Latest News: Voting Victory in South Carolina, An Inspector General for the NYPD, Judicial Election

October 17, 2012

Latest News

Voting Victory in South Carolina

Supporters of democracy scored another victory when a federal court ruled that South Carolina voters will not need to show a photo ID to vote on Election Day. The court recently ruled there was not enough time left to implement the law in South Carolina for 2012. “We are pleased the judges took steps to protect the voting rights of those citizens who lack ID, ensuring access to the ballot box for many South Carolina voters,” said Keesha Gaskins. The Brennan Center represented the League of Women Voters in the case. South Carolina joins a wave of other states where voting laws have been weakened or blocked, including Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin.

Policing the Police

The Brennan Center released a new proposal this month calling for the creation of an independent inspector general for the New York Police Department. Since 9/11, the NYPD has greatly expanded its intelligence operations to keep New York safe, but unlike the CIA and FBI, the NYPD does not have the same oversight mechanisms. “No agency with the breadth and scope of powers enjoyed by the NYPD should operate without independent oversight,” said Faiza Patel. An inspector general “has worked well elsewhere and could only strengthen oversight in a police department that clearly needs it” according to a New York Times editorial. Join Patel for a panel discussion on inspectors general on Oct. 24 at John Jay College.

Spending on Judicial Elections on the Rise

In 13 states, TV ad spending for judicial elections exceeded $7 million and is on track to surpass 2010 levels, according to new data from the Brennan Center and Justice at Stake. “We expect spending to ratchet up dramatically as Election Day draws closer,” said Alicia Bannon. “Because judicial candidates are usually not as well-known as other state office-holders, they typically concentrate their spending in the weeks leading up to the election to catch voters’ attention.” Michigan, Iowa, and Florida, all saw increases in judicial election TV ad spending. Read an article in The Atlantic.

Supreme Court Hears Affirmative Action Case

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments last week in Fisher v. Texas, a case involving the University of Texas’ nuanced admissions program. Abigail Fisher, the plaintiff, was denied admissions to the university and argues race should not be considered in the admissions process. The university’s individualized admissions process was designed specifically to comply with past Supreme Court cases. The Brennan Center, which filed an amicus brief in the case, asked the Court to recognize that diversity in higher education is crucial for the success of a multi-racial democracy. Read Inimai Chettiar’s analysis in The Atlantic, Huffington Post and The Hill. Watch her discuss the case on the Thom Hartman Show.

From the Brennan Center Blog

Education and Incarceration: Beyond ‘Affirmative Action’ - Inimai Chettiar & Gabriel Solis

  • Young black men live in a reality in which prisons are more accessible than universities. As the Supreme Court considers inclusive admissions policies as part of Fisher v Texas, it should remember that such policies are one of the few ways our government has invested in educational opportunities for people of color.

Young Voters, Be Bold- Lucy Zhou

  • Although a recent Gallup poll indicated that young voters are less intent on turning out to vote than they were four years ago, Lucy Zhou urges young voters not to feel discouraged.

UT Austin Must Become a Symbol of Racial Justice - Gabriel Solis

  • In light of Fisher v. Texas, former University of Texas (UT) grad Gabriel Solis calls on his alma mater to use this opportunity to move beyond existing forms of racial inequalities on campus and become a symbol of racial justice.

What to Do About Vote by Mail - Larry Norden

  • With the number of people voting by mail likely to increase this election, Larry Norden discusses three things states and counties can do to make sure more votes are counted.

Rules May Change, But the Secret Money Game Remains the Same - Ian Vandewalker

  • Tax-exempt groups — like Crossroads GPS and Americans for Prosperity — have actually spent more than super PACs this election. The reason? Tax-exempt groups don’t have to reveal their donors. The SEC has the power to change that.

Why Filibuster Reform is a Bipartisan Goal - Mimi Marziani

  • As the presidential debates continue, Mimi Marziani argues, both President Obama and Governor Romney should raise filibuster reform as a top priority for their parties.

Thousands of Non-Citizen Voters? It’s Déjà Vu in Michigan - Chris Famighetti

  • In her quest to prove the myth that thousands of non-citizens are registered to vote, Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson employed a flawed list-matching system to arrive at a “flimsy allegation that 4,000 non-citizens are registered to vote in Michigan,” wrote Chris Famighetti. Not surprisingly, Johnson’s numbers simply don’t add up.

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Oct. 17– The Brennan Center will co-host in a three-day convening at the New York County Lawyers' Association to discuss how to eliminate racial and ethnic disparity in the Criminal Justice System.

Oct. 18– After a successful screening last week, the Brennan Center is again co-sponsoring a screening of Electoral Dysfunction at Harvard Kennedy School. The Center’s Myrna Perez will attend a Q&A following the screening.

Oct. 19Keesha Gaskins will speak about redistricting and voter ID laws at NYU Law School's Bickel & Brewer Institute for Human Rights.

Oct. 24 - Faiza Patel will discuss oversight of the NYPD’s police operations and how additional oversight could address current controversies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Oct. 26Inimai Chettiar will speak on a panel on criminal re-entry issues at an American Bar Association event in Washington D.C.

  • Adam Skaggs discussed the failure of a State Board of Elections regulation on disclosure in The New York Times.
  • The restoration of early voting days in Ohio will be especially critical to Ohio's minority voters," Wendy Weiser told USA Today. The Los Angeles Times also featured Wendy Weiser in an article on the string of court rulings striking down restrictive voter laws. Weiser spoke to ProPublica about how Ohio and other states have made it harder to vote.
  • Inimai Chettiar highlighted the impact of a broken criminal justice system on our economy and its notable absence in the presidential debates on CNBC.
  • Nicole Austin-Hillery was featured in a recent Al Jazeera segment exploring the impact voter ID laws could have on the 2012 election. Myrna Pérez spoke to CNN about the same issue.
  • The Associated Press looked at how poll watchers and challengers may affect this election, especially in swing states, citing the Brennan Center’s recent report on the topic.
  • The Sacramento Bee used Brennan Center data for a story highlighting how California has fought to make its election system more accessible, even as other states have moved in the opposite direction.
  • Andrew Cohen at The Atlantic wrote a three-part series on the influence of money in politics in judicial elections, citing a recent study by the Brennan Center and Justice at Stake.

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