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‘Democracy for some, but not for all’: Report reveals nearly 1,700 polling places closed since Supreme Court weakened Voting Rights Act

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“Seems like Republicans don’t want people to vote…wonder what they are worried about.”

Civil rights advocates said Tuesday that The U.S. Supreme Court must restore a key provision of the Voting Rights Act after a sweeping new report showed how the court’s decision led to the closure of nearly 1,700 polling places across the American South.

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The Leadership Conference Education Fund’s study, “Democracy Diverted,” revealed Tuesday that nearly 1,200 of the polling places were closed between the 2014 and 2018 midterm elections, “underscoring the scale of this assault on U.S. democracy.”

The group is the research and education arm of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Under Law, the nation’s largest coalition of civil rights groups.

“We must recognize that closures are taking place at alarming speed amid broader efforts to prevent people of color from voting,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference. “And meanwhile, states are under no obligation to evaluate the discriminatory impacts of such closures. This is exactly why we need to restore the Voting Rights Act and all of its protections.”

In its 2013 ruling on Shelby County vs. Holder, the Supreme Court invalidated Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The provision mandated that voting precincts and counties with a history of racial discrimination must seek “preclearance” or approval of any changes in voting rules that could affect minority voters’ access to the polls.

Gupta testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday hours after the report was released, explaining Shelby County vs. Holder’s far-reaching impact on marginalized communities, especially under the Trump administration.

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“Restoring preclearance is all the more important under an administration that refuses to challenge discriminatory voting measures,” Gupta said. “Not a single case has been opened, including barriers to registration, restrictive voter ID requirements, and polling place closures.”

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States across the South have shuttered hundreds of polling locations in the wake of the decision, with many of the closures in counties heavily populated by black and Latinx voters.

Texas, Arizona, and Georgia were the worst offenders between 2012 and 2018, the Leadership Conference revealed.

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Texas alone closed 750 locations, and 13 out 15 counties in Arizona—a state where 30 percent of the population is Latinox—shuttered polling places. Maricopa County, where 31 percent of residents are Latinx, closed more locations than any of the 757 counties the Leadership Conference examined.

“Without Section 5 of the VRA, we cannot assess the impact these mass closures have on communities of color,” the group said.

In Georgia, where nearly a third of the population is African American, seven counties were left with a single polling place. Voters in Warren County, which is 61 percent black, saw 83 percent of their polling locations shut down while Lumpkin County closed 89 percent of its polling places.

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On social media, Heather Hargreaves, manager for Democrat Tom Steyer’s 2020 presidential campaign, suggested the closure of nearly 2,000 polling places across the South—like Republicans’ opposition to laws expanding access to the polls for all Americans—reveals the party’s fear of a true democracy.

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The Supreme Court’s failure to defend all Americans’ right to participate in the democratic process, said Gupta, “will only lead to more of the same: a democracy for some, but not for all.”

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2020 Election

All I want for Christmas is Democracy

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As the House of Representatives prepares to vote on articles of impeachment, and as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell openly colludes with Trump’s lawyers to fix the upcoming Senate trial, it’s more obvious than ever that Donald Trump is just a symptom of much more profound disease that has rendered our democracy dysfunctional. America is hardly alone in this regard.

This article first appeared in Salon.

Contrast McConnell with Paula Duncan, the Trump-supporting juror in Paul Manafort's criminal trial, who told NBC News, "I wanted Paul Manafort to be innocent, but he wasn't," and voted to convict him on all charges. She followed the evidence, just as jurors are supposed to. “I didn't believe politics had any place in that courtroom,” she said. “I knew I could be fair and impartial," and she was right.

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2020 Election

‘Always inaccurate’: Trump melts down on Fox News after their new poll shows impeachment support rising

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Donald Trump once again attacked another Fox News poll that showed growing support for his impeachment -- ranting that their numbers are "always inaccurate" and "they got it all wrong."

Taking to Twitter -- of course -- the president ranted about his favorite conservative network and advised them to hire another pollster that will provide them -- and him - with numbers that he finds more pleasing.

According to the president, "The @foxnewPolls, always inaccurate, are heavily weighted toward Dems. So ridiculous - same thing happened in 2016. They got it all wrong. Get a new pollster!"

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2020 Election

How Michael Bloomberg made life worse for the poor in New York

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Death catches us the way we live.

So it was last week in a lower Manhattan subway station that serves the financial district when Shamari Anderson, a homeless 2-year old boy, was struck and killed by an uptown 2 train during the evening holiday rush.

This article first appeared on Salon

According to press accounts, his 20-year-old mother was juggling bags from the Dollar Store when she put her son down to fix his clothes. In an instant, the high energy toddler escaped her grasp and was struck by the subway.

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