There is a highly organized wave of new voter ID laws in Republican controlled swing states designed to keep down the vote from the poor, young and powerless. Thanks to the Supreme Court's decision in Citizen's United v. FEC, in 2010 tons of corporate cash was used to buy up control of state legislatures and/or governor seats in swing states like Ohio, Florida, Missouri and Wisconsin. EJ Dionne covered this story in the Washington Post.
Sometimes the partisan motivation is so clear that if Stephen Colbert reported on what’s transpiring, his audience would assume he was making it up. In Texas, for example, the law allows concealed handgun licenses as identification but not student IDs. And guess what? Nationwide exit polls show that John McCain carried households in which someone owned a gun by 25 percentage points but lost voters in households without a gun by 32 points.
Besides Texas, states that enacted voter ID laws this year include Kansas, Wisconsin, South Carolina and Tennessee. Indiana and Georgia already had such requirements. The Maine Legislature voted to end same-day voter registration. Florida seems determined to go back to the chaos of the 2000 election. It shortened the early voting period, effectively ended the ability of registered voters to correct their address at the polls and imposed onerous restrictions on organized voter-registration drives.
What in the World can we do about this?? Dionne has a couple ideas.
In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court, by 6 to 3, upheld Indiana’s voter ID statute. So seeking judicial relief may be difficult. Nonetheless, the Justice Department should vigorously challenge these laws, particularly in states covered by the Voting Rights Act. And the court should be asked to review the issue again in light of new evidence that these laws have a real impact in restricting the rights of particular voter groups(...)
Whether or not these laws can be rolled back, their existence should unleash a great civic campaign akin to the voter-registration drives of the civil rights years. The poor, the young and people of color should get their IDs, flock to the polls and insist on their right to vote in 2012.
Luckily in Missouri we still have a Democratic governor, and yesterday he vetoed the Voter ID laws passed by their state House and Senate.
“In a letter explaining his veto, Nixon said the photo ID requirement would have hurt senior citizens and people with disabilities who are qualified to vote but are less likely to have a drivers license or other government-issued photo ID. ‘Disenfranchising certain classes of persons is not acceptable,’ he said.”
But we haven't been so lucky in Florida, where billionaire insurance executive and now governnor Rick Scott signed into law an absurd voter ID law that is going to keep some voters from registering to vote.
In Florida, which already had a photo law, Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill this month to tighten restrictions on third-party voter registration organizations — prompting the League of Women Voters to say it would cease registering voters in the state — and to shorten the number of early voting days. Twelve states now require photo identification to vote.
This Florida bill fines people $1000 if they register a voter and don't turn the paperwork in within 48 hours.
In 2009 we had a big fight amongst ourselves about whether or not our Democratic Congress was passing the most liberal bills they could. That was the main focus of online activist Democrats. Meanwhile, John Boehner and his rich friends took back the House and rendered that debate useless. Now we're arguing over whether President Obama is "into us" or doing all he can for our movement. This vicious and massive voter suppression drive could silence that unproductive debate with a President Bachmann, Senate Majority leader McConnell and the end of democracy as we've known it.
Check out the Democratic Governor's Association which is putting on a Voter Protection Project
There's also a wide coalition of organizations working together on the 866-OUR-VOTE project
Crossposted from The Progressive Electorate. Please join us with a comment, diary of your own or even just with a pity click.