Sunday, April 05, 2015

198.5 - Voter suppression is a right-wing scam

Voter suppression is a right-wing scam

Something that I haven't talked about for a bit but which is really, really important is voter suppression, the active attempts by the right wing to keep people from voting - or more exactly, to keep the "wrong sorts" from voting, the "wrong sorts" being those who can't be expected to reliably vote the way the right wing wants them to. The right wing, that is, is trying to game the system so that only right-wing voters get to vote.

This is, to be blunt, a deliberate and conscious plan born of a deliberate and conscious intent to do away with anything that could be called a real democracy.

That is not an overstatement. Back in 1980, Paul Weyrich, co-founder of the Heritage Foundation, founder of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, and so-called father of the modern right wing, said, quoting, "I don't want everybody to vote. ... As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."

In 2008, the Supreme Court upheld an Indiana voter ID law requiring people to present a photo ID at the polling place in order to be allowed to vote. And Weyrich's dream of voter suppression took a huge leap forward. Since then multiple states have tried to impose voter ID laws based on the claim that this prevents the rampant voter fraud that exists. They have largely succeeded in the courts agaist claims these laws are unconstitutional despite overwhelming evidence on two points:

One, voter fraud of any sort in the US is extremely rare and the only type of fraud voter ID laws address, which is "in-person" voter fraud, where someone tries to vote by pretending to be someone else, is essentially non-existent.

For several years, Justin Levitt, a professor at the Loyola University Law School, has been studying and tracking cases of in-person voter fraud. Not just prosecutions, but, in his words, "any specific, credible allegation that someone may have pretended to be someone else at the polls, in any way that an ID law could fix." Last fall, he wrote that he had found
about 31 different incidents ... since 2000, anywhere in the country.

To put this in perspective, the 31 incidents ... come in the context of general, primary, special, and municipal elections from 2000 through 2014. In general and primary elections alone, more than 1 billion ballots were cast in that period.
To put that in further perspective, even if all 31 were cases of actual fraud and all of them occurred in general and primary elections and none in special or municipal elections, which would maximize the rate, that still is a fraud rate of 0.000003 percent.

Meanwhile, Professor Levitt found, in just four states that have held just a few elections under ID laws, more than 3,000 votes in general elections alone have reportedly been affirmatively rejected for lack of ID. That is, people who showed up to vote and were told they could not because they didn't have the required ID.

Which raises the second point, which is that not only is in-person voter fraud vanishingly rare, thousands upon thousands of people are being denied their ability to vote by these laws.

The Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law, which studies voting issues, reports that as many as 11 percent of otherwise-eligible voters do not have photo IDs. More significantly and more to the point of the right wing's real intentions, the Center reports that the percentage of people lacking demanded IDs
is even higher for seniors, people of color, people with disabilities, low-income voters, and students.
That is, even higher among those the right wing considers the wrong sorts.

Voter photo ID laws are nothing but a right-wing scam to hinder and where possible block the votes of anyone they think are more likely to vote in a liberal, even if just a vaguely liberal, rather than a reactionary direction.

Why do I return to this now? Because they've notched another victory in their drive to turn voting into an exercise for the elite.

On March 23, the Supreme Court turned away a challenge to Wisconsin’s voter photo ID law.

Passed in 2011, the law had been under legal challenge since. In 2011, federal District Court Judge Lynn Adelman struck down the law as unconstitutional, finding that
virtually no voter impersonation occurs in Wisconsin and it is exceedingly unlikely that voter impersonation will become a problem in Wisconsin in the foreseeable future,
since it would be "crazy" to do it when you compare the risk - a felony charge - with the gain - possibly changing a single vote. Adleman also noted that the state of Wisconsin in its defense of the law "could not point to a single instance of known voter impersonation occurring in Wisconsin at any time in the recent past."

Unfortunately, a panel of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision in a ruling handed down literally just hours after hearing arguments and without citing a single basis for it or addressing a single finding Judge Adelman made. It was the appeal of that decision that the Supreme Court refused to hear, again, without explanation.

M. Wuerker via DailyKos
Which means that neither the Appeals Court nor the Supreme Court actually engaged the arguments. They just shrugged them off and said, in effect, "So what if people are being prevented from voting to solve a problem that doesn't exist. Who cares?"

This is what Wisconsin Gov. Scott WalkAllOverYou called "great news for Wisconsin voters."

What is the effect of this "great news?"

As many as 300,000 registered voters in Wisconsin could be disenfranchised, could be prevented from voting, because they don't have a form of ID required under the law, a number disproportionately composed of African-American and Hispanic voters. To give some sense of what that means in context, that 300,000 is equal to 12.5 percent of the turnout in the 2014 elections.

And obtaining the required ID often is no easy task for those affected. Supposedly the state provides free IDs at state Department of Motor Vehicles offices, but only one-third of them are open full-time and only one in the whole state is open on Saturday. And don't forget, those who need these IDs don't drive and would have to rely on public transportation to get to a DMV office during those limited hours.

But the right-wingers don't care - or, let me correct myself: They do care; this is exactly the kind of result they are hoping for.

And this is all happening even as Richard Posner, the conservative judge who as a member of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals who wrote the decision that found Indiana’s voter ID law constitutional, the decision that was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2008, opening the floodgates to these sorts of laws, now says he “absolutely” got that case wrong and that voter ID laws do disenfranchise people entitled to vote.

Sources cited in links:

No comments:

// I Support The Occupy Movement : banner and script by @jeffcouturer / (v1.2) document.write('
I support the OCCUPY movement
');function occupySwap(whichState){if(whichState==1){document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}else{document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}} document.write('');