We have just a few weeks left before the people of Virginia will get to go and elect their politicians. Well, some of them will. The rest will find out they lost their ability to vote.
According to the News Leader, about 40,000 voters have been recently purged from the voting rolls, after county registrars were told to use their “best judgment” to decide if those who may potentially be out of state residents were supposed to be legally able to vote.
One registrar called the purge list “clearly inaccurate and unreliable,” after doing a brief review and noting that about 10 percent of those listed as ineligible actually were legally allowed to vote.
Trying to stop the purge is the Democratic Party of Virginia, who filed a lawsuit against the move. Defending the purge and the list they created are state officials, including Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Cuccinelli is the Republican candidate for governor during this upcoming election.
Voters who have been deactivated are being notified and can be added back on if there was a mistake. But there’s little doubt that in the process legitimate voters who show up to the polls and only then learn that they are no longer registered will see their votes hampered, if not rejected all together. Although conditional balloting will likely be an available option, it would take far more time to complete than a traditional vote would and may not make it through the additional vetting process to be included in vote totals.
There is no reason to suspect that people who were on the rolls and legitimately shouldn’t be allowed to vote in the state were about to swoop in and nefariously cast a vote, especially considering doing so is a crime, yet the GOP loves to use the specter of the illegal voter as a method to justify any voting restriction they can imagine.
In Kansas and Arizona, the states have moved beyond the voter purge and are proposing “tiered” voting systems for their own state elections. In a two-tiered system, only those with absolute proof of citizenship are allowed to vote in local elections. Without it, you can only have a ballot with federal races on it.
The message is simple: no ID, no say in your local government. It would target new, young voters, who may not have had IDs made yet, and older voters who have let their IDs lapse because they don’t need to keep their IDs with them. If it spreads to other states, it would eliminate or greatly impede same day registration and end any form of vouching that happens in states like Minnesota, where one registered voter can vouch for another in a locality and act as a witness that he or she is a legal voter in that district. Depending on the type of IDs required, it could block college students from voting, since a college ID wouldn’t verify citizenship and many students use that as their only ID form.
In other words, it would be directly used to impede the demographics most likely to vote for Democrats.
We saw controversial and likely unconstitutional voter ID laws and roadblocks to voting access pop up during the most recent legislative sessions, like the North Carolina law currently being challenged in the court. But as the news from Virginia, Arizona and Kansas shows us, the GOP is still looking for any and all ways to make sure as few people as possible are allowed to participate in the democratic process.
They truly fear what will happen if everyone can easily vote.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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