Sunday, 19 April 2009

Thoughts on NAMUDNO

Over at OTB, I explain why NAMUDNO is not the name of Ricky Martin’s latest attempt at a musical comeback.

Update: More on NAMUDNO here for those interested in the case, which judging from the comments at OTB is... nobody.

Monday, 19 November 2007

It's like the 1960s all over again in Mississippi

First it was Noxubee County, now it’s Wilkinson County’s turn to keep the civil rights division of the Justice Department in business:

Three Wilkinson County officials will take the Fifth Amendment if asked to testify in a bizarre election challenge that involves claims of voting irregularities, intimidation and racial overtones in the Democratic primary, an attorney said.

Sheriff Reginald Jackson, Circuit Clerk Mon Cree Allen and Supervisor Richard Hollins went to court to challenge their re-election losses in the Aug. 7 primary.

What makes the case unusual is that the three incumbents wanted a court to decide the matter, but it now appears they don’t want to participate in the hearings that began last week. ...

The incumbents were reportedly losing the Democratic primary when the polls closed. But they were declared winners after paper ballots were counted by a small group of people, including the sheriff’s sister, Easter Prater, the chair of the county’s Democratic Executive Committee.

That’s when accusations began to surface that someone stuffed the ballot boxes.

“We have made allegations of massive fraud regarding the paper ballots,” Piazza told The Associated Press on Saturday. “And now these folks have announced in open court that they are taking the Fifth Amendment.” ...

In a disturbing twist to the story, [Kirk] Smith, the only white candidate in the debacle, has been the victim of a series of tragedies since the primary, Piazza said. Smith’s wife, Donna, was arrested in a courtroom when she disputed the results. She was cleared of disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace charges and is suing the deputy, Piazza said. Also, vandals damaged Smith’s construction equipment and his home burned just days later.

“It was definitely an arson,” Smith told the AP.

Wilkinson County is in the extreme southwest corner of the state and has population of about 10,000 — about 70 percent black and 30 percent white.

This is not the first time whites in Mississippi have claimed racial intimidation during an election. A federal judge ruled in June that the Noxubee County Democratic Party in eastern Mississippi violated whites’ voting rights. That was the first time the 1965 Voting Rights Act was used on behalf of whites.

Maybe there’s something in the water in Mississippi’s black belts that causes everyone in power there, white or black, to play dirty tricks with elections.

þ: Rick Hasen.

Saturday, 3 December 2005

Texas redistricting

Quaker at Crescat Sententia writes in commentary on this WaPo piece:

I honestly can’t think of a reason why the unanimous (!) staff recommendation would get overruled besides ideological opposition to the Voting Rights Act or a desire to see more Republicans in Congress. If anybody out there can think of better justifications, drop me a line; I’m all ears.

Perhaps the staff of the Civil Rights Division has been enforcing an interpretation of the Voting Rights Act that goes beyond the statutory requirements of Congress, and therefore has been making recommendations that do not enforce the VRA but implement something more stringent than the VRA. Thus, the political appointees at the agency felt an obligation to limit the review to the bounds of the statute, rather than the imagined law that the Civil Rights Division staff would like to see implemented. For example, the memo complains about partisan gerrymandering, yet partisan gerrymanders are not illegal under either the VRA or Supreme Court precedent (even if they probably ought to be).

After all, it is not beyond the realm of reason that young, bright attorneys might choose to join the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and forego greater earning potential and prestige in the private sector, for ideological reasons.