Reich, Les Leopold, Jim Hightower, and Senator Bernie Sanders.  But the USW blog does something that few union blogs do–it actively invites contributions from the grass roots.  There is a “free speech zone” and a “union matters” section.

Currently, the USW blog is asking people to write comments on voter suppression.

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Dec. 10: NYC March for Voting Rights Begins at Koch Industries

by Adele Stan

Voting rights are human rights. To bring that point home, a coalition of labor, civil rights and community organizations will celebrate Dec. 10, International Human Rights Day, with a Stand for Freedom march and rally, beginning at the Manhattan headquarters of Koch Industries, and ending at the United Nations’ Dag Hammarskjold Plaza.

Where and when:

Saturday, Dec. 10

10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.: Assemble 61st Street and Madison Avenue, Koch Industries New York City office.

11:30 a.m.: March from 61st Street and Madison Avenue to Dag Hammarskjold Plaza at 47th Street and 2nd Avenue

12:30 p.m.: Rally at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, across from the United Nations building

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Restrictive voting laws on rise across country

by Michael Hirsch

In 2011, legislators in seven states — Alabama, Kansas, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin — rewrote voting laws to require voters to present state-issued photo identification, while a voter-ID ballot question passed in Mississippi on Nov. 8.

Florida and Ohio cut nearly in half the number of days for early voting and eliminated Sunday voting. Florida also will impose penalties for minor infractions on third-party voter-registration drives, prompting the nonpartisan League of Women Voters to cease voter registration in the state.

American Civil Liberties Union

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