Coffee Break Ballot, July 26: Current Trends In Voting Rights

We have to admit that it’s a little challenging to report on social trends in voting rights news and conversation when the main platform of that dialogue serves up a great big fail whale.

As our readers probably have noticed, microblogging site Twitter shut down temporarily this morning, rendering our regular trend-tracking efforts mostly moot.

But we have found some great reads on Florida voters affected by the controversial, ongoing voter roll purge, and we’ve been fortunate enough to catch the Pennsylvania ACLU’s series of timely factoid tweets on photo voter ID in that state.

What can we say? We’ve got one more day of updates, one more day of blogging. Stay tuned.

What We’ve Been Reading

Florida at the forefront as states plan fresh assault on voting rights,” (Ed Pilkington, 07/26, The Guardian)

Voter suppression: ‘I’m a better citizen than any of them. I’m not going to quit,'” (Ed Pilkington, 07/26, The Guardian)

In Voter ID Law Court Fight, Expert Says Pennsylvania Is Soft-Pedaling The Impact,” (Cherri Gregg, 07/26, CBSNews)

Pennsylvania Governor Can’t Recall Requirements of Voter ID Law He Signed,” (Ryan J. Reilly, 07/26, Talking Points Memo)

Twitter Trends

Aside from the obvious, Twitter outage-related decline in all of our search terms this morning, the most notable trend is a slight decline in mentions of ‘voter ID’ on Twitter.

Even though the Pennsylvania photo voter ID state lawsuit continues today and through the rest of the week, the bombshell pretrial admission by the state that it had no credible cases of in-person voter impersonation fraud sparked a momentary Twitter firestorm. It has since died down.

The conclusion of the trial and lingering discomfort on both sides of the voter ID argument over Pennsylvania’s voter fraud admission will probably keep voter ID on the rise later in the week, but we’re deeply fascinated by the changes in conversation as new buzz items distract and distort the fundamental facts at the core of this issue.

As always, remember to follow us @WhoCanVote.


Photo ID opponents struggle to find disenfranchised Tennessee voters

Tennessee’s photo voter ID law took effect in January, and while no lawsuits have been filed, lawyers are looking for affected voters willing to challenge the law.

The American Civil Liberties Union has been trying to file a lawsuit, but no plaintiffs have come forward.

“They remain silent and their right to vote is chilled, through no fault of their own,” said Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the ACLU in Tennessee, “and they’re being labeled as apathetic.”

Many potential clients have been able ultimately to acquire the necessary ID, said attorney George Barrett.

Tennessee is not subject to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, so officials there do not need federal approval to change state and local election law. States with voter ID challenges such as South Carolina and Texas, which need Section 5 pre-clearance, have lawsuits pending and building a case in these states is easier than in Tennessee, Barrett said, because of the federal requirement.

By Kassondra Cloos, News21

Victoria Middleton: South Carolina law targets elderly, rural residents

Victoria Middleton: South Carolina law targets elderly, rural residents

Victoria Middleton is the South Carolina ACLU executive director. Photo by Caitlin O'Donnell/News21

The state ACLU has intervened in the voter ID lawsuit South Carolina v. Holder, claiming that requiring photo ID places an unnecessary burden on voters, primarily African Americans, elderly and low-income residents.

Victoria Middleton, executive director of the South Carolina ACLU, described voter ID as a solution in search of a problem. Requiring an ID addresses the problem of voter impersonation, which Middleton said is a non-issue.

“Voter impersonation is not a problem in our state, and state election commissioners will tell you that,” she said. “Instead, we’re spending money and, more importantly, disenfranchising a lot of voters through this measure.”

State and federal judges might not be able to comprehend the plight of the rural, elderly voters who would be hurt most by this act, Middleton said.

By Caitlin O’Donnell, News21

Wisconsin Recall: Midway Update

Voting in Wisconsin’s gubernatorial recall election is underway and the polls will remain open until 8 p.m. CDT, but here’s a quick look at trends at the polls this morning: