Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Why Are Voting Rights Being Restricted?

By EOM Staff

Right wing politicians have long been opposed to a national photo identification card, but are making a massive effort to institute a photo ID requirement for voting.  The Republicans are now waging a battle against the American voter.  Laws are being sought that restrict access to the voting booth.  Laws that will disproportionately harm people of color, low income people and both young and elderly voters.
Many of these bills have been modeled on legislation drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council.  This is a conservative advocacy group whose founder explained:  “Our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down”.
The Justice Department recently blocked South Carolina’s new law requiring voters to show photo Ids at the polls.  They did this based on data submitted by South Carolina that showed minority voters were about 20% less likely to have the acceptable photo ID required at the polling places.
The number of voters who may be disenfranchised by this wave of legislation is estimated to be upward of 5 million.  Statistically, most of these would be expected to vote along Democratic lines.  These efforts to quash voter participation are not genuine, grassroots movements, but have relied on funding from people like the Koch brothers.
Here are some examples from the Modesto Bee’s recent opinion page about the results of voter restriction:
In Nashville, 93 year old Thelma Mitchell had a state issued ID.  An ID that she used as a cleaner at the state capitol building for over 30 years.  This ID allowed her access to the governor’s office, but she was recently told that it wasn’t good enough to get her into the voting booth.
Darwin Spinks, an 86 year old World War II veteran from Tennessee, went to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get a photo ID for voting purposes, since drivers over 60 there are issued driver’s licenses without photos.  After waiting in two lines, he was told he had to pay $8.  Requiring a voter to pay a fee to vote has been unconstitutional since the poll tax was outlawed in 1964.
Another elderly Tennessee woman was initially denied a voter ID when her birth certificate with her maiden name did not match her married name.  She was unable to locate her decades old marriage license.  To read the Bee’s entire opinion, click here: http://www.modbee.com/2012/01/05/2013369/voter-id-laws-often-end-up-restricting.html
Civil rights groups say the restrictions amount to an attack on voting rights on a level not seen since segregation.  An estimated 100 civil rights organizations marched from New York City’s Upper East Side to the United Nations last month to draw attention to the mounting problem of voter suppression in communities of color across the nation.  Many of the proposed laws will require extensive documentation in order to obtain a voter ID card.  It is typically minorities, low income and again the elderly or young who lack the necessary documentation.
The real election outcomes in 2012 will most likely hinge more on the battle between billionaire political funders like the Kochs versus the thousands of people in the streets demanding – ONE PERSON, ONE VOTE!

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