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Politicians are Beginning to Realize Voter Suppression is a Bad Idea

Politicians are Beginning to Realize Voter Suppression is a Bad Idea

We are just a couple of months away before the United States is in full swing of midterm election madness. Traditionally lower in voter turnout, the midterms have gained increased significance over the last few election cycles as the stalemate in Washington, D.C. has all but stopped any real forward progress on major issues. While candidates and political parties prepare their latest slogans, current elected officials have been spending a great deal of time focusing on voter access.

Before the 2012 election, and ultimate re-election of President Obama, numerous (Republican controlled) legislatures ramped up efforts to restrict voter access under the auspices of combating voter fraud. The introduction of voter ID laws, the most popular tactic used, began after the 2000 election of President George W. Bush when Florida passed such a law, having been the center of a contentious election. Since then, almost 1,000 bills have been introduced to make it harder to vote.

The greatest attention was given to those passed prior to the last presidential election. Forty-one states introduced 180 bills focused entirely on restricting voter access. Along with voter ID laws, restrictions on voting times, methods and how polling stations functioned were also introduced. In the end, 19 states passed 27 measures which made it harder to vote. In 2013, after the Supreme Court gutted the Voter Rights Act of 1965, voter suppression bills surged, leading to some of the most restrictive voter suppression bills to date.

A new analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law says the trend may be reversing.

In January, Congress introduced a bill to address the issues of the VRA the Supreme Court deemed unconstitutional. This is just one of the many efforts the Brennan Center says that the focus is now on increasing voter access. While the SCOTUS ruling led to (largely) southern states ramping up their voter suppression efforts in 2013, 46 states had introduced legislation to make voting easier that same year. The momentum continues this year with 190 bills expanding voter access introduced in 31 states since the beginning of the year. By comparison, 19 states have introduced 46 voter suppression bills.

While there is often a long path between the introduction of legislation to actual passage, 13 bills making it easier to vote have passed thus far.

The effort to expand access is the result of both sides of the aisle seeing the negative consequences of reducing voter access. Many of the bills introduced were voted down or otherwise blocked via procedural efforts. The Department of Justice has started using other tools at their disposal to prevent the disenfranchisement of voters. The Voting Rights Act Amendment of 2014 introduced by Congress in January has bipartisan support and appears to have a good chance of passage once out of committee. Though voter suppression has been a Republican tactic, even members of that party are seeing the effort as unnecessary and, quite frankly, wrong.

As Wisconsin became the latest state to restrict voter access, state Republican Senator Dale Schultz condemned his party for trying to suppress the vote. Im a guy who understands and appreciates what we should be doing in order to make sure every vote counts, every vote is legitimate. But that fact is, it ought to be abundantly clear to everybody in this state that there is no massive voter fraud. The only thing that we do have in this state is we have long lines of people who want to vote. And it seems to me that we should be doing everything we can to make it easier, to help these people get their votes counted.

While efforts may be slowing down, they aren’t ending. Several voter suppression bills are still pending, with nine signed into law thus far.

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122 comments

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3:45PM PDT on Jul 5, 2014

I find it harder and harder to find the polls.

8:21PM PDT on Apr 17, 2014

I think it is time @Sandi

for you to think about what is the reason behind your very limited opinion

in making voting difficult.

What is the agenda, what is the motivation for you to think this way. It really is important for all of us including you to admit what the agenda really is. You spend a fair amount of time defining this, but in the end, there is an attitude that comes through that says, tough luck for you if you can't bend your life and schedule enough to make voting the kind of priority it should be. If you believe it should be a priority, then efforts should be made to help people make it a priority. To prevent it from being a priority, what are you really saying? What message are you sending. Not what your words say, but the message they convey.

7:52PM PDT on Apr 17, 2014

NO ONE should be making it harder to vote. NO ONE should bd shortening hours. If it is as important as the right always pretends it is it should be a NATIONAL HOLIDAY where everyone is off work. Hell in Ohio you afrent even allowed to use the bathrooms now no matter how long you been in line. THis is jsut stupid crap. Voting should be made EASY……..one of the easiest things we do. It shouldn’t be a CHORE!

7:48PM PDT on Apr 17, 2014

It is EXACTLY the point. Elections are about people voting, not saving a few dollars by disenfranchising people. You know that working class people do not necessarily have the kind of leisure time to get to the polls and YOU want to limit the time and the number of places you can vote?

Why to you want to make voting harder?

4:55PM PDT on Apr 17, 2014

"....maybe we could just have kings or dictators for life, then the municipalities could save lots and lots of money on voting. After all, that's what really counts, right, saving some money?"

When this is the sort of argument people resort to in debating an issue it is pointless to engage in the debate. Absurdities have no point.


4:50PM PDT on Apr 17, 2014

Kevin B,
I never said anything about restricting the number of voting booths. It stands to reason that if you restrict the hours, you must provide for ample number of booths to accommodate your population. Apparently YOU didn't read what I wrote.

I live in a very blue state in a big town that has always required ID to vote and allows for only 1 day for voting, which closes at 8 PM. If voting isn't important enough for someone to make the effort to get there or get an absentee ballot, that is their problem and it shows how important it is to them.

6:19PM PDT on Apr 12, 2014

Thanks Michael, I'll take a look at it!

6:06PM PDT on Apr 12, 2014

The "Jetsons" portrayed a day when workers had abundant leisure time due to increased productivity and wages. But, instead, we've been living in an austerity economy where any additional wealth that is produced by working people does not go to them, it goes to the rich.

KARLIN: In a chapter called "Madness," you have two sections: global psychopaths and bankster psychopaths? How literally do you mean those terms?

HARTMANN: I mean them absolutely literally. There is evidence that many people who run top corporations and key parts of our economy are quite literally sociopaths. Sociopaths are people who are unable to empathize with others; everyone else is sort of an object for their pleasure. Because they don't feel empathy, they can do things that other people couldn't morally do. They believe themselves above society's rules.

Here's a simple test: Ask yourselves what makes a person worth a million dollars a day, a week or months for their services? If there are a lot of people with the skills to be CEOs around, the competition for the top positions should create a competitive environment that would lower salaries. So what's happened to drive the salaries up so high?

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6:04PM PDT on Apr 12, 2014

And then you have George W. Bush, whose brother was governor of Florida when Al Gore appeared to have more actual votes [although uncounted] than Bush. On top of that, Jeb Bush, through Katherine Harris, got about 80,000 African-American voters stricken from the polls through a caging strategy that struck felons and non-felons with similar names from the voting rolls. And that put Bush within range of officially counted votes for the Supreme Court to steal the election for Bush.

There has not been a Republican legitimately elected president since Dwight Eisenhower. In the House of Representatives, the Democrats got a million and a half more votes than the Republicans. The only reason that the Republicans are holding the House is because of redistricting, because of gerrymandering.

From the time of George Washington to the beginning of the Reagan administration, as productivity increased so did wages. Reagan disentangled that correlation through a variety of strategies. As a result, for the last 32 years wages have been flat as productivity has continued to increase. If wages right now tracked productivity, the average wage right now would be around $22 an hour.

6:03PM PDT on Apr 12, 2014

Kevin you really need to read this article.
Thom Hartmann: There Has Not Been a Legitimately Elected Republican President Since Dwight Eisenhower

http://truth-out.org/news/item/22980-thom-hartmann-there-has-not-been-a-legitimately-elected-republican

Excerpts:

Lewis Powell was an attorney who at the time of the LBJ administration was practicing in Virginia and represented large corporations and wealthy individuals. When he wrote the memo in 1971, the conservatives were in an existential crisis.

There was a book written in the '50s that basically asserted that democracy couldn't be trusted to the middle class or to those who were not wealthy, that this would lead to chaos. Social change would happen so rapidly that it would not be good for the nation or especially those who financially steered the economy.

At the time Powell wrote that memo, he opens with words to the effect that "we are under siege" from the point of view of conservatives who believe that their country was coming apart at the seams - and they had to do something dramatic to reverse the course of the nation. Powell laid out a strategy for the conservatives in the memo: Dial back the power of the middle class; dial back the financial stability of the middle class, and restore the role of the wealthy at the center of power to regulate society - and prevent the country from lurching in other directions.

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