Thu Aug 2, 2012, 10:34 PM
Time for change (12,907 posts)
The New Poll Tax – Restrictive Voting Laws Could Disenfranchise Millions
As the 2012 national elections approach, the Republican Party (and Democratic Party too, to a lesser extent) is so subservient to the interests of the American oligarchy – the wealthiest and most powerful corporations and individuals – that they routinely fail miserably to represent the interests of ordinary Americans. In order to preserve ever more money for the American oligarchy they strive to tear apart government programs that help ordinary working Americans, while providing every advantage they can for their wealthy donors. They bail out gigantic banks with trillions of dollars of tax payer money, while refusing to enact legislation that would prevent banks from the reckless activities that created their need for those bailouts. By comparison, the help they provide to distressed homeowners, who are losing their homes by the millions, is minimal. They are attempting to destroy the Social Security program that has served the needs of elderly Americans for so many decades, by turning it over to private for-profit corporations. They fight endlessly against public education. They demonize any government program that would help to make health care more affordable to the American people. The list goes on and on. The result has been recession, high unemployment, and a record high level of income inequality in the United States, exceeding even that which directly preceded the Great Depression of the 1930s.
No wonder polls show today that Congressional job approval has averaged a miserable 14% of the American people in 2012. How do incumbent Congresspersons overcome such unpopularity to stand a chance at re-election? For one thing, they use the money they receive from their wealthy donors to bombard their constituents with propaganda, especially lies about their opponents.
The barrage of voter ID laws
But that is not enough. They also have to make it extremely difficult or impossible for ordinary people to vote. Since 2003 they have been passing state voter ID laws for this purpose. This is the equivalent of the of the old poll tax, which was abolished in 1964 with the 24th Amendment to our Constitution, which reads in part “The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any… election… shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax”. The voter ID laws are the equivalent of the poll tax because the less money one has the more difficult it is to obtain the various voter IDs required by these laws. These laws also have the same purpose as the long abolished poll tax – to make it difficult to impossible for poor people, and especially black people, to vote.
As of September, 2011, 30 U.S. states required either photo ID or some other form of ID in order to vote. In 2012, more voter ID legislation, all with the purpose of making it difficult to impossible for those of little means to vote, was introduced in 34 states.
The excuse for voter ID laws – the “voter fraud” myth
To deflect attention from the real reasons for their disguised poll tax, they claim that the purpose of the voter ID laws is to prevent so-called “voter fraud”. Art Levine discusses the “voter fraud” movement in an article titled "The Republican War on Voting".
On Election Day 2000 in St. Louis, hundreds or thousands of voters were turned away from the polls because their names didn’t appear on the voting rolls, resulting in a court order to delay closing of the polls in St. Louis by 45 minutes. In that election John Ashcroft lost his bid for re-election to the U.S. Senate (from Missouri) to Mel Carnahan, who had recently died in a plane crash. Republican leaders were outraged over this turn of events, and Missouri’s remaining Republican Senator subsequently made the unsubstantiated charge that dogs and dead people voted in that election. Levine describes what happened then:
Missouri's then-Secretary of State Matt Blunt launched a trumped-up investigation that concluded that more than 1,000 fraudulent ballots had been cast in an organized scheme. A Justice Department Civil Rights Division investigation, started before (U.S. Attorney General) Ashcroft shifted the department's priorities, found no fraudulent ballots, however. Instead, it discovered that the St. Louis election board had improperly purged 50,000 voters from the rolls…
Later, in October 2002, Ashcroft initiated an effort to combat voter fraud – the "Ballot Access and Voting Integrity Initiative". Yet, though “voter fraud” was declared a high priority, only 24 people were convicted of illegal voting between 2002 and 2005. Not a single person was even charged with impersonating another voter – the claimed rationale for the restrictive voting laws. Fourteen of the 24 convictions were of noncitizens who were apparently confused about election laws.
Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law and its probable effects
The state of Pennsylvania passed an especially egregious voter ID law in 2012. According the Pennsylvania Transportation Department, 9.2 percent of registered voters in Pennsylvania lack the required ID to vote in 2012. Unless this law is successfully challenged (it is currently being taken to court), these voters will be turned away from the polls when they attempt to vote on Election Day 2012. Yet, according to a recent study by Matt Barreto, only 34% of currently registered Pennsylvania voters are aware of the law, and 98% believe that they have a currently valid ID. Barreto also identified certain demographic groups (of otherwise eligible voters) that are especially likely to lack the required ID. All of these groups tend to vote Democratic. Barreto found the following percentages of various groups of otherwise eligible Pennsylvania voters to lack an ID that is valid under current Pennsylvania law:
Over age 75: 17.8%
Age 18-34: 17.9%
Make less than $20,000 per year: 22%
No wonder Pennsylvania State House Republican leader Mike Turzai recently bragged soon after he led the passage of the 2012 Pennsylvania voter ID law, “Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done”.
The shame of restrictive voter ID laws
American voters who are homeless, do not own cars, or otherwise lack access to photo IDs are usually ordinary people who have fallen on hard times and gotten caught up in a system that is making life more and more difficult for ordinary people. The abolition of the poll tax in 1964 was a great step towards giving our most vulnerable citizens the right to vote. With the recent barrage of voter ID laws we are moving backwards. Time will tell if we let them get away with this.
6 replies, 2057 views
The New Poll Tax – Restrictive Voting Laws Could Disenfranchise Millions (Original post)
|Time for change||Aug 2012||OP|
|DURHAM D||Aug 2012||#3|
|Ruby the Liberal||Aug 2012||#4|
Response to Time for change (Original post)
Sat Aug 4, 2012, 11:13 AM
Fearful (9 posts)
1. This is very important!
The 758,000 registered Pennsylvania voters that this law would disenfranchise is greater than Obama's margin of victory in 2008.
Response to MrReasonable (Reply #2)
Sat Aug 4, 2012, 04:52 PM
Ruby the Liberal (25,300 posts)
4. Are you lost?
You have no idea what that Ohio suit is, do you.
Edit - Even HotAir is now saying that this RW meme of "excluding the military" is bullshit:
Getcher talking points down before ya spew 'em.
Response to MrReasonable (Reply #2)
Sat Aug 4, 2012, 04:58 PM
SunsetDreams (8,571 posts)
6. The Right's New Lie: Obama Suing to Keep Soldiers from Voting
Anyone who wants to can view the actual complaint filed against Ohio. But much like Mitt Romney with Jared Diamond's book, I'm pretty certain that Mike Flynn never actually bothered to read what he was citing.
Flynn claims that the lawsuit is an attempt:
"to restrict ability to vote in the upcoming election."
That's a lie. The very first sentence of the actual complaint reads:
Plaintiffs bring this lawsuit to restore in-person early voting for all Ohioans during the three days prior to Election Day – a right exercised by an estimated 93,000 Ohioans in the last presidential election.
The request is simple and direct: expand early voting for all citizens, not just military members. In no universe is that the same as saying restrict early voting for all citizens, including military members. It's pretty much the opposite of that.
Much more debunked RW nonsense here: