Tuesday, May 06, 2014


(*Don't Get Out The Vote)

(Cartoon by Lee Judge, published 5/4/14 in the Kansas City Star and featured at Mc Clatchy DC.  Click on image to enlarge.)

As I pointed out in a recent post, primary season for the off-year elections is at hand, and one of the difficulties challengers face is getting people to actually vote.  Part of the problem is that when there isn't a presidential election at hand, people tend to not have any great interest in exercising one of their most basic rights in a democracy.

But there's another reason eligible voters don't turn out:  many states have made it difficult for them to vote.  Thanks to Republican-led legislatures, laws have been drafted requiring special identification at the polls and limiting early voting and vote-by mail.  These requirements make it especially difficult for those without transportation or with long work-days to actually get to the polls and to vote.  This hits hard certain elements of the electorate:  the poor, the elderly, and those without easy access to birth certificates.

The Los Angeles Times took a look at the situation in a recent article:

A federal judge recently struck down a Wisconsin law that would have required voters to present a photo ID in order to vote, one in a series of judicial rulings addressing how states can control who gets to cast a ballot.

A slew of voter ID laws were passed after the 2010 election gave Republicans control of both branches of legislature in many states. Supporters say the laws prevent fraud at the polls.
But studies indicate that fraud is virtually nonexistent, and that states that saw higher minority turnout were more likely to pass voter ID laws, said Wendy Weiser, director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice.

"We haven’t seen a legislative movement like this since Reconstruction," she said.
Many of the laws went into effect in 2013 after the U.S. Supreme Court, in Shelby County vs. Holder,  struck down a portion of the Voting Rights Act that required certain areas, such as states in the South, to get federal approval before changing their voting laws.

The Wisconsin case was significant because U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman ruled that Wisconsin's law violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, an argument that had not been frequently used in voting rights case. Section 2 prohibits voting practices that discriminate against minorities. Adelman wrote that the law made it harder for minorities to vote.  [Emphasis added]

And it's not just southern states which have passed such onerous laws.  States like North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island also have found a way to suppress the vote.  Most of those state legislatures have had help in drafting the law in ways to circumvent challenges, and the help comes from such groups as ALEC, funded in large part by the infamous Koch Brothers.  The organization's web site presents such "models" to illustrate my point.  From the dismantling of Affirmative Action to outright vote suppression to the elimination of capital gains taxes:  ALEC has all the legislators need.

There be monsters here.  Ugly democracy-killing monsters.

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