Voting and Electoral Issues: Voter Suppression

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Voter suppression and the 2012 elections

On September 28 DAUK screened Bill Moyers' interview on voter suppression. Below are some extracts from the Briefing Notes that accompanied the screening.

Voter Suppression

Eric Holder: “The right to vote is not only the cornerstone of our system of government—it is the lifeblood of our democracy.”

Major data source: Brennan Center for Justice

The scope and scale of voter suppression has rapidly accelerated. We’ve seen changes to early voting, absentee voting, new limitations on voter registration drives by third parties, e.g. the League of Women Voters, NAACP, the ending of election day voter registration, limits on polling station opening hours, and  more restrictions on re-instatement on electoral rolls.  All these changes  have accompanied the more highly-flagged Voter ID laws. 

A total of 17 states have passed legislation that can impact the 2012 election. These states account for 218 electoral votes, or nearly 40% of the total needed to win the presidency.

Before the 2011 legislative session, only two states had ever imposed strict photo ID requirements. Now 34 states have proposed  photo ID requirements, while 17 states have proposed proof of citizenship requirements. 

 Where is the fraud?  Voter ID laws are a “solution” to a non-existent problem. Why? Because neither academic nor government research has established any significant in-person voter fraud. For example, since 2004 in Pennsylvania, only four people have been convicted of trying to register to vote when not eligible to do so; none has been convicted of falsifying identity to vote.  That is out of 20 million votes cast.  Do the math.  Perhaps Mike Turzai, the Republican Majority Leader of the Pennsylvania House, let the cat out of the bag when he crowed “ Voter ID which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania: done.”

Who are those likely to be disenfranchised by Voter ID laws and other measures? Disproportionately poor, elderly, young (especially students), African American,  or Latino citizens. Yes, precisely those likely to be Democrats' supporters.

Lest anyone think these may be “reasonable” actions, check out what IDs are excluded and included in Sarah Silverman’s LetMyPeopleVote2012 video (obscenity warning).

There have been successful challenges to many of these laws, for example, through the courts in Texas and Ohio or by governors’ vetoes.  But we need you to find out what is happening in your state and support the challenges to disenfranchisement.

Resources for further research

Democratic Party. Voting Rights Institute

Fair Elections Network.

Brennan Center for Justice.

American Civil Liberties Union.


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Produced by ElaineC October 2012