It is time to get the facts straight about voter suppression laws; they have nothing to do with protecting elections and everything to do with making it more difficult for Democratic leaning voters to cast ballots.
Just ask President George W. Bush's Justice Department. In 2007, after the department performed “a crackdown on voter fraud,” it discovered “virtually no evidence of any organized effort to skew federal elections.”
Although this confirmation from the last Republican President should have put GOP election fraud conspiracy theories to rest, instead new Republican majorities in legislatures from Michigan to Florida set about passing laws that make it more difficult for qualified people to vote.
So what is the real reason for these new laws that are little more than solutions looking for a problem?
According to transcripts from a recently released deposition, former Florida Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer revealed the real reason behind the coordinated attempts around the country to put barriers in front of citizens’ right to cast ballots.
During a December 2009 meeting with party officials, Mr. Greer's deposition explained, “I was upset because the political consultants and staff were talking about voter suppression and keeping blacks from voting.”
In 2008, African-Americans comprised thirteen percent of the Florida electorate, and 96% of African-American voters cast their ballots for Barack Obama. These voters were also integral in Democrats making gains in the Congress and gaining seats in state legislatures.
Now, under penalty of perjury, Republicans have come clean about their intentions about these new laws: these new laws have nothing to do with democracy and everything to do with disenfranchisement.
Greer's admission comes on the heels of Pennsylvania's House Majority Mike Turzai bragging that his state's new voter ID law "is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done." Wisconsin Republican state Senator Glen Grothman was later asked whether voter ID would also help the Romney campaign in his state, to which he answered, "Yes. Right."
As President Lyndon Johnson said, “A man without a vote is man without protection,” and this coming election at least 5 million voters, predominantly young and from minority groups sympathetic to President Obama and other Democratic candidates, could be affected these new laws on Election Day in November.
In the next three months until the election, we must do everything possible to make sure that no one is turned away from the ballot box. We must never refer to these laws as “voter identification,” but call them what they are: “voter intimidation” and “voter suppression” laws.
Next, we need to educate as many voters as possible about the new laws to ensure that they can practice their constitutional right in November. And finally, we must gather stories of legitimate voters being turned away from the polls so we can show the real impact of these laws in the next legislative session.
These are just the first steps in to turning back this tide and standing up for the most basic right in our democracy.