The “right” is wrong about voter suppression

The GOP’s Disgusting New Southern Strategy: Take the Vote Away from Blacks, Roll Back the Civil Rights Movement By Sher­ri­lyn IfillThe GOP’s war on vot­ing is a seri­ous attack on the fun­da­men­tal work­ings of our democracy…Instead it should be seen as part of a larger attack on polit­i­cal par­tic­i­pa­tion, with deep his­tor­i­cal roots that hark back to the dark­est days of Amer­i­can democracy.…Republican voter-suppression efforts are a sober­ing reminder that we are only half a cen­tury removed from the time when, in many states, vot­ing strength was based on race, wealth and place…This is what voter fraud really looks like, and all Amer­i­cans, not just African Amer­i­cans, stand to lose.

Why Americans Can’t Vote  What was dif­fer­ent about 2012 was that voter sup­pres­sion went from (largely) acci­den­tal to (com­pletely) inten­tional. In vir­tu­ally every state where Repub­li­cans took con­trol in the 2010 midterms, they changed the laws to make it harder for their polit­i­cal oppo­nents to vote. Most of these attempts were styled as attempts to limit “voter fraud,” a vir­tu­ally non-existent prob­lem in the United States. (A for­mer offi­cial of the Florida Repub­li­can Party recently acknowl­edged that the pur­pose of these laws was to hurt Democ­rats, not to address any real problem.)

Rig the Vote by Charles M. Blow, New York Times, Jan­u­ary 25, 2013 — If you can’t win by play­ing fair, cheat. That seems to be the plan of Repub­li­can law­mak­ers in sev­eral bat­tle­ground states that stub­bornly keep going for Democ­rats dur­ing pres­i­den­tial elec­tions. Thanks in part to ger­ry­man­der­ing, many states already have — and will con­tinue to have in the near future — Republican-controlled leg­is­la­tures…That change would heav­ily favor Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates — tilt­ing the vot­ing power away from cities and toward rural areas — and make it more likely that the can­di­date with the fewest votes over all would win a larger share of electoral votes.

GOP, Thomas Hobbes Rig Elections

Inside the plan to steal the election by Steven Rosenfeld, Alternet.org, August 25, 2012

Voter Suppression Is Treasonous by Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm,  HuffingtonPost.com, May 22, 2012

Calling Radicalism by Its NameEditorial, New York Times, April 3, 2012

Conservative Southern Values Revived: How a Brutal Strain of American Aristocrats Have Come to Rule America By Sara Robinson, AlterNet, June 28, 2012

Making The Election About Race By Thomas B. Edsall, New York Times, August 27, 2012  

Has America’s Stolen Election Process Finally Hit Prime Time?

Voting Rights Under Attack as GOP Seeks to Overturn Historic Civil Rights Law

The GOP’s Voter Sup­pres­sion Strategy The Nation [1] / By Ari Berman [2], Novem­ber 26, 2012 In a little-noticed yet sig­nif­i­cant devel­op­ment on elec­tion day, Min­nesota vot­ers defeated a con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment that would have required them to present a government-issued photo ID to cast a bal­lot. It was the first time vot­ers had rejected a voter ID bal­lot ini­tia­tive in any state. In May 2011, a poll showed that 80 per­cent of Min­nesotans sup­ported a photo ID law. “Nearly every­one in the state believed a photo ID was the most common-sense solu­tion to the prob­lem of voter fraud,” says Dan McGrath, exec­u­tive direc­tor of Take Action Min­nesota, a pro­gres­sive coali­tion that led the cam­paign against the amend­ment. “We needed to reframe the issue. We decided to never say the word ‘fraud.’ Instead we would only talk about the cost, com­pli­ca­tions and con­se­quences of the amend­ment.” Accord­ing to the coali­tion, the photo ID law would have dis­en­fran­chised eli­gi­ble vot­ers (includ­ing mem­bers of the mil­i­tary and seniors) dumped an unfunded man­date on coun­ties and imper­iled same-day voter reg­is­tra­tion. On elec­tion day, 52 per­cent of Min­nesotans opposed the amendment. The amendment’s sur­pris­ing defeat has ram­i­fi­ca­tions beyond Min­nesota. “There’s been an assump­tion of polit­i­cal will for restrict­ing the right to vote,” says McGrath. “No, there’s not.” The amend­ment back­fired on the GOP. “Voter ID did not drive the con­ser­v­a­tive base to turn out in the way that Repub­li­cans thought it would,” adds McGrath. “Instead, it actu­ally inspired pro­gres­sive vot­ers, who felt under siege, to fight stronger and turn out in higher num­bers.The minor­ity vote nearly dou­bled in the state, com­pared with 2008. Min­nesota was a micro­cosm of the national fail­ure of the GOP’s voter sup­pres­sion strategy.

After the 2010 elec­tion, in more than a dozen states Repub­li­cans passed vot­ing restric­tions aimed at reduc­ing the turnout of Obama’s “coali­tion of the ascendant”—young vot­ers, African-Americans and His­pan­ics. The strat­egy didn’t work as intended. Ten major restric­tive vot­ing laws were blocked in court over the past year, and turnout among young, black and Latino vot­ers increased as a share of the elec­torate in 2012 com­pared with 2008. The youth vote rose from 18 to 19 per­cent, and the minor­ity vote increased from 26 to 28 per­cent; both went heav­ily for Obama.

A back­lash against voter sup­pres­sion added to this increased youth and minor­ity turnout. “When they went after big mama’s vot­ing rights, they made all of us mad,” said the Rev. Tony Minor, Ohio coor­di­na­tor of the African Amer­i­can Min­is­ters Lead­er­ship Coun­cil. The black vote rose in Florida, North Car­olina, Ohio and Vir­ginia, while the Latino vote grew in Florida, Col­orado and Nevada. “There were huge orga­niz­ing efforts in the black, His­panic and Asian com­mu­ni­ties, more than there would’ve been, as a direct result of the voter sup­pres­sion efforts,” says Matt Bar­reto, co-founder of Latino Deci­sions, a Latino polling and research firm.

In late Sep­tem­ber, Project New Amer­ica, a Den­ver center-left research group, tested more than thirty mes­sages on “spo­radic, less likely vot­ers who lean Demo­c­ra­tic” (which included young, black and His­panic vot­ers) to see what would moti­vate them to vote. “One of the most pow­er­ful mes­sages across many dif­fer­ent demo­graph­ics was remind­ing peo­ple that their votes were impor­tant to counter the extrem­ists who are kick­ing peo­ple off of voter rolls,” the group wrote in a post-election memo.

 

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