TODAY, THE RIGHT to vote is under assault across the country. From photo ID requirements to restrictions on voter registration, there are new barriers to the ballot box. While proponents of recent election law changes claim those changes are “race-neutral,” the measures will have a disproportionate impact on minority voters.
In Florida, for instance, African Americans made up 32 percent of those who voted on the Sunday before Election Day 2008, often in “all souls to the polls” drives organized by historically black churches. They were among the nearly 8 million Americans who voted early. Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee, and West Virginia have since passed legislation reducing early voting.
The tea party-infused True the Vote, reportedly bankrolled by Far Right billionaires Charles and David Koch, plans to bring lawsuits to purge the voter rolls of allegedly ineligible voters. While the fear-inducing image of non-citizens voting has little to no basis in reality, it has real consequences.
In Florida, a law passed last year effectively stopped the League of Women Voters, Rock the Vote, and similar groups from conducting voter registration drives this spring. The law imposed restrictions on voter registration volunteers and subjected groups to $1,000-a-day fines if they didn’t turn in voter registration 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 voting among the young and people of color, who often vote Democratic.