Monday, November 12, 2012

Notes from Meeting 11/12: Guest -- Aura Bogado

Voter Suppression Discussion with Aura Bogado:
-       was working in Colorado, near counties she was watching ahead of the election
-       there were specific issues with latino voter disenfranchisement – Arapajo county – a swing county in a swing state
-       1/3 dem, 1/3 republican and 1/3 independent
-       this county would decide how Colorado voted
-       she secretly recorded a poll worker who was complaining about the number of people of color voting, then she talked to him
-       Aurora (where people were killed in the movie theater) is more than ½ people of color, used to be 80% white
-       The poll watcher was uncomfortable with the shift, she visited where the poll watcher lived to get a better idea of his area (this wasn’t particularly white either)
-       People were laughing at the guy, he was very angry but it didn’t seem to affect their voting patterns

Talked about SB1070 (Arizona) and HB56 (Alabama) – inspired by Kris Kobach (KS) was the immigration advisor for Romney, went to YLS
-       after 9/11 he shifts a lot of immigration work
-       he has also written and suggested a lot of voter suppression work we’ve seen
-       there is some value to checking whether or not voters are alive (do they respond to calls/letters etc.), we have much lower numbers of voting fraud
-       terms relating to voter fraud are thrown around, but it is extremely rare
-       he has helped 15 secretaries of state cut down on early voting and voters
-       2004: Arizona passed anti-immigrant laws to crack down on “alien voters”
-       including voter IDs – this mostly disenfranchises native voters (Navajo don’t have access to any kinds of IDs which are necessary to vote)
-       shares a case study of a Navajo woman working to get an ID so that she can vote – lacking birth certificate, doesn’t have an address (postal service doesn’t deliver there), needs a lawyer, is eventually given her driver’s license with the help of 12 people over an entire day so that she can go vote
-       using voter fraud as a scare tactic to create laws that make it difficult for certain groups to vote

Supreme Court is hearing a case challenging the Voting Rights Act
-       people are really excited about Obama, but the current Supreme Court may very well strike down the Voting Rights Act
-       voter suppression efforts we see will be a lot easier to pass locally
-       if this act is taken apart, states can decide to do whatever it wants
-       the Department of Justice has oversight over counties or states that have a history of voter suppression, can intervene on legislation in these areas over significant changes in procedure, like voter ID laws
-       some of these areas are calmer, some of them are the same, and there are other areas that are worse

What can we do to protect our right to vote?
-       there are places for us to contribute
-       writers, activists and organizers should pay attention and contribute to the discussion

What are some of the arguments against the Voting Rights Act?
-       Shelby, AL says they don’t discriminate anymore, don’t want to be on the list that is overseen
-       They see this as discrimination against a few states, don’t have the ability to decide their voter ID laws etc for themselves
-       Their argument has teeth because CA is not controlled by the law, but there are strange laws there too

She was pleased to see that people fought against voter suppression in this election. People said It is very important to vote. This time around, whereas this wasn’t true earlier
-       she was surprised – 6 months ago, expected lower turn out
-       people had changed their minds – now that the right to voting was being challenged, they were more actively supporting this
-       undocumented people were organizing around this election: people were speaking out about their status, they went out to register voters, asked for people to vote certain ways, and made sure that they got there
-       largely Latinos are leading this: undocumented immigrants are working on this, but
-       50,000 Latinos turn 18 every month, 600,000 people a year

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