TIME Election 2014

Congresswoman Waters Urges Blacks to Vote in This Year’s Midterms

Maxine Waters
U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) marches in the 29th annual Kingdom Day Parade on January 20, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. David McNew—Getty Images

Speaking at the 20th anniversary Essence Music Festival in New Orleans

Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters urged African Americans on Saturday to get out to the polls in November for the sake of President Barack Obama’s legacy. The representative from California also stressed the historic significance of voting in the African American community during a year when the nation is celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“Midterm elections are just as important as presidential elections,” Waters said during a speech at the Essence Music Festival. “Think about your ancestors; think about their sacrifice. Think about all of those who gave their lives. Get to the polls.”

African American voters turned out at the polls in record numbers in 2008 and 2012. In 2012, 66.2% of eligible black Americans voted, outnumbering white voters for the first time in history. And black women, who are the target audience of the Essence festival, were primarily responsible for that surge. Essence is owned by TIME parent company Time Inc.

But 2014 is a midterm year, during which non-white voters often turn out in lower rates. And without a big name like Barack Obama up for election, many Democrats worry black turnout will revert back to their typically low levels this November, hurting their chances at the polls.

Waters also said the African American community’s legislative goals are at risk of dying in Congress if Republicans gain control of the Senate on top of the House of Representatives. Fighting for issues like the Voting Rights Act, raising the minimum wage, and improving health care, Waters said, should drive African American voters to the polls.

“We’ve got a lot at stake,” Waters said. “You have got to realize you don’t just vote in a presidential election. We cannot get a bill through. We cannot get anything done as long as [Republicans] are in the majority.”

TIME Congress

Democrats Prod GOP on Change to Voting Rights Law

A push to respond to a Supreme Court ruling

Congress finally debated an amendment to the Voting Rights Act on Wednesday, six months after it was introduced and exactly one year after the Supreme Court knocked down a key provision of the landmark civil rights law.

“I was hopeful that Senate Republicans would join me in supporting this important bill,” Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, said during a committee hearing Wednesday. “Despite repeated efforts, I am troubled to report that as of this hearing, not a single Senate Republican has stepped up to the plate.”

The Voting Rights Act Amendment of 2014 was introduced in response to the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision striking down a section of the VRA that required certain states and localities to get permission from the Department of Justice before changing voting rules because of their history of voter discrimination. While the landmark law had been renewed with bipartisan support for years, Democrats are struggling to bring Republicans on board to give the law new strength after the Supreme Court ruling—something that became abundantly clear minutes into Wednesday’s hearing.

While Leahy recalled how he felt when the Supreme Court “gutted” the Voting Rights Act, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the committee’s ranking GOP member, said the court’s decision was justified.

“All it did,” Grassley said Wednesday, “was strike down a formula, some 50 years old.”

Grassley, and other Republicans on the committee noted that other sections of the Voting Rights Act still stand and are currently being enforced in several states—including in Texas, where the Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against the state under Section 2, which bans voting practices that impact people based on their race, color, or language.

Senators from southern states mocked the idea of continuing to require some states to get permission from the Justice Department, known as “pre-clearance,” just because of voting discrimination that took place in the past.

“What justifies singling out a select number of states for some sort of special treatment?” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) asked, noting that in his home state, black voter turnout was higher than white turnout during the 2012 election. Cruz said the turnout was proof that Texas, along with many other southern states with a history of racial discrimination, has evolved.

But Democrats say discrimination still exists and that voters still need the protection provided by the pre-clearance provision, known as Section 5. Ten of the 15 states that were covered by the now-defunct section have introduced restrictive voting legislation since the ruling, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. Some states moved to put previously rejected laws in place shortly after the Supreme Court decision.

Under the proposed Voting Rights Amendment Act, any state that has committed five or more voting violations in the past 15 years would be subject to pre-clearance. Texas and Louisiana are among the states that would be subjected to pre-clearance if the bill passed in its current form.

Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, sought to drive home the fact that under the bill any state—from Vermont to California—could be subject to pre-clearance. She said 2012 minority voter turnout should push Congress to act, not convince members that America has overcome its troubled racial history.

“It shows the determination of minority voters to turn out and participate despite the obstacles,” Ifill said. “It should inspire Congress to pass this bill.”

Despite Wednesday’s hearing, the fate of the legislation is bleak. No Republican Senators have signed on to sponsor the bill. But civil rights organizations have not lost hope. And Democrats in the House and Senate plan to continue pressuring their Republican colleagues on the issue.

“I don’t understand the difference today other than partisan politics rearing its head,” Texas Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, who attended the Senate hearing, told TIME. “I think we should follow in tradition of our predecessors, Republicans and Democrats, and pass this legislation that speaks to right of people to vote.”

TIME elections

Before Cantor: Seven Other Tea Party Upsets

The defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor by a little-known Tea Partier isn't the first upset in recent election cycles

It all started four years B.C. Four years before Cantor that is.

Since the Tea Party had its first member elected to public office in 2010 (Dean Murray to the New York State Assembly), the feisty political movement has rocked the GOP with challengers to elected positions long-held by establishment Republicans.

In the latest upset, House Majority Leader and No. 2 House Republican Eric Cantor, lost to the Tea Party-backed economics professor, Dave Brat in the Virginia Republican primary on Tuesday.

It’s a result which many are calling one of the most stunning primary election results in congressional history. Cantor was considered a top contender to replace John Boehner as the next House Speaker. What’s more, Cantor was a vocal supporter of child immigration rights, which many thought might help change the debate on immigration.

But Cantor isn’t the only establishment Republican to face a surprising defeat to a Tea Party challenger. See seven of the biggest Tea Party election upsets (in four years of history) below.

1. Ted Yoho

Yoho—whom the Tampa Bay Times retroactively dubbed “The Eric Cantor of Florida”—caused a major upset in 2012, defeating longtime incumbent Congressman Cliff Stearns, who served 12 terms in the house beginning in 1988, in the Republican primary.

Yoho then easily defeated Democrat candidate J.R. Gaillot in the general election, walking away with 64.8 % of the votes.

2. Ted Cruz

In the 2012 Republican primary runoff for senate, Ted Cruz faced off against the establishment GOP candidate and Lieutenant Governor of Texas, David Dewhurst. Dewhurst had the backing of Governor Rick Perry and many other members of the state’s Republican leadership, but in the end this support meant little—Cruz defeated Dewhurst by more than 150,000 votes out of the 1.1 million cast.

Cruz then defeated Democratic challenger Paul Sadler in the general election, becoming the first Hispanic to represent Texas in the U.S. Senate.

3. Mike Lee

Senator Robert F. Bennett lost his bid for a fourth term during the 2010 primaries when he received only 27% of the vote by Utah’s delegates and missed a runoff. During the critical Utah GOP convention, Bennett told delegates in a speech, “Don’t take a chance on a newcomer,” but that’s exactly what they did. Taking his place was Mike Lee, an attorney with no prior political experience.

Lee also beat Democratic challenger Sam Granato in the general election, with 62%t of the votes compared to Granato’s 33%.

4. Marco Rubio

The race for the open seat on Florida’s Senate in 2010 was a three-way battle. With the sitting Governor Charlie Crist running as an Independent, facing off against Democrat Kendrick Meek and Republican Marco Rubio.

Rubio, a Tea Party favorite, won the race with 49% of the vote. Talk of him running for president in 2012 began immediately, and although he expressed no intention to run back then, he’s said it’s something he’ll consider in 2016.

5. Brad Wenstrup

Like Mike Lee, Brad Wenstrup was a political newbie when he won Ohio’s 2nd congressional district in 2012, first defeating Republican incumbent Jean Schmidt in the primaries, and then Democratic challenger William R. Smith in the November general election.

6. Rand Paul

Rand Paul, with his unconventional views on foreign policy and social issues, is a hard pill for the GOP to swallow. But the pill become a lot more cumbersome in 2010, when he beat out establishment favorite Trey Grayson in the Republican primary.

He faced off against Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway (a Democrat) in the general election, walking away victorious with 56% of the vote.

7. Tim Scott

In 2010, South Carolina held a 9-candidate Republican primary, including two candidates with fathers who were also involved in Republican politics—Paul Thurmond, son of former South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond, and Carroll Campbell, son of former South Carolina Governor Carroll A. Campbell. Scott came in first, with 32% of the vote.

After a second vote to secure more than 50% of the vote, Scott went on to defeat Democrat Ben Frasier in the general election, becoming the first African American to be elected to congress from South Carolina in more than 100 years. He was later appointed to the U.S. Senate seat from South Carolina, replacing Republican Sen. Jim DeMint, who retired.

TIME Immigration

Poll: 62% of Americans Favor a Path to Citizenship

Around 62% of Americans favor a legal pathway to citizenship for immigrants currently living illegally in the U.S., according to a poll released Tuesday. The Public Religion Research Institute poll, conducted in conjunction with the Brookings Institute, found American sentiment toward immigration reform hasn’t changed much since 2013.

With the 2014 midterm elections fast approaching, candidates should be wary of another key finding from the poll: Americans say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate that opposes reform. According to the poll, around 53% of voters say they likely would not vote for a candidate if he or she opposed a pathway to citizenship. About 16% say they would be more likely to vote for such a candidate, while 30% say it would have no impact.

Opposition to reform has an adverse impact even among Republican voters, whose party’s House leadership has not taken up an immigration reform bill that passed the Senate last year. About 46% of self-identified Republicans say opposition to reform would hurt a candidate’s chances of gaining their vote. About 21% of Republicans surveyed say they would be more likely to vote for such a candidate.

The expansive survey also showed that most Americans support legislation that provides resident status for the children of illegal immigrants after those children either join the military or go to college—something the DREAM Act does not do. (The DREAM Act allows young undocumented immigrants to pursue an education and career, but it does not provide a pathway to citizenship.) About 68% of those surveyed say they favor such a policy, while about 30% do not.

The survey of about 601 Americans was conducted via telephone in April; the margin of error is 3.3 percentage points.

TIME India

India’s Congress Party’s Election Manifesto Is Ode to Common Man

Ruling party releases populist manifesto after gathering feedback from electorate over five months

+ READ ARTICLE

India’s ruling Congress party has released its manifesto — five months in the making — for general elections starting next month.

This year, the ruling party asked for feedback from the electorate before compiling what has essentially been dubbed a people’s manifesto.

“We decided to go to the people for the first time,” campaign chief Rahul Gandhi said at the release, the Times of India reported.

Published Wednesday afternoon, the document promises inclusive development, action against graft and good governance.

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