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In gambling circles there is the concept of a 'freeroll.' Not heads I win, tails you lose; rather heads I win, tails nothing happens. With coin flips it would mean that 50% of the time I come out ahead, and 50% of the time we're even -- I end up where I was before. Needless to say this is an awesome position to be in. Nothing to lose and something, potentially very valuable, to gain.

And so it is for Republicans and their voter ID laws. Democrats and civil libertarian groups like the ACLU have spent and will spend vast amounts of effort and money contesting newly enacted laws in Republican-controlled states. They are attempting to defeat ballot initiatives creating voter-ID laws in others. But when it comes down to it, Republicans win no matter how badly they might lose some of the time. That's because they don't lose everywhere. And if they do lose, they have plenty of money to pursue challenges all the way to the Supreme Court, where some say SCOTUS is just waiting for the right moment to strike down the Voting Rights Act and give more power in other ways to the states to curtail voting rights.

Sure, they just temporarily lost in Pennsylvania. Big deal. The law will take effect next year, or there'll be another fight. So they were prevented from putting a voter-ID law into effect in Texas. One did go into effect in Georgia. And Indiana. They just got smacked down in Mississippi? Voters are likely to give them a victory in Minnesota and New Hampshire already enacted an ID law that got upheld by the courts.

Here's a look at how things are going:

In the last two years, the number of states requiring voters to show photo ID has grown from two to eight, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, though courts blocked the photo ID law in Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin, and are reviewing it in South Carolina.

Three states - Alabama, Kansas and Tennessee - passed laws requiring voters to show proof of citizenship to register, the center says. At least 16 states introduced bills to make registration harder by limiting registration drives, changing registration procedures when people move, or repealing the very things California recently approved - same-day and online registration.

Contrast what is really happening with this rather optimistic quote from the New York Times:
"Every voter restriction that has been challenged this year has been either enjoined, blocked or weakened," said Lawrence Norden of the Brennan Center for Justice, which is part of the New York University School of Law and opposes such restrictions. "It has been an extraordinary string of victories for those opposing these laws."
You can't win if you don't play offense (1). Democrats are not playing offense. The NY Times article is not referring to victories, but successful or partially successful defenses. The only even remotely liberalized voting law that's been enacted that I am aware of is the one noted in California, where same-day registration and voting will be allowed at some unspecified point in the future (once a statewide voter database is set up that is seemingly beyond the ability of California's tech industry to implement).

The fact of the matter is that one way or another, more and more voter ID laws that, bit by bit, restrict how you can vote and who can vote are coming into effect: Republican legislature by Republican legislature, court case by court case, and ballot initiative by ballot initiative. If a first attempt doesn't succeed, they can try again with a different approach, or tweak a clause a judge found unconstitutional. Nowhere that I am aware of are these laws being undone legislatively.

The frog, indeed, is being slowly boiled.

The ultimate result is not hard to predict: grenouille bouillie.


I say it's time to start playing heads voters win, tails Republicans lose. It's time to wake up the frog.  How do we best do that?

You may now go back to panicking about the polls.


(1) I suppose technically you could win in football playing just defense with a safety or two, but not in much else.

Originally posted to jpmassar on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 09:14 AM PDT.

Also republished by Progressive Policy Zone and Dailykos Kossacks For Action.

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Comment Preferences

  •  2010 was a big deal for this (8+ / 0-)

    Democrats played offense in the 1960s and 1970s, with the VRA, several constitutional amendments, and a friendly Court.

    The status quo was more or less maintained until 2008, and in particular, 2010; when an coordinated campaign to roll back voting rights under the guise of combating "voter fraud" was enacted in GOP-controlled states.

    Should democrats want to play offense, they could:

    * Pass uniform laws regarding ballot access, ID, etc.
    * Encourage vote-by-mail.  
    * Pass a law re-enfranchising felons, particularly those who are out of prison and/or who have not engaged in recidivism.  
    * Pass laws outlawing gerrymandering at the state level, particularly of Congressional districts.
    * Restrict the use of electronic voting machines, particularly those without the capability of being audited.  

  •  Please explain one thing (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jpmassar, mike101, TruthOfAngels, exterris

    These voter ID laws have been initiated since the 2010 elections. These same state assemblies which passed them still sit in their statehouses. With the exception of the WI state senate, that is.

    So please explain this one thing.

    Nowhere that I am aware of are these laws being undone legislatively.
    Why do you have the slightest expectation of seeing these laws dismantled by the very same people which enacted them?

    I say both your assertations are wrong. The GOP does have something to lose: the 2012 elections. And the frog is not being slowly and unwittingly boiled. The voter ID laws have gotten quite a bit of coverage and a tremendous amount of judicial and grassroot pushback.

    As for "going on offense", a moment's reflection should be enough to show anyone that this cannot occur until after the election and new assemblies are sat in the affected states.

    •  We could go on the offensive in states with (3+ / 0-)

      Democratic legislatures.

      The GOP is not going to lose because of voter-id laws they've enacted.  They may "have something to lose," the 2012 election, but that has nothing to do with them having enacted or not enacted voter-id laws.

      You have a plausible point that we cannot expect voter-id
      laws to be undone legislatively by the same legislatures that enacted them.  But others that were enacted in past years, pre-2010, could conceivably be liberalized.

    •  Actually, Ohio's was enacted in 2006 (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      There was one Democratic chamber in our legislature in the meantime; however, gerrymandering assured that the other remained 2/3rds Republicans, even in the two mid-00s years when more voters statewide voted for a Democrat for state senate than a Republican.

      Our secretary of state has said we need to make Ohio's voter ID laws more "onerous," even though there has not been a documented case of voter fraud tied to ID misuse in the past six years. Not one.

      Take the "Can't(or)" out of Congress. Support E. Wayne Powell in Va-07.

      by anastasia p on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 01:48:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  We didn't vote in 2010; the racists did; we get (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Screwed by the evil radical Rs.

    The radical Republican party is the party of oppression, fear, loathing and above all more money and power for the people who robbed us.

    by a2nite on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 09:39:29 AM PDT

  •  Sorry, solution: we need to vote in every election (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    exterris, jpmassar

    Because EVERY election is important. Please see SB 5 in OH for an example.

    "We"need to act like citizens & NOT consumers. "We" have the power to fix it: see President Obama as an example.

    The radical Republican party is the party of oppression, fear, loathing and above all more money and power for the people who robbed us.

    by a2nite on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 11:18:04 AM PDT

  •  I think we need a constitutional amendment (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    to enshrine and protect the rights of the voting public and there has to be a limit to how much id is acceptable.

    •  I will never understand (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Stude Dude, jpmassar

      I will never understand why the Bush/Cheney Junta in 2000 did not give birth to a movement led by Democrats to make the right to vote an explicit right with a constitutional amendment.  

      The notion that eligibility and the means of voting should left to the states has no merit.  It only allows people with money to exclude people from voting.

  •  I've asked this before, but got no response. (0+ / 0-)

    What is the security around mail-in ballots?  Do they
    reside in someone's garage before being counted?  Are
    postal workers monitored when they handle ballots?
    When I read of all the Republican chicanery involving
    voting, it would be reassuring to know how slack or
    strict the security is surrounding mail in ballots, especially
    when one considers it is becoming very popular.

  •  Recc'ed and tipped for (0+ / 0-)

    grenouille bouillie

    It muswt start with the state legislatures. Yes, it's a 50-state strategy.  Or as I like to say here in Texas, 254-county strategy.

    Torture is Wrong! We live near W so you don't have to. Send love.

    by tom 47 on Tue Oct 16, 2012 at 08:14:18 AM PDT

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