Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Confederate "Heritage" Month, April 17: Vote suppression

Gary May in this excerpt from his book Bending Toward Justice: The Voting Rights Act and the Transformation of American Democracy (2013), How conservatives invented "voter fraud" to attack civil rights Salon 04/14/2013, discusses the segregationist voter suppression laws and tricks that the Republican Party has made central to their long-term strategy. The nominal justification they use, when they can keep their minds focused on the official line, anyway, is that these measures are intended to prevent voter fraud. But sometimes they slip and actually tell the truth in public:

Although Republicans continued to insist that the new laws were created solely to fight voter fraud, GOP officials twice revealed another motive. At a meeting of the Pennsylvania Republican State Committee in June 2012, Mike Turzai, the House majority leader, boasted openly that Pennsylvania’s new law would affect the next presidential election. Proudly listing the GOP’s achievements, Turzai said, “Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania: Done.” Similarly, when, in August 2012, the Columbia Dispatch asked Doug Preise, a prominent Republican official and adviser to the state’s governor, why he so strongly supported curtailing early voting in Ohio, Preise admitted, “I really actually feel that we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African American — voter turn-out machine.” These admissions indicate that winning the presidency by suppressing the minority vote was the real reason behind the laws requiring voter IDs, limited voting hours, obstructed registration, and the like that Republican legislatures passed since the party’s victory in 2010. [my emphasis]
Requiring certain types of government-issued IDs is a favorite method, which they justify (when they're being polite!) by pretending that in-person voter fraud is rampant. But it's actually so rare as to be effectively non-existent. Yes, there's that little evidence for the claimed "voter fraud" problem.

But these laws are increasingly popular with Republicans:

Before the Republican victory in the 2010 midterms, only two states had rigorous voter ID requirements. By August 2012, 34 state legislatures had considered photo ID laws and 13 had passed them; five more made it past state legislatures only to be vetoed by the Democratic governors of Montana, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina and New Hampshire. By that same summer, a number of states already had the new laws in place: Pennsylvania (where it was estimated that 9.2 percent of registered voters had no photo ID), Alabama, Mississippi (approved by referendum), Rhode Island, New Hampshire (whose state General Court overrode the governor’s veto) and five whose sponsors were all ALEC members — Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin. In Alabama, Kansas and Tennessee, people wishing to register or vote must show their birth certificate. To acquire that document, they must pay a fee, which many believe is the equivalent of the poll tax, banned by the Constitution’s twenty-fourth amendment. Minnesota's citizens would vote on a state constitutional amendment in the 2012 election; if passed, voters could cast their ballot after showing a government-issued photo ID. [my emphasis]
This is straight out of the Southern segregationist playbook.

It's also worth remembering if you hear anyone who supports these voter-suppression laws say how much they love the Constitution and its "original intention." It was many decades after the Constitution went into effect before "photo ID" was available to the general public. The Frenchman Nicéphore Niépce produced the first photograph in the sense we know it no earlier than 1826. He successfully took a picture of a courtyard. He exposed the pewter plate medium he was using for eight hours to get the picture. By 1835 or so, Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre had figured out to use iodized silver and mercury to record the image and got the exposure time down to 30 minutes.

Nope, no "photo ID" in the original intent.

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