All Articles Tagged "voter id laws"
(The Root) — “Give us the ballot!” Martin Luther King Jr.’s words still resonate with many of us today. From the marches and protests in Selma, Ala., to the hundreds of voting-rights lawsuits to the on-the-ground slogan “One Man, One Vote,” the road to equal voting rights has not been easy, particularly for communities of color. This year conservatives have attempted to rewind the clock by stripping certain groups of their political power, and unfortunately, they have been successful in many places. In Michigan, a conservative-backed law that threatens to rob poor people of color of their democratic voice was passed without the attention it deserved. Under the pretext of fiscal accountability, the Michigan Legislature authorized the use of emergency managers who threaten the very fabric of our democracy: participation.
I guess the old adage is true: the more things change, the more they stay the same.
At least that appears to be the case in what could only be described as organized efforts around the country to push through legislation requiring all voters to show a valid, unexpired photo ID to prove citizenship.
Voter fraud occurs when individuals cast ballots despite knowing that they are ineligible to vote, in an attempt to defraud the election system. The Supreme Court has already determined that states requiring photo ID for voting is constitutional, despite its racist past in denying folks of color the right to participate in the electoral process.
Quietly, and with little fanfare, Republican governors and state legislatures – as well as some Democrats – are leading the charge to manipulate the vote across America. Sometimes they fail miserably, as in the case of California, in which several voter ID propositions have made their way onto the ballot only to lose. And recently, North Carolina Governor Perdue exercised her veto power to stop a bipartisan effort to establish a picture voter ID card for the state. However, not every state has been so lucky. In Wisconsin and Rhode Island, voters will begin showing ID come this fall.
In Rhode Island the legislation was backed by a coalition of Democrats and Republicans, including prominent minority lawmakers: African-American legislators House Speaker Gordon D. Fox and Sen. Harold M. Metts, as well as Sen. Juan M. Pichardo, the first Latino elected to a Rhode Island Senate seat and the first Dominican-American elected to a state senate seat in the country. Those minority lawmakers contend that the bill was necessary to stem the tide of voter fraud, however some believe that the black and Latino leaders supported the bill in hopes of regaining prominent seats in demographically changing districts.
Allegations of election-related fraud make for tantalizing press and fear-driven legislation, especially in 2000 where the outcome of the presidential election hung – quite literally – in the balance. However, since 2002, the Justice Department’s Ballot Access and Voting Integrity Initiative have found just 38 cases of voter fraud nationally, and of those, 14 ended in dismissals or acquittals, 11 in guilty pleas, and 13 in convictions. Most surprising is that in most of those cases the targets were Democrats, and the common fraud reported were errors in filling out forms or confusion over eligibility.
What this all suggests to me is that despite the rhetoric, most elections are not lost by voter fraud. And by throwing all sorts of election anomalies under the “voter fraud” umbrella, Republican and Democrats alike exaggerate the need for more restrictions while turning a blind eye to urgency to correct what is truly wrong with the process. In fact, I’m willing to bet that that the main causes of electoral transgression stems from faulty machinery, clerical errors and things like hanging chads. And let us not forget laws which prohibited ex-felons from exercising their voting rights. Generally speaking, they want you to vote, just as long as the constituency doesn’t pose any threat to the political and economic supremacy of their party and their candidate.
In 2007, Royal Masset, former Texas Republican Party political director, said in an interview that while he believed the vote-fraud hysteria was overblown, an ultimately unsuccessful Texas photo-ID law “could cause enough of a drop-off in legitimate Democratic voting to add 3 percent to the Republican vote.” So there you have it folks, the truth in black and white. It should also be noted that outside of voter ID proposals, there are several other laws, which have passed or are being introduced, just to add another barrier to voting. In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott’s administration imposed a waiting period of at least five years for ex-felons to be able to vote, and in Maine Republican Gov. Paul LePage recently signed a bill banning same-day registration.
If that’s not some Jim Crow stuff, I don’t know what is.
Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.
(Providence Journal) — When a voter ID bill passed in Rhode Island last week, longtime opponents were stunned. How could this happen in one of the country’s most Democratic and liberal states? Why did Democratic leaders and black legislators support it? And why did Governor Chafee sign it? Some say black politicians were trying to protect themselves from Hispanics’ growing political power — two longtime black legislators were defeated by Hispanics in the 2010 elections. Some cite illegal immigration as a driving force. Some say voter ID is simply essential. Whatever the reason, people are still seething a week later. That includes many within the minority community, who chide Chafee for saying he was compelled by concerns from the “minority community” about voter fraud.
(Politico) — With ballooning deficits and substantial unemployment among the urgent problems confronting the states, many state legislatures spent the first days of their 2011 session attempting to restrict the way that voters prove their identity at the polls. Five states passed voter ID laws in 2011. The most stringent preclude citizens from casting a valid ballot unless they show specific documents. Opinion polls reveal that the public supports this idea. But those behind this effort have forgotten both their priorities and their obligation to safeguard the vote — the most fundamental of constitutional rights — not just for most U.S. citizens but for all. The public supports restrictive ID rules because most Americans have ID. We think nothing of showing ID for conveniences, so we think nothing of showing it as a condition for a basic constitutional right. Because we have the correct ID, and our friends have the correct ID, we think every citizen has the correct ID.