Since the Republicans lost the election in 2008, republican legislatures around the country, aided by party operatives, have been working dilligently to make sure as few democrats as possible will be able to vote.
An estimated 5 million voters- overwhelmignly democrats, will be barred from voting. This is on top of another 5.3 million citizens with a felony conviction (overwhelmingly black, latino, and democratic) who will be barred from voting- a staggering number of who were convicted of non-violent drug related crimes. And make no mistakes- some of the most crucial primary election states- Iowa, Florida, and Virginia ban convicted felons from ever being able to vote again- a move which permanently bars mostly young black men, who overwhemingly vote democratic.
“At least thirty-three states have introduced voter ID laws this year (2011). In addition to Wisconsin, Alabama, Kansas, South Carolina and Tennessee have passed similar bills. Only a veto by Democratic Governor John Lynch prevented New Hampshire from enacting a law the Republican House speaker admitted was advanced to make it harder for “liberal” students to cast ballots.”
The most common tatic used is simply requiring voters to present photo ID. But the underlying truth is 1 in 10 americans have no photo ID- particularly youth, minorities, and the elderly. Youth and minorities are overwhemingly democratic voters. And some states, such as Texas, go the extra step and exempt the elderly from their law to protect as many republican votes as possible.
In Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker (yes- the union busting gov.) signed a voter ID law into effect, and then proceeded to close or curtail hours of DMV’s in democratic rich parts of the state, while expanding hours in republican rich areas of the state.
“… that 3.3 million eligible voters in the affected states — Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin — don’t have such IDs now. Other Americans would be affected by laws in Alabama, Texas, and Kansas requiring proof of citizenship when they register to vote, and by new restrictions on same-day voter registration in Florida, Texas, and Maine (which eliminated it entirely). Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia also cut back on early voting, and two states — Florida and Ohio — reversed earlier changes that had made it easier for convicted felons to recover their eligibility to vote.” “source”
They often couch their discrimination in terms of preventing voter fraud, but numerous studies such as this show voter fraud to be pratically nonexistent- with rates ranging from .0003% to .000009%. For example Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach (R) who insists voter fraud is an issue- based on 221 alleged cases over 13 years, out of over 10 million votes.
For millions, especially the working poor- getting a government issued ID is no easy task. It requires transportation, which many lack. It requires taking time off from work, which many literally can not afford. (and as anyone who has dealt with the DMV, or the county to get a birth certificate knows- this can hours, if not multiple trips). And getting an ID costs money itself- again something in short supply for many.
Years ago- I had my wallet stolen, and learned first hand just how hard it is to get an ID when you have no ID. It’s truly a through the looking glass affair- one that took me months and countless hours to remedy.
The effects of this assault are clear- it’s the new Jim Crow laws, meant to disenfranchise the historically democratic poor and minorities. And 5 million disenfranchised voters is no meaningless number- it is greater then the margin of victory in 2 of the last 3 presidential elections. And add to this the disenfranchised felons- and we are talikng 10 million give or take democratic votes stolen.
For a party that claims to hold the constitution in such high regard to steal one of our most basic rights is despicable. But as we have increasingly seen with the Republican controlled House since the midterm elections- the new republican philophys is clear: “If you don’t think like us- your opinion doesn’t matter. And if you don’t vote for us- your vote doesn’t count”.
The direction this attitude is taking us is nothing short of alarming.