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Julian Brookes reports: "Republican state legislators and governors in a dozen states have been busy this year passing laws that make it harder for voters - overwhelmingly, Democratic voters - to cast their ballots. The measures, from voter ID requirements to cutting back on early voting to curtailing voter registration drives, may seem disconnected, but they add up."

Voter Ira Stafford used a chair to improvise his own voting booth inside a crowded Minneapolis polling place on Election Day. (photo: Bill Alkofer/MPR)
Voter Ira Stafford used a chair to improvise his own voting booth inside a crowded Minneapolis polling place on Election Day. (photo: Bill Alkofer/MPR)

GOP War on Voting: New Laws Could Block Five Million From Polls

By Julian Brookes, Rolling Stone

04 October 11


s Ari Berman detailed last month in Rolling Stone, Republican state legislators and governors in a dozen states have been busy this year passing laws that make it harder for voters - overwhelmingly, Democratic voters - to cast their ballots. The measures, from voter ID requirements to cutting back on early voting to curtailing voter registration drives, may seem disconnected, but they add up, wrote Berman, to "an unprecedented, centrally coordinated campaign to suppress the elements of the Democratic vote that elected Barack Obama in 2008." As Bill Clinton, quoted in Berman's piece, says, "There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit the franchise that we see today."

A new study out today from the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law reckons up how many voters will likely be affected. The center looked at 19 laws that passed and 2 executive orders that were issued in 14 states this year. Their conclusion: the laws "could make it significantly harder for more than five million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012," causing Michael Waldman, the executive director of the Brennan Center, to call the new laws "the most significant rollback in voting rights in decades."

As Berman shows, the vast majority of these voters will be Democrats - students, minorities, immigrants, ex-convicts and the elderly. Republicans, who've passed almost all of the new election laws, say they are necessary to prevent voter fraud. But as Berman wrote, there's simply "no evidence to back up such outlandish claims. A major probe by the Justice Department between 2002 and 2007 failed to prosecute a single person for going to the polls and impersonating an eligible voter, which the anti-fraud laws are supposedly designed to stop. Out of the 300 million votes cast in that period, federal prosecutors convicted only 86 people for voter fraud."

What's really going on, as Bill Clinton, quoted in Berman's piece, says, is "one of the most pervasive political movements going on outside Washington today ... [a] disciplined, passionate, determined effort of Republican governors and legislators to keep most of you from voting next time. Why is all of this going on? This is not rocket science. They are trying to make the 2012 electorate look more like the 2010 electorate than the 2008 electorate" your social media marketing partner


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+18 # PhilO 2011-10-04 21:58
After graduating from college many years ago I moved back to my home town. That fall I tried to vote in a local election but was turned away because I hadn't changed my voter registration. I felt embarrassed and was treated like a criminal by the poll-watchers. That experience was traumatic enough to send a chill down my spine every time I ave gone to vote since.

I can imagine that the new voter laws will do nothing to curb voter fraud (as if it ever occurs!!), but will dissuade many people who are unsure about their voter registration.

Clearly these laws are a disingenuous ploy meant to keep people away from the polls.
-11 # MidwestTom 2011-10-05 09:19
When does one learn that one must register to vote? Without registration laws we would go back to the periods where in some districts more votes were cast than there were voters.
+16 # noitall 2011-10-04 22:40
You know what the republicans say, "we do very well in elections when the turnout is low". All you guys out there pissed off at the Repubs, the Teabaggers and their schenanigans, I know, we all vote for the worst of two evils, but this time the Dems guy is BAD but their guy (whoever that might be) will only be on the ballot because he's REALLY BAD. This is not a good time to demonstrate your pissed-off-dom by not voting. Its like rewarding the guy that gave you a crap sandwitch. I guess I'll vote for bad, I really don't have the stomach for really bad and he might turn out to be really, really bad. This is America today and they wonder why its the youth out there demonstrating. This is THEIR future that we're dealing with here. I was out there in the good old Nam days and it eventually did some good although you'd never know it today or by watching Kerry or any of those other one-time young people. I guess we just decided that we deserve YOURS too. Sorry.
+12 # Regina 2011-10-04 23:33
The Republican Party is committing the real voting fraud. It's time to blow whistles and get control over enfranchisement -- not in their way of denial but in the American way of inclusion. The noisiest "patriots" are the most criminal anti-patriots this country has ever had to cope with.
+10 # angelfish 2011-10-05 01:51
Wake up, America! These Fascist ReTHUGlicans will rig the Elections so NO Democrat can win! WHAT are they so afraid of and WHY don't they trust the American People to do the right thing? They rigged Bush's appointments to the Presidency, I hope they don't think that they'll be allowed to get away with that egregious Bull-Puckey again! As their god and mentor George W. Bush once said, "Fool me once, Shame on you. Fool me twice, Shame on ME!...and NO, Georgie, They WON'T fool us again!
+18 # maddave 2011-10-05 02:43
This coordinated drive by the GOP to pass nearly identical anti-voter laws in red-state after red-state is an naked, criminal conspiracy to disenfranchise targeted groups of voters.

Time & space preclude a history lesson, but think of the successful voter suppression in Florida & Ohio in 2000 & 2004 . . . before the roof fell in in 2008.

Vowing that "it will never happen again", the GOP embarked on a uniform, organized program to "clean house", and so far their shameless, immoral efforts are succeeding all across America.

So where is the DNC and the DOJ? Why are RICO laws NOT being invoked in this unified case of organized, naked criminal violation of the 1960's Voting Rights Act and the 15th Amendment to the Constitution?

Steal $50,000 and go to jail. Steal 500,000 votes and go to the White House.
+7 # fredboy 2011-10-05 07:45
The GOP/teabagger focus is on eventually ending voting altogether. They hate democracy, hate America, and prefer a regime that would dictate their fanatical beliefs.
+6 # ABen 2011-10-05 09:03
THE VOTE: use it or lose it! Vote Democratic in 2012!
+5 # fredboy 2011-10-05 09:15
The GOP sees voting as simply a manipulative game, while many of us see it as a cherished and essential right.
Let's make it a felony to deprive any citizen of their right to vote with a five year mandatory prison sentence and a $500,000 fine for each and every offense, with no statute of limitations.
-18 # MidwestTom 2011-10-05 09:16
Can a person who cannot read or write our language know the issues and cast an intelligent vote?
+5 # Uncle Joe 2011-10-05 13:24
In a real democracy (the real American Way) we have public education & we engage neighbors & friends to give direction in a positive way. If you KNOW someone who is going to the polls to vote who is incapable of making an informed choice then its up to you & me @ the grass-roots to make them aware and educate them.
+8 # Regina 2011-10-05 17:08
As the daughter, granddaughter, and niece of immigrants who were schooled in another language, and later qualified for American citizenship, I can tell you with authority that (1) translations are now routinely available for purposes of enhancing comprehension; (2) intelligent thought is not exclusive to literacy in English; (3) you're just flapping the Republican Party line, and none are more uneducable than the echo-chamber Republicans, who keep chanting their mantras even when disproven by the facts.
+7 # PGreen 2011-10-05 13:27
It may well be that this is the opening shot in a war to further control the political agenda through gerrymandering. It is not a new tactic, but given that the population is polarizing along class lines with an increasingly greater majority on one side, it may be a tctic whose time has come, so to speak. In a democracy, a small minority cannot control a majority without the manufacturing of consent; when this process breaks down, when there is no longer a coherent national narrative to manipulate, then I would expect to see a shift to this kind of tactic. Questions remain: Can we stop it? Will exposure (such as this) make a difference? Will the Democratic party fight it or fold? And what will come next?
+5 # ALinSTL 2011-10-06 23:01
What FOOLS we are deemed to be...All these years we thought it was the Commies & Al-Queda trying to destroy America, making us all slaves, stealing all our rights...Funny that all this time it has been the TRAITOROUS REPUBLICAN PARTY trying to close our schools, kill our elderly, starve the poor, murder your children, make us their factory slaves, take away all our rights, DESTROY OUR AMERICA FOR THEIR AMERICA. Time to stop them in every election & never let NONE of them EVER hold an American political office again...their motto:" A govt of "US" people, by "US" people & for "US" people..." their "US" will never include any of "us"...

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