Voting Rights, Voting Wrongs

Article excerpt

State voter-suppression measures go beyond 10 laws.

TODAY, THE RIGHT to vote is under assault across the country. From photo ID requirements to restrictions on voter registration, there arc new barriers to the ballot box. While proponents of recent el eclion law changes claim those changes are ~race-neu tral ;' the measures will have a disproportionate impact on minority voters.

In Flori da, for instance, African Americans made up 32 percenl of those who voled on the Sunday before Election Day 2008, often in "all souls to the polls" drives organi7.ed by hislorically black churches. They were among the nearly 8 million Americans who voted early. Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee, and West Virgi nia have since passed legislation redUcing early voting.

The tea party-infused True the Vote, reportedly bankrolled by Far Right billion aires Charles and David Koch, plans 10 bring lawsuits to purge the voter rolls of allegedly ineligible volers. While Ihe fear-i nducing image of non-citizens vOling has lillIe to no basis in reality, it has real consequences.

In Florida, a law passed last year effectively Slopped the League of Women Voters, Rock Ihe Vote, and similar groups from co nducting voter registration drives this spring. The law imposed restrictions on voter reg istration volunteers and subjected groups to $1 ,OOO-a-day fines if they didn't turn in voter regist rat ion forms within 48 hours of completion. While parts of the law were temporarily blocked at the end of May by a federal judge as unconstitutionally "harsh and impractical ," it has already prevented civic groups from registering voters for some months. Registration drives encourage voling among the young and people of color, who often vote Democratic.

Also al the end of May, the Juslice Department sent a leller 10 Florida Secrelary of State Ken Det:mer to cease and desist another voter-suppression measure: the process, ordered by Republican Gov. Rick Scott , that seeks to remove thousands of alleged "non-citizens" from the voler rolls if they do not request a hearing to prove their citizenship. -Inc list. based on flawed DMV data, was so riddled with errors thai the offici al who compiled Ihe information, Secretary of State Kurt Browning, had refused to put it into use; it was sent out after his resignation. …