Tag Archives: polls

Milwaukee elections chief: Voter ID law hurt city’s turnout

Milwaukee’s elections chief said Wisconsin’s voter ID law caused enough poll problems in the city to  lower voter turnout.

Milwaukee saw a decline of about 41,000 voters in the Nov. 8 election compared with 2012, when President Barack Obama won broad support in the city and coasted to re-election, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

“We saw some of the greatest declines were in the districts we projected would have the most trouble with voter ID requirements,” said Neil Albrecht, executive director of the city’s Election Commission.

According to Albrecht, the four districts with the most “transient, high poverty” residents had trouble meeting the photo identification requirement. Before those voters had the option of taking along a “corroborating witnesses” who could vouch for them at the polls.

“We had a lot of calls,” Albrecht said. “There were college students with roommate situations or spouses where everything was in one spouse’s name.”

But Tom Evenson, a spokesman for Republican Gov. Scott Walker, claims the voter ID law didn’t hurt voter turnout.

“Voter turnout in this year’s presidential primary was the highest since 1972 with voter ID in place, so to now suggest turnout was down in the general election because of it is wrong,” Evenson said. “We have made voting easy while ensuring it is hard to cheat. Lower turnout in the general election was true nationwide. It was not unique to Wisconsin or voter ID.”

Albrecht did not have statistics detailing how many voters were turned away for not having the proper ID. He acknowledged that some of the drop-off in turnout resulted from less enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

But the lower turnout was among Clinton supporters. Trump won razor-thin 27,000-vote victory in the state by picking up about 1,500 more votes than Romney in the state; Clinton lost by receiving nearly 239,000 fewer votes than Obama.

Meanwhile, third-party candidates received more than 150,000 votes.

The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin had 250 volunteers observing polls, mostly in places that have historically had a high number of election day registrations, such as college campuses and urban communities.

Executive director Andrea Kaminski said observers didn’t see a big problem at the polls but fears some voters never went to the polls due to the ID requirements.

“How many people are like that?” she said. “Those are the people we can’t count.”

 

Trump again raises possibility of not accepting election outcome

The long and contentious race for the White House between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump hurtled toward its conclusion on Tuesday as millions of Americans cast ballots, with only hours left to vote.

Clinton led Trump, 44 percent to 39 percent, in the last Reuters/Ipsos national tracking poll before Election Day. A Reuters/Ipsos States of the Nation poll gave her a 90 percent chance of defeating Trump and becoming the first U.S. woman president.

In yet another twist to the race, Trump on Tuesday again raised the possibility of not accepting the election’s outcome, saying he had seen reports of voting irregularities. He gave few details and Reuters could not immediately verify the existence of such problems.

The campaign focused on the character of the candidates: Clinton, 69, a former U.S. secretary of state, and Trump, 70, a New York businessman. They often accused each other of being fundamentally unfit to lead the United States as it faces challenges such as an arduous economic recovery, Islamist militants and the rise of China.

Financial markets, betting exchanges and online trading platforms largely predicted a Clinton win, although Trump’s team says he can pull off an upset victory like the June “Brexit” vote to pull Britain out of the European Union.

Trump’s candidacy embodied an attack on America’s political establishment. Clinton represented safeguarding the political order.

A Clinton presidency would likely provide continuity from fellow Democrat Barack Obama’s eight years in the White House, although if Republicans retain control of at least one chamber in Congress more years of political gridlock in Washington could ensue.

A win for Trump could shake some of the basic building blocks of American foreign policy, such as the NATO alliance and free trade, and reverse some of Obama’s domestic achievements such as his 2010 health care law.

Voting ends in some states at 7 p.m. Eastern Time, with the first meaningful results due about an hour later. Television networks called the winner of the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections at 11 p.m. or shortly after.

Voting appeared to go smoothly despite allegations in recent weeks from Trump that the electoral system was rigged against him. He told Fox News on Tuesday he had seen reports of voting irregularities.

Asked if believed the election would not be over on Tuesday night, Trump said: “I’m not saying that. I have to look at what’s happening. There are reports that when people vote for Republicans, the entire ticket switches over to Democrats. You’ve seen that. It’s happening at various places.”

Local media in Pennsylvania reported that voters in several counties in the pivotal state had reported that touch-screen voting machines had not been recording their ballots correctly.

Republicans in Pennsylvania also complained that some of their authorized poll watchers were denied access to polling sites in Philadelphia, local media said.

The Pennsylvania secretary of state’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump also sued the registrar of voters in Nevada’s Clark County over a polling place in Las Vegas that remained open on Friday during an early-voting period to accommodate people, many of them Hispanic, who were lined up to cast ballots.

A Nevada judge on Tuesday rejected Trump’s request for records from the polling site. At a court hearing, a county attorney said election officials already preserve records.

Trump has vowed to crack down on illegal immigration and end trade deals he says are harming U.S. workers.

Trump seized the spotlight time and again during the campaign with provocative comments about Muslims and women, attacks against the Republican establishment and bellicose promises to build a wall along the U.S. southern border with Mexico to stem illegal immigration.

MARKETS UP

The Dow Jones Industrial Average index ended up 0.4 percent as investors bet on a win for Clinton, who Wall Street sees as more likely to ensure financial and political stability. Mexico’s peso hit a two-month high on Tuesday on the expectation of a loss for Trump, who has vowed to rip up a trade deal with Mexico.

Trump was expected to draw support heavily from white voters without college degrees.

Clinton was likely to draw support from college-educated voters and Hispanic and black voters.

Major bookmakers and online exchanges were confident Clinton would win. Online political stock market PredictIt put her chances on Tuesday of capturing the White House at 80 percent.

Trump advisers say the level of his support is not apparent in opinion polls and point out that the real estate developer has been closing the gap with Clinton in surveys in recent weeks.

An early indicator of who might prevail could come in North Carolina and Florida, two must-win states for Trump that were the subject of frantic last-minute efforts by both candidates.

Races in both those states were shifting from favoring Clinton to being too close to call, according to opinion polls.

Democrats also are seeking to break the Republican lock on control of the U.S. Congress.

A strong turnout of voters for Clinton could influence Republican control of the Senate, as voters choose 34 senators of the 100-member chamber on Tuesday. Democrats needed a net gain of five seats to win control. All 435 seats in the House of Representatives are being contested. The House is expected to remain in Republican hands.

Trump reveled in the drama of the negative presidential campaign but the spotlight was not always kind to him. The release in October of a 2005 video in which he boasted about groping women damaged his campaign and left him on the defensive for critical weeks

Eric Trump says Ron Johnson to play role of dad’s Washington insider

Stumping for his father in Wisconsin, Eric Trump crowed that Sen. Ron Johnson can help execute his father’s vision as president by working from “within Washington” while Donald Trump brings an outsider’s perspective to the White House.

Eric Trump spoke to The Associated Press before a series of campaign stops for his father in western Wisconsin, including a couple with Johnson, who’s locked in a tight re-election race against Democrat Russ Feingold.

One flashpoint in the race has been Johnson’s attempts to cast himself as a Washington outsider and Feingold as a career politician. The Feingold campaign immediately seized on Trump’s remarks as evidence that Johnson isn’t the outsider he claims to be.

“Eric Trump couldn’t have said it better: Sen. Johnson is the Trump family’s personal Washington insider to show them around D.C.,” Feingold spokesman Michael Tyler said.

Asked why he’s campaigning with Johnson, who is already in Washington, Eric Trump said, “It’s a great question. You also need people from within Washington. You need people who know how the government works and can go in there and shred apart the parts that aren’t working.”

Johnson spent his career in the business world before defeating Feingold in 2010 during a mid-term tea party wave election that saw GOP candidates upset Democrats across the country at all levels of government. Their rematch this year is one of a handful of races that could swing the Senate to Democratic control.

Yesterday, the National Republican Senatorial Committee said it was making a last-minute $1 million investment in the race. It released a television ad blasting Feingold as a hypocrite on campaign finance, a theme Johnson has hammered during the campaign.

PACs supported by the Koch brothers have also invested very heavily in the race on Johnson’s behalf.

Pop consumption falls beyond expectations after soda tax

As voters consider soda taxes in four cities, a new study finds that some Berkeley neighborhoods slashed sugar-sweetened beverage consumption by more than one-fifth after the Northern California city enacted the nation’s first soda tax.

Berkeley voters in 2014 levied a penny-per-ounce tax on soda and other sugary drinks to try to curb consumption and stem the rising tide of diabetes and obesity.

After the tax took effect in March 2015, residents of at least two neighborhoods reported drinking 21 percent less of all sugar-sweetened beverages and 26 percent less soda than they had the year before, according to the report in the October American Journal of Public Health.

“From a public health perspective, that is a huge impact. That is an intervention that’s more powerful than anything I’ve ever seen aimed at changing someone’s dietary behavior,” senior author Dr. Kristine Madsen said in a telephone interview.

Madsen, a professor of public health at the University of California at Berkeley, said the drop in sugary drink consumption surpassed her expectations, though it was consistent with consumption declines in low-income neighborhoods in Mexico after it imposed a nationwide tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.

The Berkeley results also pleasantly surprised Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University.

“I hadn’t expected the effects to be so dramatic,” she said in an email. “This is substantial evidence that soda taxes work.”

The soda industry has spent millions of dollars defeating taxes on sugary drinks in dozens of U.S. cities. But the tax passed easily — with 76 percent of the vote — in Berkeley. In addition to soda, the measure covers sweetened fruit-flavored drinks, energy drinks like Red Bull and caffeinated drinks like Frappuccino iced coffee. Diet beverages are exempt.

In June, the Philadelphia City Council enacted its own tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. The 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax is set to take effect in January, although soda trade groups have sued to try to block the measure.

Meanwhile, voters in Boulder, Colorado and the Bay Area cities of San Francisco, Oakland and Albany will vote on whether to tax their sugary beverages on Nov. 8.

San Francisco voters also considered a soda tax in 2014, but it failed to garner a two-thirds majority needed for approval.

Public health officials and politicians point to the Berkeley study as proof of the power of an excise tax to wean people off sweetened drinks.

“The study is another tool highlighting how effective a tax on sugary beverages will be on changing the consumption rate,” San Francisco Supervisor Malia Cohen told Reuters Health.

“Just like tobacco, these are commodities we can live without that are killing us,” she said. Cohen wrote the San Francisco ballot measure.

Researchers surveyed 873 adults in Berkeley and 1,806 adults in nearby San Francisco and Oakland before and a few months after imposition of the soda tax.

Sweetened beverage consumption increased slightly in San Francisco and Oakland at the same time it dropped in Berkeley, the study showed. In Berkeley, water consumption spiked 63 percent, compared to 19 percent in San Francisco and Oakland, after the tax took effect.

The researchers attributed the surge in water consumption to a heat wave. But the American Beverage Association saw it as example of the study’s flaws.

In a statement, Brad Williams, an economist working for the trade group, criticized the research for using “unreliable and imprecise methodology” and producing “implausible” results.

The association’s criticism may hold grains of truth, Nestle said. But she largely dismissed it. “Obviously, the ABA is going to attack the results. That’s rule number one in the playbook: cast doubt on the science,” she said.

Public health experts believe soda helped drive American obesity rates to among the highest in the world. The U.S. spent an estimated $190 billion treating obesity-related conditions in 2012.

Diabetes rates have almost tripled over the past three decades, while sugary beverage consumption doubled.

Groups urge action to protect voting rights on Election Day

Amid threats of Election Day intimidation, dozens of civil rights and voting rights groups called on state election officials to create plans to prevent voting discrimination.

In their call, the groups emphasized this the Nov. 8 election is the first presidential election in 50 years without a fully operable Voting Rights Act.

In letters to Wisconsin election officials and officials in the other 49 states, the groups cite their concern with the loss of Section 5 of the VRA. The letters state, “Since Congress has failed to pass a bill to restore the VRA, which has resulted in DOJ’s lacking authority over voting changes in places that Congress determined in 2006 should continue to have federal oversight, we are extremely concerned that there will be widespread voter discrimination in the upcoming presidential election.”

To blunt the impact of voting discrimination, these organizations are engaging in a massive litigation effort and an election protection campaign to protect voters at the polls, including in Wisconsin.

Efforts to turn back several statewide discriminatory voter laws in the courts have been effective, but voters have little protection from local election changes, the misapplication and misunderstanding of new voting restrictions by poll workers, or threats of intimidation from polling place vigilantes.

“The loss of Section 5 and the most racially bigoted presidential campaign in generations has created a perfect storm for voter intimidation and voter discrimination,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “State election officials must address these unprecedented threats head on by creating and publicizing clear plans to prevent intimidation and discrimination, and to make it unequivocally clear to the voters they serve that the elections they oversee will be safe, fair, and free from intimidation, violence, and discrimination.”

Read the letter from the rights groups

October 24, 2016

Dear Secretary of State:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States, and the 86 undersigned organizations, we write to express our grave concern over the first presidential election in 50 years without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). We urge you to develop a plan to ensure that no one in your state is disenfranchised in the upcoming election.

As you know, the VRA protected the voting rights of racial and ethnic minorities in several states and local jurisdictions where they had been historically discriminated against in voting. These jurisdictions were covered by Section 5 of the VRA, which required the Department of Justice (DOJ) to approve any changes to voting in specific states and localities. However, in 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court’s devastating decision in Shelby County v. Holder negated the pre-clearance requirement and the DOJ’s authority to send observers to covered jurisdictions. Following Shelby, numerous states have passed voting laws, which several federal courts agree have a disparate impact on people of color and language minorities. In the case of North Carolina, for example, the courts found that the state’s massive bundle of voting restrictions, passed within weeks of the Shelby decision, targeted African Americans “with almost surgical precision.”[1] Evidence shows that restrictive voter laws also suppress turnout of the elderly, [2] people with disabilities, [3] and students. [4]

And while some courts have taken action to block discriminatory laws in states like North Carolina and Texas, these decisions came only after years of costly litigation during which impacted citizens were blocked from voting in the 2014 elections and this year’s primaries. Meanwhile, there is no way of knowing how many potentially discriminatory voting changes are being made by cities, counties, school boards, water boards and other local jurisdictions that were previously required to be precleared. According to “Democracy Diminished,”[5] a report by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., “more than 85% of preclearance work previously done under Section 5 was at the local level.”

Since Congress has failed to pass a bill to restore the VRA, which has resulted in DOJ’s lacking authority over voting changes in places that Congress determined in 2006 should continue to have federal oversight, we are extremely concerned that there will be widespread voter discrimination in the upcoming presidential election. This is exacerbated by the fact that there will be no DOJ observers holding jurisdictions accountable. In the 2012 general election, the Department of Justice sent 780 federal observers to 51 jurisdictions in 23 states. [6] Following the Shelby decision, DOJ has said it will not deploy election observers in 2016. The potentially detrimental effect of the absence of this critical voter protection tool cannot be overstated. [7]

Given the many recent examples of post-Shelby voting discrimination, we urge you to be vigilant regarding potential voter disenfranchisement in your state this November.

Sincerely,

9to5, National Association of Working Women

A. PHILIP RANDOLPH INSTITUTE

AFL-CIO

African American Ministers In Action (AAMIA)

American Association of People with Disabilities

American Association of University Women (AAUW)

American Civil Liberties Union

American Constitution Society for Law and Policy

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees

American Federation of Teachers

American Jewish Committee (AJC)

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee

Americans for Democratic Action (ADA)

Anti-Defamation League

Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)

Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC

Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote)

Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law

Bend the Arc Jewish Action

Black Women’s Roundtable

Black Youth Vote!

Brennan Center for Justice

Campaign Legal Center

The Center for Popular Democracy

Center for Women Policy Studies

Democracy Initiative

Demos

Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund

Feminist Majority

Franciscan Action Network

Friends of the Earth – United States

Human Rights Campaign

Human Rights First

IAWRTUSA

Institute for Science and Human Values

Jewish Council for Public Affairs

Jobs With Justice

LatinoJustice PRLDEF

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

League of Women Voters of the United States

MALDEF

MoveOn.org

NAACP

NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

NAACP-National Voter Fund

NALEO Educational Fund

National Action Network’s Washington Bureau

National Asian Pacific American Bar Association

National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum

National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO)

National Association of Social Workers

National Center for Transgender Equality

National Coalition on Black Civic Participation

National Congress of American Indians

National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA)

National Council of Churches

National Council of Jewish Women

National Education Association

National LGBTQ Task Force

National Urban League

NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice

OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates

OWL-The Voice of Women 40+

People For the American Way Foundation

People’s Action

Project Vote

Public Citizen

Rock the Vote

Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

Sikh American Legal Defense & Education Fund (SALDEF)

Southern Coalition for Social Justice

Southern Poverty Law Center

U.S. Women and Cuba Collaboration

Union for Reform Judaism

United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries

United Food and Commercial Workers International Union

US Human Rights Network

Vote.org

The Voter Participation Center

VoteRiders

Voting Rights Forward

The Voting Rights Institute

Voto Latino

Women’s Research & Education Institute

World Without Genocide at Mitchell Hamline School of Law

Young People For, a program of the People For the American Way Foundation

Johnson, Feingold prepare for 1st debate in tightening race

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson and former Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold are preparing to meet for the first of two televised debates in their tightening race.

They’ve been here before, six years ago, when Feingold was the more experienced, polished politician and Johnson a underdog newcomer. This year, Johnson enters Friday’s debate in Green Bay — just 25 days before the election — as the incumbent.

Even so, the underlying dynamic remains the same, said Republican strategist Mark Graul, who helped Johnson prepare in 2010 and again is lending his advice. What’s he telling Johnson?

“To be himself,” Graul said. “Ron Johnson is famously not a politician. He’s not the guy who’s going to go up there and deliver the canned one-liners and sound bites.”

Still, there’s more pressure on Johnson to shake up the race, given he’s trailing in polls, said Paul Maslin, a Democratic pollster from Madison. Feingold — who’s been in politics for 34 years, 28 in elected office — should stay the course, not do anything too dramatic, and “keep on keepin’ on,” Maslin said.

The presidential race has cast a long shadow over the race, as Johnson has long been seen as vulnerable due to the state generally skewing Democratic in presidential years. But he was buoyed by a Marquette University Law School poll released this week showing the race as nearly even.

He’s also become increasingly aggressive on the campaign trail, sticking by Donald Trump in the wake of sexual assault allegations and challenging Feingold to defend backing of Hillary Clinton.

Meanwhile, Feingold has been careful not to break ties with the more liberal wing of the party, appearing at recent rallies with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Johnson expects Feingold to try to use his support for Trump against him in the debate, which he says he’ll counter by comparing Feingold’s “lack of having a record of accomplishment” with his own record in the Senate.

Johnson’s Senate office released a report this week highlighting his work as chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, noting bills passed on issues like border and immigration security and reducing federal regulations.

Feingold’s signature legislation in the Senate was co-sponsoring with Republican Sen. John McCain a campaign finance overhaul. He also was the only senator to vote against the Patriot Act, which was enacted after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and opposed President Barack Obama’s decision to expand the war in Afghanistan.

He was a vocal supporter of Obama’s health care overhaul law.

Johnson has been preparing for Friday’s showdown by going over tapes from 2010’s three debates.

Feingold campaign spokesman Michael Tyler said he’s been “listening to the needs of middle-income and working families” in advance of the debate.

The two will take questions from a panel of journalists during the hour-long debate, which is sponsored by the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association and will be broadcast widely across the state as well as on C-SPAN.

Feingold and Johnson’s second and only other planned debate is Tuesday in Milwaukee. That 90-minute debate will be hosted by WISN-TV and the Marquette University Law School and moderated by Mike Gousha, a veteran broadcast political journalist.

Clinton can put away Trump by winning North Carolina

Republican Donald Trump can do little to stop Democrat Hillary Clinton from winning the presidency if she carries North Carolina, where their close race reflects the national liabilities of both candidates.

Trump is struggling with conservative Democrats, especially women in the big and booming suburbs of Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, who’ve long been part of the GOP’s winning formula in North Carolina.

Clinton has her own worries: Younger voters who helped Barack Obama win the state in 2008 and come close in 2012 are far more hesitant to back her.

In a scenario playing out across the most contested states, Clinton’s pursuit of new supporters is aided by a huge, data-driven ground force in North Carolina.

Trump is sticking with his come-what-may plan.

“Both candidates have problems here,” said Paul Shumaker, an adviser to U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., who is seeking re-election. “But I think the Clinton people are more attuned about fixing their problems than Trump’s are.”

Clinton, in a recent visit to Charlotte, addressed congregants at a black church less than two weeks after the police-involved shooting death of a black man. The shooting led to two nights of violent protests and a debate over race relations.

“We’ve got to take action. We’ve got to start now, not tomorrow. Not next year, now,” Clinton said.

Polls suggest North Carolina, Ohio and Florida are among the most competitive states expected to decide the final steps on the path to the 270 electoral votes required to win the White House.

In all but one of the past nine presidential elections, the Republican nominee has taken North Carolina.

Clinton’s apparent strength in once reliably Republican Virginia and swing state Colorado may mean a perilously narrow route to an electoral majority for Trump.

If Clinton captures North Carolina, Trump would have to carry perennially tight Ohio and Florida, plus Democrat-leaning Pennsylvania, and sweep less populous close states that appear increasingly out of reach for him.

Shumaker says GOP support for Trump is lower than usual in North Carolina, as estimated in private GOP and public polling. 2012 nominee Mitt Romney received more than 90 percent of the GOP vote in North Carolina, according to exit polls. Trump appears markedly short of that.

Trump promised to win over conservative Democrats, who are common in Cary, a suburb of roomy brick homes and newer retail developments west of Raleigh.

Such a voter is Sunday Petrov, who is backing Clinton.

“It’s more like I’m voting against Trump,” she said. “What bothers me most is his disrespect for Hispanics, for Muslims, his unprofessional demeanor.”

Trump has little outreach aimed at specific voter groups in North Carolina; Clinton does. She needs it with younger people, with whom her polling margins pale next to Obama’s in 2008 and 2012.

After last Monday’s debate with Trump, she pleaded her case during a rally at Wake Tech Community College. The election, she said, “is more about the future of young people and children than it’s ever been,” and she talked about her plan for government-subsidized, tuition-free college. Later in the week, Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea, visited Asheville and Greenville, stopping at Eastern Carolina University to focus on college debt.

“North Carolina feels like Virginia in 2012,” said Dan Kanninen, the Clinton campaign’s top adviser in the state.

Obama won Virginia in 2008 and 2012, after 10 consecutive GOP victories there, by attracting younger, ethnically diverse and more educated adults, especially those flowing into northern Virginia’s tech and defense sectors.

Clinton is putting that same strategy to work in North Carolina.

Universities, high-tech companies such as Cisco Systems and the financial sector, including Fidelity Investments, have attracted thousands of young professionals to the Raleigh area alone since 2012.

In the past four years, North Carolina has added roughly 300,000 voters, mostly in metropolitan areas that account for half of the state’s vote. They are predominantly college-educated, which is good news for Clinton in a close race.

“Trump’s biggest problem is college-educated whites,” said Republican strategist Michael Luethy, who charts legislative races. “If he solves his problem there, he wins. Easier said than done.”

Perhaps the biggest unknown heading into the Nov. 8 election is whether African-Americans will turn out for Clinton at near the historic levels they twice did for Obama, the first black president.

Clinton dominates Trump among African-Americans, who make up 22 percent of North Carolina’s voters, the biggest share of any of battleground state. Trump has done little to turn around long-standing support for Democrats by black voters.

Clinton has organizers on or near campuses of the state’s 12 historically black colleges and universities.

Moreover, early-voting restrictions enacted in 2013 by North Carolina’s Republican-controlled Legislature and GOP Gov. Pat McCrory were overturned after being ruled discriminatory toward black voters.

McCrory is up for re-election in November and trails Democrat Roy Cooper in a rare case where a down-ballot race could generate turnout for the presidential campaign.

“I think Democratic intensity on that issue — the attempt at voter suppression — is going to keep African-American turnout at the levels we’ve had lately,” said Ken Eudy, a Democratic campaign strategist.

Shumaker, the GOP senator’s aide, said that may be enough to lift Clinton in a close race.

“It’s going to come down to the wire,” he said. “And we’re a 2-point state.”

Republican Donald Trump. — PHOTO: Gage Skidmore
Republican Donald Trump. — PHOTO: Gage Skidmore

Wisconsin GOP leaders break their own law to suppress black vote

And the voter suppression continues.

Gov. Scott Walker’s administration vowed to an appeals court that it would remove obstacles making it difficult for citizens to vote, even if those citizens lacked the usual required documentation, such as birth certificates. To prove it, the administration enacted a rule requiring the Department of Motor Vehicles to mail a free photo ID within six business days to anyone who goes to a DMV office to set the registration process.

But with only a month left before a close presidential election, Walker’s transportation officials are nowhere near making good on that pledge, according to an independent investigation. U.S. District Judge James Peterson, who originated the decision leading to the administration’s new rule, has launched an aggressive investigation to learn why.

The Nation and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel both reported that the advocacy group Vote Riders sent voting-rights advocates to 10 area DMV offices, where they requested photo IDs.

Most of them were not given the correct information, and at least one was flatly turned down by a clerk who said birth certificates are required, even though signs on the premises stated otherwise. Only three out of the 10 offices abided by the rules.

This DMV chicanery isn’t the first time the state’s Republican leadership has been caught flouting election law to prevent citizens from registering. Shortly after Walker and the GOP took over state government, they began enacting a series of increasingly strict laws to keep suspected Democratic voters — blacks, Latinos, students, the elderly — away from the polls. Within months of Walker’s taking office, DMV clerks were told not to offer voter IDs for free, even though the law required them to do so.

Walker also began shutting down DMV offices and eliminating staff. He curtailed the operating hours of many DMVs, making it impossible for poor people to register without taking off work.

Walker said the cuts were needed to save money. But Republicans’ efforts to disenfranchise black voters have cost the state considerably. Walker’s onslaught of controversial voter-suppression laws has prompted one costly trial after another. The legal bills are likely to have drained millions of taxpayer dollars from state coffers.

Voting in Wisconsin is already hard. Only six other states — Indiana, Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi and Kansas — have restrictions as prohibitive as Wisconsin. Yet, as we examined in our Sept. 22 issue, there is no evidence that voter fraud is a problem here or anywhere else.

There’s ample evidence — including revealing statements from backers of ID laws — that the GOP’s voting “reform” campaign seeks to keep African Americans and other likely Democratic voters away from the polls.

We applaud Judge Peterson’s commitment to get to the bottom of this current scandal. We’re counting on him to ensure there are consequences for the Walker administration’s latest despicable attack on democracy.

Voting rights is a bipartisan issue, and we urge Republican readers to join with Democrats and tell officials to stop trying to win elections by cheating. Remind them that it’s possible to win by providing responsible government to all Wisconsin citizens, no matter what their skin color or political affiliation.

They should try it sometime.

Clinton, Trump and the road to 270

Hillary Clinton continues to hold advantages over Donald Trump in the states she would need to win the presidency in November, but Donald Trump has made gains in some battleground states.

The Associated Press has moved Iowa to leaning Republican after recent polls there by Quinnipiac and Monmouth Universities showing Trump’s lead there in the high single digits.

The AP considers preference polling, recent electoral history, demographic trends and campaign priorities such as advertising, travel and on-the-ground staff.

Many national and battleground state polls have showed Trump gaining on Clinton, but several surveys released last week, including an AP-GfK poll released Thursday, suggest the former secretary of state may be consolidating a national lead ahead of tonight’s presidential debate.

SOLID DEMOCRATIC: California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington state (200 total electoral votes).

LEANS DEMOCRATIC: Colorado, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin (72 total electoral votes).

TOSS-UP: Florida, Maine 2nd District, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio (69 total electoral votes).

LEANS REPUBLICAN: Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska 2nd District, Utah (50 total electoral votes).

SOLID REPUBLICAN: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, Wyoming (147 total electoral votes).

Wisconsin election observers welcome but must follow rules

By Andrea Kaminski

There has been a lot of talk lately about the role of election observers. While some think poll monitors will root out corruption at the polls, others are concerned that the presence of aggressive observers could intimidate voters.

In Wisconsin, election observers are an important part of the election landscape.

People who go to the polls expecting to stop illegal voting might not find the excitement they seek. A recent, extensive study found only 31 credible allegations of fraud out of more than a billion votes cast nationally between 2000 and 2014.

As for intimidation, Wisconsin has excellent procedures that welcome observers but do not allow them to disrupt voting. Polling places are covered under our open meetings laws. Anyone may observe, but there are rules in place to protect the voting process.

Election observers are nothing new.

Candidate campaigns and political parties have long sent observers to the polls to note whether their supporters have voted so they can make targeted reminder calls by late afternoon. Advocacy groups send observers to ensure that polling places are accessible to people with disabilities.

The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin has been placing volunteer observers in polling places around the state since 2010. Our volunteers know their role is to observe, not to interfere. If they have concerns about something they see, they follow a procedure to have the problem addressed. The league’s observers submit written reports to our state office following the election, providing valuable data to strengthen the league’s advocacy for free, fair and accessible elections.

In May, I testified in a federal trial challenging several recently enacted election laws in a case filed by One Wisconsin Institute and Citizen Action of Wisconsin Education Fund. I was pleased to share relevant data gathered by hundreds of diligent league volunteers. The state attorney, in defending the restrictive voting laws, sought to have my testimony dismissed because, he pointed out, I was not personally in 200 polling places on Election Day. But the judge said he wanted to hear what I had to share. Indeed, the league’s observation reports in the past five years reveal a systematic clampdown on people’s ability to register and vote in our state.

In Wisconsin, election observers must sign in with their name, address and affiliation, if any, when they get to the polling place. They must stay in a designated area three to eight feet from the table where voters check in or register. Observers may not wear buttons or clothing referring to a candidate or party. They may not speak to voters or interfere with the voting process. If they have a concern, they are to address it with the chief inspector. If that does not resolve the problem, our league observers have numbers they can call or text for assistance. They have to leave the polling place to make a phone call. The chief inspector has the authority to limit the number of observers and to require disruptive observers to leave.

Anyone planning to challenge an individual’s right to vote should know that in Wisconsin the burden of proof is on the challenger. You will have to state under oath what specific information you have indicating that the individual is not qualified to vote. Charges such as “she looks too young” or “his name sounds foreign” are not acceptable.

We believe if more people spent time in the polls, they would be very impressed — as our volunteers are — by the high level of professionalism of our election officials and the excellent safeguards that ensure an orderly and fair election. They would see how hard it would be to cheat in Wisconsin.

We welcome anyone to volunteer as an observer with the league this November, as long as you are willing to be trained, to show up for your shift, to follow the rules and to submit your report at the end of the day. You can sign up on the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin website at www.lwvwi.org.

Andrea Kaminski is executive director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for informed and active participation in government. The league welcomes women and men across the state as members. With 18 local leagues in Wisconsin and 800 affiliates across the county, the league is one of the nation’s most trusted grassroots organizations. Follow @LWV_WI on Twitter.