Sorry for the length, but I didn't have time to write a short blog.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Right, Right

Both sides have their fare share of extremists.  That said, perhaps more insidious than any other thing is the move in several Republican states to disenfranchise the poor and people of color from voting.  At first I thought this was something of a semi-fabrication brought up by the folks on the left, but after a bit of research and the fact that several courts have ruled that it is so, I am saddened to say I now believe it is true and what is more, it is going on in our own state of Colorado.


Here's the list:

Ohio: Republican Secretary of State John Husted eliminates extended hours in only Democratically controlled counties.  After pressure from the media, he eliminates all extended hours in every county.  The problem is that these hours were held through the primaries and the voters who use these hours are working class African American.  He even fired two Democrat election officials  because they refused to eliminate the extended hours.  An Ohio court ruled that the hours would be restored.  Husted says he will not follow the court's ruling and is filing an appeal.

Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania has put into place a strict voter ID law to stop voter fraud.  People must present a state issued voting ID.  This ID is obtained by presenting a picture ID that has an expiration date on it and that ID cannot be expired. To get a voter ID, voters must go to one of the 71 driver license bureaus. Oddly the persons who are most likely not to have an ID with an unexpired expiration date are the elderly, the poor and people of color, many of whom live miles from the nearest driver license bureau.  The leader of the house Republicans in Pennsylvania , Mike Turazi, announced that the passage of the voter ID law will ensure Romney's win in Pennsylvania. (see the comment for yourself  So far Pennsylvania courts have ruled in favor of the law.  What was in place before the law?  Voting simply required any valid ID.  It was not as if voters did not have to present an ID before the law.

Texas: Texas had a similar law to that of Pennsylvania. Courts overturned it as an undue burden on the poor and minorities.

Florida: Also recently overruled by the courts.

Wisconsin: Also turned out by the courts.

In fact according to the ACLU more than 30 states have considered such laws. It is the modern equivalent of the poll tax that requires people to pay for a voter ID and they may also have to pay for a birth certificate from another state to prove they are who they say they are.

Then there is the going through the voting roles.  This is what is happening in Colorado.  Purging the roles is something several states have done.  In Florida the number of Hispanic names removed from the roles was staggering.  In Colorado, Republican Secretary of State,Scott Gessler, who has no such mandate from the state congress or the Governor or the people, has taken it upon himself to purge the roles concentrating on especially the metro area where about 30 percent of the voting minorities live.  He first tried to order the Denver registrar  not to send out any ballots to any voter who did not vote in the 2010 elections.  Since they failed to vote in that election, they had forfeited the right to receive a mail-in ballot.  A court did rule that such an order was beyond the scope of his powers. He then sent out letters to 4000 residents questioning their citizenship and demanding they prove their residency.  He has to date turned up no non-citizens.  Sixteen did remove their names from the register; they had moved from the state.  According to NBC 3800 voters have been targets and only 12.4 per cent of them were Republicans.  To date 88 percent have been run against the federal data base and not one non-citizen has been found.

The reason for these IDs has been presented as a protection against rampant voter fraud.  In a number of investigations many going back to 2000, the percentage of actual at-the-polls voter fraud in the United States is way below  1 percent.  One investigation found it was 1 case in 15 million voters.  Ten total cases since 2000.  Mailing-in and absentee fraud was more likely to happen with 490 total cases.  Voter ID would not prevent these from happening.  Of these cases more 46 percent were dropped or acquitted.  The vast majority was because someone made a mistake or a convicted felon tried to register as did a few non-citizens.     Some voted in the wrong place and others were clerical errors by voting officials. Voter ID would solve none of this.

 All states that are trying these new ID laws required some form of ID. It is not as if they didn't before the new law. No one has asked these states to give up asking for ID; many have only asked why do we need new IDs which can cost money that particularly the poor cannot afford?

Voting is what makes our country different.  It makes us great.  It is sad that one party would take that right and try to steal an election.  Time to play by the rules of right, Right.