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Voting Rights Act

The Takeaway

Think Our Voting System is Color Blind? Think Again.

Friday, February 27, 2015

A new study from researchers at Harvard suggests that racial bias still plays a big role in the voting system.

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The Takeaway

The Fight for The Vote Continues

Monday, January 19, 2015

Some 50 years after President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, the protections guaranteed by the law are facing their biggest threat yet. 

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Hear Our Voices, Count Our Votes

Monday, January 19, 2015

Rep. Charles Rangel and co-host Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry were among those who joined Brian for his annual MLK Day celebration at the Apollo Theater. Hear excerpts from the event.

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The Takeaway

A New Face Off Over Voting Rights & Citizenship

Friday, March 21, 2014

A federal judge in Kansas ruled on Wednesday that federal election authorities must help states enforce their own voter registration laws, even if they differs from federal rules. Now, 10,000 Kansas voters and 2,000 Arizona voters will have their voting rights suspended until they can prove their citizenship to the state. To help us break down the case and it's implications is Kareem Crayton. He's a professor of law at the University of North Carolina, specializing in voter's rights. Also joining the program is Chris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State.

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The Takeaway

A New Chapter for the Voting Rights Act?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A bipartisan group of lawmakers have introduced a new bill that takes up some of the issues identified in the Supreme Court’s June decision in Shelby Counter v. Holder. Joining The Takeaway to explain the aspects of the new bill are Erin O’Brien, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and Todd Zwillich, The Takeaway's Washington Correspondent, who has been following the politics behind the proposed update to the Voting Rights Act. 

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The Takeaway

After VRA Ruling, Florida Looks to Make Sweeping Changes Without Oversight

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

This week, we're looking at how the decision has already started to change voting laws across the United States. Today we look at Florida. Up until the Shelby County decision, five counties had to ask the Justice Department for permission before changing their voting laws. Gina Jordan, reporter for WLRN in Miami, says the state is now making sweeping changes without federal oversight.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

The Voting Rights Act and American Democracy

Thursday, July 25, 2013

In June, the Supreme Court effectively struck down the Voting Rights Act of 1965, making it legal for nine states, mostly in the South, to change their election laws without seeking federal approval. Gary May tells the history of the Voting Rights Act and the civil rights workers who fought for justice. In Bending Toward Justice: The Voting Rights Act and the Transformation of American Democracy, May describes how black voters overcame centuries of bigotry to secure and preserve their right to register and to vote. He also explains the what Supreme Court ruling means and he discusses renewed efforts to curb voting rights to minorities.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

The History of the Voting Rights Act; "The Unavoidable Disappearance of Tom Durnin"; Solar Plane; Indoor Air Pollution

Thursday, July 25, 2013

We’ll look at the history of the Voting Rights Act and what last month’s Supreme Court decision means for its uncertain future. David Morse and Rich Sommer talk about their roles in the new play, “The Unavoidable Disappearance of Tom Durnin.” Dagmara Daminczyk discusses her new novel, The Lullaby of Polish Girls. We’ll find out about the first solar-powered airplane and about how your kitchen could be a pollution hazard.

The Brian Lehrer Show

Supreme Court Decisions; Sal Albanese; Obama’s Climate Plan

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Supreme Court struck down the part of the Voting Rights Act that determined which states get extra scrutiny for voting procedures. Wendy Weiser, director of the Democracy Program at NYU's Brennan Center for Justice, is here to explain how it applied to New York State historically and what it means for the future. Plus: Mayoral candidate Sal Albanese; New York Magazine's Jonathan Chait on President Obama’s climate change plan; and Slate’s Emily Bazelon has more reactions and analysis of the major Supreme Court decisions. 

The Leonard Lopate Show

Ari Berman on the Supreme Court's Voting Rights Ruling

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ari Berman, a contributing writer for The Nation magazine and an Investigative Journalism Fellow at The Nation Institute, discusses the Supreme Court's ruling on the Voting Rights Act.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

SCOTUS Cases; State of Cancer Treatment; SAT Prep; Frugal Flying

Monday, March 25, 2013

This week the Supreme Court docket includes challenges to the same-sex marriage cases of DOMA and Proposition 8. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman explains what the outcomes might mean for New Yorkers. Plus: John Katzman of the Princeton Review on acing the ACT and SAT; an update on the state of cancer treatment; and what data tells us about how to travel on the cheap.

The Leonard Lopate Show

New Challenges to the Voting Rights Act

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Ari Berman, a contributing writer for The Nation and the author of Herding Donkeys: The Fight to Rebuild the Democratic Party and Reshape American Politics, previews an upcoming Supreme Court challenge to section five of the Voting Rights Act, which calls for specific parts of the country to obtain Justice Department approval before changing their voting laws or districts.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Voting Rights: Then and Now

Monday, August 06, 2012

On the anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, Andrew Young—former U.N. ambassador, congressman, Atlanta mayor and civil rights activist—remembers the day and talks about laws affecting ballot access today. He's joined by Michael Waldman, executive director of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and a former chief speechwriter to President Clinton.

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The Takeaway

Follow Friday: Romney and Biden Address NAACP

Friday, July 13, 2012

Our Follow Friday team discusses the top stories of the past week, including Romney and Biden's speeches to the NAACP, the Obamacare repeal in the House, and building tensions over the Texas Voting Rights Act.

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The Takeaway

Town in Alabama Poses Historic Challenge to Voting Rights Act

Thursday, June 07, 2012

In 2008, Calera, Alabama shifted the boundaries of its voting districts in a way that drastically altered the city's racial geography. Almost immediately, the U.S. Department of Justice wrote that Calera couldn't go through with it. Is voter discrimination based on race a thing of the past? Or should the government still keep watch on those states which have an unpleasant history of racism?

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The Takeaway

Justice Department Blocks Texas Voter Identification Law

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

On Monday, the Justice Department blocked a new Texas voter identification law on the basis that the law would disproportionately affect Hispanics and that it violates the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The law would have required all Texas voters to show some form of photo ID before voting. This past December, the Justice Department blocked a similar law in South Carolina, saying it adversely affected African-American voters.

The controversy over these laws is far from over. Both South Carolina and Texas have filed lawsuits in U.S. District Court in Washington arguing in favor of their new voting laws, and they will take their cases to the Supreme Court if necessary.

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The Empire

Assemblyman Camara: I 'strongly object' to court's congressional plan for Brooklyn

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

In a forceful letter to magistrate judge Roanne Mann, Brooklyn Assemblyman and head of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Caucus, Karim Camara made it clear he was not keen on the way Brooklyn's two historically black congressional districts had fared in the judge's draft maps.

Camara has a two-fold beef: the district that closely tracks Rep. Yvette Clarke's district--a mostly ethnically Caribbean area--now shoots north to pickup the historic African American neighborhoods of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, while the Rep. Ed Towns doppelganger district is now shooting all the way down to Coney Island. To do this Towns' district has to pick up a large chunk of mostly white neighborhoods in southeastern Brooklyn.

"These neighborhoods have nothing in common – racially, culturally, geographically, ideologically or socioeconomically – with the African-American neighborhoods of central and east Brooklyn and it would be a grave mistake to include them," Camara writes.

He goes on to blast the judge for drawing both Congressman Towns and one of his rivals for the job, Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, out of the district they've been running to represent.

Judge Mann's proposed Towns and Clarke districts. (Courtesy of the Eastern District Court.)

"The plan proposed by the court will short-circuit a democratic contest that is already underway, possibly depriving hundreds of thousands of African-American and Latino voters the opportunity to support the candidate of their choice," Camara writes.

If you look at the voting age population the Department of Justice would be looking at when they review Voting Rights Act-protected districts (the judge's plans wouldn't be reviewed by DoJ), Mann's maps would make Towns' district 51.5 percent black and Clarke's district 51.3 percent. Compare that to the Assembly's (51.9/51.6) and the state Senate's (52.9/51.1) maps for Towns and Clarke respectively.

So what would Camara have the judge do? "...Coney Island would more clearly benefit from inclusion in the new NY-9," he writes. "NY-9 could move south from the neighborhoods of Flatbush and Midwood, adding Gravesend and Coney Island. Eastern Parkway could then serve as NY-9’s northern border."

The Assemblyman then suggests Towns' district would "take back in Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights and southern Williamsburg, communities that were inexplicably removed simply to accommodate the addition of Coney Island."

Without a new map, it's hard to know how that would effect the delicate balance happening to keep both districts black majority districts. One thing is certain: we're told we can expect more push back on the judge's lines in the coming days as black and Latino leaders mobilize for what they see as an unfair process.

Camara's full letter is after the jump.

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The Empire

Federal judges move to draw NY congressional maps

Monday, February 27, 2012

From left, Assemb. Jack McEneny, Sen. Michael Nozzolio and Sen. Martin Malavé Dilan (Colby Hamilton / WNYC)

In Brooklyn federal district court today a three-judge panel took a decisive step towards having new congressional lines drawn by an appointed magistrate judge, and not by the legislatively-controlled LATFOR committee.

Led by Circuit Judge Reena Raggi, who spoke almost exclusively for the triumvirate, the panel cited the "utmost urgency" of having congressional lines in place for the primary petitioning period that begins on March 20. The panel of judges instructed a court-appointed federal magistrate, the Honorable Roanne Mann, to retain experts and get public feedback in order to have a proposed set of new congressional boundaries to the court by Monday, March 12.

A public hearing on the court's proposed lines would be held on March 15.

Legislative leaders have up to now been unable to agree upon and present a set of congressional maps to the public. We may get our first glimpse of what the state Assembly and Senate have in mind soon; maps from the parties in the case are due by the end of this week.

But some observers believe the legislature isn't going to give up its power to draw maps that easy.

"I think the chances are that they [the legislature] will get it together and draw the lines," said Jerry Goldfeder, a New York City-based election lawyer. "This is just an extra motivating force."

The question will be whether or not they've run out of time: even if the legislature is able to agree upon a set of maps, they must then get Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign them into law. And even then, the legislature's maps must then be pre-cleared by the Department of Justice, who has up to 60 days to review them.

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The Empire

Federal judge gives big push to redistricting lawsuit

Monday, February 13, 2012

UPDATED

A federal court in Brooklyn gave the green light to a redistricting lawsuit that could see a judge begin drawing state and congressional district lines.

US District Court Judge Dora Irizarry handed down her ruling late on Monday, asking a higher court judge to establish a three-judge panel to review the lawsuit filed by a group of New York voters. The judge also asked that a special master be appointed to "oversee and draw up a redistricting plan that is in compliance with federal and state...law."

Last month Judge Gary Sharpe, who had previously established June 26 as the date for the state's congressional primary, ruled on the calendar for this year's election cycle. The decision set March 20 as the date for candidates to begin petitioning.

In her decision, Judge Irizarry noted that no congressional lines have been presented to the public, despite the fact that potential candidates for the primary have to be ready to petition in six weeks. As the process currently stands, the legislature would need to pass the lines, Governor Andrew Cuomo would need to sign it, and the Department of Justice would have to have enough time to pre-clear the proposed lines based on the federal Voting Rights Act.

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The Empire

Former AG candidate Coffey says LATFOR hearings may be a 'kabuki show'

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

LATFOR public hearing in the Bronx. (Colby Hamilton / WNYC)

Last time I saw Sean Coffey, he was sitting on a stage in Manhattan with three other candidates for attorney general back in 2010, arguing why he should get the job.

He didn’t end up winning the five-way primary (Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice wasn’t at the event), but he’s since joined up with Common Cause and on Tuesday gave testimony at the LATFOR meeting in the Bronx. Draft state Senate and Assembly maps were released last week, and the Tuesday hearing was the first in a second round being held in New York City over the next week.

“The second round of LATFOR hearings could be for one of two purposes,” Coffey said outside of the hearing room at the Bronx Museum of the Arts just before the meeting. “One, it could be to travel to some parts of the state, and hear from citizens about what they think about the draft plans—and amend them to reflect the concerns expressed and, in some cases, the significant concerns expressed about the draft plans.”

“The other, less benevolent reason good be [that] it’s a kabuki show,” he said, “that they’re going around and make believe they’re going to listen to input and tweak these egregiously drawn maps a little bit and say that they’ve somehow accommodated the people who’ve testified.”

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