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Raoul reacts to Voting Rights Act decision

Wednesday, Jun 26, 2013

* I didn’t post anything yesterday on the US Supreme Court’s Voting Rights Act ruling because I didn’t have much of an Illinois angle. This press release provides it. Try to stay Illinois-centric in comments, please…

State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) issued the following statement on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder to invalidate the formula that determines which jurisdictions were required under the federal Voting Rights Act to obtain preclearance of proposed changes to voting procedures:

Yesterday’s decision, with which I am extremely disappointed, highlights the ongoing need for strong, state-level voting protections such as those found in Illinois law. I’m proud to live in a progressive state that values full participation by all citizens in the democratic process. Historically, African-Americans in many parts of the country faced discrimination and outright intimidation when they tried to make their voices heard at the polls; today, voting is made more difficult not only for racial minorities but also for senior citizens, students and low-income individuals when procedural hurdles such as ID requirements are put in their path.

Prior to the latest round of legislative and congressional redistricting, I introduced the Illinois Voting Rights Act to protect language and racial minorities from having their electoral influence diluted in the redistricting process. I also worked this year to make voting more accessible through online voter registration, early voting on college campuses, later in-person early voting hours on Sundays and protections for provisional voters.

Congress should take action to restore a strong federal Voting Rights Act that addresses the barriers to minority electoral participation still in existence today. Meanwhile, I believe Illinoisans can be proud of this state’s voting laws. I pledge to continue working to make them stronger and fairer.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

33 Comments
  1. - Bill White - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 11:10 am:

    Voting rights arguments grounded on the Illinois Constitution would not be reviewable by the US Supreme Court.

    Democratic candidates could run on a platform of state level voting rights initiatives.


  2. - I don't want to live in Teabagistan - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 11:12 am:

    For a caucus that wants to deny marriage equality, it certainly is interesting to see a member of that caucus state his disappointment over the VRA decision.


  3. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 11:15 am:

    === I’m proud to live in a progressive state that values full participation by all citizens in the democratic process. ===

    Tell that to the Latino community after the most recent remap.


  4. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 11:15 am:

    ===For a caucus that wants to deny marriage equality===

    Wrong chamber, dude. Raoul voted “Yes,” as did most other African-American Senators.


  5. - c - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 11:15 am:

    they should also make it so democratic legislators cant redistrict areas to gain more votes over the other part.But im sure kwame was ok with that since he voted for it.


  6. - I don't want to live in Teabagistan - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 11:18 am:

    Bill, not quite. In general, the US Supreme Court can review state decisions. More specifically, you should read Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona. Any law passed by the state that would effect voting on federal positions is preempted by federal law. And since we won’t have two separate voting systems…fed law controls and it would be reviewable by the US Supreme Court.


  7. - I don't want to live in Teabagistan - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 11:22 am:

    Mea Culpa


  8. - Bill White - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 11:24 am:

    Elsewhere, I saw it suggested that voting rights abuses in deeply red states increased minority turnout percentages in blue states such as Illinois.


  9. - anon 1130 - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 11:28 am:

    Yes Senator, showing a photo id to vote makes voting much more difficult than firehoses, billyclubs, and armed gangs ever have.


  10. - grand old partisan - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 11:30 am:

    Ironically, Sen. Raoul’s argument (particularly the 2nd paragraph of the posted excerpt) supports the core finding of the ruling: that the current formula for Section 4 has become outdated, and Congress needs to update it to reflect today – and not yesterday’s “historical” – voting rights issues.

    The Court was asked to determine whether or not Section 4 was still necessary and essential enough to justify continued federal oversight in state law on a selective basis. The Court (correctly, in my opinion) found that, in its current form, the answer was no. Thus, the Congress must either rewrite the law so that it applies equally to all states (and, in turn, all citizens) or create a new formula that does justify such a constitutionally precarious federal intervention into state matters. Some have argued that Congress is unlikely to do that, which may be true – but that is not the Court’s problem, callous as that may sound.


  11. - RonOglesby - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 11:32 am:


    …but also for senior citizens, students and low-income individuals when procedural hurdles such as ID requirements are put in their path.

    Uh, doesn’t Illinois require 2 forms of ID to register and to vote? I remember President Obama voting in the last election and having to be reminded that he had to show ID…


  12. - Montrose - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 11:33 am:

    *Yes Senator, showing a photo id to vote makes voting much more difficult than firehoses, billyclubs, and armed gangs ever have.*

    The “things are not as bad as they once were” argument is not helpful. Whether the barrier is blunt or more nuanced, it is still a barrier. Yes, progress has been made, but that certainly doesn’t mean we are done.


  13. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 11:33 am:

    ===require 2 forms of ID to register and to vote===

    Only to register. ID for voting in special circumstances, I think. Otherwise, no.


  14. - Esquire - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 11:39 am:

    Every decade, we review population changes and redistrict election maps. I do not view the VRA as being necessarily defunct, but subject to possible revisions. How can anyone argue with the SCOTUS majority opinion that affected states are entitled to have the VRA criteria reexamined to reflect current conditions after forty-eight years have passed?

    We have an African American president serving his second term in the White House and there are still some who want to claim that the USA is racist to its core?


  15. - RonOglesby - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 11:41 am:

    @Rich,

    got it.

    Funny thing is I think the law should apply to all states, not just some based on stats and what the country was like in 1964/5.

    Things change. states change. When that law and its formulas were written voter discrimination was ungodly. So they ‘punished’ specific states. to the point that most of those counties or states (until now) had to get Fed permission to even move a polling place across the street to a new building…

    Time to move on. Apply it equally to all states, sounds fair to me.


  16. - Anonner - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 11:43 am:

    Someone want to ask the esteemed senator what he thinks about today’s DOMA ruling?

    I’d be interested in hearing his take on that.


  17. - Cincinnatus - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 11:44 am:

    I do wonder what effect the ruling will have on the majority-minority districts we see created during redistricting. Perhaps Mike Fortner is reading the Blog today and would care to weigh in…


  18. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 11:44 am:

    ===Someone want to ask the esteemed senator what he thinks about today’s DOMA ruling?===

    State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) issued the following statement on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act:

    Forty-six years after Loving v. Virginia, which affirmed the marriage rights of interracial couples, the U.S. Supreme Court again struck a blow against laws that discriminate against people based on whom they choose to marry. Today, a majority of justices held that the Defense of Marriage Act — which prohibited same-sex couples, even those who are married in the eyes of the states in which they reside, from accessing federal marriage benefits — is contrary to the Constitution’s equal protection clause.

    I wholeheartedly applaud this decision. But it does not absolve Illinois lawmakers of responsibility; our work has just begun.

    Because same-sex couples in this state may enter into civil unions but not marriages, the federal rights and responsibilities of marriage do not apply to them – even after today’s ruling. It is now more critical than ever that the House pass the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, as the Senate did in February, so the commitments same-sex couples make to each other are recognized as marriages under both state and federal law.


  19. - Liandro - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 11:46 am:

    It is good to have extended early voting, increased hours, and almost everything else being done to improve access to voting, but we also need state voter ID laws to help ensure identity. Showing ID is about as basic as it gets for anything remotely important–and voting certainly qualifies as important.

    I do NOT support national ID card initiatives, though. The federal government shows way too much interest in the individual lives of citizens as it is. I wish we didn’t need it at the state level, and used to oppose it, but as I’ve seen more of elections I became convinced it is important.


  20. - Geneva Guy - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 11:56 am:

    So much hyperbole and demagoging on both sides over the voting issue. Dems want us all to believe that racist Republicans are always working under cover of darkness to dilute minority votes. Republicans are paranoid about urban Dem machines thumbing the scales and getting their constitutents to vote early and often. More often there is little to nothing supporting the angst on either side.

    This recent decision doesn’t move the needle much. The Supremes only struck the preclearance section. The Section that allows relief from racial discrimination in voting survives as it should. There is a legitimate gripe about the Feds forcing local jurisdictions to preclear changes they make to their own voting laws based on a formula devised 50 years ago.

    Let’s move beyond the fear and loathing. I would be cool with both parties at the Federal and State level talking a bit more about jobs and the economy and taxes and pensions and all the other stuff that actually presents as a critically immediate issue for our short and long term futures. Instead, politicians would rather use the Voting non-issue to stage a proxy battle in order to discredit the other party.


  21. - P - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 12:00 pm:

    After ramming through the last redistricting Raoul has the gạll to write that! What a hypocrite.


  22. - lake county democrat - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 12:04 pm:

    What Cincy said (i.e., how might this affect redistricting). I know that bores the good government = tinfoil hat system genuflectors here, but this might have teeth if a district challenge lands before the right district court judge.


  23. - Fed up - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 12:06 pm:

    When you look at how gerrymandered Illinois districts are it is hard to believe Raoul can say anything about voting rights with a straight face.


  24. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 12:07 pm:

    ===majority-minority districts we see created during redistricting===

    Illinois isn’t covered by those provisions of the VRA dealt with by the USSCt yesterday. I doubt it’ll have too much impact, but I would like to see more on this.


  25. - Jeff Trigg - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 12:13 pm:

    I need to send Raoul another copy of the Lee v. Keith ruling from the 7th Circuit in 2006. Raoul didn’t say a word when the courts ruled that Illinois election laws were unconstitutional and violated the 1st and 14th Amendment rights of independent candidates. Not even one independent candidate was able to get on the ballot for Congress or the GA for 25 years.

    “I’m proud to live in a progressive state that values full participation by all citizens in the democratic process.”

    What a joke that statement is. Independents and “others” are not allowed equal or full participation in Illinois, as Lee v. Keith has proven. If Raoul isn’t aware of his own state’s discriminatory election laws designed to keep competition off the ballot, he’s incompetent and has no credibility to even comment on this issue. Raoul, and his entire so-called Democrat Party in Illinois, are using the same election law tactics to keep independents and “others” from political participation that the white males used to keep women and minorities from political participation. Hypocrites.

    As for Illinois, isn’t Peoria’s bullet voting system a result of a VRA lawsuit? That hasn’t made much of a difference in recent history either.


  26. - Logic not emotion - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 12:18 pm:

    I would still like to see districts drawn by computer based only upon population / municipal boundary type data. Eliminate the gerrymandering whether it is used against populations based upon race, political orientation or any other reason.


  27. - Amalia - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 12:36 pm:

    yes, historically we live in a state where race was not a factor in the same way it was in other states with voting. but we were still behind on voting rights for any woman because voting rights were held by any man in Illinois. this week marks the 100th anniversary of the signing of the bill for women’s suffrage in Illinois, suffrage for most, but not all matters on the ballot. this suffrage was won in the legislature after a referendum failed. that referendum result was truly disappointing because more than 100 years ago men, all men, could vote in Illinois, and, were elected to office but many seemed not to believe that rights should extend to women. kind of reminds one of those who believe that civil rights do not extend to the right of people to marry whomever they choose. civil rights are civil rights. elected officials and citizens in general should get that right. 100 years ago there was a great divide in voting rights between all men and all women.


  28. - Cincinnatus - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 1:17 pm:

    - Logic not emotion - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 12:18 pm:

    I would still like to see districts drawn by computer based only upon population / municipal boundary type data.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    I don’t believe it is mathematically possible to do this, however, it can be used as a starting point for the humans who must make certain decisions. Again, Rep. Fortner is the best person in Illinois, maybe in the US, to explain this issue.


  29. - Downstater - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 1:22 pm:

    =Historically, African-Americans in many parts of the country faced discrimination and outright intimidation when they tried to make their voices heard at the polls; today, voting is made more difficult not only for racial minorities but also for senior citizens, students and low-income individuals when procedural hurdles such as ID requirements are put in their path.= Horse Hockey!!!!! There is no evidence to support his claim.


  30. - reformer - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 1:27 pm:

    If it were up to IL Republicans, voters wouldn’t have no-excuse absentee ballots. Ditto for online voter registration, early voting on college campuses, and later in-person early voting hours on Sundays. What we would have is a strict voter ID law.


  31. - I don't want to live in Teabagistan - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 2:32 pm:

    Logic, I would want to try crowd-sourcing it. Let gamers have a shot at creating districts that actually have shapes we learned in school or the closest thing to it. Give a $ prize to the best map. It would have to adhere to laws and legal decisions.


  32. - Tom - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 4:19 pm:

    Downstater - Here is the latest study on Voter ID http://www.brennancenter.org/publication/challenge-obtaining-voter-identification


  33. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 4:21 pm:

    –Horse Hockey!!!!! There is no evidence to support his claim. –

    Downstater, the google is your friend. But let me help you out.

    Florida:

    –”Former Florida GOP leaders say voter suppression was reason they pushed new election law”–

    http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/early-voting-curbs-called-power-play/nTFDy/

    Pennsylvania:

    –PoliticsPA.com reports (GOP state House Majority Leader Mike) Turzai as saying (quote) “Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.” (endquote).–

    http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2012/06/26/pa-house-majority-leader-causes-stir-with-comments-on-voter-id-law/

    Ohio:

    –In a scathing 17-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley said a directive on counting provisional ballots that Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted issued on Nov. 2 was “a flagrant violation of a state elections law” that could disenfranchise voters. “The surreptitious manner in which the secretary went about implementing this last minute change to the election rules casts serious doubt on his protestations of good faith,” Marbley wrote.

    http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/john-husted-ohio-voter-suppression-121312

    And more:

    http://www.brennancenter.org/issues/restricting-vote

    The crowd pushing Voter ID, cutbacks to early voting, end of same-day registration, etc., is part of the ALEC crew that that is nostalgic for a time that never existed except on “Leave it to Beaver” and wants only the “right” people to vote.

    They’re not shy about it. Paul Weyrich gave speeches on it for crying out loud.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fR4wxlCGIu0

    The efforts linked above failed miserably in 2012. People got honked off that a bunch of political hacks sought to disenfranchise them and they punched back, hard.

    The times they are a changin’. Adapt or reap the whirlwind. Like Lindsay Graham says:

    “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”


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