GOP Pushing Voter Laws Back To Jim Crow

One of the most popular legislative efforts among conservative lawmakers is the Voter ID bill.  Conservatives insist the measures, which greatly increase registration requirements and force voters to present proof of identification at polls, are necessary to combat voter fraud.

But the rhetoric does not match the reality.  In Kansas, for example, the state recorded 221 cases of reported voter fraud between 1997 and 2010.  During that same period Kansans cast more than 10 million votes in 16 statewide elections.  Of those 221 reported allegations of voter fraud not a single one resulted in a criminal conviction.

Or to put it in perspective this way, there were more reported UFO sightings in Kansas over the past decade alone than reported acts of voter fraud.

So what’s going on with these bills- passed in Texas, Alabama, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee and Wisconsin- not to mention introduced but defeated in a host of others?  It’s simple.  Suppressing the vote.

That’s because when voter turn-out is low conservative candidates do better.  The evidence shows that the elderly, young students and minorities are less likely to possess a driver’s license, passport or other acceptable form of government issued identification and those constituencies, largely, vote democratic.

And those efforts are not even that transparent.  In Texas, for example, their Voter ID law exempts voters over 70 (who largely vote Republican) from the ID requirement.  For Texans under 70, a concealed-weapons permit meets the ID requirements but a student ID from the University of Texas does not.

The efforts are so obvious that former President Bill Clinton called the efforts the worst since Jim Crow.  Adam Sewer takes some issue with Clinton’s invoking of Jim Crow since those voter suppression efforts were about actual or implied threats of violence toward African-American voters (and their sympathizers), but acknowledges that they share the same goal of voter suppression.

The widespread impact of these laws will be immediate in upcoming recall elections in Wisconsin for example, but the goal is longer term with potentially more devastating consequences.   If those pushing suppression efforts are successful those bills will pair nicely with a challenge to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act that will likely come before the Supreme Court and give the Roberts majority a chance to strike the one provision that allows for the Department of Justice to step in to jurisdictions and monitor elections when there is evidence of suppression or related discriminatory efforts.

Sounds like former President Clinton’s remarks are right on the money.

photo from Muffet via flickr.

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Terry V.
Terry V.3 years ago

Remember to VOTE in November

Jerry t.
Jerold t.4 years ago

Has anyone noticed that whenever there is more than one grand opera, oops I mean grand court opening, a repub always gets in?
Paperless voting is a fraud.
So now we have frauds for leaders. What a mess.

Jerry t.
Jerold t.4 years ago

The repubs invented voter fraud in 2000. Diebold makes a voter fraud machine. The electro (cuted) college is a voter fraud organization. In fact, voting is a fraud now that both sides are contaminated with each other. Who ever voted for the crap we have today?

David F.
David F.4 years ago

Why not just declare Republicans as terrorists and shoot them?

Carol M.
Carol Mulder4 years ago

Cathleen S. and Kathy B. -- What you have said is so true that most folks won't support it. Where's the rhetoric? the appeal to our fears and/or "patriotism"? If only politicians would take a page from your book! You rock.

Dan B.
Dan Brook4 years ago

The regressive Republican Party of No is obstructionist, mean-spirited, thuggish, religiously fanatical, scientifically ignorant, corrupt, hypocritical, xenophobic, racist, sexist, homophobic, evolution and global warming denying, oily, anti-environment, anti-consumer, anti-choice, anti-education, union busting, Medicare and Social Security slashing, authoritarian, selfish, greedy, out-of-touch, lacking compassion, warmongering, and otherwise dangerous.

NEVER vote for Republicans.

Michael MacDonald

I would worry about this,
because a similar law just went into effect in canada
and it had exactly the effect that the author of this article is worried about.

Even though the NDP took official opposition for the first time in history, the youth vote surged, and even though there was more harper opposition than bush opposition in the states..
the conservatives still won a majority with only 39.6% of the vote.

Later on that week, I heard stories from fellow canadians about how they were turned down at the voter booth because they didn't have all of the required identification.

You should definitely be concerned about this.

Scott Habowski
Scott H.4 years ago

@ Cathleen S. - Holder did nothing to those Black Panthers because the BUSH administration had already found that there was no harm from what occured.

Shelly Peterson
Shelly Peterson4 years ago


K s Goh
KS Goh4 years ago

Thanks for the article.