New report underscores how Voter ID laws threaten the democratic right of too many youth of color

LatinaLista — A new study released by the black youth project titled Turning Back the Clock on Voting Rights: The Impact of New Photo Identification Requirements on Young People of Color adds one more voice to the chorus of organizations, academics, politicians and individuals sounding the alarm to the threat against the voting rights of segments of the populations already considered disenfranchised.

Claiming that ineligible voters or undocumented immigrants were supposedly casting votes in elections, states, with predominantly Republican state legislatures, passed laws requiring voters to show certain forms of ID — even though no proof has been presented to show that the voting process is being abused by people who are ineligible to vote.

However, in court case after court case, these laws are being overturned.

Last month, U.S. courts rejected election-related laws passed by Republican-controlled legislatures in Ohio, Florida and Texas, finding they violated the right to vote. At least 14 cases challenging voter-list purges, provisional-ballot rules, early voting curbs or photo identification mandates are pending in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Iowa, Florida and Ohio.

Court rulings in those states, which both parties claim they can win in November, could tip the presidential election if the race is as close as it was in 2000 between Al Gore and George W. Bush, said Rick Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine.

In fact, a new NBC poll released tonight shows that President Obama leads Mitt Romney 4-5 percentage points in key swing states of Florida, Virginia and Ohio.

However, the fact that there are still legislators who would play with citizens’ right to vote to score political wins is unAmerican and repulsive, though it’s been happening, in one form or another, in pockets of the country for as long as the electoral process has been in place.

According to the black youth project report:

Numerous studies show that people of color possess photo identification cards at much lower rates than whites. Because young people and lower-income people are also less likely to have photo identification, young people of color are likely to be disproportionately demobilized by these laws.

The report goes on to say that in those states that still have Voter ID laws on their books, turnout for young people of color could be reduced between 538,000 and 696,000.

Those are a lot of votes to be denied but more importantly, a lot of citizens whose rights will be violated.

Pennsylvania is the next state where voter id laws are being scrutinized by the courts. The black youth project report states that “if Pennsylvania’s photo identification law is upheld by the State Supreme Court, the 37,000 to 44,000 young people of color who may stay home or be denied the right to vote could certainly be a deciding factor in the state’s presidential contest.”

While most people, a.k.a. car drivers, don’t see what the big deal is for people not to have a photo ID, University of Washington political scientist Matt Baretto has found that more than 1 million registered voters don’t have a valid form of ID that would qualify to be used as a Voter ID.

As more young people turn 18 and gain the right to vote and the economy continues its snail pace of improvement making it difficult if not impossible for these new voters to secure a photo ID that is acceptable as a form of Voter ID, it’s a safe bet that young people of color will be denied their right to vote in those states that insist on playing with the political freedoms of the next generation — and setting a very bad precedent in the process.

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