Friday, October 05, 2012

NM GOP Trains Poll Workers in Voter Suppressio​n from ProgressNowNM

On October 4, 2012, ProgressNow New Mexico released an undercover video showing a Republican and Tea Party leader training “poll challengers” to illegally deny thousands of legal New Mexico voters a ballot on Election Day. To see the whole story click here.

Undercover video recorded by ProgressNow New Mexico shows the Republican Party training poll challengers in illegal tactics that could potentially restrict the voting rights of as many as 1-in8 New Mexicans in November.

A recording of the September 26th official "Poll Challenger Training" conducted by the Republican Party shows a GOP & Tea Party leader giving false and/or misleading information about voting rights and regulations to the training's attendees. The training was replete with misinformation about ID requirements, the use of provisional ballots, assistance for Spanish-speaking citizens, change of address requirements, and the rights of the disabled at the polls.

The group even created it's own poll challenger guide complete with instructions on how to demand ID and force legal voters to vote by provisional ballot in blatant contradiction with election law.

The tactics disseminated at the Republican "Poll Challenger Training" have the potential to restrict the voting rights of New Mexicans throughout the state by making it harder for eligible voters to exercise their civic duty and by compromising the integrity of the entire state electoral process.

Once ProgressNow NM broke the story it started moving swiftly across the web. ThinkProgress promoted it on their front-page and Salon.com already published a piece.

But, The Nation caught up with Rep. Steve Pearce to ask his opinion about issue. He told them that these illegal tactics are the way the GOP will take back New Mexico. Really:

Pearce appeared to be aware of the NM GOP’s poll watching efforts, and supported them. “We’re simply saying that we’re going to start, we’re going to take it back it into our hands,” said Pearce. “We should check for ID since you have to show an ID to do anything in America.” He did, however, admit that doing so would be against the law. “Its against New Mexico law to check for ID,” the congressman conceded.

ProgressNow says "We aren't going to let them get away with this. State GOP leaders like Steve Pearce are encouraging their own party to break the law and we need your help to bring pressure to stop them."

Please help ProgressNow NM get this story out to the media in New Mexico and across the country. We can’t let Tea Party extremists break the law and bully voters into staying home on election day. Take a minute to give $5, $25 or $50 to help us keep up the pressure on Tea Party trainers to stop training challengers to bully our voters.

After you give, share it on Twitter and Facebook; email it to your friends; call your local news station. Whatever you can do to spread the word. New Mexicans need to know the tactics being used by those who want to limit voting rights and compromise the integrity of our election.

October 5, 2012 at 10:19 AM in 2012 General Election, Action Alerts, Election Reform & Voting, ProgressNow New Mexico | Permalink | Comments (3)

Monday, July 09, 2012

Study Urges Federal and State Lawmakers, Election Officials to Protect Voters from Bullying, Misinformation Campaigns

A release from Common Cause; Common Cause is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to restoring the core values of American democracy, reinventing an open, honest, and accountable government that works for the public interest, and empowering ordinary people to make their voices heard.

Political vandals armed with computer-controlled telephones and the email addresses of millions of voters have a clear path to sabotage elections across America this November and in most states are likely to get away with it, Common Cause and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law warn in a report released today.

The detailed study, Deceptive Election Practices and Voter Intimidation: The Need for Voter Protection, highlights a variety of well-organized attempts to bully or misinform targeted groups of voters to keep them away from the polls. It calls on Congress, state legislatures and election officials to strengthen laws against political pillaging and better enforce those already on the books.

The report also includes the draft of a model state law on voters’ rights, which would ban the deliberate dissemination of false information on the time, place and manner of voting. The law would permit citizens to seek court orders to stop false information campaigns, and require the government to immediately publicize corrective information.

“The voting rights of tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of Americans are at risk,” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar. “By using automated phone calls and online tools like Facebook and Twitter, overzealous partisans can disseminate thousands of official looking messages directing voters to bogus polling places or misleading them about voting hours and voter identification requirements. In too many states and localities, our election laws and authorities are ill-equipped to respond to this threat.”

“Intentionally deceiving voters in an attempt to prevent them from voting for their candidates is the real fraud being perpetrated in our elections,” said Lawyers’ Committee Executive Director Barbara Arnwine. “As our nation recently celebrated its birthday, it’s time federal and state legislators take the necessary steps to protect voters against these nefarious tactics and help restore Americans’ faith in our democracy.”

The 33-page report includes case studies of Election Day sabotage in nine states, including:

  • Email messages on Election Day 2008 informing students at George Mason University in Virginia that voting had been postponed for 24 hours. Text messages sent to University of Florida students that day said Tuesday voting was for Republicans only, with Wednesday reserved for Democrats.
  • More than 100,000 Election Day 2010 robocalls to predominately African-American precincts in Maryland advising supporters of incumbent Gov. Martin O’Malley that O’Malley’s re-election was secure and they needn’t bother to vote. A top aide to Republican Bob Ehrlich was convicted of violating state election laws for his role in the case.
  • Facebook messages distributed by a Mississippi pastor advising voters opposed to a “personhood amendment” to the state Constitution that because of anticipated high turnout they should vote on Wednesday, the day after the actual election.
  • Phone calls directed at residents of two Philadelphia wards in 2008 advised the recipients that Latino residents would be restricted to voting between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Election Day.

Along with the passage of new legislation, the report urges tougher enforcement of voter protection laws already in effect. “Even in states with some type of law to protect against deceptive election practices, there is a slim record of enforcement,” the study asserts. That makes it all the more important for authorities to declare publicly that future violators will be prosecuted.

“Once the deceptive information has been disseminated the damage is already done. That’s why it’s important for state and federal governments to immediately publicize correct information so no voter is turned away or votes improperly,” Arnwine added.

“It’s tempting to dismiss these activities as ‘dirty tricks,’” Edgar said. “In fact, they’re serious crimes, directed not just against the voters who might be denied their rights, but against our democracy itself. It’s time we investigate, prosecute and punish them with the seriousness they deserve.”

Edgar added that as Election Day approaches, Common Cause, the Lawyers’ Committee and other groups will be recruiting citizen volunteers to identify and focus public and official attention on attempts to mislead or intimidate voters.

Read the full report here.

About the Lawyers’ Committee:
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCRUL), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and fair lending, community development, employment discrimination, voting, education and environmental justice. For more information about the LCCRUL, visit http://www.lawyerscommittee.org/

July 9, 2012 at 03:16 PM in 2012 General Election, Election Reform & Voting | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, October 03, 2011

Guest Blog: 2012 Presents A Real Opportunity for Democrats To Propose Plausible, Progressive Economic Alternatives

AlexanderCotoia This is a guest blog by Alexander J. Cotoia, a paralegal with Holt Mynatt Martinez, P.C. in Las Cruces and a member of the Democratic Party State Central Committee from Dona Ana County. He previously sought the Democratic nomination for the District 7 seat on the Public Education Commission.

As a member of the Democratic Party State Central Committee, I’m often asked to defend the actions, or increasingly, inactions of my Democratic compatriots. My answer to critics is that I’m a progressive first and a Democrat second.  

This distinction highlights an important problem with the current crop of Democratic politicians in Washington, with a few notable exceptions. Progressives are tired of the liberal lethargy that seemed to characterize the first few years of this presidential administration where the thirst for legislative victory too often meant sacrificed principles and lost opportunities. Neither the President nor his Democratic allies in Congress can afford to perpetuate this trend.

As Democrats we shouldn’t and can’t be afraid to illustrate what’s at stake. An increasing concentration of wealth at the top and diminishing incomes for the rest of us mean economic stagnation. It doesn’t take a Nobel laureate to know that more tax relief for those at the top of the socioeconomic strata won’t remediate the real problem—a failure of consumer confidence and aggregate demand. In an economy driven by consumption, accounting for nearly 60% of all economic activity, it’s a fool’s errand to believe that corporate profits can soar as consumer confidences collapses.  

Nothing short of a radical reorientation of our economic paradigm is required. The fixation with less government and lower taxes, while a popular political refrain, ignores the reality that trickle-down tactics simply haven’t worked. If anything, the Bush-era policies have contributed to widening inequality and exacerbated a seemingly intractable deficit debacle. Rather than stimulate economic growth, these generous giveaways have widened the chasm between the poor and the rich. They have also robbed the American people of the ability to redress our budgetary woes with a balanced approach to both revenue and expenditures.  

No Retreat From Sensible Solutions
2012 presents Democrats with a real opportunity to address these and other problems with plausible, progressive alternatives. The timidity of the Tea Party and the GOP’s draconian dogma simply aren’t real replacements for sensible solutions; solutions like expanding the earned income tax credit for middle class workers, or as former Labor Secretary Bob Reich has proposed, imposing higher marginal rates on the wealthy and eliminating the distinction between capital gains and ordinary income to partially fund wage supplements for cash-strapped workers. These proposals and others would have the effect of reconstituting a ragged middle class and eliminate a perversity of our tax system that unfairly penalizes the poor and rewards the rich.  

Progressives must also stand against calls to dramatically reduce or scale back our investment in public infrastructure. While conservatives love to rail against profligate spending and a burgeoning bureaucracy, non-defense discretionary spending is at a historic low, and the government’s contribution to research and development as a percentage of GDP in 2009 stood at a meager .08%. These are hardly positive attributes in our current economic climate, when history shows that public investment is an indispensable ingredient in fostering a full and robust recovery.   

2012 is not a time for progressives to retreat from their principles. It’s a time for Democratic politicians to give Americans a real alternative.  As a Democrat, I’ll continue to support principled progressives who share my belief that a return to President Clinton’s philosophy of “opportunity for all, responsibility from all, in a community of all Americans,” is the best recipe for national unity and shared prosperity.  

This is a guest blog by Alexander J. Cotoia. If you'd like to submit a piece for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link at the upper left-hand corner of the page.

October 3, 2011 at 12:56 AM in 2012 General Election, Democratic Party, Economy, Populism, Finance, Investments, Guest Blogger, Progressivism, Taxes | Permalink | Comments (4)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Second UNM C-SVED Panel Discusses Presidential Electoral College Versus National Popular Vote

DownloadedFile-1 The UNM Center for the Study of Voting, Elections and Democracy (C-SVED) held its second of three Citizen Panel meetings yesterday in Santa Fe to discuss and compare the current Electoral College system with a new approach, the National Popular Vote Initiative. Guests at Wednesday’s meeting included the New Mexico Secretary of State, Dianna Duran, Senators Rod Adair and Peter Wirth, and State Legislators Nate Gentry and David Doyle. In addition to these guests, Citizen Panel members, including County Clerks from four New Mexico counties and multiple citizens and citizen groups, grappled with the idea of changing the way we vote for president to a national popular vote.

"We have brought Democrats and Republicans together to discuss this important issue,” said Prof. Lonna Atkeson, director of C-SVED.  "This is not a partisan issue, but one that affects all citizens."

Representatives of the National Popular Vote Initiative (NPVI) participated in the Citizen Panel discussion, arguing that New Mexico should join eight other states and the District of Columbia, in adopting legislation that would create a multi-state compact.

According to the C-SVED, yesterday’s Citizen Panel discussion focused on the creation of the multi-state compact, the members of which would award their Electoral College votes to the presidential candidate who received the most popular votes nationally. The Electoral College would remain intact under the proposed compact, but would change the Electoral College from an institution that reflects the voters’ state-by-state choices (or, in the case of Maine and Nebraska, district-wide choices) into a body that reflects the voters’ nationwide choice.

Specifically, the proposed compact would require that each member state award its electoral votes to the presidential candidate who received the largest number of popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Eight states and the District of Columbia have adopted such legislation (Vermont, Maryland, Washington, Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts, California and Hawaii), which represents 49% of the electoral votes necessary to elect the president.

At the completion of this process, the Citizen Panel will summarize its findings and publish a report which will be presented to Secretary of State Diana Duran, members the New Mexico Legislature and to Governor Susana Martinez. The final Citizen Panel meeting is scheduled for Las Cruces in November, time and loca­tion TBA.

Videos of the Panel’s first and second meetings, as well as other related materials, are available at: www.unm.edu/~atkeson/center/csved.html.

Direct questions to Professor Lonna Atkeson (phone: (505)-277-7592, email: atkeson@unm.edu).

September 29, 2011 at 06:21 PM in 2012 General Election, Election Reform & Voting, Events | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

9/28 in Santa Fe: Electing the President -- the Citizen Panel

From the UNM Center for the Study of Voting, Elections, and Democracy (UNM C-SVED): With a Presidential election just over one year away, there are major events happening that may change the way we select our President. In Pennsylvania and Nebraska, legislators are getting national headlines as they consider altering the method by which their states’ Presidential electors are chosen. Nationally, a national popular vote movement has quietly amassed 49% of the electoral votes it needs to change the method of electing Presidents. New Mexico must be heard in this important, national debate.

UNM C-SVED has organized a panel of over 20 New Mexico election leaders, including County Clerks, representatives of the New Mexico Secretary of State, Legislators, business people, students, and community activists to analyze this issue and present its conclusions on what potential changes mean for New Mexico and our nation.

The panel, which includes Republicans such as New Mexico Republican Party Attorney Paul Kinsel, and Lincoln County Clerk Rhonda Burrows and Democrats such as Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver, and Dona Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins, held its first meeting on August 31. During a spirited and in depth discussion among all members, the panel received a history lesson on how the electoral college was formed, how the Constitution deals with it and how states have changed the way elections and Presidents have been chosen throughout the years.

The next meeting will be held in Santa Fe on Wednesday, September 28, from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM at the Joseph Montoya Building, 1100 S. Saint Francis Drive, in the Bid Room. The media and the public are encouraged to attend the meeting.

Is this any way to choose a President?

Among the facts presented at the panel's first meeting:

  • The Constitution left the selection of electors to the states. There is no constitutional right to vote for President, electors do that, and there is NO constitutional right to vote for electors.
  • Electors are chosen by political parties and they meet after a Presidential election to select the President. There is no guarantee that they will vote for the candidate they are supposed.
  • Four times in our history, the winner of the popular vote lost the Electoral College.
  • In Presidential elections, it is not one person, one vote. A vote in one state isworth more or less than one vote in another state. In many states most people feeltheir votes don’t matter at all.

In Santa Fe on September 28, the panel will mostly focus on the national popular vote alternative plan and reviewring in depth how it would operate and function. We will:

  • Introduce the concept of state compacts
  • Present the national popular vote plan
  • Examine the mplementation of the national popular vote
  • Examine how would the national popular vote system be administered

“This is not a partisan issue” said Professor Lonna Atkeson, Director of C-SVED. “Both parties have benefited from the current system and both have suffered. I hope we can come together, both Republicans and Democrats ,and agree on what is best for democracy.”

C-SVED will conduct one final panel meeting in November. After the conclusion of its 3rd meeting UNM C-SVED will prepare a summary of the panel’s findings and present it to the New Mexico Secretary of State  -- who is charged with reviewing the national popular vote and the current system and then report her findings to the New Mexico Legislature. It will also present its findings to the public and the media.

Direct any questions to Professor Lonna Atkeson (phone: (505)-660-8976, email: atkeson@unm.edu).

September 27, 2011 at 10:17 PM in 2012 General Election, Election Reform & Voting, Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Comment Now on BernCo Clerk's Voting Convenience Center Proposal

Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver is rolling out her proposal that the Bernalillo County Commission implement Voting Convenience Centers (VCC) in lieu of precinct-specific locations for the Primary and General Elections in 2012. VCC's are similar to Early Voting Centers in that any voter can obtain his or her appropriate ballot and vote at any VCC he or she finds to be convenient. Each VCC will have the ability to print out a ballot that contains the proper listing of candidates, ballot questions, etc., for any precinct in the county where a voter resides.

“Legislation was passed last year to allow all Clerks in New Mexico the option of implementing Voting Convenience Centers,” said Clerk Toulouse Oliver in a statement released today. “My staff and I have prepared a detailed proposal and we are seeking input from the public in an effort to make certain that we have incorporated all essential elements.”

“Our analysis shows that VCCs will be more convenient while cutting costs for county taxpayers and voters. The 65 locations will be strategically located throughout the City and County and will be easily accessible. Having 65 locations instead of the traditional 172 on election day will cut down significantly on manpower and supplies, resulting in a potential savings of upward of $1 million dollars,” she continued. “More and more voters are taking advantage of Early Voting and VCCs are a logical extension.”

Members of the public can view or print the proposal on the front page of the website at www.bernco.gov or click here for a direct link. Comments, questions or concerns can be sent via e-mail to votingconvenience@bernco.gov or you can call 468-1291.

The Clerk will also be hosting a public forum to present the proposal on Thursday, September 22, 2011 beginning at 6:00 PM in the Chambers at One Civic Plaza, NW.

The proposal will be presented to the Board of County Commissioners for final approval in October.

August 29, 2011 at 04:36 PM in 2012 General Election, 2012 Primary Election, Bernalillo County, Election Reform & Voting | Permalink | Comments (7)