Saturday, March 17, 2012

Left Side of the Aisle #48 - Part 2

Good News #2: Voter photo ID laws in Texas and Indiana have been blocked, the first by the DOJ, the second by state courts.

The other good news is a two-fer. Two more states have joined South Carolina in seeing their reactionary attempts to interfere with the ability of poo and minority communities to vote blocked, at least temporarily.

First, on March 12 the Obama admin blocked implementation of the new law in Texas requiring voters to show photo identification before they can vote.

The Justice Department said data from Texas showed almost 11% of Hispanic voters, a rate more than twice that of non-Hispanic voters, don’t have the required photo ID and plans to mitigate those concerns by expanding the availability of such IDs are "incomplete."

Significantly, the DOJ also said that Texas did not submit any evidence of cases of voter impersonation which are not already addressed under existing state laws - that it, the state produced no evidence that the law would accomplish anything other than suppress the Hispanic vote.

Second, also on March 12, in Wisconsin, Circuit Judge Richard Niess issued a permanent injunction barring enforcement of that state’s new voter ID law, which required a government-issued photo ID in order to vote. Declaring that “Voter fraud is no more poisonous to our democracy than voter suppression,” Niess held that the Wisconsin law unconstitutionally burdens the rights of eligible citizens and thus could not stand.

The simple fact is, these laws are about one thing and one thing only: hindering ability of the poor and minorities to vote solely and precisely because the reactionaries know those populations more likely to vote for Democrats than Republicans. They are not about preventing fraud or protecting the integrity of the vote or any of rest of the bilge they spew out. They are about power. Period.

In as editorial, the Washington Post noted that Virginia might be in trouble on this same score: Like South Carolina and Texas, Virginia is among the states whose voting laws are subject to DOJ approval because of their past history of voter discrimination - and while it's new voter ID law, passed by the legislature but as of this moment not yet signed by the governor, is not as bad as these others, it has many of the same failings.

But for me, this was the real takeaway from that editorial:
In a conversation with senior Virginia GOP lawmakers recently, we asked if there was any evidence of a pattern of voting fraud in state elections that would justify more stringent voter ID rules. One state senator said he had “heard” of instances of fraud. We asked our question again: Was there a pattern of fraud that would raise systemic doubts about the integrity of Virginia elections? The senator said no. None of his fellow Republicans contradicted him.
They're not even pretending any more that these laws are about preventing fraud.


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