Politics UN expert warns of near "tyranny" against voting rights of U.S. minorities amid GOP attacks
Opinion: An activist radio host has put his life on the line for voting rights. Biden, it's your move
No one should have to risk their life to ensure all Americans can exercise a constitutionally protected right to vote, writes Dean Obeidallah. But that's where we are in 2021 America thanks to the GOP. With President Joe Biden's success in both signing the bipartisan infrastructure bill into law and his broader Build Back Better bill passing the House, he must now make voting rights reform his public priority. To be fair, the Democrats in the House already passed two different voting rights bills this year, the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. But Republicans in the Senate have blocked progress on both.
Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images
After completing an extended visit to explore the current state of U.S. society and democracy, a United Nations expert on Monday blasted near "tyranny" against the voting rights of minorities nationwide.
The remarks from Fernand de Varennes, the U.N. special rapporteur on minority issues, came after he spent two weeks traveling the country to "assess the human rights situation of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious, and linguistic minorities."
The special rapporteur met with over 100 officials at federal, state, and territorial levels along with civil society groups and other experts, both online and in-person in the District of Columbia, Guam, California, Texas, and Puerto Rico. While de Varennes is now preparing a report on his findings, he shared his initial assessment on various issues, including voting rights.
How Texas GOP's restrictive bills could keep their own voters from reaching the polls
Latino voters in Texas have increased, including more votes for GOP candidates, as Republicans' proposed voting restrictions will dampen participation, analysts warn.Little Joe, whose full name is José María de León Hernández, has pushed for equality for much of his more than six decades in entertainment. He has joined protests for farmworkers and was active in civil rights protests of the Chicano Movement.
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"My final report will provide more details and analysis in this regard, but what is already eminently clear is that there seems to be a growing feeling that the United States is becoming a darker, nastier, and more divided society — and that the patchwork of constitutional and civil rights in the country are not sufficiently protecting those most in need of protection such as minorities and Indigenous peoples, amongst others," hein a statement. "It is very far from, to borrow from the country's Constitution, 'a perfect union.'"
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CBS News study: Most say federal rules necessary for equal voting access
Partisans differ on major problems with U.S. voting system and role of federal government.As some state legislatures enact voting restrictions, and Democrats in Washington push for legislation increasing federal oversight of states' voting rules, a majority of Americans feel such oversight is indeed necessary today to make sure minorities have the same access to voting as White people do. But fewer think it's necessary today than when they look back at the 1960s.
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The expert explained that despite the constitutionally protected right to vote and be elected, "it became clear during this mission that this is increasingly and actively being undermined — and impacting mainly minorities such as African-Americans, Hispanics, and Indigenous peoples."
After sharing some of another U.N. expert's observations of the phenomenon in 2017, de Varennes said that "four years later, the pace of what my colleague described as the undermining of democracy has expanded explosively."
Legislators in 49 states this year have collectively introduced more than 425 bills with provisions that restrict voting access, and 19 states have enacted 33 laws to make it harder to vote,the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law.
Alaskans are right to worry about ranked-choice voting
In January, the Alaska Supreme Court will hear its first appeal against Ballot Measure 2, which instituted ranked-choice voting in Alaska by a margin of half a percent. Trading “one person, one vote” for elections that foster confusion, lower voter turnout, and disenfranchise voters is a bad deal. © Provided by Washington Examiner If the results of New York City’s first ranked-choice voting mayoral primary are any indication, ranked-choice voting is a disastrous voting method, and there’s no reason why it would be any different in Alaska. The court ought to strike it down before the 2022 elections.
The "most notable"is "a Texan omnibus legislation that disproportionately impacts on African-American, Hispanic, and Asian minorities," de Varennes said, pointing out that the law "makes it harder for those who face language access barriers, mainly minorities, to get help to cast their ballots, but also restricts the ability of election workers to stop harassment disproportionally targeting minorities by partisan poll watchers and bans 24-hour and drive-thru voting."
The U.S. Department of Justice earlier this monthTexas over parts of the law, with Attorney General Merrick Garland declaring that "our democracy depends on the right of eligible voters to cast a ballot and to have that ballot counted," and vowing the DOJ "will continue to use all the authorities at its disposal to protect this fundamental pillar of our society."
De Varennes also addressed the issue of gerrymandering, which has recently generated alarm fromto to .
States create few new minority districts in redistricting so far
Alabama recently approved a new congressional map that preserved the state’s historically Black district but it immediately faced allegations it still discriminated against minority communities. It’s a pattern playing out in other states, too. While much of the nation’s population growth over the past decade came in minority communities, advocates say they are not seeing their potential […] The post States create few new minority districts in redistricting so far appeared first on Roll Call.
"The electoral system in Texas, and unfortunately in a number of other states … appears increasingly loaded against minorities," he said. "Despite minorities representing about 95% of the population growth in the state in the 2020 Census of which more than half was Hispanic, the two congressional seats added because of this population growth have a majority white population makeup according to court documents filed in a lawsuit a few weeks before my mission."
On top of the voter suppression efforts largely led and enacted by Republicans, the U.N. expert highlighted that "citizens in United States territories (including Guam and Puerto Rico, which I visited) cannot vote in presidential elections."
"American Samoans cannot vote in any event because they are not considered U.S. citizens — even if they are American 'nationals,'" he explained. "They are not represented in the U.S. Senate, and their representatives in the House of Representatives cannot vote on the floor."
"On the positive side, two federal draft voting bills are currently before Congress, theand the , which aim to set national voting standards and strengthen legal protections against discriminatory voting laws and policies," he added. "It is however far from certain these will succeed in being adopted."
Democratic frustration growing over stagnating voting rights bills
Frustration among Democrats and activists is growing over stagnating legislation on Capitol Hill meant to expand voting rights, an issue the party has said is a priority but has been unable to clinch a victory on in Congress.The dissatisfaction is mushrooming as Democrats repeatedly try and fail to muscle two bills - the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act - through a 50-50 Senate after both pieces of legislation passed through the narrowly divided House.
Republicans in the evenly split Senate this year have not only blocked those two bills, but also the bolder. Despite such actions from the chamber's GOP, a few Democrats still to support abolishing the filibuster to send voting rights legislation and other measures to President Joe Biden's desk.
Given the current conditions in the country, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance on Mondaythe U.S. to its list of "backsliding" democracies. The think tank's secretary general, Kevin Casas-Zamora, said that "the visible deterioration of democracy in the United States, as seen in the increasing tendency to contest credible election results, the efforts to suppress participation [in elections], and the runaway polarization … is one of the most concerning developments."
De Varennes issued a similar warning during a Monday news briefing,Reuters. He said that "it is becoming unfortunately apparent that it is almost a tyranny of the majority where the minority right to vote is being denied in many areas."
Along with detailing his alarm about attacks on voting rights in the United States, De Varennes also laid out his concerns with dramatic increases in hate speech and crimes; environmental injustice; rising economic, educational, and health disparities; and racial discrimination in policing and the legal system.
The expert also praised the Biden administration for making some progress. Reuters noted that "there was no immediate U.S. reaction to his preliminary observations which de Varennes said he had shared with U.S. State Department officials earlier in the day."
NDAA, debt ceiling, government funding: Here's what's left for Congress to address in 2021 .
Both chambers of Congress will be working to try to avoid a government shut and default, as well approve a must-pass national security package.Both chambers of Congress will be working in overdrive to try to avoid a government shut and default, both of which would be catastrophic for the economy, which has already been grappling with the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic.