Despite a series of legal set-backs, voter ID initiatives and other voting restrictions have become the whack-a-mole of election season politics, popping up in state after state. Not surprisingly, they’ve been most hard fought in traditional swing states like Pennsylvania and Florida. There’s good reason why.
Under Florida’s restrictive new voting laws, over 81,000 fewer Floridians have registered to vote than during the same period before the 2008 presidential election. In total there are about 11.3 million voters registered in the state.
The new law requires groups that registers voters to turn in completed forms within 48 hours or risk fines has, among other things, led the state’s League of Women Voters to stop registration drives. Rock the Vote, a national organization that encourages young people to vote, began their voter initiative drive to register high school students in every state but Florida.
Florida’s law is being challenged in court by civics groups and by the Department of Justice for those counties covered by the Voting Rights Act.
Supporters of the voting restrictions argue that there’s no way to link the fewer registrants to the laws, citing other factors such as possible demographic shifts or low voter enthusiasm.
But fewer voters is fewer voters, regardless of the reason, and in a democracy that means fewer citizens have the opportunity to participate and have a say in their own governance. Regardless of political affiliation, that’s a truth that should disturb us.
Photo from Korean Resource Center via flickr.