EXCLUSIVE: Iowa Judge Strikes Down Voter ID Law; Dem Nominee Reacts

We’ve seen the GOP work assiduously to dismantle the American voting system, through purges and strict ID laws that disproportionately target minorities and Democratic-leaning voters. Today in Iowa, a judge struck down the state’s pernicious and racist Voter ID law.

From the Cedar Rapids Gazette:

An Iowa judge Wednesday issued a temporary injunction barring the state from implementing some provisions of Iowa’s new voter ID law.

The ruling, for now, restores the absentee early voting period from 29 days to 40 days and blocks certain ID requirements of the law, passed by the GOP-led Legislature and signed into law by former Gov. Terry Branstad in May 2017.

Polk County District Judge Karen Romano ruled that elements of the state’s new system requiring state-issued voter identification numbers on absentee ballots could harm the rights of voters to participate in elections, “in contravention” of Iowa’s Constitution.

The law was initiated by Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, who worked to get the legislature to adopt and pass it. The ruling is a direct rebuke and could hurt the GOP’s chances in November. Pate himself is up for re-election, and is being challenged by former Obama campaign coordinator and small business owner Deidre DeJear.

I was actually just on the phone with DeJear as part of an already scheduled interview for Progressives Everywhere, and she was ecstatic about the ruling.

CLICK HERE to donate to Deidre DeJear via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue Page.

“The judge ruled that they could not prove the law was necessary. So 40 days of early voting is back, the ID requirement is no longer there, and there were some strange requirements for the absentee ballot system that have been annihilated,” she explained. “Paul Pate commissioned this bill. This is his baby, this is what he’s been working on for a while in our state. He hasn’t been promoting voting. We have about 2.3 million voters who are eligible to vote in our state but only 1.9 million are active. He’s not doing anything to engage them and there’s a lot of work that can be done in that office to increase our voter turnout.”

In her role for the Obama re-election campaign, she helped activate the youth and African-American vote. In 2012, minorities accounted for 7% of the vote in Iowa, up from 3% in 2008.

She’s in favor of automatic voter registration and actively promoting voting, instead of discouraging it like Pate has done. And with Iowa as a crucial swing state, having as many active voters as possible is a good thing for Democrats — and most of all, for democracy.

CLICK HERE to donate to Deidre DeJear via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue Page.

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Protecting elections from Russia and Republicans

America right now is a circus in which the clowns are armed to the teeth and the tent is collapsing all around us. It’s been a wild two weeks, packed with disturbing — if not unexpected — revelations about the forces conspiring against American voters. Democracy is under attack and the President of the United States not only doesn’t care, he’s actively helping to facilitate the assault.

On Monday, in what would be a stunning event if the last two years hadn’t been filled with ludicrously stunning events, Donald Trump stood up on stage next to a smirking Vladimir Putin and blamed the US for Russia’s undeniable hijacking of the 2016 elections. And then after giving the lamest excuse ever for his treason, he went and invited Putin to Washington, presumably so he could hand-deliver him some juicy national secrets.

And the scariest part of it all? Trump also said that he doesn’t think Russia is working to hack the 2018 elections, directly contradicting both the Director of National Intelligence and all logic.

CLICK HERE to donate to progressive Democratic candidates who will protect our elections 

There are mountains of evidence that Russian hackers targeted our decentralized, borderline disastrous electoral system in 2016. It wasn’t a fair fight — imagine a KGB agent taking aim at senior citizens whose email passwords are just the names of their grandchildren. We know that at minimum one state’s voter database was hacked, resulting in the theft of half a million voters’ sensitive personal information. That’s one state too many, and it’s just the tip of the iceberg — there were at least 21 states targeted in 2016.

Russians also hacked local elections and, despite what Trump says, have already targeted three congressional candidates. Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence, was incredibly blunt when talking about this last month, warning that “the digital infrastructure that serves this country is literally under attack.”

The Senate is trying to get states to upgrade their election security, and in March authorized a $380 million outlay for them to do so, but so far, few states have agreed to use that money to fortify their systems before the November election.

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Meanwhile, the House Republicans’ budget strips away that funding to secure election systems protection money next year, and they refuse to allow a vote to reinstate that crucial funding. On top of that, the GOP is actively working to suppress votes in other ways, including gerrymandering to create non-competitive districts, enacting voter ID laws, shutting down voting locations and just straight up taking people (especially minorities) off the voting rolls (thank the Supreme Court for that one).

Ideally, progressive Democrats will win back the House and state governments this fall, and then pass laws that fortify elections systems and expand the right to vote. And we are working hard on that, but there’s also a more direct way to stop the worst of the abuses and beef up voter database security. It varies from state to state, but in a plurality of cases, elected Secretaries of State control a state’s elections, wielding an inordinate amount of power over our democracy.

CLICK HERE to donate to progressive Democratic candidates who will protect our elections  

Republicans control 28 of those offices, while Democrats hold 17. Not a great ratio, but it’s looking like the most endangered seats this fall are currently held by Republicans, giving Democrats an excellent chance of turning the tide.

We’ve already spoken a good bit about Kathleen Clyde, the Democratic candidate for Ohio Secretary of State. That’s possibly the most crucial race, given the state’s impending voter purge — Clyde has promised to cancel it if elected. Her GOP opponent, Frank LaRose, meanwhile, openly embraces Donald Trump.

There are a number of other classic or emerging swing states that will have hotly contested Secretary of State races that Democrats have a great chance of winning. We’re supporting candidates in Iowa, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and Michigan… plus Georgia and Kansas, two GOP strongholds where circumstances put the race in play.

CLICK HERE to donate to progressive Democratic candidates who will protect our elections 

Michigan presents a classic swing state case. Its state government was hijacked by Republicans, who gerrymandered their way into total control of Lansing. But thanks to term limits and a lot of progressive energy, Democrats are poised to toss the GOP from office. Jocelyn Benson, the former dean of Wayne State University, is the Democratic candidate for Secretary of State, a role for which she is truly prepared — Benson wrote a whole book on the importance of the position. She’s currently working as the CEO of the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality, an organization that just so happens to be running a major voter education campaign right now.

Benson recently gave a great interview about the issues she’ll prioritize in office, and expanding the electorate, making it easier to vote, and protecting elections were at the top of the list.

As for Kansas and Georgia, Democrats will be trying to take advantage of voters’ exhaustion with corrupt, nasty Republicans Secretaries of State. Both Kris Kobach of Kansas and Brian Kemp are running for governor of their respective states, creating real openings for progressives to win in wave elections.

Kobach is both the most prominent and most reviled Secretary of State in the country. Not only did he create the fundamentally flawed interstate voter cross-checking database, he ran Trump’s all-too-brief “Voter Fraud” commission, which was such a spectacular failure that even the White House that embraces and promotes disasters decided to disband it. Kobach is running for governor (Republicans always fail up) and Democrats have nominated a solid outsider candidate in former tech exec Brian McClendon, giving them a better-than-usual chance to win.

CLICK HERE to donate to progressive Democratic candidates who will protect our elections 

Electoral news roundup: The future is female in Texas

Trump and Putin’s press conference yesterday was nothing short of pathetic. It deserves all the outrage we can throw at it — but it’s also not the only pressing news story happening right now. Here’s a look at some of the most important electoral stories happening right now:

  • In Texas, women are running for office in unprecedented numbers. Right now, there are only 29 women in the 150-seat State Legislature and eight women out of 31 state senators. But women make up nearly half of the Democratic Party’s nominees this year — including its nominee for governor.
  • Defying conventional wisdom, bold progressivism — and democratic socialism — is on the rise in western Pennsylvania and the suburbs of Pittsburgh. Lt. Governor candidate John Fetterman, the ultra-popular mayor of Braddock, is helping the surge. Bernie Sanders recently visited Pittsburgh to rally with Fetterman.
  • Maine voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure to expand Medicaid last fall, but the state’s insane GOP governor, Paul LePage, refuses to carry out the will of the people. He’s now defying a court order to implement the Medicaid expansion, and just last week said he’d sooner go to jail than help working people go to the doctor. We’d like to see both happen.
  • Activists in Michigan delivered over 400,000 signatures to get a voter rights initiative on the ballot this fall. But a group of corporations is now suing to have the initiative removed from the ballot, a scary prospect given the fact that the State Supreme Court is made up entirely of Republicans. Citizens are fighting back, though, holding protests in Detroit to demand that the Chamber of Commerce, one of the lawsuits’ financiers, pulls out of the effort to thwart democracy.
  • The Koch Brothers are behind some incredibly misleading mailers to voters in Missouri, where Right to Work is on the ballot. Of course, they’re yet another attack on unions and workers.
  • New Hampshire is making it harder for people to vote, especially college students.

The Supreme Court fight begins now

Fight this nomination. Insure against its damage.

Donald Trump just named his choice for the newly opened seat on the Supreme Court — and as expected, it’s not good news.

In a primetime announcement with the build-up and pageantry of a game show, Trump announced that he was nominating federal circuit court judge Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court. Of course, he shouldn’t get this choice, after what Republicans did to Merrick Garland in an election year. But the GOP doesn’t play fair, so we have to face reality and start fighting.

Kavanaugh has a nightmare resume, with a hand in just about every travesty of the past two decades. He worked for Kenneth Starr during his long and ridiculous investigation of the Clinton White House, then helped run the Bush White House. In 2006, during a confirmation hearing, Chuck Schumer summed it up nicely: “If there has been a partisan political fight that needed a very bright foot soldier in the last decade,” he said, “Brett Kavanaugh was probably there.”

And Trump may need him in a fight sooner rather than later. Kavanaugh in 2009 made a splash by writing that he believed the President of the United States should be exempt from criminal prosecution, effectively turning a democracy into a dictatorship given how spineless the GOP Senate has proven itself.

CLICK HERE to support candidates and groups that will help ensure a far-right Supreme Court doesn’t endanger your rights

As a right-wing conservative, Kavanaugh, if confirmed, is also likely to be an opponent of abortion rights and fair representation in government. He’s voted against assault weapons bans. He’s hostile to labor. He ticks off all the wrong boxes. And as the fifth member of a conservative bloc, he could deliver major devastation to national protection for our most basic freedoms.

So let’s get to work. Jam up the phone lines for moderate Republican senators who will be on the fence about Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Here’s Maine Senator Susan Collins’s office’s website. Here’s a link to Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski’s contact info.

In between calls, let’s also get working on rebuilding our country so that our most basic freedoms aren’t on the line every few weeks. Should Kavanaugh get confirmed, it will be up to the states to protect its citizens. Overturning Roe v. Wade — whether incrementally or in one fell swoop — won’t make abortion illegal, but free states to do so themselves. (And many states are already pushing the limit, restricting reproductive choice more and more.) The Supreme Court won’t ever gerrymander or limit access to the ballot box; it will just give state governments the go-ahead to kneecap voter rights.

We are building out a slate of candidates we consider Supreme Court insurance — state senate candidates in crucial (and flippable) legislatures, gubernatorial candidates, and state supreme court nominees.

Earlier this year, Iowa passed the most restrictive anti-choice bill in the nation, banning abortion at the point at which a fetus has a heartbeat. That’s about six weeks after conception, which is often before women even realize they are pregnant. Planned Parenthood of Iowa almost immediately sued, and soon after, a judge placed a temporary injunction against the law — which was exactly what the Iowa GOP wanted to happen. Now, the measure will work its way through the court system, with a chance to be heard by the Supreme Court.

That makes this fall’s Iowa gubernatorial campaign absolutely critical. If Democrat Fred Hubbell can unseat GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds, he can stop the state from defending the law in court, defusing that major threat. With that in mind, we are officially supporting Hubbell’s campaign in what should be a very close race.

CLICK HERE to support candidates and groups that will help ensure a far-right Supreme Court doesn’t endanger your rights

In Ohio, the state GOP is pushing an even more pernicious law that would ban abortions altogether, even in the case of incest or rape. State senators know that it would immediately be challenged, but again, that’s the point. They want to get this blatantly illegal policy into the court system, so that it has a chance of blowing up Roe v Wade for good.

Governor John Kasich, a Republican, has cautioned against this bill, but the GOP right now has the supermajority needed to override any veto. That means that not only do we need to elect a Democratic governor this fall — former Consumer Protection Bureau head Richard Cordray is the nominee in a tight race — but also fight to take back the legislature (or at least break that supermajority). With that in mind, we’re also supporting Lauren Friedman and Lorraine Wilburn, pro-choice candidates who are running for the legislature in districts that Hillary Clinton won in 2016.

Both women were inspired to get involved by Trump’s election, and they have some pretty fantastic stories. One stellar example: Wilburn delivered a birthday cake to the office of her GOP congressman, Jim Renacci, on the 7th anniversary of the passage of Obamacare. And Friedman said it best: “When you’re desperate and your elected officials don’t listen to you, you have to get creative.”

Because there are so many other states that restrict abortion rights and so many races to be fought, we’re also backing Emily’s List, an organization that trains and supports pro-choice Democratic women running for office.

CLICK HERE to support candidates and groups that will help ensure a far-right Supreme Court doesn’t endanger your rights

Trump is going to come after Roe v Wade. We need to elect SCOTUS insurance

There is nothing I can say about last week’s avalanche of bad news that you haven’t screamed in a fit of rage and/or despair. But, in the interest of riling you up and creating some urgency, let’s recap:

The Supreme Court, a sullied institution that has been transformed into an organ of oppression for old rich bigots, delivered several major blows to working people, democracy, and humanity. Having already greenlit voter purges and protected corporations from facing consequences for taking part in human rights abuses, the conservative majority went even further last week. The court hobbled public sector unions, upheld Trump’s racist anti-Muslim travel ban, and struck down California’s effort to provide pregnant women in crisis with information about abortion.

Then it got worse.

After the last decision was announced, Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement. Though he was a conservative on economic issues, he was considered a swing vote because of his respect for Roe v Wade and stance on gay marriage. There is just about zero chance that Trump will nominate a “moderate” to replace Kennedy, because he’s literally never done anything moderate in his life, and that was before he got maniacs like Stephen Miller howling in his ear.

CLICK HERE to support candidates and groups that will help ensure a far-right Supreme Court doesn’t endanger your rights

So then what? Simply put, it will be up to the states to protect its citizens. Overturning Roe v. Wade — whether incrementally or in one fell swoop — won’t make abortion illegal, but free states to do so themselves. (And many states are already pushing the limit, restricting reproductive choice more and more.)

So here we are again, faced with the task of rebuilding state and local Democratic parties on the fly, now with no nominal safety net at the high court. And so this week, we’re starting a fund for candidates who will stand up for these rights in key states where they are under attack.

In Ohio, the state GOP is pushing a law that would ban abortions altogether, even in the case of incest or rape. State senators know that it would immediately be challenged, but again, that’s the point. They want to get this blatantly illegal policy into the court system, so that it has a chance of blowing up Roe v Wade for good.

Governor John Kasich has cautioned against this bill, but the GOP right now has the supermajority needed to override any veto. That means that not only do we need to elect a Democratic governor this fall — former Consumer Protection Bureau head Richard Cordray is the nominee in a tight race — but also fight to take back the legislature (or at least break that supermajority). That brings us to Lauren Friedman and Lorraine Wilburn, pro-choice candidates who are running for the legislature in districts that Hillary Clinton won in 2016.

Neither woman was very politically active before 2016, but they were inspired to get involved by Trump’s election. Already, their activism and campaigns have led to some pretty fantastic stories.

One stellar example: Wilburn delivered a birthday cake to the office of her GOP congressman, Jim Renacci, on the 7th anniversary of the passage of Obamacare. “I’m sure they threw it away. We were actually removed from the office,” Wilburn said.

Friedman said it best: “When you’re desperate and your elected officials don’t listen to you, you have to get creative.”

So, what do they stand for? Per CantonRep.com:

Wilburn said they’re running on “health care, education, economy and jobs. These are the issues that impact us and our families. They impact our friends. We know these issues first hand. .. we’re not career politicians.”

She said she wants more accountability for charter schools and an actual fix to school funding.

Friedman said, “we’ll show up, and we’ll vote. We’ll be there. And we will listen. We will talk to constituents, and we will hold town halls and I think it’s a real good start.”

These are the kind of candidates that can create a sea change for Democrats this year — as long as we support them and don’t let the national party’s tired old guard lecture people about civility and being nice to Nazis. Both women quit their day jobs to run for office full-time and are talking about fundamental issues that impact working Americans of all political persuasions. As Trump gives away billions to his rich buddies,  kitchen table issues and bold progressive activists are our best chance of connecting with voters and saving democracy.

CLICK HERE to support candidates and groups that will help ensure a far-right Supreme Court doesn’t endanger your rights

Having women so involved in fighting Trump will be crucial even in the campaigns in which they’re not the candidate. Look at what’s happening in Iowa for an idea of just how much is at stake this fall when it comes to reproductive rights (and so many other issues, of course).

Earlier this year, Iowa passed the most restrictive anti-choice bill in the nation, banning abortion at the point at which a fetus has a heartbeat. That’s about six weeks after conception, which is often before women even realize they are pregnant. Planned Parenthood of Iowa almost immediately sued, and soon after, a judge placed a temporary injunction against the law — which was exactly what the Iowa GOP wanted to have happen. Now, the measure will work its way through the court system, with a chance to be heard by the Supreme Court.

That makes this fall’s Iowa gubernatorial campaign absolutely critical. If Democrat Fred Hubbell can unseat GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds, he can stop the state from defending the law in court, defusing that major threat. With that in mind, we are officially supporting Hubbell’s campaign in what should be a very close race.

Because there are so many other states that restrict abortion rights and so many races to be fought, we’re also backing Emily’s List, an organization that trains and supports pro-choice Democratic women running for office.

CLICK HERE to support candidates and groups that will help ensure a far-right Supreme Court doesn’t endanger your rights