That's Dorothy Cooper, who you've met before. She's 96 years old and almost wasn't going to be able to vote this year because stringent new voter identification laws passed in her state, Tennessee, intended to, well, keep people from her like voting. Because her story made news, she got some attention and help from a powerful source.

Obama for America volunteers helped secure Mrs. Cooper's identification and is featuring her in GottaVote.org, a new tool developed by the Obama campaign designed to help residents in every state navigate the increasingly complicated voter registration process. In an email announcing the new site, the campaign writes:

GottaVote.org is a one-stop shop for getting the facts on voting, reminders for key dates and deadlines, and alerts on the status of voting rights in your state. It’s available in both English and Spanish (www.gottavote.org/es) because different languages shouldn’t keep Americans from voting.
The portal provides voters detailed state-by-state information on how and when to register. By providing a phone number and email address, you can get reminders of when to register. Additionally, it gives volunteer attorneys a convenient way to become "victory counsels" to help voter protection efforts across the country. It also has a Tumblr where voters can ask process questions.

It took Mrs. Cooper five pieces of documentation, and the assistance of willing volunteers, but she secured her vote for November. There could be as many as five million Dorothy Coopers in America, citizens who will be denied the vote in the relentless Republican campaign to cheat another election.

Congressional Democrats have gotten in on the action, too. This week they introduced the Voter Empowerment Act, comprehensive legislation that would extend voting rights for all Americans. It would:

modernize our voter registration system, ensure equal access to the ballot box for all Americans and prohibit voter caging and other deceptive practices that keep people from exercising their constitutional right to vote. The bill will protect voters from restrictive voting measures that have been enacted in states across the country over the last year. These measures make it harder for millions of eligible voters to register or vote, and disproportionally affect our service members, the disabled, minorities, young people, seniors, and low-income Americans.
There are few more compelling reasons to work to get Nancy Pelosi back in the speaker's chair and to keep the Senate and White House next year than seeing this law enacted.

For more of the week's news, make the jump below the fold.

In other news:

  • The NAACP launched their massive voter registration campaign This is My Vote this week to register hundreds of thousands of Americans to vote and equip vulnerable communities with the resources to fight back against attacks on fundamental voting rights.
  • Virginia becomes one of the latest states to have a new voter ID bill signed into law.
    The bill forces voters who don’t show ID to cast a provisional ballot to be counted after the election only if voters can validate their identity with local registrars.
    In order to show compassionate conservatism, or something, Gov. Bob McDonnell issued an executive order directing the State Board of Elections to send out new voter ID cards statewide.
  • And in Mississippi, Republican Governor Phil Bryant signed a voter ID law that was passed by ballot referendum by 62 percent of voters. This one, though, will have to be approved by the Justice Department because, of course, Mississippi is one of the jurisdictions covered by the Voting Rights Act. Expect Mississippi to join Texas and South Carolina both in having the law blocked by the DOJ, and in suing the federal government.
  • Texas's suit against the Justice Department will begin on July 9, despite foot-dragging and delays on the state's part in the discovery process, for which the state was reprimanded, severely, by the court.
  • Florida is, per usual, a huge problem. It's currently in the process of forcing many already registered voters to prove their citizenship or be kicked off the voting rolls. Three guesses which groups of voters are likeliest to be targeted.
    Hispanic, Democratic and independent-minded voters are the most likely to be targeted in a state hunt to remove thousands of noncitizens from Florida's voting rolls, a Miami Heraldcomputer analysis of elections records has found.

    Whites and Republicans are disproportionately the least-likely to face the threat of removal, the analysis of a list of more than 2,600 potential noncitizens shows.

    The state is using often out-of-date motor vehicle information to target these voters. For instance, Juan Artabe, who became a citizen in 2009. His last transaction with the DMV was in 2006, but he got the notice from the state that he had to prove his citizenship to stay a registered voter. And he's incensed. "I'm upset, because if someone is an American citizen, it is his right to vote. How can they be asking for this?"
  • Florida's new voter registrations are lagging by as many as 81,000 fewer new voters, largely attributable to the onerous new requirements for organizations that register new voters. Rather than attempt and fail to comply, the League of Women voters is one group that decided against a registration effort this year. Instead, they're suing the state.
  • The New Hampshire House approved a Senate bill requiring photo identification for voting, but because they altered the bill, it goes back to the Senate. The House limited acceptable IDs to driver’s licenses, a state-issued identification card, a military ID or a passport, while the Senate also allowed student and government identification.
  • A group of conservative voters in Pennsylvania is signing on to defend the state in the suit brought on behalf of 93-year-old Viviette Applewhite and others, by the ACLU, the Advancement Project, the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia (PILCOP) and the Washington, D.C. law firm of Arnold & Porter LLP. These conservatives, including one GOP state legislator who is seeking reelection, think depriving 93-year-olds who've never missed an election of their vote is how to protect their own right to vote. Uh huh.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sat May 19, 2012 at 01:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by I Vote for Democrats, Three Star Kossacks, and Southern Action.

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