Voting rights victories in LA County and Texas!

Update, March 6: democracy largely (albeit imperfectly) prevailed in the LA County mess; 47,153 “double bubble” votes were counted in Los Angeles County. What about Ohio? We shall see …

Julia Rosen’s Victory post yesterday on Courage Campaign’s blog announced Dean Logan’s agreement to count every possible LA County decline-to-state ballot, and followup mail from Rick Jacobs today reiterates: we won!

After weeks of bad news, here’s the good news: Tens of thousands of “Decline-to-State” (DTS) voters — who intended to cast a ballot for Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton on Super Tuesday — will now have their “double bubble” votes counted by the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters.

And it’s because of you.

Thank you to the eye-popping 32,802 concerned Californians who signed our “Count Every Vote” petition to Dean Logan, the Acting Registrar of Los Angeles County.

And thanks to a whole host of others, including Zev Yaroslavsky and the rest of the LA County Board of Supervisors, Secretary of State Debra Bowen, and “the grassroots and the netroots — the activists and bloggers who raised their voices loud enough so that the Los Angeles Times (see article below) and other major media outlets could no longer ignore the problem.”

The votes are extremely unlikely to impact the delegate count; and the last time I checked there were still a million uncounted votes so it is a only one of many things going on. Still, especially when combined with the agreement to redesign the ballot to remove the underlying problem, it’s a huge precedent — and a huge victory for voters, democracy, and the grassroots.

And if anything, it’s a more dramatic victory at Prairie View A&M Texas, where thousands of students shut down marched 7.3 miles to Waller County Courthouse to demand their rights: as the photo on Burnt Orange’s coverage says “It’s 2008, We will vote.” As Ashley Slayton reports in The Panther, Student Government Association leaders were aware that Waller County officials were already planning on opening polls less than a mile from the campus just two days later:

There were multiple reasons for the march,” said SGA president Andre Evans.

“We wanted to get students involved in the political process. We wanted them to vote and in addition we wanted a voting poll located on the campus,” he said.

Judge Dewayne Charleston agreed with Evans and encouraged students to vote.

“It’s extremely important that students don’t let the march be in vain,” said Charleston.

Debbie Hollan, Waller County elections clerk, said, “They [the Department of Justice] were taking a long time to clear us for this election and our response was to create more early voting polls.”

Al Giordano on The Field describes it as a “reaction to systemic disenfranchisement” and rikyrah on Jack and Jill Politics adds

I heard one of the young women organizing this on the radio this morning, and it was obvious that they had been targeted many times, but they were standing up TOGETHER this time as a community.

This is one of those times where you really need the video to do it justice; unfortunately, when I try to post it here there’s a bug that messes up my entire blog. Sigh. Oh well, check it out on YouTube here, or the other pages I linked to. [I hate bugs. But I digress.]

Unlike in California and New York, there’s going to a spotlight in Texas on voter disenfranchisement starting well before the election. As painful as this process is, what we’re seeing are vital steps in the reestablishment of confidence in free and fair voting in the United States. So kudos to Courage Campaign, the student body of Prairie View A&M, and all the grassroots activists and elected officials who are working with them on this.