The True Identity Of Racist Voter ID Laws

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Throughout the country, Republican governors and legislators have been pushing for, and in many cases passing, restrictive voter ID laws.

These voter-suppressing measures have been introduced under the ruse of preventing voter fraud and protecting our electoral process. But there is virtually no evidence of organized voter fraud and only a small number of individual cases of voter fraud have been documented.

According to News21, out of all the hundreds of millions of ballots cast from 2000 to 2012, there have been an infinitesimal number of incidents, 2,068 in total, of suspected election fraud and only 633 confirmed cases.

Basic demographics are not in the Republican Party’s favor right now. So, in order to increase the odds for Republican candidates to win, especially those running in ethnically diverse areas, it’s important that they shrink the size of the electorate. The harder it is to vote, the lower the turnout and the better the odds for these candidates to win.

Voter ID legislation that is being introduced and passed in Republican-controlled state legislatures considerably impedes minorities, youths, the poor, and the elderly (many of who have consistently voted blue) from exercising the right to vote. Even when they overcome the hurdles to prove that they qualify to vote, additional obstacles are forced upon their ability to physically cast their ballots.

A disproportionate number of the poor lack IDs, such as a birth certificate, a social security card, a passport, or even a driver’s license. If a person cannot produce these forms of identification now required under restrictive voting laws, they are not allowed to vote.

In addition, newly passed voter ID laws have also have chipped away at access to the ballot box by cutting back on voting methods that are popular among many voters, such as early voting and voting by mail. In addition, the number of polling places has been drastically reduced in some states, which serves to discourage people who must work and care for their families and don’t have time to wait in long voting lines. Many of the poor who use public transportation often find it virtually impossible to get to their polling place.

The effects of the implementation of these laws are not just coincidence. In fact, there is compelling evidence to suggest that these laws specifically target minority, poor, and student voters.

Some of the methods of voter suppression are more obvious than others. Take Ohio and Wisconsin for example:

Ohio’s Secretary of State cut early voting on Sundays and weekday evenings – a popular voting method among blacks. In 2008, black voters made up 56 percent of all weekend voters in Ohio’s largest county and overwhelmingly voted Democrat.

In Wisconsin, Senate Republican lawmakers also passed a bill that does away with weekend voting – a bill that every Democrat in that legislature opposed.

Other ways that restrict people’s right to vote aren’t as overt:

In August of 2013, North Carolina’s governor signed one of the most extensive voter suppression laws to date. The law requires voters to present a government-issued photo ID, shortens the early voting period from 17 to 10 days, and ends pre-registration for 16 and 17-year-old voters who would turn 18 on election day. It also eliminates same-day voter registration.

This is crucial to the electoral process because young Americans are now more racially diverse than ever. Historically, U.S. voter political preferences have been sharply divided by race. Non-white Americans of all ages overwhelmingly self-identify as Democrat; this means bad news for Republicans – especially Southern Republicans whose states are rapidly becoming more racially diverse.

Early voting is extremely popular with many minority voters. By shortening early voting periods, and barring the some of the younger voters from casting their ballots, Republicans gain a slight advantage in their races.

Not only do new voter ID laws negatively affect minority, poor, and younger voters, it may also present a major hurdle for the Democratic Party in the coming midterm elections.

In recent years, Democrats have heavily relied upon voters who have checked the youth and minority boxes in presidential and midterm elections. Historically, those voters have had a lower turnout in midterm elections than presidential elections. This fact, combined with the impact of restrictive voting laws, put Democrats at a serious disadvantage.

Despite what many liberal blogs say, Republicans do have a very real chance at gaining control of the Senate and keeping control of the House of Representatives. The passage of new voter ID laws will only increase their chances of doing so.

Republicans only need to win six seats to capture the Senate chamber. They can accomplish this by winning at least two close toss-up races in purple states. They would also have to retain control in states that they have already won, such as Georgia and Kentucky, where recent polls indicate that races will be won by a narrow margin favoring the Republicans.

And did you notice something about every state I’ve mentioned in this article (with the exception of Kentucky)? If you didn’t – all are swing states in presidential elections and vital for party control of Congress.

Although the Democrats and their electorate face these new voter ID laws and other challenges, voting rights organizations have had some success fighting them.

In January, a state judge in Pennsylvania struck down the state’s new voter ID law by arguing that it was unconstitutional and that it did not, “. . . assure a free and fair election. . . .”

The ACLU has filed a complaint against Arkansas, claiming the state’s new voter ID law, “violates the state constitution’s prohibition on laws that impair the right to vote.”

Other states with restrictive voting laws, such as North Carolina and Texas, have been sued by the Justice Department, which has used the 1965 Voting Rights Act as a platform to abolish parts of those laws. Although the Justice Department is targeting these laws, they still have to prove racial discrimination exists in order for the Voting Rights Act to apply.

Let me be clear: these ID laws only exist to displace votes by making it harder for minorities and the future generation to vote. The laws chip away at people’s basic right to vote and are wholly at odds with our country’s most basic values.

About Eric Bates

Eric received his B.S. in political science with an emphasis in international relations from Santa Clara University in 2012. Upon graduating, he traveled and worked for a non-profit in Central America. He is a religious viewer of Conan O’Brien and also loves traveling. Eric is attending San Jose State University's graduate school program to receive a M.A. in Journalism and Mass Communications. He can be reached at ebates0@gmail.com.
Posted in: Civil Rights, Constitutional, Democratic Party, Election, GOP, Law, Politics, Society