Urgent Action Needed on Georgia Early Voting Bill on Last Day of Legislative Session

Updated March 21: Georgia's legislative session closed without final action being taken on HB 891. According to Facing South, "House sponsors declined to take up a vote on the revised bill, and HB 891 was dead." The report quotes Kelli Persons of League of Women Voters of Georgia, "The message here is that it's very important . . . to pay attention to what's happening at the local level," in reference to the bill's impact on municipal early voting.

Earlier this month we told you about legislation in Georgia that would reduce the availability of early voting in municipal elections. While it was welcome news that the bill was amended to keep early voting at three weeks, requiring cities to pass their own legislation if they wanted to make further cuts, the League of Women Voters of Georgia is now reporting a flaw in the language that could take municipal early voting down to zero.

According to the League, it's time to act:

Please call, email, facebook/twitter & fax . . . Lt. Governor Cagle and Senate members,

And tell them to protect early voting and STOP HB 891 or FIX HB 891 before allowing a vote. It is a discredit to democracy to ask our Senators to vote on a flawed bill!

There is an "agreement" to correct the error before HB 891 is signed into law, but it should be fixed now – or stopped. Timing is especially critical as today, March 20, is the last day of Georgia's legislative session.

In other voting rights news, a federal judge has ruled in the Arizona-Kansas proof of citizenship case, early voting expansion suffers a setback in Louisiana, Virginia voter ID implementation moves forward – ahead of schedule, and Wisconsin Democrats and Republicans alike are speaking out against voter suppression.

Check out even more news from our friends at Fair Elections Legal Network.

PFAW

Behind the Scenes with the Right-Wing on Arizona's "Right to Discriminate" Bill

At the end of February, Right Wing Watch introduced us to the Center for Arizona Policy's Cathi Herrod, who helped lead the effort to pass a "right to discriminate" bill in Arizona.

Cathi Herrod of the Center for Arizona Policy accused the bill’s opponents of “incredible hostility to religion.”

“Our first freedom, our ability to live out our religious belief as our founders intended, as wars have been fought for our right to live out our religious belief, that is what is very much under attack,” Herrod said, adding that she is shocked that people would oppose the right-to-discriminate bill. “This was non-controversial until the last four or five days.”

She told Perkins that listeners should “pray for a miracle and to pray for an intervention” for the governor to sign the legislation.

Now that SB 1062 has been vetoed, we're learning more about the Center's involvement.

Documents recently obtained by Capitol Media Services detail meetings between the Center and Governor Jan Brewer's office.

“But the intent of the meetings, the purpose of the meetings, was to thoroughly vet the language, address their concerns, and make changes in the language pursuant to their concerns,” Herrod said. She said her organization addressed every concern raised by Hunter and Sciarrotta with the idea that this year’s version would not meet the same fate as a similar bill Brewer vetoed last year.

What led to this year’s veto, Herrod insisted, had nothing to do with the wording of SB 1062.

“Opponents made the bill about something it was not,” she said, with Brewer reacting to the highly vocal opposition, particularly from the LGBT community, rather than the language of SB 1062. “The governor vetoed a bill that didn’t exist.”

People For the American Way President Michael Keegan spoke earlier about the Right's influence:

In Arizona and across the country, Americans can see through the Right’s continued attempts to cloak anti-gay bigotry in the language of First Amendment rights. We hope that the pushback Arizona received this week will be a message, loud and clear, to the states with similar bills pending. Americans don’t want to live in a country where businesses have free rein to post a ‘No Gays’ sign.

In other LGBT news, Illinois continues implementing marriage equality; court cases progress in the Michigan and Virginia marriage battles; and Oregon Republicans stand up for the freedom to marry.

Check out even more news from our friends at GLAAD, the Victory Fund, and the Washington Blade.

PFAW

Virginia Ban on Same-Sex Marriage Struck Down

On Thursday evening a federal judge ruled that Virginia’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples is unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen stayed the decision pending appeal, meaning that while the ban has been struck down, the ruling will not immediately take effect.

Close on the heels of a federal judge’s decision earlier this week directing Kentucky to recognize same-sex marriages from other states, Judge Wright Allen’s decision makes Virginia the first state in the South where a statewide ban has been entirely struck down.

In the South and across the country, it’s clear that Americans increasingly believe it is wrong to block committed couples from the protections and responsibilities that only marriage can provide. As Judge Wright Allen wrote in her decision:

Our nation's uneven but dogged journey toward truer and more meaningful freedoms for our citizens has brought us continually to a deeper understanding of the first three words in our Constitution: we the people. "We the People" have become a broader, more diverse family than once imagined.

PFAW Foundation

VT and VA Senators Move Quickly to Fill Judicial Vacancies

With a shocking 96 current vacancies in the American judiciary and another 20 new ones already scheduled to open in the coming weeks and months, some senators clearly recognize the need to move quickly to make recommendations to the White House. In just the past couple of weeks, we've seen senators from Vermont and Virginia show leadership in this regard.

Before making district court nominations, President Obama asks senators from the state where the vacancy has occurred to present him with recommendations. It's a way to identify nominees from any given state and to ensure home-state, often bipartisan, support for nominees. Unfortunately, too many senators – Republicans and Democrats alike – have often dragged their feet in recommending acceptable nominees. What results is vacancies that can remain open for years without a nominee. Frustratingly, many of these vacancies exist even though federal judges usually give months or even a year's notice before retiring or taking senior status (semi-retirement) so that a replacement can be found.

Hopefully, that won't happen in Vermont or Virginia.

In Vermont, Judge William Sessions III announced on January 15 that he plans to go into semi-retirement in June. Just nine days later, Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders announced the formation of a nine-member commission to recommend potential nominees. (Leahy chairs the Judiciary Committee.) The commission has three members appointed by each senator and three by the Vermont Bar Association. The commission has announced that applications are due February 21 and interviews will be held on March 10-11.

In Virginia, Judge Samuel Wilson announced plans on January 26 to retire this summer. A week later, on February 3, Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine asked the Virginia State Bar to evaluate potential candidates, announcing that applications would be due March 3 and interviews held on March 26. In fact, current Virginia nominee Hannah Lauck was identified and recommended quickly by Sens. Warner and Kaine, which is why she is one of the too few nominees for a vacancy that has yet to open.

In an era of unprecedented obstruction of judicial nominees, the identification and recommendation of qualified candidates is a factor that is completely within the control of senators who want to see America's courts function effectively for all of us.

PFAW Foundation

Ken Cuccinelli's Nativist Rhetoric Backfires Badly In General Election

Cross-posted on Right Wing Watch

Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli appears to be paying the price for his anti-immigrant record. Cuccinelli backed Arizona’s draconian SB 1070 as the state attorney general and as a state senator he proposed several bills targeting immigrants and non-English speakers, and even equated US immigration policy to pest control. Cuccinelli’s harsh comparison was captured in these Spanish-language ads sponsored by People For the American Way:

While Cuccinelli’s nativism may have appealed to the Tea Party fringe, it has upset Latino voters — already alienated by the GOP’s extremist stance on immigration — and the majority of voters who back immigration reform.

But judging by interviews with Latino voters on Tuesday, the ad — which aired heavily on Spanish-language television in the weeks leading up to the election — resonated.

“He talks about our community with no respect,” said Umberto Adrian, a Manassas resident who was born in Bolivia and has lived in Virginia for 30 of his 60 years. “I can’t understand why a professional like him would refer to immigrants as if they are not human.”

Some Latino voters who said they were spurred to action by the commercial appeared to have their own interpretations of what Cuccinelli actually said.

“Cuccinelli called Hispanic people rats,” said Mary Alba, 74, a retired bakery worker. “I want people in office who know we need immigrant people. In this country we need people like immigrants, who work hard.”

Pedro Delcid, 40, perceived the remark in a slightly different, but equally derogatory, way. “This man was talking bad about our people. He said we reproduce like rats,” said Delcid, who lives in Manassas. “This is the one issue that brought me here today. I have an issue with the way he talks about immigrants.”

It’s not just anecdotal evidence either, as new polling from Latino Decisions sponsored by PFAW and America’s Voice reveals the extent of the damage from the GOP’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and policy positions:

Immigration weighs heavily in Latino and Asians’ voting decisions. Over half (53%) of Latinos rank immigration as the most important issue facing the Latino community that politicians should address. While the Asian community put other issues first, their voting choices are influenced by a candidate’s position on immigration reform. When asked about the role of immigration in their voting decisions, 53% of Latinos and 46% of Asians said it was either “the most important issue” or “one of the most important issues” in their “decision to vote, and who to vote for.”



Cuccinelli’s hardline immigration hurt not only him, but the Republican Party overall.After hearing a statement from Cuccinelli comparing immigrant families to rat families, 70% of Latinos and 59% of Asians said it made them look less favorably on the Republican Party as a whole. The comments were most salient to foreign-born Latinos and US-born Asians, who said it made them view the GOP more negatively at a rate of 75% and 74% respectively. After learning that Cuccinelli sponsored a bill as state Senator that would allow employers to fire any workers who did not speak English, 75% of Latinos and 67% of Asians said this made them less favorable to the Republican Party as a whole.



Added Gary Segura, Professor of American Politics and Chair of Chicano/a Studies, Stanford University and Co-Founder of Latino Decisions, "Hostility to immigrants--once a political wedge that worked for Republicans--has clearly now become an Achilles' heel for the Party. Latinos and Asians, climbing towards 10% of the electorate in Virginia, are clearly and profoundly put off by GOP rhetoric on this litmus-test issue for these immigrant-heavy communities. Continued antagonism toward immigration reform has the potential to erode or erase GOP competitiveness in this important and growing purple state."
PFAW

PFAW Hosts Telephone Town Hall Briefing On Cuccinelli's Extremism

Last week, PFAW hosted a fantastic telephone town hall briefing about our work in Virginia holding Ken Cuccinelli accountable for his extreme record. More than 6,000 of our members joined the call to discuss this critical race with our panel of experts.

PFAW President Michael Keegan explained why the Virginia governor’s race is so important and what PFAW is doing to stop Cuccinelli, including our canvassing efforts and our six-figure Spanish-language ad buy.

Senior Fellow Peter Montgomery spoke about our report, “Ken Cuccinelli: Attorney General of the Tea Party,” and gave us some more detail on Cuccinelli’s record of extremism, particularly on LGBT equality and reproductive rights.

Pollster and strategist Lorena Chambers told us about PFAW’s Spanish-language ads in Virginia, which highlight Cuccinelli’s record of attacking Latinos, and the importance of the Latino vote in Virginia and beyond. Watch our three ads on YouTube: “¿Qué tipo de persona?" (What type of person?)”, “Tim Kaine/Apoyo” and “Job Security.”

We also took some great questions from our members, who wanted to know about the recent voter purge in Virginia, and asked why the Republican party has been taken over by Tea Party extremists like Cuccinelli.

You can listen to the full audio of the call here.

PFAW

PFAW Takes On Cuccinelli With Spanish-Language Ads

With the election in Virginia less than two weeks away, PFAW is holding Cuccinelli accountable for his record of extreme views and hateful comments. We’ve produced a series of three Spanish-language ads in partnership with the McAuliffe campaign, reaching out to the powerful—and growing—Latino community in Viriginia. Cuccinelli has a particularly outrageous record on immigration, from praising controversial Arizona SB1070-like laws to comparing immigration policy to pest control. The people of Virginia need to know that Cuccinelli holds these disgraceful views, particularly the Latino population, and we’re helping to ensure they’re well informed before they cast their vote.

Take a look at our ads:

¿Qué tipo de persona?" (What type of person?):

This ad showcases Cuccinelli’s own words about immigration, when he compared immigrants to rats: "It is worse than our immigration policy. You can’t break up rat families…and you can’t even kill ‘em." 

Tim Kaine/Apoyo:

Tim Kaine explains how Terry McAuliffe has always championed the Hispanic community, including his support of the DREAM Act.

Job Security:

Here, we highlight Cuccinelli’s disgraceful proposal to allow companies to fire workers for speaking Spanish, even on their breaks.

Please donate to help us defeat Ken Cuccinelli by clicking here>>

 

 

 

PFAW

PFAW Volunteers Take Fight Against Cuccinelli’s Extremism to the Streets

PFAW made the news this weekend with the debut of our new Spanish language ad in Virginia, part of our partnership with the McAuliffe campaign. But we’re also on the ground, taking the fight against Cuccinelli’s extreme views to the streets. This weekend, we went out to Herndon, Virginia, participating in a training for canvassing and get-out-the-vote activities—the kind of on-the-ground efforts that will make all the difference in this election.

More than 100 volunteers hit the streets to talk to Virginia voters and make sure they know just how extreme, reckless and wrong for Virginia Cuccinelli is. We were proud to be a part of the canvass — and the McAuliffe campaign told us that Herndon was the No. 1 canvassing location for the weekend!

The level of enthusiasm we saw in our activists was very encouraging, but we won’t let ourselves get complacent. We won’t stop until we’re sure that Cuccinelli won’t be bringing his right-wing agenda to the Governor’s office.

PFAW

Virginia Removes 40,000 Names From Voter Rolls as Election Approaches

The Associated Press is reporting that Virginia election officials have gone ahead with a planned “purge” of the state’s voter rolls, removing nearly 40,000 names from voter registration lists. 

The state’s gubernatorial election is in less than three weeks.

There are signs that some eligible voters may have had their vaild voter registrations revoked in the purge. One local registrar refused to participate, the AP reports, because one in ten names that state elections officers sent him to be removed from the rolls were in fact eligible voters:

One local registrar, Lawrence Haake in Chesterfield County, has defied the state elections board and refused to purge any voters. In an affidavit, Haake says that he conducted a preliminary review that found nearly 10 percent of the names given to him by the state for potential purging were, in fact, eligible voters. He concluded that the risk of purging legitimate voters was too great.

“The list sent to us from the SBE is clearly inaccurate and unreliable,” Haake said in the affidavit.

In our report “The Right to Vote Under Attack,” we documented how flawed voter purges keep eligible citizens from voting.
 

PFAW Foundation

Cuccinelli Fails at the Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court today denied Ken Cuccinelli's bid to enforce Virginia's law criminalizing “sodomy,” despite a landmark 2003 Supreme Court case striking such laws down.

The Virginia Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate has been seeking to use the “sodomy” law against a man who solicited oral sex from a 17 year-old girl, arguing that the Supreme Court's 2003 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas applied only to consensual sex between adults. The Fourth Circuit ruled that his efforts were flatly unconstitutional. Cuccinelli asked the Supreme Court to hear this appeal, but they have declined to do so.

Cuccinelli has only himself and his hatred of LGBT people to blame for this. After Lawrence, the Virginia legislature nearly adopted a bill replacing the expansive and unconstitutional law with one specifically limited to situations not involving consenting adults in private. Had they succeeded, that law might today be used against adults who have sex with minors. But it didn't succeed, due in great part to then-state Sen. Cuccinelli, who opposed the bill and helped defeat it. His explanation for that opposition? As he told in the Virginian-Pilot several years ago:

"My view is that homosexual acts, not homosexuality, but homosexual acts are wrong," Cuccinelli told the newspaper. "They're intrinsically wrong. And I think in a natural law based country it's appropriate to have policies that reflect that. . . They don't comport with natural law. I happen to think that it represents (to put it politely; I need my thesaurus to be polite) behavior that is not healthy to an individual and in aggregate is not healthy to society."

Cuccinelli's extreme views have been politely rejected by the courts. Soon the voters of Virginia will have their chance to politely repudiate him, too.

PFAW