When the Voting Rights Act was overturned this year, (on the basis that racism is a thing of the past and it just isn’t needed anymore) Republican-dominated states responded by reigning in early voting, and with a plethora of “Voter ID” laws. The ostensible reason was to stop all that voter fraud which their fevered imaginations told them must be the only possible reason for their electoral losses.
Actually, no. Even if the actual reason weren’t blindingly obvious, a couple unguarded statements have let us know the real reason was to prevent Democrats from voting. Don Yelton, North Carolina Republican official, admitted the reason for their voter ID law was to “kick the Democrat’s butt“. And Florida’s Jim Greer straight-up admitted voter suppression was the reason for their election law.
Of course, as Don Yelton says, the photo ID is “free”. All you have to do is provide proof of identity at the Department of Motor Vehicles and you’re all set. And what constitutes “proof”? Former speaker of the US House of Representatives Jim Wright did so, but was turned away. Only a certified copy of his birth certificate would suffice. Of course most people already have a driver’s license, for which they didn’t have to provide a birth certificate. So the law will mostly affect the elderly or the very poor. Or young urbanites who don’t drive.
College students are targeted in a different way. You may recall that 18-year-olds won the right to vote during the 1970’s. Somehow it just didn’t seem right to ship them off to the Vietnam war without giving them the chance to vote. (The 18-year war was almost over by then. There were people registering for the draft who were born the year the war started.) But now Republicans want to reel that back, and residency requirements make a good start. After all, when a student is away at college, what is his residence? Shouldn’t he return to his home town to vote? (I use the male pronoun here deliberately.)
Republicans aren’t thrilled with (overwhelmingly pro-choice) women voters either. The curious custom of a woman changing her name when she marries is an opportunity to nudge them aside at the polls, as Texas judge Sandra Watts found out. It’s also a problem for people in nursing homes, who are disproportionately women. And who have a lifetime’s experience being told by men what their options are in all things reproductive.
This concern for electoral integrity is odd considering the push for electronic voting machines, which are far less secure than Las Vegas slot machines. How do you check information stored on a chip, when the company that programmed it says it’s a big secret how it works?
Attempts to cheat “the other side” out of voting are not new. Today’s Southern Republicans are yesteryear’s Democrats, who were welcomed into the Republican party after Lyndon B. Johnson pushed through the… Voting Rights Act. The tactics then were underhanded and occasionally downright vicious, but the goal was the same: to keep poor people, women, and especially black people, from voting. As a nation, we often claim to be some kind of a beacon of democracy. I suppose, as long as the right “kind” of people do the voting.
- Join me for discussion of this topic on G+
- Important clarification: The endire Voting Rights Act was not struck down, but section 4 was.
- The Daily Show on Voter ID laws
- History teacher Ed Darrell: “No one questioned who he was. He just can’t vote with the ID he has. If Jim Wright can’t easily get an ID to vote, who can?” (Do you read Ed’s blog? Crikey, you should.)
- In Texas you can show a concealed-carry permit to vote. Maybe all Democrats should go out and get concealed-carry permits. Think of it, Republicans! Nearly every black person over 18 possibly packing.