Thursday, October 23, 2014

It Was Always About Voter Suppression

Bloomberg News doesn't pull any punches in the headline of this piece: "Republicans Set to Gain From Laws Requiring Voter IDs".

Republicans are poised to gain next month from new election laws in almost half the 50 U.S. states, where the additional requirements defy a half-century trend of easing access to the polls.

In North Carolina, where Democratic U.S. Senator Kay Hagan’s re-election fight may determine the nation’s balance of power, the state ended same-day registration used more heavily by blacks. A Texas law will affect more than 500,000 voters who lack identification and are disproportionately black and Hispanic, according to a federal judge. In Ohio, lawmakers discontinued a week during which residents could register and vote on the same day, which another judge said burdens lower income and homeless voters.

While Republicans say the laws were meant to stop fraud or ease administrative burdens, Democrats and civil-rights groups maintain they’re aimed at damping turnout by blacks, Hispanics and the young, who are their mainstays in an increasingly diverse America. Texas found two instances of in-person voter fraud among more than 62 million votes cast in elections during the preceding 14 years, according to testimony in the federal case.

“You’re seeing the use of the election process as a means of clinging to power,” said Justin Levitt, who follows election regulation at the Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. “You have more states passing laws that create hurdles and inconveniences to voting than we have seen go into effect in the last 50 years.”

The bottom line is that over the last several years, Republicans at the state level are making it harder for people to vote in order to keep Democrats from voting.  Texas's law was found to be a modern "poll tax" by a federal judge, but was reversed within days by the conservative-dominated 5th Circuit, stacked with Republican appointees.

The Republican Party wants fewer people voting.  That will help them in races across the country, and they know it.  Laws forcing people to buy IDs are illegal unless the state provides those who can't pay IDs free of charge, but of course the process for signing up for that requires the Board of Elections to approve such waivers in a bureaucratic nightmare that takes months, if not longer.  Voter ID laws in all these states specifically eliminate state college IDs as valid, so students can't vote.  Instruction for getting these IDs in Spanish are curiously difficult to locate.  Early voting is being eliminated in states like Ohio for no good reason other than arbitrary decisions by Republican Secretaries of State, especially Sunday voting, to stop black churches from bringing people to the polls after service.  The list goes on and on.

You have to admit, the GOP really thought this one through.  They know that if they can keep adding requirements they can lower turnout across the country.  It'll help them cling to power just long enough to do some real damage.

Remember, none of this "rampant voter fraud" was a problem with a Republican president.

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