votersuppression   269

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The tools that convinced a federal court to strike down North Carolina’s gerrymander

“Asymmetry” refers to situations in which identical performances by the two parties lead to very different results. Say, when one party gets 52 percent of the statewide vote in legislative elections, it wins a significant majority of the seats, but when the other party wins 52 percent of the vote, it wins only a minority of seats. However, the Supreme Court has explicitly, and correctly, concluded that a one-off outcome like the 52 percent example cannot be used to prove a gerrymander, because such an outcome could occur by chance.

Student’s test is the basis for a very simple measure of asymmetry, the “lopsided-wins test,” which checks if Democratic representatives won, on average, with much larger margins than Republican representatives. If the difference is large enough, and there is enough data — these statistical tests are always stronger the more data points there are — then their average is highly unlikely to have arisen from neutral principles.

In North Carolina in 2016, the three Democratic winners took an average of 68.5 percent of the vote, while the 10 Republican winners took an average of only 60.3 percent of the vote. According to the lopsided wins test, such a pattern would have only occurred by chance in one of 300 cases. Importantly, it doesn’t matter that Democrats won three seats; if they’d won four or five seats with similar averages, the lopsided wins still suggest that Democrats were denied an equal opportunity to elect representatives of their choice — but without suggesting a quota of seats.

An even older way to measure unequal opportunity is a test for “consistent advantage,” originally developed by Gosset’s mathematical mentor Karl Pearson in 1895. To carry out this test, compare the average statewide vote captured by each party with that of the median district — the district that falls in the middle when they are ranked by one party’s vote share.

When both parties are treated similarly, this difference is close to zero. If the “average-median difference” is large — with the median district tilted strongly toward one party — it means that one party gained a consistent advantage at the district level. Call it the Lake Wobegon test: The redistricting party has ensured that a majority of its districts perform above the statewide average.

The efficiency gap measures the portion of votes each party has “wasted.” For example, in a district where party A defeats party B by a 60-40 margin, party A wasted 10 percent of the votes cast, since they were in excess of the bare 50 percent plus one vote needed to win. All of party B’s 40 percent were wasted.

This definition seems abstruse, but there is a much simpler way to think about it. The efficiency gap is zero when one party wins 50 percent of the statewide vote and 50 percent of the seats — but it is also zero for other election outcomes. For example, it is zero when 75 percent of the statewide vote elects 100 percent of the seats. This graph shows all the outcomes that are associated with an efficiency gap of zero.

Judges are also interested in durability: whether a gerrymander is likely to last under a variety of political conditions.

geography, not gerrymandering.

To sort out the question, the court relied on expert witnesses who drew thousands of alternative maps and concluded that North Carolina’s geography carries no such inherent bias. There were many ways to draw maps following all the redistricting rules that did not lead to unfairness, they showed.
gerrymandering  map  politics  GOP  votingRights  voterSuppression 
5 weeks ago by campylobacter
Did Alabama Just Violate Federal Voting Law?
Assessing the state’s “inactive” voter scheme.
By Mark Joseph Stern

Voters who cast ballots in every election should not be told that they have abruptly become inactive; the right to vote should not depend upon one’s ability to recall her county of birth; citizens should not fear arrest on their way to cast lawful ballots. But Alabama’s muddled, mystifying system seems designed to trip up voters at every possible turn; it is a testament to the tenacity of Jones’ supporters that they were able to elect him in spite of state-sanctioned chicanery. Alabama’s electorate already has plenty of initiative. What it needs now is a secretary of state who conducts truly free and fair elections.
alabama  voterSuppression  voterID  votingRights  voterRegistration  elections  GOP 
9 weeks ago by campylobacter
If yesterday's election in Alabama had been for members of Congress
If yesterday's election in Alabama had been for members of Congress, Democrats would have won only 1 seat, and Republicans 6. How is that possible? Watch:
video  alabama  gerrymandering  racism  voterSuppression  elections  GOP 
10 weeks ago by campylobacter
What did Alabama’s top election official learn from monitoring Russian election?
by David Kumbroch, Updated at 10:20AM, September 30, 2016

"They gave us these sheets," he says, holding up pieces of paper with a small red box at the bottom, "But we didn't have to fax them in. What we did, we had a pen. An electronic pen. We were able to touch this box . . . it would automatically send the information that was recorded to the central reporting location and they could document it live throughout the day."

He says Alabama doesn't have any structure for the way election monitors submit notes, "What you have now, when you have people that go and observe elections, they might write a note on a sticky note or they might write a note in a notebook, but they're not doing anything that would be systematic or in sequential order about what they observed."

Merrill is back home now, preparing for the general election. He doesn't expect to get changes in place that quick, but he says he does eventually hope to implement lessons learned from his trip to Russia.
elections  Russia  alabama  treason  voterSuppression 
10 weeks ago by campylobacter
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10 weeks ago by andriak

VoterSuppression  from twitter_favs
10 weeks ago by andriak
Alabama Demands Voter ID–Then Closes Driver’s License Offices In Black Counties
By Tierney Sneed Published October 1, 2015 12:15 pm

“Every single county in which blacks make up more than 75 percent of registered voters will see their driver license office closed. Every one,” Archibald wrote.

Archibald also noted that many of the counties where offices were closed also leaned Democrat.
racism  voterSuppression  voterID  votingRights  alabama 
10 weeks ago by campylobacter
Anyone got a minute to talk about gerrymandering?
1. Anyone got a minute to talk about gerrymandering? It may not sound exciting, but it's a big reason why Texas is a "red" state. This, for example, is the 7th Congressional District, where I'm running.

THREAD with map screencaps & article links
map  gerrymandering  voterSuppression  votingRights  racism 
11 weeks ago by campylobacter
The Civil Rights Movement Is Going in Reverse in Alabama
Because of increasingly racially polarized voting patterns in the South, party has become a stand-in for race. As University of California at Irvine law professor Rick Hasen recently wrote in the Harvard Law Review, “The realignment of the parties in the South following the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s has created a reality in which today most African American voters are Democrats and most white conservative voters are Republicans.” That means that, as Democrats have lost ground in statehouses in Alabama and elsewhere across the South, so have African Americans. According to research by David Bositis, in 1994, 99.5% of black state legislators in the South served in the majority. By 2010, the percentage had fallen to 50.5. Today, it’s a mere 4.8%.
civilrights  votingRights  voterSuppression  racism  alabama 
november 2017 by campylobacter
Too poor to vote: How Alabama's 'new poll tax' bars thousands of people from voting
But in Alabama and eight other states from Nevada to Tennessee, anyone who has lost the franchise cannot regain it until they pay off any outstanding court fines, legal fees and victim restitution.

In Alabama, that requirement has fostered an underclass of thousands of people who are unable to vote because they do not have enough money.

Alabama's felon disenfranchisement policies are likely unconstitutional, and they have disparate impacts on felons who are poor, black, or both, according to experts.

According to The Sentencing Project, a Washington, D.C.-based criminal justice reform non-profit, there are 286,266 disenfranchised felons in Alabama, or 7.62% of the state's voting-age population.

More than half of those disenfranchised felons are black, despite the fact that African-Americans made up only 26.8% of the state's population as of July 2016, according to a U.S. Census estimate.

A new state law has cleared the way for people convicted of certain felonies to eventually regain the right to vote. But before that can happen, anyone who has lost the franchise in Alabama for any reason must first fulfill any financial obligations to the state and to their victims, according to Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill.
alabama  voterSuppression  votingRights  wealthinequality  poverty 
november 2017 by campylobacter
Ala. governor's infidelity led to failed voter suppression effort
After Alabama passed a law requiring voters to have a photo ID to cast a ballot, a nefarious plan to close driver's licenses offices in many majority black counties in the state was announced. According to an impeachment investigation into Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, that scheme was hatched by the governor's mistress, Rebekah Mason, who wanted to roll out the plan in a way that wouldn't unduly harm her lover's political allies.
alabama  politics  votingRights  voterSuppression  voterID 
november 2017 by campylobacter
John Merrill's office not ready to release names of crossover voters |
The Legislature passed the crossover voting ban this year and it was in effect for the first time during the Sept. 26 Republican runoff between Roy Moore and Sen. Luther Strange in the special election for the U.S. Senate.

The law says that voters who vote in a party primary cannot cross over and vote in an ensuing runoff of the other party. So those who voted in the Aug. 15 Democratic primary were not eligible to vote in the GOP runoff.
voterSuppression  alabama  legislation 
november 2017 by campylobacter
Alabama Secretary of State Promotes Voter Suppression on Selma Anniversary
In Selma this past weekend, they held a church service to celebrate the 52nd anniversary of the Bloody Sunday march for voting rights. One of the attendees was John Merrill, the Alabama Secretary of State. Another one of the attendees was the Reverend William Barber, the official preacher of this here shebeen. According to a video posted to Barber's Facebook page, as related over at Josh's joint, Merrill decided to enliven the event by touting Alabama's voter-ID law as a landmark advance in the protection of civil rights.
voterID  voterRegistration  voterSuppression  alabama  GOP 
november 2017 by campylobacter
Ala.’s Black Belt Hit Hard by Voter-Suppression Measures
In fact, reports that of the 10 counties with the highest proportion of black folk, the state closed driver's license offices in eight. Journalist Kyle Whitmire reports that the closures came on the heels of Alabama’s requiring photo IDs at the polls, a change the state enacted immediately after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in June 2013.

This is significant because DMV offices are where most folks can get the most common form of photo ID. reports that the closures saved the state very little in revenue, reportedly between $200,000 and $300,000, but the “routine shortfalls in the General Fund budget typically range from $100 million to $200 million,” giving new meaning to a drop in the bucket.

After being sued by the NAACP last month, the U.S. Department of Transportation investigated and found “that African Americans residing in the Black Belt region of Alabama disproportionately underserved by ALEA’s driver licensing services, causing a disparate and adverse impact on the basis of race.”

Under an agreement struck between the state and federal agencies, ALEA agreed to reopen and add more hours of service to the Black Belt offices.
alabama  voterID  voterSuppression  votingRights 
november 2017 by campylobacter
Are you registered to vote, Alabama? Are you sure? You'd better check |
This year, county registrars and the Alabama Secretary of State's office are in the process of updating the state's voter rolls. However, that process has left some voters listed as inactive, including some who say they have voted in recent elections.

Already, some voters who have tried to vote by absentee ballot have discovered their registrations had been changed by mistake. In a callout on Reckon by, we asked readers to check their registrations through the Secretary of State's website. Several people reported they, too, had been moved to "inactive" status mistakenly or they could not find any records of their registration at all, no matter if they had voted recently.
voterRegistration  voterSuppression  alabama 
november 2017 by campylobacter
These Three Lawyers Are Quietly Purging Voter Rolls Across the Country – Mother Jones
The letter they had received was one of many that the ACRU had started sending to small, rural counties across Mississippi, Texas, Kentucky, Alabama, and Arizona the year before. These letters were part of a legal campaign spearheaded by three former Justice Department officials from the George W. Bush administration to purge voter rolls across the country. The effort began in remote areas with few resources for legal defense, but recently it’s expanded to include population centers in key swing states. Voting rights advocates worry that the campaign is targeting minorities and likely Democratic voters.

The commissioners refused to sign the decree. From her years in office, Miller knew that mailings are often returned as undeliverable. A third of the county’s residents live in mobile homes, and their address are not, as she puts it, “what they should be.” Some people use PO boxes but fail to pay to keep them active. So she was adamant that she would not agree to the mailing, and negotiations broke down.
alabama  voterSuppression  voterRegistration  votingRights 
november 2017 by campylobacter
Trump’s Voter Fraud Commission Is Being Sued by One of Its Commissioners – Mother Jones
“The law and good conscience require Secretary Dunlap to participate meaningfully in the work of the Commission; however, despite diligent efforts to gain access, Secretary Dunlap has been, and continues to be, blocked from receiving Commission documents necessary to carry out his responsibilities,” the lawsuit states. “By obstructing certain commissioners’ access to information and failing to allow substantive participation of commissioners with balance in terms of points of view, the Commission and its staff have compromised the legitimacy of any findings that may emerge from this process.”
votingRights  voterSuppression 
november 2017 by campylobacter

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