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Strict Voter ID Laws Are The New Jim Crow Laws

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Strict Voter ID Laws Are The New Jim Crow Laws

Voter ID laws, Texas

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters. 

Thirty-four states currently have voter ID laws, and 32 will be in effect on Election Day. These laws require voters to present some form of identification document when going to vote — a step beyond the “non-documentary” identity verification requirements used across the country. Right-wing media have played an important role in making it hard for certain Americans to vote. They tout the necessity of the most restrictive voter ID requirements to supposedly thwart voter fraud, while dismissing the risk of voter disenfranchisement that accompanies these strict voter ID laws as a “myth.”

Just as Jim Crow laws denied the right to vote through literacy tests, poll taxes, the grandfather clause and violence, strict voter ID laws unfairly target minorities, especially Latinos and African-Americans. Communities of color are more affected than other groups by these unnecessary and redundant voting restrictions because many Latinos and African-Americans disproportionately lack access to the required form of photo IDs or the personal documentation needed to obtain them, or they just don’t have the necessary information on how to get them. This is how strict voter ID laws harm voters:

  1. Strict voter ID laws target the poorest voters, according to the Brennan Center for Justice: “More than 1 million eligible voters [in states with the most restrictive laws] fall below the federal poverty line. … Birth certificates can cost between $8 and $25. Marriage licenses, required for married women whose birth certificates include a maiden name, can cost between $8 and $20,” compared with the poll tax during the Jim Crow era, which “cost $10.64 in current dollars.”
  2. Strict voter ID laws target minorities, the Brennan Center reports: “In the 10 states with restrictive voter laws, … 1.2 million eligible black voters and 500,000 eligible Hispanic voters live more than 10 miles from their nearest ID-issuing office open more than two days a week.” Plus, many of these offices that issue IDs maintain limited business hours, making it harder for those “in rural regions with the highest concentrations of people of color and people in poverty” to get there during open hours.
  3. Strict voter ID laws can cause serious confusion. For example, in Texas, “half of the residents who said they didn’t vote in 2014 because they lacked a voter ID actually had an acceptable ID and didn’t know it.”

Lawmakers in states with voter ID laws echo right-wing media by claiming they are preventing voter fraud, but many have openly admitted that these laws are just meant to prevent people from showing up, so as to sway an election. In addition, these photo requirements would prevent only voter impersonation — a type of in-person voter fraud that is virtually nonexistent. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was enacted to protect voters from barriers to voting and was used to challenge these overly restrictive laws, but it’s been under attack, and those efforts have drawn support from Chief Justice John G Roberts and a conservative majority of the Supreme Court. Roberts questioned the necessity of the act, claiming that “nearly 50 years later, things have changed dramatically.”

Expanding the right to vote to include all Americans has been a long process, requiring excluded communities to clear countless barriers and hurdles to ensure that all people can make their voice heard on Election Day.

IMAGE: An election worker checks a voter’s drivers license as North Carolina’s controversial “Voter ID” law goes into effect for the state’s presidential primary election at a polling place in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S. on March 15, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane/File Photo



  1. dbtheonly November 5, 2016

    The good news is that Voter ID laws, voter roll purging, and restrictions on voting hours routinely lose, bigly, in court.

    Still, the Republicans will continue to limit the franchise whenever possible. They’ll eventually find something that will pass scrutiny.

    The solution is to vote. Particularly in State and Local elections. Most particularly in the off years.

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  2. Dan S November 5, 2016

    Despite the advantage the Republicans have with 32 states enforcing voter ID laws it won’t be enough to put DJT into the WH. Of course in the bigger picture we need to make sure that every law abiding American despite race, religion or gender has the right to vote with no barriers hindrance or harassment

  3. itsfun November 5, 2016

    What is wrong with requiring ID to vote? How may of our young men and women have died to preserve Democracy? Telling these heroes that the same people that shot them, should be able to vote is peeing on their graves. How many had their heads chopped off? Should we also have the head choppers illegally immigrate here, and vote too?

    Hillary and Obama want to allow more and more in without proper vetting.

    1. annienoel November 5, 2016

      As a Vietnam Vet and nurse who took care of the wounded in Vietnam…I can guarantee that not one vet I heard said anything about making sure African American’s, Hispanic Americans, Poor People and youth couldn’t vote had a damn thing to do with their sacrifice. Voter suppression has nothing to do with democracy. You are obtuse. The same goes for the flag.

      1. itsfun November 5, 2016

        Where has anyone said African Americans, Hispanic, Americans, poor people can’t vote? How young are you considering the youth vote. Do you want 12 year olds to vote? I am asking what is wrong with requiring a id to vote. Do you want illegal aliens voting? Do you want terrorists voting?

        As a Vietnam combat veteran (luckily not wounded) I can guarantee none of us fought for illegal aliens voting in our nation. We didn’t fight for Christians to get their heads chopped off by the same people some in our government want to allow to come here and vote.

        1. johninPCFL November 5, 2016

          The GOP in North Carolina: “North Carolina GOP executive committee member Don Yelton, who bragged about how the new voting restrictions would allow them to “kick the Democrats butt.” He also stated, in regards to the fact that these laws will prevent people of color from voting, “If it hurts a bunch of lazy Blacks that want the government to give them everything, so be it.””

          The GOP in Pennsylvania: “Back in 2012, Mike Turzai, the Republican leader of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, said that his state’s new voter ID law would “allow Mitt Romney to win.””

          The GOP in Wisconsin: “During an interview with a local TV station, Republican Wisconsin Congressman Glenn Grothman admitted the truth about his state’s new voter ID law.
          Like all voter suppression laws, Wisconsin’s voter ID law is supposedly about stopping “voting fraud.”
          But that’s not what Congressman Grothman said it’s about.
          He said it was about making sure Republicans win the Badger State in November.”

          And why are all of these new laws on the books? Voter fraud? Nope: “In fact, a recent study out of Loyola University found just 31 credible cases of voter fraud out of more than a billion ballots cast in the decade-and-a-half between 2000 and 2014.
          You’re more than a hundred times more likely to get struck by lightning than you are to see voter fraud in the wild.”

          1. itsfun November 5, 2016

            If you want voter fraud its up to you. I am against it and I feel it is against everything our country was founded on. How many times are you going to vote this year?

          2. johninPCFL November 5, 2016

            I’ve already voted thousands of times. Every time I offer an opinion, it’s a vote.

          3. dbtheonly November 5, 2016

            If Voter ID is what the country is founded on:

            The how come George Washington never mentioned it?
            How come it was never discussed in the Constitutional Convention?
            How come it never shows up in the Federalist Papers?
            How come it starts showing up in and around 2010?

          4. itsfun November 5, 2016

            Did we have 11 million illegal aliens then?

          5. dbtheonly November 5, 2016

            Actually the very opposite. The US would offer citizenship to anyone wanting it.

    2. 788eddie November 5, 2016

      Requiring ID to vote is okay, as long as every citizen has an equal ability to get that voter I.D.

      When people have to travel long distances to get one, well, that may be difficult for someone who doesn’t have transportation. Some states force college students to go home to vote, not allowing them to vote in the state they’re living in to attend college. Some poorer older people were born before birth certificates were required, or were born at home and didn’t get a birth certificate.

      These people are still Americans and have a constitutional right to vote. That right should not be impinged upon.

      1. itsfun November 5, 2016

        Agreed. Some states (I don’t know how many) are giving voter id cards for free to people that can’t afford to get one. All states should provide that free of charge. The college student issue is a little different. If a student is a part time resident where they go to school, and a full time resident somewhere else should they be allowed to vote on local issues where they are a part time resident? I vote absentee so I don’t need transportation to the polls. As far as I know everyone with a valid reason can vote absentee. I don’t know if lack of transportation is valid, but it should be. I don’t think (and hope) no one wants to stop a whole category of legal citizens from voting. I wish we had more people voting instead of less. It would be wonderful to see a voter turnout of 75% and higher. I think that was one of the goals of early voting.

        1. johninPCFL November 5, 2016

          You missed the point that to get the “free” ID, you must present a birth certificate ($25 plus travel to your birth state), and for women only, a marriage certificate (another $25 and another out-of-state trip). So, your “free ID” will cost you a week or so off work plus a few $thousand in travel costs and fees.
          So, in order to prevent the 31 cases of fraud found out of over a billion votes cast, the state will now extract $billions from those can least afford it.
          Yeah, that sounds reasonable.

          1. itsfun November 5, 2016

            I didn’t miss any point. I said free and I mean free. If a birth certificate can’t be found because of age, then a signed document of truth could be accepted. All of the necessary paperwork can be done via mail for 47 cents a letter. Its is reasonable to make sure legal citizens vote and vote once not hundreds of times. One case of voter fraud is to many. Just last week one person was found with 125 absentee ballots on his kitchen table. Would that be just one case of fraud or 125 cases of fraud.

          2. johninPCFL November 5, 2016

            Great. We’re going to continue spending $billions to eliminate the 30 parts-per-billion level of fraud. No more complaints from you about government spending.
            Until the ballots are mailed, there is no fraud.
            Once the ballots are mailed, it is 125 cases, each case carrying a penalty of ten years in prison. I think you’ve once again imagined something you’ve read “somewhere” – probably on Breitbart or RedState – that just make stuff up to rile up the toothless droolers.

          3. itsfun November 5, 2016

            Expected that, that is why I didn’t say I saw it on the CBS evening news last week.

          4. johninPCFL November 5, 2016

            Sure. But that news report just doesn’t show up anywhere. Not on the CBS site, and nowhere on the internet that Google has mapped. Billions of sites, and not a single report mentioning “absentee ballots on kitchen table”.
            Imagine much? Or maybe got the link from RedStateBullshit?

          5. 788eddie November 5, 2016

            Do you remember that, during the run-up to the 2012 election, the Georgia GOP initiated a cash bounty to anyone who could give them documented evidence of voter fraud. It was a bad move; after two months, they cancelled the program, because they could find none.

            Actual voter fraud is a lot rarer than you think.

          6. itsfun November 5, 2016

            nope don’t remember anything about Georgia. I hope you are are right about voter fraud, but I fear you aren’t. I just wish we could get higher turn outs of voters.

          7. Charles van Rotterdam November 6, 2016

            Why do you need to travel to your birth state, that’s ridiculous. Here (Oz) I got my South African birth certificate posted to me in 3 weeks, my daughters’ Australian certificates I got with seven days.
            Don’t they do post

          8. dtgraham November 6, 2016

            Elections Canada would also become aware of your new found Canadian citizenship in short order, and would start mailing you a voter identification card (VIC), and putting you on the voters’ list for eternity before every federal and provincial election. That would be automatic for life. No registration required, just like all other Canadian citizens who are registered by EC at birth.

          9. Charles van Rotterdam November 6, 2016

            Here the minute you turn 18 (or get citizenship) you get an Enrol to Vote from the Electoral Commission; you just have to enrol yourself

          10. dtgraham November 6, 2016

            Same with the New Zealand Electoral Commision. There’s a New Zealand poster here who blogged that in. Australia, New Zealand, Canada. Easy as pie eh? We do the British Commonwealth thing mate.

          11. Charles van Rotterdam November 6, 2016

            You can always rescind your Declaration of Independence and come back into the fold 😉

          12. dtgraham November 7, 2016

            HA! Charles and Camilla are waiting. Lizzie can’t last much longer. Don’t know if that independence war was worth it after all. Maybe the loyalists were right. We’ve both still got the Tories. Aaah, they’re not half bad.

          13. johninPCFL November 6, 2016

            No. In the SOUTHERN states (where they’ve historically done all they can to restrict black voting) you have to appear TWICE in person to get a certificate. First, to apply for it, then a few days later (just long enough to make a stay too expensive) you have to come back (again, in person) to pick it up.
            It’s all DESIGNED to make it too expensive to get a certificate, so that with the shiny, new ALEC laws blacks can’t vote.
            Neat strategy first designed in the late 1960s by Nixon’s team (led by Lee Atwater) and implemented over the next few decades to both disenfranchise black voters and give a new home to the former democrat KKK voters leaving the party after Johnson threw his support behind the voting and civil rights acts.

        2. 788eddie November 5, 2016

          ALL voter I.D.s are free! Any charge at all would be a poll tax and is illegal.

          1. itsfun November 5, 2016

            Then all states should issue a id to all registered voters and be required to use the U.S. Postal service and mail the id to every registered voter. The offices should have regular business hours every week and be required to be open. It doesn’t have to be hard or made impossible to issue voter id’s. If laws are needed to insure this, then the states in question should pass laws to ensure everyone has a fair and honest opportunity to get a voter id.

          2. 788eddie November 5, 2016

            These are really good suggestions, itsfun!

            However, they bear no relation to the reality of our current situation. And to many of those in power in states in question, it would be the last course of action they would probably follow.

          3. itsfun November 5, 2016

            Maybe getting rid of professional politicians with term limits would help. Laws limiting how much money politicians can accept when in office may help. If they can’t get 100,000 for a speech, maybe they wouldn’t vote on issues the way they do. I think the corruption runs very deep and somehow we need to get rid of corrupt politicians on the take.

          4. 788eddie November 5, 2016

            I vote “No” on the first one; “yes” on the next two.

            Yes, there is corruption, but, as evidence by almost daily newspaper articles, I would say we ARE taking care of it. It’s a never-ending battle, itsfun. It’s one we need to keep fighting, for the sake of our country, and I’m afraid there are no shortcuts.

          5. JPHALL November 5, 2016

            It has not worked in California!

      2. A. D. Reed November 5, 2016

        Years — decades — ago the Supreme Court overruled all laws that prohibit students from voting in the jurisdiction in which they attend college. The states that still try to prohibit students from voting there are breaking the law. Election officials should be charged with a felony for every single student they prevent from voting, and if convicted, have to serve their terms consecutively for each one.

        1. 788eddie November 5, 2016

          You’ve got a possibility here, A.D.

          I like your thinking.

          1. A. D. Reed November 5, 2016


    3. johninPCFL November 5, 2016

      How about this – in Texas your NRA card is an acceptable voting ID, but a student ID issued by a state college is not.
      ID’s are the new way to restrict voting to the “acceptable” classes.

      1. itsfun November 5, 2016

        My feeling is all states should issue a id that is valid for voting free of charge to all legally registered citizens.

        1. johninPCFL November 5, 2016

          So, the solution to inept, corrupt government is to give governments even more power?
          How about a national ID card? They were well used in Germany during the 1930s.

          1. itsfun November 5, 2016

            Making sure people have the ability to vote is not asking for more government, but less. It is also for government of, by, and for the people.
            If you think the government is inept, and corrupt, why are you asking for more of the same by supporting Hillary.

            I think Obama proposed that in his first year in office. Remember how he wanted his own personal police force.

          2. johninPCFL November 5, 2016

            “inept and corrupt” is your position, not mine. I’m pointing out the inconsistency of your position. No real surprise that you didn’t catch it.
            “personal police force”? More idiocy parroted by you lifted from RedStateBullshit.

          3. itsfun November 5, 2016

            Don’t put words in my mouth John. For another post I did see on the news a person with 110 absentee ballots in him home on a table. I though it was CBS because that is what I usually watch. He did ask for his own presidential police force. Don’t you remember comparing the request to the Hitler SS troops?

          4. johninPCFL November 5, 2016

            Again, in several billion websites catalogued by Google, not a single mention of “ballots on kitchen table”. Perhaps your link to MoreRedStateBullshit was corrupt?

            As to the police force, MoreRedStateBullshit has certainly polluted your thinking, if that’s what it can be called.

            Here’s Obama’s quote: “Obama, July 2, Colorado Springs, CO: [As] president I will expand AmeriCorps to 250,000 slots [from 75,000] and make that increased service a vehicle to meet national goals, like providing health care and education, saving our planet and restoring our standing in the world, so that citizens see their effort connected to a common purpose.

            People of all ages, stations and skills will be asked to serve. Because when it comes to the challenges we face, the American people are not the problem – they are the answer. So we are going to send more college graduates to teach and mentor our young people. We’ll call on Americans to join an energy corps, to conduct renewable energy and environmental clean-up projects in their neighborhoods all across the country.

            We will enlist our veterans to find jobs and support for other vets, and to be there for our military families. And we’re going to grow our Foreign Service, open consulates that have been shuttered and double the size of the Peace Corps by 2011 to renew our diplomacy. We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set.

            We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded. We need to use technology to connect people to service. We’ll expand USA Freedom Corps to create online networks where American can browse opportunities to volunteer. You’ll be able to search by category, time commitment and skill sets. You’ll be able to rate service opportunities, build service networks, and create your own service pages to track your hours and activities.

            This will empower more Americans to craft their own service agenda and make their own change from the bottom up.”

            And then the spin from the RWNJ BullshitFactory:

            “Rep. Paul Broun, Nov. 10: It may sound a bit crazy and off base, but the thing is, he’s [Obama’s] the one who proposed this national security force. … That’s exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it’s exactly what the Soviet Union did.”

          5. itsfun November 5, 2016

            Civilian national security force = SS troops.

          6. johninPCFL November 5, 2016

            Sure. Peace Corps = SS troops. Militias = SS troops. Americorps = SS troops.

            “We’ll call on Americans to join an energy corps, to conduct renewable energy and environmental clean-up projects in their neighborhoods all across the country.”

            “We will enlist our veterans to find jobs and support for other vets, and to be there for our military families.”

            “This will empower more Americans to craft their own service agenda and make their own change from the bottom up.”

            Do you write for MoreRedStateBullshit? Or just unthinkingly swallow the whole propaganda line they feed you?

          7. I Am Helpy November 5, 2016

            Ah yes, an anecdotal conspiracy theory that sure proves something or other!

        2. I Am Helpy November 5, 2016

          Who cares what your “feeling” is, though? You are the moron who refused to believe that the FBI is part of the DOJ, purely because you didn’t want it to be true. Your opinions about every topic are permanently invalid.

    4. I Am Helpy November 5, 2016

      “What’s wrong with deliberate racial bias? What’s wrong with trying to rig the vote?”

      You are garbage.

  4. Jon November 5, 2016

    Among the attributes of dictators that Trump and the Republicans admire is the hatred of those who don’t vote for them.


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