LatinaLista — Record turnout among Latinos and youth during the 2008 presidential election was something that has been celebrated and talked about ever since it happened. Yet, the release of a new analysis by the Brennan Center of Justice at New York University School of Law, reveals that such a milestone in civic duty didn’t sit well with some folks.
The report, Voting Law Changes in 2012, documents how 19 laws and two executive actions passed in 14 states have changed voting laws since the 2008 election. The changes have the potential of making it harder for more than five million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012.
The voting changes enacted have ranged from requiring voters to show government-issued photo ID; states cutting back on early voting to two states reversing reforms that had been made to let former inmates, reintegrated into society, to cast votes.
According to the report, the states that have already cut back on voting rights will provide 171 electoral votes in 2012 — 63 percent of the 270 needed to win the presidency.
On the surface, the changes in the voting laws sound harmless but closer examination reveals that it’s not quite so:
…the degree to which the voter ID bills that were proposed and passed this session were restrictive, excluding many common forms of photo and non-photo IDs, such as student IDs and Social Security cards, and offering no alternative mechanisms for eligible citizens without the selected IDs to cast ballots that will count. What also is new is the extent to which such restrictive bills passed this session.
Prior to the 2006 elections, no state required its voters to show government-issued photo ID at the polls (or elsewhere) in order to vote.
Three of the seven photo ID bills to have passed–South Carolina’s, Texas’s, and Tennessee’s– expressly do not allow students to use photo IDs issued by state educational institutions to vote, and Wisconsin’s bill effectively excludes most student IDs as well.
The report notes that “in every case but one, strict voter ID bills were introduced by Republican legislators. Newly elected legislators introduced about a quarter of these bills.”
At a time in our country when it’s important that all voices be heard, there’s no clearer example that a small minority has been able to wield undue influence over the direction of this country by striking at the very heart of our democracy.
Voting is the right of every adult US citizen and no amount of legislation or any legislator should have the power to deny that basic democratic freedom.