Monday, April 09, 2012

Granny Bird Award: ALEC

This edition of the Granny Bird Award, given from time to time to people who go out of their way to adversely affect the rights and lives of the elders, goes to the American Legislative Exchange Council, "ALEC," for its unconscionable activities in promoting voter suppression laws in states all over the country. This organization of major corporate and conservative groups is determined to deny the vote to the poor, minorities, and elders and it is working in concert with conservative state legislators to accomplish its mission.

Unfortunately, the rapid spread of these proposals in states as different as Florida and Wisconsin is not occurring by accident. Instead, many of these laws are being drafted and spread through corporate-backed entities such as the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, as uncovered in a previous Center for American Progress investigative report. Detailed in that report, ALEC charges corporations such as Koch Industries Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and The Coca-Cola Co. a fee and gives them access to members of state legislatures. Under ALEC’s auspices, legislators, corporate representatives, and ALEC officials work together to draft model legislation. As ALEC spokesperson Michael Bowman told NPR, this system is especially effective because “you have legislators who will ask questions much more freely at our meetings because they are not under the eyes of the press, the eyes of the voters.”

The investigative report included for the first time a leaked copy of ALEC’s model Voter ID legislation, which was approved by the ALEC board of directors in late 2009. This model legislation prohibited certain forms of identification, such as student IDs, and has been cited as the legislative model from groups ranging from Tea Party organizations to legislators proposing the actual legislation such as Wisconsin’s Voter ID proposal from Republican state Rep. Stone and Republican state Sen. Joe Leibham.
[Emphasis added]

I urge you to read not only the linked article but also the report to which it refers to see just how this legislation affects us all, including elders in their 80s and 90s who for various reasons (including cost) cannot comply with the new laws. People who have rarely missed voting in an election are suddenly shut out because they cannot provide a birth certificate or because they cannot even get to the government office which issues the "picture ID".

This has nothing to do with voter fraud (which is so rare as to not qualify even as "negligible") and everything to do with keeping people who might vote against the interests of our corporate owners. And who are these corporate owners? Think Progress has a list of those who contributed to the recent ALEC annual meeting.

The list is revealing. It not only includes the "usual suspects" (Koch Brothers) but also some surprises:, Johnson & Johnson, Walgreens. And the linked-to article also lists some other posts which indicate some corporations who have pulled out of the sponsorship list because of consumer outrage, among them Coca Cola, PepsiCo, and Kraft.

And that's the key. We have to get involved and let the corporations know we aren't having any of this anti-American crap. Look at the list and pick out companies you've been spending money at and let them know that you won't be doing so anymore because of their stance on something as basic as voting.

And then let President Obama and Attorney General Holder know that you expect the federal government to enforce the voting rights of all Americans, not just the wealthy.

It's important.

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