Listen: Florida, North Carolina And Supreme Court discussed on Democracy Now
"From the American people that they feel left out and locked out too often from their own democracy that they want us to fight the culture of corruption. They want us to clean up Washington fix the system and give them their voice. Back. They wanna be able to get to the ballot box without having to run an obstacle. Course. They want it to be easy not hard to register and vote in America and HR one will address that concern the Bill has been the for the people act. It's the first act of legislation introduced by the new democratic majority in the house longtime civil rights and congressman John Lewis praised the legislation. A mini occasion vote is the most powerful non violent instrument. Transformation. We have. We have in a democratic society. Notre foundation of our system. It must be straighten and preserved therefore so trying to make a hotter. MO difficult. What people to participate? We must drown out these forces. Meanwhile, another voting rights news. The supreme court agreed Friday to hear two cases involving partisan gerrymandering in the states of North Carolina and Maryland voting rights activists fear, the court may uphold partisan gerrymandering could even bar states from forming independent commissions to draw congressional districts. We're joined now by Ari Berman senior writer mother Jones reporting fellow at the nation institute author of give us the ballot. The modern struggle for voting rights in America. His latest peace Democrats first order of business making it easier to vote and harder to buy elections. Welcome to democracy. Now. It's great to have you with us. Explain this I act and the democratic house, it's a huge Bill. It basically includes so many things that democracy reform advocates have been arguing for decades are necessary. It really is the most important democracy reform Bill introduced since the Watergate era on voting rights. It would include things like automatic voter-registration election day, registration, restoring voting rights to ex felons making election day federal holiday, this is the most significant voting rights Bill, probably since the introduction of the Voting Rights Act in nineteen sixty five on money and politics. It would include public financing of congressional elections which would be huge to try to counteract the amount of dark money that we see in the system right now, the huge amount of corporate money that we see in the system right now and on ethics and logging reform one of the things that does is say that any sitting president and vice president has to release their tax returns. Which of course is so important because Donald Trump was the first kid and the first president in forty years not to release his taxes Ohtake. Together massive expansion of voting rights a crackdown on dark money huge lobbying and ethics reform. It's incredibly significant. This was the first thing that House Democrats said they wanted to do out of the gate and what are its chances of? Not just passing in the house. But of course, being enacted because it's President Trump was to sign off on. Well, there's no chance right now all the things I just talked about are anathema to President Trump and to Mitch McConnell who controls the Senate. I think it has a very good chance of passing in the house. But when it comes to the Senate when it comes to President Trump, this is as much a political document as a legislative document, what House Democrats want to do is they want to say this is what we stand for. This is what we believe in. And this is what our democracy needs and by discussing the legislation and also holding hearings on these things because remember Amy they're gonna hold hearings on voter suppression. They're gonna hold hearings on dark money. They're gonna hold hearings on President Trump's taxes. All that stuff is going to get attention to things that have been often dismissed as called good government issues. These are just good government issues. These are issues that get to the core of our democracy. The core of our politics. So on Friday, the supreme court agreed to revisit this question of whether the constitution, prohibits extreme party. Zain gerrymandering talk about the significance of this gerrymandering has completely warped our democracy. We're seeing in state after state after state Republicans are getting a minority of votes, but a majority of seats, and that's not how we think about politics. We think of politics as the person who gets the most votes wins the election. That's not happening. You look at the last election in Wisconsin, Republicans got forty six percent of the vote in the state assembly and sixty four percent of the seats, and that's because of gerrymandering and Democrats do it too. So what we're seeing is the supreme court's going to hear these Sherry mentoring cases from North Carolina where the Republicans gerrymandered and from Maryland where the Democrats gerrymandered now a reasonable person would look at this. And they'd say, okay, you have Republicans gerrymandering in North Carolina. You have Democrats gerrymandering in Maryland. This must be a problem that we have to deal with the supreme court. However looks to be taking the opposite approach. They are seem to be saying that we don't believe partisan gerrymandering is a problem despite all. All of the factors that we see all of the evidence, we see of gerrymandering. The supreme court has basically said we don't care. They took these cases in two thousand sixteen and they punted they basically sent them back to the lower courts. The lower court struck down these gerrymandered maps in North Carolina in Wisconsin in Maryland. Now, it's going back to the supreme court and the worry here's at the five-member. Conservative majority is going to tell states partisan gerrymandering is okay, we're just going to open the door to rampant gerrymandering even more rabid gerrymandering following the twenty twenty electro in the next census comes you mentioned North Carolina. What's happening in the ninth congressional district. What would happen to the nice? Nice. That is the ninth district basically goes from Charlotte all the way down to eastern North Carolina. And what we saw there it was essentially massive election fraud committed by the Republican candidate Marquez and his allies in that race to try to win a congressional race. And it's very ironic that you had Republicans all across the country screaming voter fraud voter fraud voter fraud during the last election, but it was their party and their candidates that committed massive election fraud to try to win a congressional race. So what's happening now is the state board of election North Carolina has not certified that race. So Mark Harris. A Republican was not seated in the new congress, the state board of election. They're going to hold a hearing. And we're going to see what's going to happen. My guess is there's almost certainly going to be a new election North Carolina at some point this year. Talk about what's happening in Florida. Tomorrow is a major deadline huge days. So in the last election, Florida voters restored voting rights to ex-felons. There was an amendment called amendment for sixty four point five percent of the public approved it which was a huge number basically saying that people that have pay their debt society should get their voting rights back that could lead to up to one point four million people getting their right to vote back and tomorrow is the day in which ex-felons in Florida can register to vote in for the first time. This is a huge day for democracy in Florida. However, there is a lot of confusion surrounding this because the new Republican governor the the new Republican legislature. They have not said whether people should be able to register tomorrow. The amendment is very clear starting on January eighth ex-felons who have pay their debt to society. We have a clean record. Now should be able to register to vote. However, the governor has basically said the legislature needs to pass a Bill implementing the law, what voting rights supporters say. Florida is this is very clear if you have paid it's a society if you have a clean record, you should be able to register to vote tomorrow. So the people that led the effort to try to pass this law the Exxon's themselves who weren't able to register they are going to go to their local board of elections tomorrow. They are going to try to register to vote for the first time he turned to Desmond Mead, president of the Florida rights restoration coalition chair Floridians for fair democracy. I spoke to him in November after amendment for past. What we've seen in Florida was love prevailing. Just that simple prevailed. We had over five million votes for amendment for and those votes votes of love. People voting for their loved ones and friends who made mistakes and paid their debt and wanted to move on with their lives. And so we're very excited that we think that this victory can serve as a bright spot for this country could serve at the launching pad for how we conduct business and how we can move this along the lines of humanity and transcend above the partisan politics, transcend the above the racial, so that's Desmond Mead who is really the major force the engine behind this. This amendment this referendum that they voted on. That would set an example for states around the country. Interestingly the deadline tomorrow people cannot deadline exactly because people can start to register which means they can register for twenty twenty. And we're talking about over a million people that begins tomorrow the day that demand is trying to stop this from happening. The new governor Rhonda Santa's will be sworn in. What's really important to note that Florida had the worst felon disenfranchisement law the country one in ten Floridians, including one in five African Americans in Florida couldn't vote under this law, which is absolutely astonishing voters across the ideological spectrum repealed this in the last lecture every single congressional district in Florida voted to repeal the state's fellow disenfranchised? This was not a democratic verse Republican issue. This was voters across the spectrum many of them conservative law. Laude order Republicans who said if you've paid your debt society, you should have a second chance. And so I hope this doesn't become Republican versus democrat left versus right. Like, so often happens their society, this is about giving people who've paid their debt to society their rights to vote back, and I would hope that every politician in Florida would encourage people to register to vote because you know, what you're going to see a lot of white Republicans Amy show up tomorrow and want to register to vote just like you're going to see black Democrats or Latino independence this across the political spectrum. We have had such a problem with mass incarceration in Florida. So many people have lost their voting rights and for the most important swing state in the country to potentially restore voting rights to over a million people that could have a transformative impact on our democracy. Finally, the issues you're looking at about round voting rights that you think are the most important leading into the twenty twenty election. I think it's really important to note that we saw rapid voter suppression. In the last election. We saw thousands of people turned away from the polls in places like Georgia and Florida and. North dakota. We haven't dealt with that yet. We haven't investigated that yet. And that's why this Bill that we were talking about earlier HR one is so important because we have to say as a society voter suppression is wrong for suppression is a legal footer suppression is immoral and we have to commit to everyone having a chance to vote in twenty twenty that didn't happen in two thousand eighteen they were way too many stories of people that couldn't vote for one reason or another and I'm concerned that unless we deal with this both in terms of bringing also passing laws to make it easier to vote that history's going to repeat itself in twenty twenty or we're going to see far too many barriers to the ballot box erected in advance of the next presidential Berman senior writer mother Jones reporting fellow at the nation stood off their guests the ballot. The modern struggle for voting rights in America when we come back. Why are some advocates if a green new deal critical of house speaker Nancy Pelosi's new committee on climate change? Stay with."