In the final week of voter registration, let’s look at a round-up about voter suppression laws and why it sucks:
- What is voter suppression? As the ACLU explains, changes to voting laws including requiring ID (three states now require proof of citizenship), shortening early voting times, and putting up road blocks to register to vote (removing same-day voter registration, for example), are all methods of disenfranchising voting blocks who may have difficulty registering and/or voting because of these changes. Thirty percent of the vote in 2008 came from early voting, which is often utilized in greater proportions by people of color, the military, elderly, and students. Meanwhile, requiring a government-issued ID could discourage as many as 11 percent of voters who are intimidated or lack access to navigate that system. (A good example of this is the homeless population, who often get caught up in a catch-22 cycle of needing an ID to obtain a birth certificate, but a birth certificate is required to get an ID. And since none of those things are free…)
- They hate black people: Not to pull a Kanye, but voter suppression laws are designed to discourage and disenfranchise voting blocks that typically run Democratic. In August, a federal court ruled that changes to Florida early voting laws disproportionately affect blacks because they tend to utilize early voting in greater numbers than whites. (Courts also have ruled laws in Texas and Ohio were similarly discriminatory.) And considering that in 2008 the single highest voter block to turnout was black women, it’s getting pretty hard not to see a thread of racism in the new laws.
- No bueno: A new study out this week estimates that as many as 10 million Hispanics could be discouraged from voting because of new ID laws and purges from voter registries. Several battleground states have a high percentage of Latino voters, but I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.
- Votes for women? Suppression laws could have a chilling effect on female voters, including married women who may have to show a wedding license along with ID in some states (to prove who they are and why they changed their name).
- Further reading: Desert Beacon has a round-up of various chicanery by the Nevada delegation. And Mother Jones has a state-by-state break down of laws and legal battles.