Update: voter suppression continues
On our other update, voter ID - and you have to understand, "voter ID" has become a sort of shorthand for a whole range of means of voter suppression - has had an interesting week.
On October 9, the Supreme Court ruled that North Carolina's new voting laws, seen by many as the most restrictive in the country, can go into effect for this fall's elections.
Those laws eliminate same-day voter registration, ban the counting of votes cast in the wrong precincts, eliminate a week of early voting, and end a program that allowed high school students to register to vote. All of those means are more likely to be used by minority voters than white voters my what a shock.
North Carolina's requirement to have ID at the polls doesn't go into effect until 2016, but poll workers this year are allowed to ask people if they have ID. Aside from the potentially intimidating nature of the question, I think it would be interesting if someone could keep track of which voters are asked that and which aren't.
That's the down side. However, on the up side, on the same day, the Supreme Court blocked Wisconsin's voter ID law from going into effect. Wisconsin's law had been struck down by a federal district court, but that ruling was overturned by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals on October 6. SCOTUS gave no reason for the ruling, but it may have been on the basis of a previous case called Purcell v. Gonzalez, which found that changes in election law should not go into effect too close to election day, the better to avoid confusion among voters.
Unfortunately, on the down side again, the 5th Circuit Court relied on that same case to reinstate the voter ID law in Texas. That law had been struck down in a blistering ruling by District Court judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos, who called the law an “unconstitutional poll tax” that intended to discriminate against minority voters, creating “an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote.” Unhappily if not unsurprisingly, the conservative 5th Circuit Court blocked her ruling from going into effect, specifically citing Purcell decision as a reason.
So: voter suppression advances in North Carolina and Texas and is held back in Wisconsin. Voter suppression 2, right to vote 1. Not a happy score.
I've said it before and I will say it as many times as necessary: This is about power, This is about dominance. If the right wing thinks you are a member of a group that will not favor them, they will try to keep you from voting at all. That's what this is about and don't you ever forget it.
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