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Life and Death Struggle Against Voter Suppression: TX Senator Gallegos Blocks Voter ID Bill

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Weekly Voting Rights News Update

This an entry in a series of blogs to keep people informed on current election reform and voting rights issues in the news.

Featured Stories of the Week:

Voter ID measure dies in Senate without a vote – Associated Press

Why the Right to Vote, Without ID, Is Worth Fighting For - Houston Chronicle

Efforts to stop 'voter fraud' may have curbed legitimate voting – McClatchy Newspapers

Why This Scandal Matters – New York Times, Editorial

Her first vote put her in prison: Woman is one of five from city convicted of voter fraud – Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

The brouhaha caused by Texas voter ID bill, HB 218, brought the nation to attention when the Democratic minority in the Senate banded together to fight the bill at all costs, including risking the life of a Senator who suffered complications from a recent liver transplant. But neither this risk or the witch hunt for “voter fraud” stopped him for protecting the “'basic right to vote without undue pressure.'”

"That's not the type of publicity I wanted. I just wanted to be the 11th vote to block the bill," said Gallegos in this Associated Press story. Against doctor's orders, Gallegos set up a hospital bed near the Senate chambers until the bill was declared dead, Wednesday at midnight.

“The bottom line is that voter identification proposals are about politics, not fraud,” he wrote in the Houston Chronicle. HB 218, one of about “120 burdensome voter identification proposals” across the country, is a product of a partisan plan to suppress the votes of marginalized communities. Further, “no one has documented a single case of 'voter impersonation' that HB 218 would solve,” he said.

“When more people vote on 'American Idol' than vote for president, we should make it easier for people to vote, not harder,” Gallegos wrote.

Making it easier to vote is an unusual concept, especially to 43-year-old Wisconsinite Kimberly Prude who is now in prison for voter fraud after casting her first ballot, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Prude took a job as a poll-worker and voted, but later was told by her parole officer that her vote was illegal since state law does not allow felons the right to vote until completion of probation or parole. She then tried to revoke her vote, to no avail and testified in a three-day-trial that she had made a “terrible mistake.” She is now serving a two year sentence.

“At this point, I'm not interested in voting," she said. Another “felony offender” confused with his voting rights was charged with voter fraud. Derek Little registered and voted the same day with the only ID he had – his parolee card. “In big bold letters, it says OFFENDER, and they still let me vote," Little said. "I thought it was their job to know the rules."

Milwaukee U.S. Attorney Steven M. Biskupic was accused of “not being aggressive enough in pursuing voter fraud cases” and was on the “evolving list” or U.S. Attorneys to be fired. Biskupic “has repeatedly denied that his office prosecuted any voter fraud case because of White House pressure.” Little and Prude were two of 14 voter fraud cases Biskupic pursued in Wisconsin, a battleground state. Only five were convicted. One of them was Kimberly Prude.

“It is hard not to see the fingerprints of Karl Rove. A disproportionate number of the prosecutors pushed out, or considered for dismissal, were in swing states,” a New York Times editorial said. “It is now clear that United States attorneys were pressured to act in the interests of the Republican Party, and lost their job if they failed to do so,”

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