Tova Wang

Tova Andrea Wang is senior democracy fellow at Demos. Her work focuses primarily on voting rights, civil rights and liberties, immigration, campaign-finance reform, and media reform.

Recent Articles

A Black Cloud Over the Ballot Box

The battle over voter ID

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Americans who care about the right to vote are faced with an ugly reality as the 2012 elections come into view: no matter how many courts rule that voter identification laws will disenfranchise eligible citizens and no matter how many states U.S. Department of Justice analysts determine—using data supplied by the states themselves—that strict voter ID laws discriminate against people of color, voter identification laws will be in place in a number of states throughout the country in November. Numerous articles written over the last few months have presented the incredibly sad stories of Americans, particularly the elderly, who, unable to obtain the necessary identification, won’t be able to cast a ballot . We know from comparisons of voter registration lists and state Department of Motor Vehicle records that hundreds of thousands of citizens don’t have the ID needed to vote. What does this mean? Quite simply, we must redouble our efforts to protect American...

Misidentified Priorities

Newly elected Republicans are pushing state-level voter-ID laws designed to disenfranchise minority voters.

Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita speaks about the state's voter-identification law. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
State Rep. Debbie Riddle, a Republican, camped out in the lobby of Texas' House of Representatives for two days in early November to make sure she was first in line to prefile a bill for the new session. "I felt it was important to be first to file because I want my bills to have the lowest possible bill numbers," Riddle told Houston Community Newspapers . "That doesn't necessarily mean that they are going to pass, but it helps them get into and out of committee quickly." "The low bill number also shows that I have fire in my belly and that I am serious about getting these bills passed," she added. What could be so urgent? Had she come up with a way to keep more teachers in the classroom? Create jobs for unemployed Texans wracked by the recession? No, her bill was for a voter-identification law that would require all voters to produce a photo ID -- or two nonphoto IDs -- in order to cast a ballot. Riddle is not alone in prioritizing voter-ID laws. With Republicans taking control of...

2004: A Report Card

Americans know the 2000 election was a fiasco. What they don't know is that the 2004 election, in many ways, might have been even worse. The purported margin of victory in November has led many to believe that the process went relatively smoothly. But the appearance of a smooth election obscured troubling developments, from simple human errors to likely felony violations of federal law. In addition to the ineptitude and faulty machinery that led to the problems of 2000 (both of which persisted), 2004 should be remembered as the year that a number of partisan election officials and party leaders usurped the process and manipulated the new federal voting law in ways that disenfranchised voters. When Congress passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) in 2002, Americans rightly believed it represented a step forward in improving our broken voting process. We now realize that the combination of flaws and gaps in that law, plus a highly charged campaign season, led in many ways to more...

Bar None

This week, the House is expected to consider Republican-backed legislation that would impose a $250,000 cap on damages for pain and suffering in suits filed against doctors, health maintenance organizations and manufacturers of drugs and medical devices. The bill, which President Bush called for in his State of the Union address, is the latest installment in the Republican Party's ongoing war against lawyers of all kinds. The intended targets in this particular phase of the campaign are personal-injury lawyers, but the fight is much broader than that. Members of the Bush administration, particularly Attorney General John Ashcroft, seem to hold a view of criminal lawyers and the criminal-justice system straight out of Hollywood rather than the actual courtroom. They appear convinced that crafty, unscrupulous lawyers routinely coach suspects and witnesses or use "technicalities" to help evil-doers escape punishment, Law and Order -style. Such misconceptions may explain their enthusiasm...

Promise Keeper?

As a consolation prize for losing the majority leader's post, Senate Republicans have given Trent Lott (R-Miss.) the chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration. The announcement has received little attention, but liberals should be elated. That's because the position wields a tremendous amount of power in the area of federal election law. And who better to occupy such a post than the senator who recently pledged to promote an agenda friendly to the interests of African Americans? If, of course, Trent Lott has really changed. In his now-infamous interview on Black Entertainment Television, Lott said: "This is an opportunity for me to do something about years of misbehavior. As majority leader, I can move an agenda that would have things that would be helpful to African Americans, and minorities of all kinds, and all Americans, but specifically aimed at showing African Americans that they have particular concerns and needs that we have to advance." Lott may no...