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Racist Voter ID Laws Falling Like Dominos

Racist Voter ID Laws Falling Like Dominos

First Pennsylvania, Missouri, Texas and Arkansas. Now, Wisconsin. Racist voter identification laws are going to court, and they’re not surviving in front of judges.

Even in states where laws have been allowed to stand (Georgia, South Carolina), they’ve been subjected to significant modifications. After the tide of racist lawmaking at disenfranchising people of color and other minority voters in recent years, advocates are fighting back, winning and reaffirming voting rights for all Americans.

In Wisconsin, the law would have required voters to present a photo ID to cast a ballot, something that would have disproportionately affected poor Wisconsites and people of color living in the state, as both communities can encounter problems when it comes to obtaining photo identifications. With help from the ACLU, Wisconsin resident Ruthelle Frank filed a federal challenge to the law, arguing that it violated the 14th and 24th Amendments, which, among other things, protect the right to vote and ban the use of poll taxes in the United States. As it stood, it also violated the Voting Rights Act, by effectively targeting those of minority backgrounds.

By requiring people to have IDs at the polls, states are more or less instituting a poll tax on those who do not have them. Obtaining an identification can be a costly process for people who were born at home, didn’t have their births registered, or have inconsistent identification documents that would need to be corrected by court order, likely at high cost.

Depending on a voter’s situation, it can cost hundreds of dollars to obtain a form of identification that will be accepted at the polls, which may not be economically feasible for people who are low income or don’t have the resources to seek out free assistance.

It’s not just advocacy groups like the ACLU that are challenging voter ID laws and other discriminatory legislation on a state-by-state basis, either. The Department of Justice is also getting involved, enforcing the Voting Rights Act with suits requiring states to strike down or radically alter voting-related legislation unless they can prove there’s a compelling reason to leave it in place — and that the laws don’t adversely affect people of color and other minorities. This push to protect voting rights is part of a larger aggressive civil rights enforcement campaign on the behalf of the Obama Administration, which is fighting to protect children, disabled people, people of color, women and other marginalized groups.

This may be yet another victory in a growing list, but it’s not the end of the line. Activists are aware that they can’t bask in the light of another law struck down, as opponents are already preparing appeals, and many more states still have or are planning to pass such laws. The fight against voter discrimination is far from over, especially when some of those seated on the bench of the Supreme Court believe that voter discrimination is a problem of our past, not a real and present danger.

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Photo credit: KOMUnews.

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73 comments

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5:09PM PDT on Aug 24, 2014

I'm with you Sarah H.

Now one ID to fit all...

4:33AM PDT on May 28, 2014

You have to have an ID for everything now days, we should have to show it to vote also! That way there is protection from voter fraud.

8:05PM PDT on May 26, 2014

Robert. Voter fraud exists. Get an ID. big deal.

8:03PM PDT on May 26, 2014

Robert. I disagree. there is voter fraud. Getting an ID is not a big deal. Why is this an issue? unless people are voting illegally.

9:33AM PDT on May 15, 2014

Susan that is a bogus argument!!! WE have never had to show ID your voter registration card was your ID. There is no voter fraud so this is a silly new rule. Its NOT being done to stop voter fraud as they said, because it doesnt exist The CARD itself isnt the problem…..its what they require for you to GET the card that is a problem. THe fact you have to PAY for it is also troublesome. Stop denying the fact that the right is doing this to stifel voters. There are actual soundbites proving thats why they are doing it in some states.

8:07PM PDT on May 14, 2014

How are Voter ID laws racist but showing ID to buy booze, cigarettes, cars, applying for jobs not?

6:33AM PDT on May 13, 2014

Voting records ,ron D, show none the "voters"-dead people,etc.- have "voted " in our most recent elections,not even during the disputed election of 2000.So while you,in seeking a solution in search of it's problem that doesn't exist,may willing to prove yourself not guilty of voter ID fraud there's not any probable ,reasonable cause for you to be suspected of,I'm not.

6:02AM PDT on May 13, 2014

All racist laws must be abolished!

6:02PM PDT on May 12, 2014

Only a corrupt judge would allow these racist laws to stand.

10:39PM PDT on May 11, 2014

WHY Jessica ??? In the 66 years of my life we have never had to show more than a voter registration card. Why DUDDENLY do we need a picture ID? Because someone got a hair up their butt?? There is no real voter fraud.

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