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Alabama Shuts Down Photo ID Offices; Iowa Blocks Former Felons

Alabama Shuts Down Photo ID Offices; Iowa Blocks Former Felons
On today's show Brad is joined by ACLU voting rights attorney Julie Ebenstein to dicsuss the right to vote in the Hawkeye State. Plus: All of today's grim breaking news to remind us why voting matters...

We start with the grim news of yet another mass shooting, this time in Oregon, and a massive storm bearing down on the U.S. East Coast.

As too-occasional BRAD BLOG contributor D.R. Tucker noted: "We have a superstorm on the East Coast brought to us by a problem right-wingers refuse to acknowledge, followed by another massive school shooting caused by a problem right-wingers refuse to do anything about".

But we can do something about it. We can vote those folks out of office. But, of course, only if we're allowed to vote.

Today we discuss two states, specifically (and a few more, generally) controlled by Republicans where they are making it much more difficult for many of their voters to vote. First, the state of Alabama has announced it will shut down 31 DMV offices, after the state's new Photo ID voting restriction just went into effect last year. You'll be shocked to learn that the closures disproportionately affect voters in the state's "Black Belt", including the closure of offices in "Every single county in which blacks make up more than 75 percent of registered voters".

Then, in Iowa, we look at the ongoing legal challenge to the more than 100,000 former felons who have fully completed their sentences, but are being kept from voting for life by one man: the state's Republican Gov. Terry Branstad, who, by executive order, has rolled back Iowa's previous policy that had automatically restored voting rights to former, non-violent felons.

ACLU Voting Rights attorney Julie Ebenstein, who spent years fighting similar voter suppression tactics by Republicans in Florida, joins us on today's program to discuss the latest legal battle(s) for the right to vote in the Hawkeye State (and elsewhere).

"It's shameful the way that we treat our fellow citizens because of a prior conviction, sometimes decades ago," Ebenstein tells me. "The confluence of over-criminalization, mass incarceration, and the ongoing collateral consequences of that — which is disenfranchisement, sometimes for life — is something that really rips at our democracy."

It is shameful. As Think Progress noted earlier this year, "in the 2008 election, 5.3 million Americans, or one in 40 adults, were unable to vote due to a felony conviction, according to the Sentencing Project." But, as bad as that is, it's even worse for African Americans. "Nationally, 2.2 million —or one in every 13 —black adults is disenfranchised".

And as bad as that is, Ebenstein explains, it's even worse in Florida which, she notes, "like Iowa, has a lifetime ban on voting for people who have committed a felony. And, as a result of that, there's over 1.5 million citizens in Florida who are disenfranchised. So that's about 10 per cent of the voting population —1 in 5 African-American men in Florida — who remain disenfranchised".

Also today: Oklahoma halts all scheduled executions indefinitely following the state's latest death penalty disaster. And a quick look at Bernie Sanders' rather extraordinary fund-raising operation, built on small donations from the Internet, as the independent Vermont Senator almost outraised Hillary Clinton in the third quarter of 2015.

You can find Brad’s previous editions here.

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