aside In Republican Majority US States, Voting Rights Are Becoming More Restrictive

GOP platform calls for tough voter ID laws
Photo by Greg Nash

“We the people” already get the picture. Republican legislators in republican majority states are resorting to whatever means possible to restrict the voting rights of its citizens, in order to keep minority voters who typically choose democratic party candidates from having access to the ballot box.

These republican lawmakers resort to their favorite talking points like there needs to be a way to reduce voting fraud incidents, despite the fact that every credible study proves these claims about voter fraud as being, literally a non-existing problem; and of course, these conservatives will inquire, what is the big deal about having US citizens having to show a valid photo I.D. in order to vote?

Image result for photos of voting rights ralliesIt is no big deal unless the voter happen to be poor, black, Latino or elderly. Here is an example of how difficult it can be to acquire a photo ID. As per a 5/23/16 Washington Post article by Sari Horwitz, “In his wallet, Anthony Settles carries an expired Texas identification card, his Social Security card and an old student ID from the University of Houston, where he studied math and physics decades ago. What he does not have is the one thing that he needs to vote this presidential election: a current Texas photo ID.”

“For Settles to get one of those, his name has to match his birth certificate — and it doesn’t. In 1964, when he was 14, his mother married and changed his last name. After Texas passed a new voter-ID law, officials told Settles he had to show them his name-change certificate from 1964 to qualify for a new identification card to vote.”

“So with the help of several lawyers, Settles tried to find it, searching records in courthouses in the D.C. area, where he grew up. But they could not find it. To obtain a new document changing his name to the one he has used for 51 years, Settles has to go to court, a process that would cost him more than $250 — more than he is willing to pay.”

“It has been a bureaucratic nightmare,” said Settles, 65, a retired engineer. “The intent of this law is to suppress the vote. I feel like I am not wanted in this state.”

HERE IS THE REST OF THE STORY…

On 5/30/17, Paul Walden of the Washington Post penned the following report, “On voting rights, we’re becoming two separate and unequal countries.”

“America, as we all know, is a deeply divided nation, split along lines of class and race and culture and politics. And in this most polarized time, the two parties are pulling the places where they dominate further apart, creating a red and blue America that can be profoundly different depending on what side of a state line you stand on.”

In few areas is this more evident than in the way the parties treat the ballot.

Image result for photos of voting rights rallies“Consider the following. Yesterday, the Illinois House passed a bill creating automatic voter registration (AVR) in the state, so that when you get a driver’s license or interact with state agencies in other ways, you’re automatically registered to vote. The Republican governor, Bruce Rauner, vetoed a previous version of the bill, but he may end up having no choice in this blue state but to support it, in which case Illinois would join eight other states (plus the District of Columbia) that have created AVR in recent years.”

” But today, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case concerning Ohio’s voter purge, in which the Republican secretary of state expelled thousands of voters from the rolls because they hadn’t voted in recent elections; an appeals court had ruled the purge illegal. And meanwhile, in North Carolina, Republicans continue to move aggressively to put obstacles in front of voting despite recent losses at the Supreme Court over both their voter-ID law and their congressional districts, which the court said were drawn with an unconstitutional racial gerrymander. Here’s the latest:

“Rumors are circulating here about a new Republican voter identification bill, after federal judges struck down a previous version saying it targeted “African-Americans with almost surgical precision.” Voting rights advocates are convening emergency meetings to plan legal defenses against it. Democrats are trying in sly, casual conversations with Republican colleagues to extract details on its timing and contours, but Republicans leaders have maintained a disciplined silence…

Beyond the voter identification law, almost every aspect of the state’s electoral system is now being drawn into this acrimonious political war, from the composition of local election boards and who has the power to appoint them, to rules determining the exact days, hours and operations of voting precincts.”

“Despite a string of losses in the courts, Republicans are going to keep trying to make voting as difficult as possible, particularly for African Americans, for one reason: It works. There are active debates about exactly how many people were kept from the polls in 2016 — for instance, some contend that Wisconsin’s voter-ID law disenfranchised enough African Americans to swing the state to Donald Trump — but every young person, urban dweller or racial minority they can keep from the polls increases the odds that Republicans will win.”

“And they’re optimistic, with good reason, that Justice Neil M. Gorsuch and the conservative majority on the Supreme Court will be on their side on this issue. The other four conservatives on the court have seldom seen a voting restriction they objected to, and there’s little reason to think they will in the future. Texas’s enormously restrictive law (which is still being litigated) could be the vehicle for the court to open up whole new avenues of vote suppression. If and when they do, Republican states will almost certainly rush in to pass the most restrictive laws they can.”

“Meanwhile, Democratic states are moving in the opposite direction, proposing measures such as automatic registration and same-day registration, in which you can register when you show up to the polls on election day (it’s in place in 13 mostly liberal states, plus D.C., while it’s been passed but not yet implemented in three more). But if they really wanted to make things easy, they’d be pushing for universal vote by mail (UVBM), which is used only in Washington state, Oregon and Colorado.”

Image result for cartoons about voting rights“It’s something of a mystery why UVBM hasn’t been more of a priority for Democrats, because it couldn’t be easier. You get your ballot in the mail, you fill it out, you drop it in a mailbox. There’s no taking time off work, wondering where your polling place is or waiting in line. It’s particularly helpful for people who don’t have flexible schedules. While fraud is theoretically possible, in practice it’s a minuscule problem. Just ask someone from one of those three states what they think about it, and they’ll tell you how much they love it. That’s not to mention the fact that it makes elections cheaper and easier to hold, and provides a paper trail for any disputes.”

“Even as Republican and Democratic states move further apart, it seems clear that Republican legislators feel a good deal more urgency about this issue that Democratic ones do. You can bet that Republicans will do everything they can to make sure that changes they make this year are implemented in time for the 2018 election, in order to put a thumb on the scale in what could be a disastrous election for the GOP.”

“It may not be enough to help them avoid what’s coming, though. Most of the voter suppression laws are about making things just hard enough that some voters won’t bother — they can’t ban you from voting if you’re a Democrat, but they can make it more of a hassle, safe in the knowledge that the restrictions will fall more heavily on people like you. It’s a way of improving their odds. But it’s possible that in 2018, Democrats will be so motivated to get to the polls to punish Republicans that they’ll climb over any obstacle they face. North Carolina will be critical, however, because of the combination of its gerrymandered districts (in this closely divided swing state, Republicans hold 10 of the 13 House seats) and its possible voter-ID restrictions. Once those districts are redrawn, and if Republicans don’t succeed in passing a vote suppression law that survives a court challenge, the Democrats could gain a few seats just in that one state.”

Image result for cartoons about voting rights“There’s one final piece to this puzzle, which is that it’s important to avoid the temptation to look at this conflict through a both-sides prism. You can argue that Democrats are making the same partisan calculation Republicans are, favoring the voting system that shapes the electorate in their favor. That may be true, but the fact is that Republicans are trying to make it hard for certain people to vote, while Democrats are trying to make it easy for everyone to vote. So both parties aren’t on equally firm moral ground.”

Which may not matter to Republicans as long as they can hold on to the power they have.

5 comments

  1. How about basic ID requirements, like a SS Card or letter from SS Administration, and a bank card. Banks normally vet identification very thoroughly according to federal law. A US passport should be fairly straightforward to acquire, and it’s in the gov’t system, just tie registered voters with their passport number and Voilà! XD

    • Dear 1EarthUnited,

      This is before your time. It is during my generation where Black Americans were treated as less than human. They do not always have the proper docs and so to overcome this, these folks will have to incur significant expenses to obtain a photo ID and conservatives know this.

      There has to be a way to make it easier for folks to have access to the voting booth while taking steps to eliminate even the possibility of voter fraud. But republicans are not looking for solutions to accomplish both goals. And this is how I KNOW THAT THEIR TALKING POINTS ARE BOGUS.

      Hugs, Gronda

      • You’re right of course, that’s what Republicans are relying on to deter legitimate voters who are poor. Perhaps the gov’t can come up with a national voter ID card at no cost to it’s citizens. But then again lack of proper ID to acquire one would lead to the same problem… a hindrance to poor or homeless that cannot verify their identity.

        What about fingerprint ID? Everyone has a unique identifier, so one only has to prove they are a citizen of the US! Just a thought.

        • Dear 1EarthUnited,

          Both your suggestions have promise. There has to be a way to both protect the citizens’ right to vote and to prevent voter fraud.

          Hugs, Gronda

  2. Not being in the US it’s not my place to comment on the legal aspects.
    From an historical viewpoint this is fearfully short-sighted on the behalf on the current republican dominated states, as ultimately the danger Is a separation of the states from within the current federal system.
    Whereas this would probably not be as dramatic as the events prior to the Civil War, a gradual drifting away of states where populations would feel comfier in a semi-independent status is conceivable.
    Thus over a course of the decades no longer the USA but something which resembles Europe today, and so no longer United.

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