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Republican Voter Suppression Laws: Political Artifice At Its Most Shameful

Conservative Republicans have enacted hundreds of voter restriction bills to prevent young people, the elderly, the poor, and especially people of color from going to the polls in November.

 

On Sept. 12, Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the League of Women Voters, presented powerful evidence to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary voter suppression has become the new tool for winning elections in this country. MacNamara’s testimony is a call to arms for anyone who truly cares about our American way of life and our system of democracy.

With less than 50 days to go before one of the most important elections in our country’s history, the right of millions of Americans to express their will is in jeopardy.

Under the guise of providing electoral integrity, 41 states have introduced at least 180 voter restriction bills, including 34 with photo identification provisions since 2011. Why are small-government, conservative Republicans crafting these unnecessary, intrusive voting laws?

The answer is dangerously simple — voter restriction laws disproportionately impact young people, the elderly, the poor, and especially people of color — all of whom vote predominately for Democrats.

A study by the Brennan Center For Justice demonstrates a staggering 5 million eligible voters could be disenfranchised this election season because of these newly-enacted state laws.

In Wisconsin, court documents indicate more than 300,000 registered voters do not have a driver’s license or state ID; the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation estimates 750,000 registered voters do not have the required photo ID; courtroom testimony in Texas suggests as many as 2 million registered voters could be disenfranchised if the state’s voter ID law goes into effect; in South Carolina 217,000 voters do not have the required ID necessary to vote.

Several states have employed other suppression techniques. Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee, and West Virginia have eliminated or reduced early voting periods popular with African Americans, other ethnic groups, and retired voters. Florida, Georgia, Ohio, and Wisconsin have made it more difficult for groups such as the League of Women Voters to register new voters.

There is no justification for these draconian laws. The Carnegie Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism recently completed an analysis of voter fraud since 2008 and found a total of about 2,000 cases in all the millions of ballots cast and stated unequivocally voter impersonation fraud is virtually nonexistent.

For more than 200 years American history has chronicled the expansion of voting rights from a nation where only white male land owners could vote to one giving all citizens, aged 18 and older, the right to vote. Those gains came gradually and were hard earned, sometimes in blood. We fought a civil war to recognize African Americans as citizens and then amended the Constitution to ensure voting rights for all men, black and white. After 70 years of struggle, the 19th Amendment was ratified, giving women the right to vote. The 24th Amendment abolished the poll tax. The 26th Amendment extended voting rights to citizens 18 years of age or older. Voting rights were also a core value of the Civil Rights movement of the 50's and 60's. The Voting Rights Act of 1965, The National Voter Registration Act, and the Help America Vote Act helped make voting the most accessible to generations of Americans.

Our system of democracy, our freedom to vote is a source of pride to all Americans. Who among us then would vote "Yes" to changing that and going back to a privileged-only electorate? Why then are we allowing it to happen?

I admire MacNamara and The League of Women Voters for taking this important battle to Congress and into courtrooms around the country. I also implore all of you reading this article to vote on Nov. 6th.

Our vote is the single best way to fight back against Republican extremists who are terrified of losing their power in this country.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Pete Mock October 01, 2012 at 08:36 PM
Jeff, the SAT rules were put in place after several documented incidents of in-person fraud. Not pretend fraud, actual documented evidence of criminal activity... http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/28/nyregion/7-long-island-students-charged-in-sat-fraud-scheme.html For there to be fraud there needs to be an incentive to commit fraud. The SAT takers incentive for fraud is a better college, a better job, more money. In-person voter fraud has no such incentive. An individual could be paid off to vote a certain way, but a politician has no way of knowing if the person they paid even cast a vote, much less for them. No canididate is going to spend that kind of money without a guaranteed outcome. And to commit in-person fraud on a scale large enough to sway an election you would have to pay so many people you'd vastly increase your chances of getting caught. That's why in person voter fraud is just not worth the trouble. You would have to spend vast sums of money, hope that none of your operatives got caught or spilled the beans, and you'd still not have a guarantee that you'd get the outcome you wanted. No candidate is going to waste their money on that. It's a fantasy that requires a complete suspension of logic.
Pete Mock October 01, 2012 at 08:42 PM
Good article Dan, but again, even this blatant criminal activity has nothing to do with in-person voter fraud, which is what ID laws are supposed to stop. New voter ID laws will not stop this kind of crime.
Pete Mock October 01, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Kelaker, reading your posts I think the following logic is right up your alley... God is Love, Love is Blind, and Stevie Wonder is Blind. Therefore, Stevie Wonder is God.
Pete Mock October 01, 2012 at 08:50 PM
Yeah Jake, because someone made a video of something that may have happened once, that wasn't actually in-person voter fraud, you have all the proof you need to say that it happens all the time and that dead people are voting, etc. The rest of us need a bit more than that. Feel free to post some actual evidence of actual crimes that are related to in-person voter fraud. I'll stay tuned, but I won't hold my breath.
Pete Mock October 04, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Ooh baby, if you want to see some real voter fraud, here you go... http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/05/us/politics/nathan-sproul-a-republican-operative-long-trailed-by-voter-fraud-claims.html?pagewanted=all

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