Archives for the month of: June, 2011

Notwithstanding the hypocrisy from a states’ rights standpoint, Bachmann is potentially undermining her support in some key 2012 battleground states. And this goes for the other potential GOP hopefuls as well who are attacking the wildly successful efforts to raise the minimum wage. Beginning with the passage of Prop. 210 in California in 1996, citizens in nine states have approved increasing the minimum wage. These are not just “Blue” states that Republican candidates can dismiss out of hand and not worry about trying to win in  2012. Voters in battleground states of Colorado, Florida, and Ohio, as well as “Red” states Arizona, Missouri, and Montana have approved the measures, some by wide margins. Here they are, with the vote totals:

California, Prop. 210 (1996), 61% approval

Washington, Initiative 688 (1998), 66% approval

Florida, Amendment 5 (2004), 71% approval

Arizona, Prop. 202 (2006), 65% approval

Colorado, Amendment 42, 53% approval

Missouri, Prop. B (2006), 76% approval

Montana, I-151 (2006), 73% approval

Nevada, Question 6 (2004 & 2006), 68% & 69% approval

Ohio, Measure 2 (2006), 57% approval

 

It’s important to note that the six statewide minimum wage measures on the 2006 ballot also had a major effect on the popular salience of the issue and engendered electoral support for Democratic candidates. My co-authored article in Public Opinion Quarterly on the topic is available here:

Daniel A. Smith and Caroline J. Tolbert. 2010. “Direct Democracy, Public Opinion, and Candidate Choice,” Public Opinion Quarterly 74: 85-108.

Here is the American Civil Liberties Union Voting Rights Project, the Florida ACLU, and Project Vote’s letter to the Voting Section Chief at the US Justice Department objecting to the state of Florida’s pending Section 5 Voting Rights Act submission of HB 1355, which amends the state’s election laws.

It nicely complements the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), the Florida Conference of Black State Legislators, and the Florida State Conference of the NAACP letter that was also submitted.

The ACLU letter alleges four potential retrogressive effects of HB 1355 on minority voting strength in Florida;

1) Reducing the number of days for early voting from 14 days to eight days – from the 10th to the 3rd day before the election. Fla. Stat. § 101.657(1)(d) (HB 1355, Sec. 39);

2) Requiring third-party voter registration organizations to submit voter registration applications within 48 hours of receipt instead of ten days as provided by existing law, and imposing a fine of $50 for each failure to comply with the deadline, and imposing fines up to $1,000 for failing to comply with other provisions. Fla. Stat. § 97.0575(3)(a) (HB 1355, Sec. 4);

3) Disallowing voters who move from one Florida county to another to make an address change at the polls on the day of an election and vote a regular ballot, except for active military voters and their family members. Fla. Stat. § 101.045(2)(d) (HB 1355, Sec. 26);

4) Reducing the shelf-life of citizen initiative petition signatures proposing constitutional amendments from four years to two years. Fla. Stat. § 100.371(3) (HB 1355, Sec. 23).

The inclusion of HB 1355’s negative impact on the citizen initiative process is a welcome addition to the NAACP, et al.’s letter.

The NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), the Florida Conference of Black State Legislators, and the Florida State Conference of the NAACP have submitted a letter to the Voting Section Chief at the US Justice Department objecting to the state of Florida’s pending Section 5 Voting Rights Act submission of HB 1355, which amends the state’s election laws.

They provide a wealth of evidence from the state’s five Section 5 counties documenting the potential retrogressive effect of HB 1355 on minority voting rights, specifically:

(1) a reduction in the number of days for early voting from 14 days to 8 days;

(2) a requirement that registered voters who have moved between counties cast provisional ballots rather than regular ballots; and

(3) unprecedented restrictions on volunteer third-party voter registration efforts.

Read their full letter here.

I look forward to seeing the ACLU’s letter also opposing the enforcement of HB 1355.

It’s well known that African Americans are more likely to vote early in Florida than whites, and that whites in Florida are more likely to cast absentee ballots.  In the 2008 general election, for example, 2.1 million Floridians voted early.  African Americans cast 22 percent of the early votes, even though they only comprised roughly 13 percent of the total electorate.

The Republican-led Florida legislature is well aware of these statistics.  It is, in part, what inspired their blatant attempt to limit early voting in the lead up to the 2012 general election.  The effort to suppress the black vote was on full display during the floor debate on House Bill 1355 (known formally as the Committee Substitute for Committee Substitute for House Bill 1355 (CS/CS/HB 1355)).

Republican Senator Mike Bennett put it eloquently (as reported by PolitiFact), when he averred:

Do you read the stories about the people in Africa? The people in the desert, who literally walk two and three hundred miles so they can have the opportunity to do what we do, and we want to make it more convenient? How much more convenient do you want to make it? Do we want to go to their house? Take the polling booth with us? This is a hard-fought privilege. This is something people die for. You want to make it convenient? The guy who died to give you that right, it was not convenient. Why would we make it any easier? I want ‘em to fight for it. I want ‘em to know what it’s like. I want them to go down there, and have to walk across town to go over and vote.

How might the new restriction on early voting–specifically, cutting the early voting period from 14 to 8 days and eliminating voting on the Sunday prior to the general election–affect the 2012 election?

As Justin Levitt noted on the Election Law Blog, although the total number of early voting hours remains fixed at 96 hours, they’re not the same hours. “The former period ran for two weeks, from Monday through the Sunday before Election Day. Now, the period will run from Saturday through Saturday. Leaving off the final Sunday. Which matters.”

The new law takes effect immediately in 62 counties, but there are five “Section 5″ counties in the state (Collier, Hardee, Hendry, Hillsborough, Monroe) where the federal Justice Department must first preclear the law due to Florida’s history of racial discrimination.

Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, none of these five counties offered early voting on Sundays in 2008 or 2010.

I’ve been working with Justin over the past week, crunching some numbers concerning African Americans casting early ballots in Florida’s largest counties that did offer early voting on the two Sundays preceding the November 4, 2008 election.

Keep an eye out for some of the findings…

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