voter suppression

Walking the Walk – Engaging the Community

On Saturday, 11/3, a new grass roots organization had an impact in the city of Charlotte (NC) by running an event in uptown Charlotte, on a busy corner next to an early voting station.  The overall message of the event was to inform the public about just who their politicians are working for.  Naturally this involved exposing the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to those who did not know about their involvement in the money and corruption that has become symptomatic of our state legislators and even our members of the U.S. Congress.

A second objective of this event was to start a petition demanding the resignation from, and the denouncement of ALEC by Thom Tillis, Speaker of the NC House, member of ALEC’s International Relations Task Force, and ALEC’s 2011 Legislator of the Year.  How can Tillis, among other members of ALEC in the state legislature honor their oaths of office, while also abiding by ALEC By-Laws?  They can’t, and Tillis among others should not be re-elected or even considered for positions representing the voting public while writing and introducing legislation designed to further the goals of the Corporate Members of ALEC.

From noon until 2:00 PM, a number of volunteers engaged the public on how much they actually knew about their elected representatives.  Many individuals of the Charlotte community learned details about ALEC, including how its legislation impacts the voting public and identified the North Carolina politicians who are currently in ALEC and who have had past ties with ALEC.  Those who stopped and engaged with the volunteers were generally outraged by the shady dealings of their elected representatives who have paid to be members of ALEC and who have pushed for such legislation as Voter ID Laws, Tort Reform Laws, laws to restrict the rights of women’s health, and many other laws.  Without a governor who has been willing to veto such legislation, voters need to understand what they can look forward to, courtesy of the money and corruption spread by ALEC and the Koch Brothers.

After dealing with some technical problems, including an inability to get a consistent Skype feed, a number of speakers addressed ALEC and how it is impacting the people of North Carolina.

First up was Ron from VLTP, the Voters Legislative Transparency Project, with an explanation of what ALEC is and what it does, so that people who had not previously heard about ALEC would have an overview of this “sinister” organization.  He also spoke about VLTP’s Whistleblower Complaint against ALEC which has been accepted for further investigation by the IRS.

Lisa Graves, head of CMD and the ALECExposed project – and the true face of the anti-ALEC movement – tried to speak next, but was blocked by the inability to get a consistent signal from Skype.  She did, however extend her thanks to the activists in Charlotte who participated in the events surrounding ALEC’s Spring Summit in Charlotte, and praised them for being able to use the facts to talk down ALEC members who came out of their sanctuary in the Westin Hotel to try to convince the protesters that the ALEC view was the correct view.  She also thanked the activists who have been exposing such ALEC Corporate Members as Duke Energy, Bank of America, and RJ Reynolds for what they have done to take advantage of their money and power to hurt the lives of the people of North Carolina.

Pamela Grundy, of MecklenburgACTS and Parents Across America—an expert on Education–then spoke to explain how and why ALEC is attempting to destroy public education, and the vital importance of public education in NC and America.  Education was a common theme throughout the day, as ALEC must be stopped in their efforts to “dumb down” Americans through the privatization of our public schools.

Local activist Ayende Alcala gave a riveting speech about ALEC’s connection to prison privatization.  He addressed the use of prisoners as “slave labor”, working the in factories owned by these prison privatizers for 23 cents per hour in competition with free enterprise.  He spoke with great passion about how and why ALEC has done this, and how badly this impacts people of color.  He addressed the need for better education in the poor and often black schools, so that they can benefit from the public school system and become more involved in the economic recovery .  He also spoke to the need for people to go out and vote as a way of changing the existing corrupt system.

Michael Zytkow, who is investigating an independent campaign for a seat on the Charlotte City Council, spoke about the importance of voting and knowing what your candidates really stand for.  He also spoke about ALEC Corporate Member Duke Energy and how their head, Jim Rogers, has backed the both the DNC and the RNC; contributed to the campaign of Thom Tillis; all while funding ALEC activities, particularly the Spring Summit which was held in Charlotte.  He asked the question that should be on a lot of voters’ minds—how is Rogers and Duke going to pay the shortfall they guaranteed for the DNC while keeping his promise that this would not impact the rates of consumers.

Tony Ndege of Occupy Winston Salem in his talk, stressed the importance of knowing who from ALEC was running for re-election and not voting for them.  He addressed the two-faced (etch-a-sketch?) actions of legislators who pay to belong to ALEC while proposing legislation to benefit big corporate money instead of the needs of the majority of the electorate.  Tony, and Kim Porter asked people to sign petitions calling on Thom Tillis to renounce ALEC and leave the legislature.

After the speeches were over, all of the people who were involved engaged the community in the downtown area.

But the true highlight of the event was the community members of Charlotte who learned about ALEC.  Although events like this too often serve to highlight the individuals who are a part of the event, this rally was strictly constructed with the mindset of engaging the community about the importance of education and learning about those who want our votes.  Petitions were signed, with over a hundred people in this past week pledging themselves in the fight against exposing and denouncing those who are in ALEC.

This event was not meant to be a one time thing.  An organization such as ALEC, which has a vast amount of corporate sponsorship and legislative representatives, will not be exposed in only one event.  This event was set up to show the community commitment to exposing ALEC.  This is the start of an anti-ALEC movement.

How big business wants to shrink the electorate

From San Diego City Beat By Zach Hagadone

“Astonishing.” “Remarkable.” “Sinister.” Those are words that come up again and again when confronting the wave of voter-identification laws that has recently swept through more than 30 Republican-dominated state legislatures. The measures sound innocuous enough: When a voter shows up on Election Day, he or she must present valid photo ID in order to cast a ballot…

According to figures from the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, as many as 11 percent of adult U.S. citizens do not have any form of government-issued photo identification, accounting for more than 21 million people. Among that group, 18 percent of citizens 65 years of age or older don’t have government-issued photo ID (more than 6 million seniors), and, based on 2000 U.S. Census figures, more than 5.5 million African-American adults lack photo ID—a full 25 percent of eligible black voters. Meanwhile, U.S. citizens, regardless of ethnicity, age or gender, who make less than $35,000 “are more than twice as likely to lack current government-issued photo identification as those earning more than $35,000 a year,” the Brennan Center reported, meaning at least 15 percent of voting-age Americans in the lowincome bracket lack valid ID.”
To read the full City Beat article, click here….

Corporate Control of Candidates & Elections – Topics, Contributions, Candidates and ALEC

It’s called “Corporatocracy” and as I’ve written for more than two years now, it is alive, well and on the rise.  Corporate involvement in government controls, regulations and programs has become dominant over the past two decades – and in the past four years it has increased exponentially following the election of America’s first African-American President.

Over the aforementioned twenty plus years, corporations have diversified their interest(s) from strictly business and manufacturing to an agenda of creating and urging the passage of pro-corporate friendly legislation beneficial to their bottom line(s) – regardless of the impact upon consumers, patients or voters.

Today more than three hundred and fifty multi-national companies are “officially” members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) where they take part in crafting/drafting legislation that limits consumer rights, suppresses voter rights, increases gun sales, privatizing; education (K-12 & college), prisons, prison services and public utilities.   Others are hidden members of ALEC including the businesses, companies and corporations who are members of the Chamber of Commerce, the National Foundation of Independent Business (NFIB – which claims a membership base of 350,000) and PhRMA (listing 53 member pharma companies) that has membership and key positions within ALEC.  This organization serves as the legislative voice of corporate interests, the “go to” charity used by companies such as Coca~Cola, Koch Industries, Microsoft, AT&T, PhRMA and Eli Lilly to lobby for and secure legislation reducing regulations on operations, lower taxation and less oversight and consumer protections.

Numerous other initiatives are pursued by these corporate players but this article isn’t about their anti-consumer activities or the legislation they have managed to pass (though for purposes of demonstration tort reform is explained below).  Rather it is about the pursuit of controlling our Legislative, judicial and executive branches of government (state and federal).   They are no longer content with paying huge sums of money to get the legislation passed…they want to cut out the middlemen.

Historically we have elected politicians who we believed would adequately and properly represent the rights and interests of our state citizens and the US population collectively.  Since the general election in 2008 all that has changed.  Corporations and businesses are no longer content with “owning” lawmakers with campaign contributions, bribes and expensive organizations such as ALEC.  Today they want to replace actual political candidates with current or former corporate executives and owners – who will advance a free-market, pro-corporate agenda. More →

Ohio Bleeding

Paula Garfield is a 30-year veteran teacher of special education for Columbus city schools.  She was recently elected as an Ohio Education Association Delegate, and received the Columbus Education Association’s Outstanding Member of the Year award.  She was highly involved with We Are Ohio, and is a guest speaker for Ohio Women’s Democratic Caucus, War on Women, and others.  This is Paula’s blog, and it is a beautifully eloquent posting.  Paula is a member of our Facebook group–Resist The Privatization of America, where she posted this article. 

Thank you Paula.

With 24 days until the Presidential election, I spent a total of 26 hours of my weekend travelling across the State in Ohio, speaking at 3 events regarding Educators for President Obama: Women, laborers, middle class, elderly, minorities, college students,  teachers, firefighters, police, unions, pensions, postal service: we all have the same attackers. Their tactics consist of the war on women, replacing public schools with private for profit schools,replacing free public schools with the Kasich (K-suck) voucher system  attacking and dismantling of free public appropriate education, destroying planned parenthood, holding jobs for ransom.

The same Republicans try to make sure that measures don’t get by the House of Representatives and thus cannot get to the Senate .Since the Republican Party controls the House, it serves the Corporations  and not “We the People,” who elected them to represent us.

I talked about Right to Work -for less-, Voter ID Laws and other means of voter suppression across the USA in Republican governed states as I canvassed on Sunday. I knocked on doors for all Congress Reps in my voting area, delivered signs, got the appropriate forms to those  who have relocated to Columbus, Ohio.  I answered questions from a Canadian, who works here in the area, who was in disbelief about what is happening to America in comparison to Canada’s rights, freedoms.

I am just now sitting down, after finding all my lawn signs for my makeshift Democratic ballot, destroyed…some burned, some shredded.I am cleaning up what the wind scattered across my complex. I am just off the phone trying to hook up voters with signs in the district/area with field leader contacts across the state, and staring at 122 emails, all of which I must answer from people wanting to know what they can do to help because some have awakened, and have realized the impact on them, their children, their futures, their homes, their lives.

There is a great deal more covered in Paula’s article, Ohio Bleeding.  I highly recommend clicking here to read all of it.

Ohio Republicans Appeal To U.S. Supreme Court To Curtail Early Voting

From AlterNet  By Steven Rosenfeld

Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State John Husted is deteremined to stop upwards of 100,000 Ohioans—many of whom are African-American churchgoers who live in the state’s cities—from voting on the Sunday before Election Day in November…

…“Secretary of State Jon Husted today announced that he will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to make the final determination on whether the General Assembly of the State of Ohio or the federal courts should set Ohio election laws,” Husted’s website said. “Husted will be appealing the Friday decision by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Obama v. Husted.”

As we’ve previously reported, Secretary of State Husted is a former ALEC member and voter suppression legislation is a key ALEC initiative being pursued nationwide.  In addition to Husted, Governor Kasich and PUCO Chairman Todd Snitchler are also ALEC alumni and working in Ohio pursuing their conservative agenda and model bills.

Read the full AlterNet article here

ANALYSIS: Georgia leaders depend on the same well for ideas

From the Rome News Tribune, by Walter C. Jones

Georgia citizens are discovering that many of the laws passed in Georgia relating to prison, criminal justice and privatizing prisons and public education are taken directly from ALEC’s play book.

“ALEC is the well conservative leaders in Georgia dip their bucket into when they’re looking for ideas.

“When Sonny Perdue was governor, he took an ALEC concept called the 65 Percent Solution and pushed it through the General Assembly. It requires schools spend at least 65 percent of their budgets in the classroom and no more than 35 percent on administration.

“Dozens of school boards have won waivers from the law because expenses like school buses, libraries and lunchrooms are counted as administration. Many education advocates are calling for repeal of the law, arguing that experience has shown that adhering to it has done nothing to improve student performance.”

Read the entire article here

GOP Firm Now Said to be Facing Criminal Probe in CO

            photo and caption from The Brad Blog

Evidence suggests Nathan Sproul’s Strategic Allied Consulting, hired by the RNC, now under second criminal investigation…

Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler still isn’t done shaming the great state of Colorado with conspiracy theories, not by a long shot, as displayed at a wingnut “voter fraud” conference late last week in Denver. That, even as he has, publicly at least, completely ignored what now appears to be an actual criminal conspiracy, with actual evidence, concerning actual voter registration fraud (albeit by a Republican outfit, so perhaps it doesn’t count), acknowledged by his own office to be officially under criminal investigation by prosecutors in his state…

With Gessler speaking as a member of a panel titled “Stealing Elections: What the Left Doesn’t Want You to Know About Voter Fraud.” Brad Friedman offers up the following from John Tomasic of the Colorado Independent:  Gessler claimed voter fraud had affected the outcomes of elections, that there is evidence of “organized” voter fraud, that Democrats are intentionally registering noncitizens to vote, and that his critics willfully ignore evidence that these crimes are being committed.

To read the entire blog by Brad Friedman, please click here.
Brad Friedman and his Brad Blog have had exemplary coverage of this (among many other) story.

But let’s add some corroboration to this story from Denver’s FOX 31 TV.  A week or so ago we re-posted the video Volunteer Busted Only Registering Romney Voters. (click on blue words to view the video)

According to TV31, in Colorado, the state GOP has spent $466,643 — roughly half its total budget — with Strategic Allied Consulting, the firm in question.

Already this year, the RNC has funneled more than $3.1 million to the company, just formed in June by Nathan Sproul, an Arizona voting consultant who has run other firms that have been accused of dumping registration forms filled out by Democrats and other improprieties aimed at helping Republican candidates.

And FOX31 Denver has confirmed that the young woman seen registering voters outside a Colorado Springs grocery store in a YouTube video, in which she admits to trying to only register voters who support Mitt Romney, was indeed a contract employee of Sproul’s company.(note from Ron;)  State criminal probes are a good start, but when election laws are broken by one corporation in 6 states, it is the job of the Department of Justice to step in to investigate and prosecute interstate violations like this,



ALEC Member in OK. Proposes ALEC’s Model: “Parent Trigger Law”

Featured image from Big Education Ape Blog

State Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, has announced he will introduce legislation in 2013 that will allow parents to overhaul chronically low-performing schools:

“A parent trigger law in Oklahoma would provide a way to break old patterns, and empower the people that are most invested in success — parents and students — to set a new tone for their school,” he said.”

In this article from Tulsa World, experienced researchers can point to this “legislation” as a key example of how the ALEC cabal (consisting of billionaire operated foundations, multi-national companies, conservative funded think tanks, bought and paid for state lawmakers and Congressional “alumni”) advances their conservative ideologies and pro-market concepts through drafting and then lobbying for enactment of laws they’ve written.  It also shows where the money being funneled into these activities comes from and how media influence is used to facilitate four decades of success;

 “The parent trigger movement was spurred by two controversial conservative groups, Heartland Institute and the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC is financially supported by billionaires such as the Koch Brothers and Phillip Anschutz.

Walden Media produced “Won’t Back Down.The company is a division of The Anschutz Corp, which owns the Oklahoma Publishing Co., publisher of The Oklahoman newspaper in Oklahoma City.

The film also is being distributed by 20th Century Fox. The company is owned by Rupert Murdoch and News Corp., which owns Fox News, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post.”

This Parent Trigger legislation is written, lobbied for, proposed and supported by ALEC.  Their model legislation is titled “Parent Trigger Act” and has been introduced in several states and is pushed without shame or actual regard for our students.

Tulsa World did a great job of tying the Koch brothers and Anschutz to Heartland and ALEC…but they missed the fact that Murdoch’s News Corp is a member of ALEC, that Koch holds a seat upon ALEC’s Private Enterprise Board (holds seats upon ALEC’s Education Task Force and Communications and Technology Task Force…or that Senator Holt is in fact a member of ALEC.

Most lists you’ll find providing names of ALEC members does not provide information that Sen. Holt is a member of ALEC (perhaps that’s why he was chosen to sponsor this legislative bill?) but he very definitely is.  At his Oklahoma Senate bio page, Holt proudly lists that he is a member of ALEC and the Council of State Governments:

“A tireless volunteer, David has been a member of many organizations, including the following:

• Putnam City Schools Foundation Board of Directors
• Oklahoma County Republican Party Executive Committee
• Oklahoma Republican Party State Committee
• Northwest Oklahoma City Chamber Board of Directors
• Oklahoma State Chamber Congressional Activities Committee
• Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum Foundation Board of Trustees
• Oklahoma Municipal League Legislative Committee
• Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park Board President
• Oklahoma City Downtown Club Board of Directors
• Quail Creek Homeowner’s Association Board of Directors
• Allied Arts Board of Directors
• Cultural Development Corporation of Central Oklahoma
• ACM@UCO Business Development Center Advisory Board
• Oklahoma City Zoo Trust
• Arts Commission of Oklahoma City
• Central Oklahoma Transportation and Parking Authority Board of Trustees
• Lake Atoka Reservation Association Managing Board
• McGee Creek Authority
• Oklahoma Olympic Engagement Committee
• Big 12 Basketball and Baseball Championships Host Committees
• Oklahoma Academy for State Goals
• Leadership Oklahoma City Alumni Association
• American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
• Council of State Governments
• National Conference of State Legislatures”

With millions from the likes of the Gates, Koch, Scaife, Coors (Castle Rock) and DeVos Foundations, ALEC’s pursuit of privatizing our public schools from K-12 through college is proceeding nicely.  Through their media outlets they fill the airwaves with propaganda denouncing teachers as inefficient, overpaid and members of Unions that are the cause of costly and undeserved wages for public sector workers.  Their answer to these problems they have created themselves through cuts in funding at all levels of public education is: privatization.  This is the ALEC/Conservative cabal’s primary goal: privatize all government services from prisons, jails and penal services to utilities, state lotteries, schools, school transportation and health services.  This is why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Businesses are members of ALEC…and share seats on many of the same ALEC “task forces” developing legislation such as this Parent Trigger model to transfer public school operations (and the tax dollars that pay for those services) to private companies.

Take a brief few moments and look here at all of the model bills ALEC has developed and is marketing in regard to just education.  Then if you’re really feeling this doesn’t apply to you, your child or your state…visit your legislative website and take a look at current or past legislation that mirrors what you found in ALEC’s proposed model legislation.

VLTP wishes more print, broadcast. digital and investigative media outlets would report on these ALEC efforts and let the public in on the massive amount of propaganda being fed to them by corporate owned media outlets.  However with Koch’s Institute for Humane Studies (operated out of George Mason University) supplying interns to our top U.S. media outlets it is difficult to find an unbiased outlet willing or able to disseminate any factual “news” to Americans today.

Another Voting Rights Victory in Ohio: Restoration of Early Voting on the Weekend Before the Election

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruledon Friday that Ohio must make early voting during the three days before the election available to all voters if it’s available to military members and voters who live overseas. The ruling upheld a lower court’s decision.  The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling is available here [PDF].

…In late August, U.S. District Court Judge Peter Economus ruled against the Ohio Republicans and ordered that their restrictions on Early Voting for all, in those three days, be immediately lifted.

Sec. of State Husted attempted to work around that order, issuing a directive to county election officials, instructing them that they didn’t need to set new hours for voting during that weekend, because he intended to appeal Economus’ ruling.

Economus was not happy and ordered Husted to personally appear before him. A chastened Husted filed a motion apologizing to the court in early September.

…Husted has claimed he believes in uniform voting standards across the state. If so, he could issue a directive ordering all counties to open their doors over the weekend before the election for liberal access to voting for all.

There is a lot more information in this article.  Please click here to read about all of the ramifications and “wiggle room” in this case.


What the PA Photo ID Ruling Means for the November 2012 Election – Story and Video

Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson, a Republican, enjoined just a part of the law, but it effectively strikes down the most onerous provision of it — but only for this November’s Presidential election. There were also a number of troubling caveats with what he left in place, rather than striking down the entire statute as the petitioners had sought.

Tonight, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow also discussed the confusion likely to be brought by the state’s continuing ad campaign along with the other vagueries allowed to continue by Judge Simpson’s ruling today…

She correctly notes that the effect could be that voters are misled into believing that they should stay away from the polls if they do not have the type of ID previously required under the law this year, as advertised in the state’s “education” campaign. In short, she argues, Republicans are likely to get the many “benefits” of the law (disenfranchisement of Democratic-leaning voters), even with the most onerous elements of it barred for now.

Maddow also discussed similar confusion, purposely imposed by Republicans in Mississippi, concerning their Photo ID initiative, as well as some of the latest details in the GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal.

To read the latest about the shortfalls of the judge’s decision in PA, please click here.

To watch the complete Rachel Maddow video GOP war on voting succeeds despite legal failures, please click hereThe section on PA starts at about 4:22.