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CHARLANE OLIVER: “IF YOUR VOTE DIDN’T MATTER THEY WOULDN’T BE TRYING SO HARD TO STOP YOU”

 

I know most of y’all won’t read this long post but nerds like me be tryna put y’all up on game for the Free 99 and some of y’all still be yelling “my vote doesn’t matter” but don’t understand that it actually does.

The Alabama abortion ban – and other restrictive laws in recent months – have been 10 years in the making by Republicans. It’s no coincidence that many states with the worst voting, education, healthcare, and incarceration rates are also the states with the most regressive laws, and mostly in the South.

When we say “local elections matter” or “elections have consequences” or “this is voter suppression” or “please go vote” this is the shorthand version of what we mean… Let’s revisit a series of unfortunate events shall we…

2008-2009: America elects the first black president, Barack Obama.

Early 2010: SCOTUS rules in ‘Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (FEC)’ that political spending is a form of free speech protected under the First Amendment. The controversial 5-4 decision effectively opened the door for corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts of money to support their chosen political candidates.

Hate that your politicians are bought and sold by corporations? Blame this.

Late 2010: Ahead of the midterms, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell vows to make President Obama a “one-term president” and Republicans declare a nationwide takeover of state legislatures.

2010 Midterms: Thanks to the Citizens United case, Republicans flood the airwaves with political advertising to influence down-ballot elections. Republicans pick up 675 state legislative seats; swept several governorships, including Tennessee; and Republican control increased from 14 states to 26 state legislatures.

They also take control of the U.S. House of Representatives, winning 58 seats.

2011: Now that Republicans effectively have the states on lock, states begin to enact strict voter ID laws, including Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and… wait for it…… Tennessee.

2012: President Obama is re-elected. All is well with the world because we now have Obamacare and our president is still Black. Meanwhile…

2013: SCOTUS guts the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in the ‘Shelby County v. Holder’ case. As in, Shelby County, ALABAMA versus Attorney General Eric Holder. Yeah as in, the same Voting Rights Act championed by civil rights activists like Dr. Martin Luther King and Congressman John Lewis who marched in Selma, ALABAMA.

The ruling basically said, nope racism doesn’t exist anymore so Southern states no longer need permission (i.e. “pre-clearance”) from the federal government to change their voting laws. The decision allowed 846 jurisdictions to close, move or change the availability of local polling places (mostly in predominantly African American counties) without federal oversight. There were also cuts to early voting and purges of voter rolls.

Virtually all restrictions on voting after the ruling were by Republicans.

2014: Here’s where it gets bad. Republicans continue their congressional takeover during the 2014 midterms. Democrats are asleep at the wheel and stayed home on Election Day…. because all is well in the world – my president is Black.

Meanwhile… Republicans gained control of U.S. Senate and picked up more seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. This is the year that TENNESSEE RANKED 50th IN VOTER TURNOUT.

Only 28% of eligible voters voted in this election.

Early 2016: Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia dies. Which means a replacement is nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate (both are elected by the voters, btw). President Obama names Merrick Garland as his nominee, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocks the nomination, claiming it’s too close to a presidential election so the next president should pick.

Late 2016: Donald Trump is elected president. Now Republicans are in control of the legislative branch and executive branch. Time to take over the judicial branch.

2017: Trump begins stacking the Courts by nominating conservative judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. (Remember, elections have consequences and in 2014, just 36.4% of eligible voters nationwide turned out in 2014 – the lowest since World War II— and Republicans gained control of the Senate, who confirms all federal judges.)

2018: By now, 34 states have some form of voter ID laws. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announces his retirement. Trump nominates Brett Kavanaugh as his replacement. Senate confirms Kavanaugh in October, shortly before the midterms, solidifying the bench as a reliably conservative 5-4 majority.

2019: Republicans control the state legislature in 31 states. Congress is divided – Democrats take back the House, and Republicans still control the Senate, Presidency, and Supreme Court.

What we’re seeing play out today is a deliberate playbook, run by ALEC and their model bills, to challenge everything in the courts. The bills introduced by legislative branches across the country are so egregious and blatantly unconstitutional in an attempt to move the battle to friendly territory – the courts.

Muslim travel ban. The courts.

Separation of migrant families at the border. The courts.

School vouchers. The courts.

Partisan gerrymandering. The courts.

Census citizenship question. The courts.

Voter registration criminalization laws. The courts.

Abortion bans to overturn Roe v. Wade. The courts.

All of this is run by people who are elected by the People.

If they can make it a felony to…. say, have an abortion…. or register voters…. or build a wall to keep immigrants out….. and felons and immigrants can’t vote, then you limit the voting power of minorities.

Thus keeping the white male power structure in control over an increasing Majority-Minority America.

There’s an election happening in your city or state somewhere every year. You must pay attention, keep up with the news and current events, and VOTE in every election, every year.

But y’all don’t hear me tho….

Charlane Oliver is a candidate for state senate in District 19 (Nashville)

SEC. TRE HARGETT HIT WITH 2ND VOTE-BY-MAIL-FOR-ALL LAWSUIT

Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett is already being sued by the NAACP & The Equity Alliance, groups seeking safer voting-by-mail for all during a pandemic.

Currently Tennessee only allows those over 60 and people who meet certain requirements to vote absentee.

Now Hargett has been hit with ANOTHER lawsuit at the state level, this time by a bipartisan group of voters, including a pastor.

You can read the lawsuit from Hunter Demster, Earle J. Fisher, Julia Hiltonsmith, Allison Donald, Ginger Bullard, and Jeff Bullard HERE.

Under “Nature of The Suit” it reads:

“Plaintiffs contend that, in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis and the uncertain but growing population distribution of the novel coronavirus (the “Virus”), restricting Tennesseans’ vote-by-mail access to voters over sixty years of age, or who otherwise meet one of the other absentee- ballot qualifications enumerated under Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-6-201, would impose impermissibly burdensome conditions on the Individual Plaintiffs and others’ right to vote under the Tennessee Constitution.

Furthermore, enforcing these restrictions during the pandemic would constitute one or more unlawful classifications of Tennesseans, violating of the Equal Protection Clause of the Tennessee Constitution. In the alternative, Plaintiffs contend that the only constitutionally compliant construction of certain Tennessee statutory language allows for a Tennessee-licensed physician to certify the entire population of a county “medically unable to vote” because of the danger posed by the pandemic.

Plaintiffs’ claims sound strictly under Tennessee state law. They assert no claims arising under or substantially related to federal law.

Tennessee is at the bottom in voter turnout. Hargett was recently torched by a federal judge for his voter registration criminalization bill.

This all reeks of calculated voter suppression. Holler at Hargett to let him know we need vote-by-mail for all:

YARBRO: “I think we should make sure we’re actually adjusting to the emergency at hand.”

Senator Jeff Yarbro calls for NO-EXCUSE ABSENTEE BALLOTS to let ALL Tennesseans vote by mail ??, rather than Sen. Gardenhire’s (clearly dangerous) bill to bring EVEN MORE PEOPLE TOGETHER.

VIDEO: Tequila Johnson On Sec. Hargett’s Voter Reg Criminalization Bill

Federal court just BLOCKED Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett’s “SCHEME” to criminalize voter registration after the Tennessee Black Voter Project registered 90,000. Tequila Johnson of The Equity Alliance tells us they were told to turn in every form, and she wasn’t allowed to testify.

“This was about holding onto power.”

Check out the full PODCAST INTERVIEW on ITUNES.

BLOCKED! Sec. Hargett’s Voter Registration Criminalization Bill Blocked By Federal Court

Today a federal court has blocked the unprecedented Tennessee law passed this past session that restricts voter registration drives, subjecting people to unprecedented civil and even criminal penalties simply for turning in insufficient voter registration forms.

The bill was pushed through the Tennessee legislature by Secretary of State Tre Hargett after the Tennessee Black Voter Project registered over 90,000 people in 2018.

A judge had just struck down Hargett’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by voter registration groups earlier this week, undressing the bill as a naked attempt to suppress the vote. READ OUR POST about that HERE, where we went into the back story of the ugly law. In that ruling, Judge Trauger echoed many of the criticisms levied against the bill when it was being debated in the legislature.

This was a big win for the voting rights groups.

Here’s the federal court’s opinion in its entirety. A win for democracy. Hopefully it will hold.

“[T]hat voting is the ‘political right . . . preservative of all rights,’ is not just a comforting aphorism; it reflects … that, in the American system of governance, every decision to grant, preserve, or take away a right can be traced … back to an election.”

VIDEO: “HATE WILL NEVER WIN” – TIRRC Votes Day of Action On Immigration

Watch a group of immigrants in Nashville turn out to vote for immigrants running for office in Nashville.

Election Day is September 12th!

MOTION DENIED: Lawsuit Against Sec. Tre Hargett’s Voter Registration Criminalization “SCHEME” Allowed to Proceed

A federal judge today said a lawsuit from the League of Women Voters, the American Muslim Advisory Council, Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, Rock the Vote, Memphis Central Labor Council, and Headcount challenging Secretary of State Tre Hargett’s new voter registration criminalization bill – which passed this past session despite outcries from protestors about the constitutionality – is allowed to proceed, striking down Hargett’s motion to dismiss the suit.

The bill came on the heels of the Tennessee Black Voter Project registering over 90,000 voters in 2018, a fact Hargett insisted had no bearing on his decision to push it through. A likely story.


U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger expressed much skepticism of Hargett’s bill in the decision, essentially pointing to all the things those who spoke out against the bill warned about during discussion of the bill in the legislative session, including the chilling effect it would have on voter registration efforts.

As Judge Trauger says:

“Restricting voter registration drives in order to try to preserve election commission resources is like poisoning the soil in order to have an easier harvest.”

She wondered about some key elements of the bill, for instance why people who are getting paid to registered voters should be subject to requirements those working for free would not be subject to:

“The Act’s two-tiered system both lack justification in its own right and undermines any claim that its provisions are truly necessary.”

Judge Trauger also says there is “no basis for requiring registration workers and volunteers mandatory government training.”

She went on to talk about the punishments leveled by the bill against registration workers, saying that it “punishes a person for doing too much of something it requires them to do” by essentially requiring them to turn in forms even if they’re incomplete – something many, including Senator Jeff Yarbro, pointed out during committee.

Judge Trauger notes that the punishment for turning incomplete forms is not levied on a % basis, but on a total basis of over 100 incomplete forms, which means “the result is The Act holds an organization to an increasingly more onerous standard the more effective it is at recruiting new voters.”

Which is likely EXACTLY the intention of the bill.

The Bill also imposes an additional penalty in each county where the violation occurred, which Judge Trauger pointed out is especially onerous and flies in the face of the interest of the state in actually registering voters.

That assumes the state is actually trying to register MORE voters, but more and more it seems Tennessee is perfectly fine being at the very bottom in voter turnout and voter registration.

Judge Trauger then points out how vulnerable these voter registrations are financially, since they are not backed by large and wealthy institutions, and says that the grand total of the penalties amounts to them being “attacked from all sides.”

She calls it a “complex and punitive regulatory scheme”, instead suggesting public education rather than an “intrusive prophylactic scheme true bad actors would likely evade regardless.”

At the end, Judge Trauger uses the exact language used by opponents of the bill to allow the suit to continue, pointing out that it will have a “chilling effect” on voter registration – which we have heard from groups registering voters in Tennessee is happening already.

Here’s the ruling in its entirety

TN GOP Nixes Voting by Mail for Newly Registered Disabled, Elderly, Military

Conservatives on the House Local Committee killed a measure that would allow Tennesseans who qualify to vote by mail to do so immediately after receiving a voter registration card.

There are 14 qualifications in Tennessee for a voter to be eligible for absentee voting by mail, such as: voter is over 60 years old; voter is physically disabled or ill; or voter is a member of the military.

Under current law, those who qualify to vote absentee by mail must first vote in person. That rule could create issues for many new Tennesseans or newly eligible voters.

Hypothetically, if an 19-year-old Tennessean, who registered to vote, joined the military and was placed out of state before participating in an election, the 19-year-old would not be allowed to vote by mail. Or if a home-ridden person moved to Tennessee, the same result would apply.

Backstory

Interestingly, this bill passed the very same committee in March and was moved to the House Calendar and Rules Committee, which schedules the floor votes for the House of Representatives.

When Rep. Love presented the legislation to the Calendar and Rules Committee, the committee chairman Rep. Jason Zachary, R-Knoxville, District 14, opened the discussion by addressing House Speaker Glen Casada, R-Franklin. Casada quickly re-directed to Rep. Love and inferred that they had spoken about an amendment.

Watch the video

So rather than getting scheduled for a floor vote, Rep. Love offered, seemingly at the behest of Speaker Casada, to move the bill back to House Local Committee to attach an amendment prohibiting college IDs as a valid voter ID — which is already state law.

On April 10 in the Local Committee, Rep. Love thanked committee members and Speaker Casada for allowing him to get the legislation in “proper form.”

While there is no smoking gun where Speaker Casada says he opposed the bill, the parliamentary procedure he appears to have orchestrated killed the bill.

How they voted: House Local Committee, April 10
Representatives voting against the bill (voice vote):
Rep. Dave Wright, R-Corryton, District 19
Rep. Dale Carr, R-Sevierville, District 12
Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, District 29
Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, District 11
Rep. Esther Helton, R-East Ridge, District 30
Rep. Jerome Moon, R-Maryville, District 8
Rep. Bob Ramsey, R-Maryville, District 20
Rep. Rick Tillis, R-Lewisberg, District 92
Rep. Ron Travis, R-Dayton, District 31
Rep. Kent Calfee, R-Kingston, District 32
Rep. John Crawford, R-Kingsport, District 1
Rep. Tim Rudd, R-Murfreesboro, District 34

Democratic members of the committee signaled support for the bill.

Any member may ask the clerk to record their opposition vote when voice votes prevail.