A federal judge handed down a major victory for voting rights in Ohio yesterday, but there’s more work to do. (More)

“A legitimate possibility that particular laws may be imminently violated”

The Trump campaign have been planning voter intimidation efforts across the U.S., but a federal judge in Ohio judge slapped them down yesterday:

In a surprise ruling, a US district judge in Ohio issued a restraining order against Donald Trump’s campaign to prevent anyone working on the campaign from harassing and intimidating voters at the polls on Tuesday.

The order came after a two-hour hearing in which the judge pressed Trump’s lawyer to justify the candidate’s inflammatory rhetoric about voter fraud. It also applies to close Trump adviser Roger Stone, who has organized poll-watching activities, and the “officers, agents, servants, and employees” of Trump and Stone.

Trump’s campaign argued that the temporary restraining order requested by the Ohio Democratic Party would be merely an “obey the law” injunction of the sort that are generally disfavored by courts. The judge found otherwise:

Here, rather than issue a broad and indefinite injunctive order, the Court orders compliance with specific provisions of the Ohio Revised Code until voting concludes for the 2016 Presidential Election. And where there is a legitimate possibility that particular laws may be imminently violated, ordering compliance with those laws is appropriate.

Specifically, the judge barred the Trump campaign from: (1) hindering voters’ attempts to reach their polling places; (2) engaging in unauthorized “poll watching” activities; (3) interrogating, admonishing, interfering with, or verbally harassing voters; and, (4) distributing literature and/or stating that voter fraud is a crime or describing the penalties for voter fraud. All of these restrictions apply inside polling places, within 100 feet of the entrance to a polling place, and within 10 feet of any voter standing in line.

Of course the Trump campaign has appealed the ruling, because …

“If African-Americans voted overwhelmingly Republican….”

… voter suppression is a principal GOP strategy, as a Republican strategist admitted when asked about North Carolina’s “monster law” to restrict voting by people of color:

Longtime Republican consultant Carter Wrenn, a fixture in North Carolina politics, said the GOP’s voter fraud argument is nothing more than an excuse.

“Of course it’s political. Why else would you do it?” he said, explaining that Republicans, like any political party, want to protect their majority. While GOP lawmakers might have passed the law to suppress some voters, Wrenn said, that does not mean it was racist.

“Look, if African Americans voted overwhelmingly Republican, they would have kept early voting right where it was,” Wrenn said. “It wasn’t about discriminating against African Americans. They just ended up in the middle of it because they vote Democrat.”

Vox’s German Lopez reports on the wide array of tactics North Carolina Republicans are using to keep Democrats from voting:

This Wednesday, the NAACP took North Carolina county officials to court for trying to purge thousands of people from the voter rolls. The process for the purges had so few safeguards that US District Judge Loretta Biggs called it “insane,” saying it “sounds like something that was put together in 1901” – a time when mass suppression of black voters was common.

The process is shockingly simple: Any voter can challenge another county resident’s registration, which then leads to a formal hearing in which the challenger presents evidence that the registration is invalid. If local officials conclude there’s enough for probable cause, a challenged voter can be called to a hearing. But if challenged voters don’t turn up, they’re automatically stripped from the rolls. Obviously, this can have a disproportionate impact on poor, minority voters who just don’t have the time or the means to get to a hearing.

Through this process, North Carolina counties have so far removed nearly 7,000 people – largely black voters – from county voter rolls, out of the state’s 6.8 million registered voters. That doesn’t sound like much. But when three big elections seem to be virtually tied, any small change in the voter rolls might make a difference.

Other tactics include eliminating early voting sites and limiting early voting hours in predominantly-minority areas, a pattern repeated in many other GOP-controlled states:

A study of nearly 400 counties in Alabama, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Mississippi found that those counties collectively reduced the number of polling locations available to voters by at least 16 percent - eliminating more than 860 places. In Arizona, almost every single county shut down voting locations, and more than half of the counties in Louisiana, Texas, and Alabama that provided data to the researchers did so as well.
Though Arizona was hit with lawsuits from the Democratic Party and civil rights groups following its primary election disaster, the state heads into the general election with more than 212 fewer polling locations than it had in the 2012 election. While a combination of court cases, outrage, and media attention forced Maricopa County to open more locations, other counties have slipped under the radar.

Pima County, an area with a high population of Latino and Native American voters, closed 62 locations - more than any county in the country. Cochise County, which has an even larger Latino population, slashed nearly two-thirds of its polling places, and this year will offer only 18 for more than 130,000 residents.

Closing polling places in majority-minority areas lacks even the pretense of trying to prevent ‘voter fraud.’ It’s about trying to prevent voting … period.

“We’re gonna come out of this election having shown the growing power of Latino voters”

But early voting records suggest the GOP’s voter suppression tactics may backfire, at least for Latinos:

On a call with reporters Friday, Latino Decisions – a polling group focused on Hispanic voting patters – said that Latino turnout is on track to make history next week.

On the call, Gabriel Sanchez, a principal at Latino Decisions, pointed to early voting trends that show Latino early voting is up 100 percent in Florida, 60 percent in North Carolina and up 25 percent in Colorado and Nevada.

Sanchez said at this point, Latino Decisions is projecting that between 13.1 million and 14.7 million Latinos will vote on or before Tuesday – a major increase from 2012 numbers when the group estimated 11.2 million voted.

Sanchez estimates Latinos turning out for Hillary Clinton by a 79-18 margin over Trump, based on Latino Decisions’ own polls. That’s 20 points wider than President Obama’s margin with Latinos over Mitt Romney in 2012.

America’s Voice director Frank Sharry said Latino turnout will not only tip the election, but also drive policy:

“I think the way we’re looking at it, is that we’re gonna come out of this election having shown the growing power of Latino voters and for Latino voters [immigration reform] is a defining and mobilizing issue. They are gonna want action,” Sharry said.

¡Si Se Puede!


“13,000 grams of jealousy”

In case you missed it, Republicans are now channeling Enid Strict, better known as the Church Lady created and portrayed by Dana Carvey. Don’t bother with that first link; it’s to Sean Hannity’s website, and the claim is complete hogwash:

A WikiLeaks-released email in which Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s brother invites him to dinner at the house of a well-known performance artist has prompted more than 400,000 tweets of a trending Twitter hashtag, a huge Drudge Report headline and a ton of right-wing news items, all claiming that the email proves a secret link between the Clinton campaign and Satan worship (which, just to be clear right here, it does not).

What really happened is that performance artist Marina Abramović invited John Podesta’s brother to a dinner:

In June 2015, John Podesta’s brother, Tony, forwarded an email from Marina Abramović that read, “Dear Tony, I am so looking forward to the Spirit Cooking dinner at my place. Do you think you will be able to let me know if your brother is joining? All my love, Marina.”

Abramović’s ‘Spirit Cooking’ piece was poetry, not a cookbook. For example:

one grain of cooked rice
one grain of fresh pollen
one spoonful of tears
grind to a paste
with the paste
fill the space under the nail
of the small finger
of your right hand

Other ‘recipes’ include various bodily fluids, along with “13,000 grams of jealousy” and instructions to stand atop a volcano and open your mouth until your tongue catches fire. All of which conservatives take literally, because … well … your guess is as good as mine.

Anyway, the actual menu was ordinary food with funny names:

“It was just a normal dinner,” Abramović said, adding that about 10 people attended. “It was actually just a normal menu, which I call spirit cooking. There was no blood, no anything else. We just call things funny names, that’s all.” (The Kickstarter page advertised “traditional soups.”)

Oh, and John Podesta didn’t even attend. Abramović says she’s never met him. Even so, conservatives apparently think Abramović’s poetry inspired Tony Podesta to inspire John Podesta to inspire Hillary Clinton to make a pact with the Devil, or something.

Cue Dana Carvey:

Is it Tuesday yet?


Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla (Getty Images)


Good day and good nuts