We Must Stop Voter Suppression

By Robert Reich

A crowning achievement of the historic March on Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King gave his “I have a dream” speech, was pushing through the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965. Recognizing the history of racist attempts to prevent Black people from voting, that federal law forced a number of southern states and districts to adhere to federal guidelines allowing citizens access to the polls.

But in 2013 the Supreme Court effectively gutted many of these protections. As a result, states are finding new ways to stop more and more people—especially African-Americans and other likely Democratic voters—from reaching the polls.

Several states are requiring government-issued photo IDs—like drivers licenses—to vote even though there’s no evidence of the voter fraud this is supposed to prevent. But there’s plenty of evidence that these ID measures depress voting, especially among communities of color, young voters, and lower-income Americans.

Alabama, after requiring photo IDs, has practically closed driver’s license offices in counties with large percentages of black voters. Wisconsin requires a government-issued photo ID but hasn’t provided any funding to explain to prospective voters how to secure those IDs.

Other states …

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John Oliver on Photo ID for Voting

It can be understandable to require a form of identification when voting, but not everyone has access to a driver’s license. And yet that is what many states are trying to impose. Requiring citizens to have a photo ID hinders the ability for everyone to have the chance to vote at the polls.

Why is it so complicated to get an ID? In John Oliver’s show Last Week Tonight, he told us about Doris Clark, a 68-year-old, who wishes to vote, but needs a photo ID to do that. She tries numerous times to apply for a Pennsylvania voter ID card, but is denied each time. Each time she tries again, she is told that she is missing a document. Even when she does bring what is necessary to get a voter ID card, she is told to bring more, denying her the chance to get a voter ID card and therefore denying her the chance to vote. It may have been simple for you to get an ID, but it’s not the case for everyone. I think John Oliver is right when he says that …

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Voter Suppression Legislation Since 2013

Between 2000 and 2010, there were 13 credible cases of in-person voter impersonation in the U.S. It is the voting fraud that nearly all legislation has targeted. In general elections alone between those years there were 649 million votes cast. In contrast between 2000 and 2010 there were 47,000 UFO sightings and 441 Americans were killed by lightning. For election fraud of any type between 2002 and 2005, federal convictions totaled 18 for voting while ineligible, 5 for voting multiple times, and 3 for registration fraud, according to the Justice Department under George W Bush.

Just since 2013, many states have passed measures that make it far harder for Americans to exercise their fundamental right to cast a ballot. These measures have targeted African-Americans, the elderly, students and people with disabilities. The voter suppression has included requiring a government-issued photo ID to vote, proof of citizenship to register to vote, cutting back on early voting days, particularly on weekends when it’s most convenient to vote, eliminating Election Day registration, new restrictions on voter registration drives and additional barriers to voting for people with criminal convictions.

Research shows …

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