The Strangling Of Voting Rights

Author: June 2, 2011 7:02 am

It’s happening in cities and states across the country. In 22 states, Republicans are determined to pass legislation that would effectively kill the voting rights of minorities, the poor, and college students. In their attempt to transform America into a conservative Christian nation, Republicans are disregarding the Constitution to keep voters from making their voices heard in 2012 and beyond.

In an effort to crush the middle class and the poor on behalf of the wealthy, Republicans are taking the ultimate step towards becoming tyrants. By making it more difficult to register to vote and to step into the booth, Republicans are keeping millions of potential Democratic voters from casting their ballots. Many Republican governors and legislatures are already moving forward with these plans to subvert democracy and civil rights, and they are using the specter of voter fraud to do it.

In Ohio, the Republican controlled legislature has passed a voter ID law that would restrict the voting rights of almost one million people in the state. Ohio as well as other states such as Texas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Carolina, South Carolina, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Tennessee, Maine, Montana, Alaska, Iowa, and Virginia are all pushing tough voter identification laws as well as laws that ban same day registration. These types of laws will make voting more difficult for first time voters and the poor.

The voter photo ID laws would basically require voters to present their driver’s licenses. This poses a major problem for many senior citizens, the disabled, and the poor who either can’t have a driver’s license, can no longer drive, or cannot afford to acquire a license. There is only one reason why Republicans would make laws that affect these groups. In years past, senior citizens, the disabled and the poor have overwhelmingly voted for Democrats. By curbing the rights of these groups, Republicans improve their chances of regaining total control over the United States government and many state governments. But the Republican plan also utilizes an old tactic: fear.

In addition to the photo ID laws, many Republicans are also pushing laws that force people to prove that they are United States citizens before they get to register to vote or cast one. There is no doubt that Republicans are trying to scare ethnic groups such as hispanics with this kind of law. Even hispanics that are here legally are scared of this law. Any hispanic or Arab or person of any minority group that goes to the polls could be easily accused of not being an American citizen by groups of conservatives that gather at voting locations to scare people into not voting. Hundreds of thousands of hispanics may just stay home on election day, rather than be accused of not being an American and possibly illegally detained. But even the voting rights of white American college students are being threatened by the GOP.

If Republicans have their way, millions of students on college campuses across the country may be barred from voting. Not only are they pushing laws that would ban students from using their college issued student identification cards to vote, Republicans are also pushing laws that would disqualify students from voting if their parents live in a different state. In this egregious attempt to disenfranchise millions of voters, Republicans are trying to prevent students from voting for Democrats like they did in 2008. Republicans aren’t even attempting to hide this. In New Hampshire, State House Speaker William O’Brien, a Republican, stated in front of a crowd that the legislation is necessary because there “are kids voting liberal, voting their feelings, with no life experience.” This statement proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Republicans are only passing these restrictive voting laws because they want to disenfranchise liberal, progressive, and Democratic voters in an effort to swing the 2012 election and future elections in their favor.

The excuse that Republicans are using to pass these kinds of bills is that by passing these bills, they are ending voter fraud. The problem is that voter fraud is not a problem in this country. Voter fraud is just a phantom issue that Republicans are blowing up so that they can strip rights away from a huge swath of the American people. In North Carolina for instance, out of 4.3 million votes cast in 2008, only 40 voting irregularities were reported by authorities. That’s .01075% of all the votes cast. That number is just as low throughout the rest of the nation. In other words, voter fraud is not an issue and it’s certainly not worth the price tag that taxpayers would have to pick up to implement the new Republican voter laws.

In most states, these new voter laws will cost taxpayers an estimated $20 million dollars. So, on top of state budgets that are already running deficits, Republicans want to add $20 million dollars more, all so that they can keep voters from voting in elections. So much for fiscal responsibility. Republicans have once again proven that they care more about gaining power than they do about the pocket books of the taxpayers.

But this violation of civil rights is not only a costly ploy, it’s also unconstitutional. Under the United States Constitution, any “voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure … to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote…” is illegal. But Republicans are blatantly disregarding the Constitution and judicial rulings on the subject on the grounds that they simply do not agree with them. In New Hampshire, after being informed of Newberger v. Peterson, a 1972 federal district court decision that ruled the state cannot bar college students from voting in New Hampshire even if they intend to leave after graduation, Republican State Representative Sorg, the man who introduced the anti-college voter bill, told a public hearing that he had not read the decision and did not “care” for it. So, Republicans are just going to ignore the law and pass their bill anyway. This is happening in many other states as well.

This is a dangerous slope that the Republicans are going down. Their modern day tactics to prevent people from voting is comparable to the literacy tests, poll taxes, and grandfather clauses that the South used to prevent people of color from voting back in the Jim Crow era. Republicans employed similar tactics in an attempt to bring down Franklin Roosevelt in the 1940′s. This electioneering prompted FDR to quip that “there are some political candidates who think that they may have a chance of election, if only the total vote is small enough.” It appears that Republicans today are thinking the same way once again. 21 million people may be barred from voting in 2012. If we continue to let Republicans trample on our voting rights, we could one day wake up to find out that we have lost our right to vote completely. So when you step up to cast your vote in 2012, keep in mind that Republicans are the ones trying to take that right away from you.

 

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20 Comments

  • It seems like this article is missing the fact that many African Americans and people of other races fought, risked their lives, and died for blacks to have the right to vote in this country. So to mess with that right in order to disenfranchise select groups of people ignore our countries turbulent history with voter’s rights.

    Also, maybe I’m misreading you, but you say that Republicans aren’t just targeting ethnic minorites, but “white American college students”. Because all college students are white and American?

  • The reason for these laws is so that dead people and illegal immigrants can’t vote. As well as making sure that everybody only has ONE vote, and not multiple. It’s mainly to stop voter fraud brought on by ACORN. These are great laws to ensure fairness in elections. I support them 100%.

  • Tex Shelters also makes an excellent point.

    “What happens to tribal people who don’t believe in carrying photo ID from ANY government, but are still affected by state laws? Should we allow them to be disenfranchised or should we expect them to break with their beliefs so they can vote for more white people?”

    Okay take out the “Tribal” and “vote for more white people” part…and then you have The Amish. They don’t believe in having their photograph taken, so many of them do not carry a photo ID. Should they be barred from voting? They are still American Citizens….Just sayin’.

  • Hmm interesting cause when I went to the DMV to get a Ohio State ID card, I had to pay money for mine….I had no idea they were supposed to be free. I guess that lady that worked behind the counter didn’t know either….

  • Gotta love the arguement! personal responsibility vs repression.

    ALL American Citizens are required by state law (all states) to have a valid form of identification – period! this includes all forms of valid citizens and those here on visas. it is also Federal law that ALL persons entering or exiting the country, do so thru a controlled port of entry/exit. anyone not entering/exiting the country via a port of entry, IS A CRIMINAL!

    thus, it is NOT a violation of the constitution to require a person to provide a valid form of identification when electing to vote.

    it is a violation to vote under an alias, multiple times (same election), in multiple jurisdictions (same election) and in most states, without having a means of validating the voters residency of the voting jurisdiction.

    ALL of this information can be found thru the local library, thru every states ‘secretary of state’ office and most states have voter laws links thru the state.gov websites.

    next time someone wants to spew thier beliefs over facts – look up the details yourself.

    get informed – not persuaded!

    • I am informed… and the Amish (and presumably Aborigines) ARE NOT required by state law to have a valid form of ID.
      The Amish (here in Indiana) WERE DENIED their right to vote in 2010! How do I know? I witnessed it firsthand.

      Get informed – not misinformed

  • Second Amendment Democrat

    You either get the message or you are a significant part of the problem. What is it with you idiots who think it’s OK to return to the 1800s? We spent DECADES fighting for voters’ rights just to avoid EXACTLY this scenario. If you are on their side, you are a fascist. Or just a stupid, and a troll, Strong language? I haven’t even gotten started! I keep it polite for the wimpy Dems who have trouble hearing how bad it has become.

    The goal of the GOP is ownership of EVERYTHING. Water, land, resources, buildings, the whole works. It’s been stated repeated times, Google YouTube for “Americans For Prosperity” (defined as, “If you ain’t prosperous, you ain’t an American, and it’s OK to mistreat you…”

    One of the ways of obtaining power is to keep the voters from the polls, only allowing the controllers to decide. We already do this with the Presidency, so even if a strong Independent were to win the Popular Vote, the Electoral College could, and would, overturn it and award it to the GOP (or maybe the Dems, but really unlikely.) Rhetoric and excuses do NOT change the fundamental fact – this is an attempt to decrease anti-GOP, pro-democracy votes.

    Fascists, stay the fuck away from my town, I DO fight back. There may be laws, but there are NO rules…

  • Troy,

    What the states are doing is calling for a solution to a problem that just doesn’t exist. In Arizona, they found one fraudulent vote after looking at millions, and it looks like a mistake. If laws are passed like in Ohio where a voter ID is giving to people with minimal hassle, then perhaps it’s okay, perhaps. The problem really is that most people without ID’s won’t vote whether given them one or not.

    How about voting on weekends?

    How about polling places for the homeless?

    What happens to tribal people who don’t believe in carrying photo ID from ANY government, but are still affected by state laws? Should we allow them to be disenfranchised or should we expect them to break with their beliefs so they can vote for more white people?

    Peace,
    Tex Shelters

  • Yes, this is indeed the case. I live in a Nor CA college town and this Tuesday our community is voting on a Teaterd initiative that essentially maximizes their power through subverting voting practices at an extra cost to the taxpayers called Measure A, see this: http://www.ci.chico.ca.us/document_library/departments/city_clerk/GeneralMeasureInformation.pdf.

    This futile exercise in democratic impotency is estimated to cost the local tax payers $151,000 in order to vote on this single item according to The Registrar of Voters Office. What arrogance!

  • Ohio Scrabble

    @Laurel – Calling BS on you. Ohio motor voter law prescribes that state ID cards be issued FREE! Anyone who thinks voting is important takes the steps to make sure they can. Anyone who is so politically un-involved they can’t figure it out – well they get what they deserve.

  • I love the way this article spins the voter ID laws completely out of proportion. “The voter photo ID laws would basically require voters to present their driver’s licenses” is a completely misleading statement, when in fact, the voter photo ID laws actually mean any form of valid identification including drivers licenses, military ID’s, U.S. passports, and any other form of legally identifying photo ID proving US citizenship. For any American over the age of 18, they should at least have one of these forms of ID, and if they really care enough to vote and they don’t have ID, it only takes an hour to go down to the DMV and get something that you’re going to need anyway.

    This whole argument is based off the premise that this law creates some undue hardship on the poor, minorities, and college students, areas that primarily vote Democrat. It’s not. You’re right on the fact that it cuts voting numbers down in those categories. But it’s meant to stop the millions of UNreported illegal votes cast for Democrats by illegal immigrants and foreign nationals that collect government benefits, medical care and immunities because of Democratic influences and laws. It’s a shady way to sucker votes from under people’s noses. It may cost some money to accomplish, but I believe it’s the right way to go for the future of voting. In that sense, Republicans are looking to kill two birds with one stone, and quite effectively.

    And what strikes me as funny about the subject of this article is that it focuses very sharply on a symptom of a much bigger problem called immigration. This whole debacle is just another way to get the American people up in arms about a law that isn’t going to fix the cause of the problem. It’s like putting a Bandaid on a bullet wound and in this sense politicians on both sides need to stop dancing around the issue and fix it, not jockey for political votes for the next election cycle.

  • Bottom line:

    Republicans can’t win on the issues so they are now enhancing their voter suppression techniques to exclude those that favor other parties. Colleges students are especially targeted because more of them are too educated to vote Republican or soon will be.

    Thanks for the update!

    Peace,
    Tex Shelters

  • Some of you don’t seem to get that requiring ID’s amounts to a poll tax because somewhere along the way you have to expend money in order to get the right to vote, whether it is the money expended to get your BC or the money required to get your ID. Voter ID laws have already been struck down because of this fact. Unless the States are willing to provide all needed documents free of charge, which they won’t, then its a poll tax which is expressly forbidden by the Constitution.

  • Boo Hoo,,, Americans will be able to vote for Americans. All others will/should be disqualified. Ever heard of Chicago? Voting fraud capital of the world!! Vote early, Vote often.

  • Wow…. and we accuse the right of hyperbole and fear mongering. Although this article addresses an important issue the language used really blows the situation out of proportion.

    I personally feel that the fewer restrictions there are on voting eligibility the better, but you’d think the republicans would feel the same way. “Big Government” interfering and all.

  • Lets imagine this… you are a working mother, just making ends meet for your family… with no paid time off and limited transportation.

    To vote, with these laws in place, you have to take unpaid time off from work (loosing much needed income), pay for transportation to ID issue office (loosing more money), spend money you need for other items on ID (loosing even more money), then you may need to apply to vote separately in person with ID – repeat process a second time and loose more money, and finally to vote, you have to go to voting both with ID – repeat process a third time and loose money yet again….

    These laws do nothing to curb voting fraud and have everything to do with setting up barriers to Americans voting. Each American has the right to have a voice in their representation; it is a founding principle of our country. To needlessly take that right away is simple un-American.

    • I’m just wondering why this “working” mother would have to take time off work to get an ID when she would have needed to provide one to her employer to get hired?

  • I don’t understand what the big deal is in making people get IDs to vote. I understand for the poor it may be harder, but if we get together, this can be fixed. No-one should be denied the right to vote, but I think you should have to prove who you are. On another note, we need to make people care enough to want to vote.

  • Even if you can’t have a DL, you can get an ID card, so that is BS right there. As for students? Who cares – they can VOTE IN THEIR HOME state. ALL states have absentee ballots. Why should they have a right to go to another state and vote there? They aren’t required to get a DL or ID just because they live there… Or register their car there or anything of that sort, so why should they get to vote there?

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