Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Great Suppression

(Editorial cartoon by Mike Luckovich and published 7/17/12 by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Click on image to enlarge and then kindly return.)

Florida got a break, of sorts. The federal government blinked and has allowed the state to access a federal data bank on known non-citizen residents.

A year-long stalemate between Florida and Washington ended Saturday when the federal government gave the state access to a comprehensive federal citizenship database, which the state will use to resume an election-year purge of non citizen voters.

After repeatedly refusing, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security agreed to open its database to the Department of State, which oversees Florida’s voter registration system. The state will now cross-check the names of Florida voters against a federal citizenship database known as SAVE, or Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements. ...

Florida has one of the largest immigrant populations of any state, and more than half of the people on the first purge list had Hispanic surnames. Hispanics are considered a crucial voting bloc in the race between Obama and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. It is a third-degree felony for a non citizen to vote in an election.

It's hard to argue that the list should not have been made available to Florida. After all, non-citizens shouldn't be voting in our elections. That's not the point, however. The damage has already been done. Hispanics, African-Americans, the poor, and the elderly have already been intimidated by the highly-suspect crackdown by the Republican-controlled legislature in Florida and other states.

In some states, like Minnesota (for example), voters will have a proposition on the ballot for a constitutional amendment requiring state sanctioned photo id's. People who don't have ready access to the documents required for such cards (again, people of color, the poor, the elderly) will be shut out. They won't even be able to try to fight what is something akin to a poll tax, and most won't bother. The Republicans see this as an easy route to victory.

Over fifty years of the civil rights struggle will be wiped out.

I am ashamed to share citizenship with those yahoos across the aisle.

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Blogger John Gardner said...

i'm confused how "people of color" automatically "don't have ready access to the documents required".

I can understand people not being able to afford (in both time and money) obtaining a photo ID.

but how does being non-white become a problem here?

Personally, i'm fine with a voter ID law, but only if that law also provides for free and easy state supplied photo id.

10:09 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

John, the point is that the problem is so disproportionately one suffered by Hispanics and African Americans that "lack of ID" is almost interchangeable with race.

But there are exceptions. For example, students. Some states, like Wisconsin and Texas have also excluded student ID as a valid form of ID, apparently reasoning that educated voters are dangerous voters.

No one would have a problem if the voter ID laws paid for the ID (so as to not burden poor people) and made all necessary assistance to get it (so as to not burden the elderly, the disabled, and people working two or three jobs). Oddly, none of the voter ID laws contain these provisions. Oddly.

The laws are designed to knock out likely Democratic voters. The racially disparate nature inherent in them is just a bonus.

4:36 PM  
Blogger John Gardner said...

again, my question is *why* is it so disproportionate?

Do that many hispanics and african americans not drive cars? or require ID for any other purpose?

What is it about those groups? Not native americans? not any of the asian heritage groups?

11:50 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

John asks, "again, my question is *why* is it [lack of ID] so disproportionate?

Do that many hispanics and african americans not drive cars? or require ID for any other purpose?"

The reasons vary. For example, until the 1960s, people in poor rural areas did not get birth certificates. Someone in my family spent a year or so getting the government to accept a baptismal record in lieu of a birth certificate to get a passport. Since the poor are disproportionately black and hispanic, an extraordinary number of people who lack a birth certificate are black or hispanic.

Then there's driver's licenses. People who don't have cars don't drive. Many of the people who don't have cars don't have them because they are poor. Again, blacks and hispanics are disproportionately poor. '

And, people say, but surely they get photo ID for cashing checks or getting prescriptions! Well, if you're poor enough, you don't have a bank account and you can't even afford to go to a doctor. So why have a photo ID? Again, blacks and hispanics are disproportionately poor.

This is not a complicated issue if you really want people to be able to vote. It only becomes difficult to understand if voting by blacks and hispanics is inconvenient.

8:51 PM  

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