Editor’s note: Judith Browne Dianis is one of the nation’s leading voting rights litigators and is co-director of Advancement Project, a next generation civil rights organization that focuses on issues of democracy and race.
(CNN) – Today millions of people will go to the polls to vote in state and local elections. As they cast their ballot, they cast a vote for the most treasured aspect of our democracy. The voting booth is the one place where we are all equal — all Americans are able to have an equal voice in determining the shape of our government.
That sacred right is now under the largest assault we have witnessed in more than a century.
A new documentary from Brave New Foundation reveals strong partisan backing of these laws. Under the pretense of safeguarding elections against voter fraud,the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative advocacy group that receives funding from the billionaire Koch brothers (who also back the tea party), crafted and distributed model voter ID legislation introduced in more than 30 states this year.But widespread voter fraud is a myth. A report from the Brennan Center for Justice says strict ID verification requirements “address a sort of voter fraud more rare than death by lightning.” An extensive analysis of data from all 50 states by the U.S. Justice Department found that incidents of voter fraud are exceedingly rare.
Today residents of Mississippi will decide whether voters must produce a government-issued ID in order to cast a ballot and voters in Maine will choose whether to keep or overturn a new law banning election day voter registration, which had previously been on the books since 1973.
These votes occur amidst the backdrop of an unprecedented, Republican-led war on voting. Since the 2010 election, at least a dozen states controlled by Republicans have approved new obstacles to voting—mandating government-issued IDs, curtailing early voting, restricting voter registration, disenfranchising ex-felons. Five million voters could be negatively impacted by the new laws, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, which found that “these new restrictions fall most heavily on young, minority and low-income voters, as well as on voters with disabilities”—in other words, those most likely to vote for Democrats.
A key component of the GOP’s campaign has been orchestrated by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which receives substantial funding from the Koch brothers. ALEC drafted mock photo ID legislation after the 2008 election and in five states that passed ID laws in the past year—Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin—the measures were sponsored by legislators who are members of ALEC.
A new investigation from Brave New Foundation, in conjunction with the Advancement Project and amplified by a host of progressive groups, outlines ALEC’s influence in the war on voting and spotlights the $245,550 in campaign contributions the Koch brothers have given to politicians supporting new voter ID laws, such as Scott Walker and Rick Perry. “Folks like the Koch brothers are attempting to ensure that as few people of color and as few young people show up as possible,” says NAACP President Ben Jealous.
The video also features interviews with eligible voters who may be unable to cast a ballot because of the new restrictions. “Voter suppression is obviously a critically important issue,” says Robert Greenwald of Brave New Films. “Our job is to put a face on this—take it from abstract policy to real people losing the right to vote because of right-wing attacks on our democracy.” Brave New Foundation also launched a petition on their website asking Attorney General Eric Holder to enforce the Voting Rights Act.
On a related note, civil rights groups such as the NAACP and National Urban League today announced the formation of a new group, Stand 4 Freedom, to protest the new voting laws. Representative Keith Ellison also recently introduced two bills, the Same Day Registration Act and the Voter Access Protection Act, which would, respectively, “require states to provide for same day voter registration for a federal election,” and “make sure election officials cannot require photo identification in order to cast a vote or register to vote.”
The sleeper issue of the 2012 election is starting to get a lot more attention.
Today Americans are going to the polls to vote in state and local elections. But one year from now, millions of black Americans could find themselves shut out of that essential democratic right.
A film by Brave New Foundation released today (see an excerpt below) highlights the backing of the billionaire Koch brothers for voter-suppression efforts around the nation. It is no accident that the same corporate interests that have fueled the anger against economic injustice voiced by the Occupy Wall Street movement would deny 99 percent of Americans the expansive democracy tirelessly championed by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement. It promises a dangerous restructuring of our nation and stacks the deck against the 99 percent. Click here for the full story.
Mitt Romney claims his economic plan is meant to aid the middle class, not those in the Koch brothers’ tax bracket. But how does eliminating an estate tax to do so? Ed Schultz and Robert Greenwald discuss, along with why Brave New Foundation launched WhoAreTheOnePercent.com
Inspired by the Occupy movement, 10 progressive media outlets are crowd-sourcing contributions for a film series dubbed “Who Are The One Percent?” focusing on economic inequality and political corruption.
The project, led by filmmaker Robert Greenwald’s Brave New Foundation, will seek input from progressive readers and viewers for in-depth profiles of about a dozen very wealthy individuals who use their financial power to extract wealth from others by exploiting the political process.
Greenwald specifically hopes the films will be shown at Occupy events.
“We want to support the Occupy movement in any way we can, and we’re hoping one way is to make these available to ground Occupy actions,” Greenwald told HuffPost.
Beginning Thursday, readers can go to Brave New Foundation’s website and suggest people who should be profiled. They’ll also be able to vote on others’ suggestions. Once the audience has settled on subjects for the films, they’ll be encouraged to send in information on the wealthy targets.
The films will all be released online digitally through Brave New Foundation. They will be supplemented by material from AlterNet, The Nation, The Center for Media and Democracy, Truthout, The Young Turks and other outlets, which will all be seeking input from their own readers and listeners.
One percent-ers beware– Brave New Foundation’s Robert Greenwald and 10 progressive media outlets have started a campaign to expose those “Americans [who] have enriched themselves at the expense of everyone else”.. and they’re calling on the public to name names. There are two criteria: “they have to be in the wealthiest 1%, meaning a net worth over $9 million, and they have to be using their wealth and power to keep down the other 99%. The rest is up to you.”
They’ll compile the reader-sourced suggestions (coming in from all 11 sites) as nominees for the “worst of the 1 percent” and hold a vote– the winners(?) will be profiled in digital films (once again, with reader-sourced information) which will be released online through Brave New Foundation. “We want to support the Occupy movement in any way we can, and we’re hoping one way is to make these available to ground Occupy actions,” Greenwald told Huffington Post.
To check out who’s been nominated so far you can head here.
The Brave New Foundation, in partnership with AlterNet and nine other partners, has launched the “Who Are the 1%?” project. As the project’s website explains:
Inequality has ballooned over the last three decades as some of the wealthiest Americans have enriched themselves at the expense of everyone else. Who are the worst offenders?
You tell us. We’ll compile your suggestions and hold a vote to decide which ones Brave New Foundation will expose. We have just two criteria: they have to be in the wealthiest 1%, meaning a net worth of over $9 million, and they have to be using their wealth and power to keep down the other 99%. The rest is up to you. Have at it.
Watch the following video for more information on the project, and nominate someone who you think is the worst of the 1% here.
Robert Greenwald’s Brave New Films is preparing a multimedia onslaught to expose those 1 percenters who use their monetary and political powers to the disadvantage of others—sometimes millions of others, as in the case of Bank of America President Brian Moynihan.
Greenwald took to his favorite medium to issue a call for nominees in this video he unleashed Thursday, “Who Are the 1 Percent?” In other words, time to name names, people.