The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

'06 Voter Suppression Guide

Salon posted an interesting/disturbing article on Republican efforts to prevent seniors, minorities, and the poor from voting in November's election, and although the author makes it clear that he's not sold on the theft of Ohio in 2004, he cites plenty of other reasons to be worried about the right to vote on a more fundamental level-- state legislatures are disenfranchising legal voters by the tens of thousands.

Six states are highlighted, and the strategy is the same-- finding ways to charge people money to prove they're US citizens and instituting new bureaucratic processes to prevent people from registering unless they're willing and able to devote hours or weeks to jumping through hoops.

"I think this is all part of a nationwide effort of the Republican Party to suppress votes, because that's the only way for them to stay in power," says William Groth, an attorney filing a lawsuit challenging the voter I.D. law on behalf of the Indiana Democratic Party, a case now on appeal. Between 8 percent and 23 percent of all registered voters in the state may lack the proper photo I.D., so the added costs -- comparable to a poll tax -- and obstacles of the I.D. law are going to make low-income and minority voters far less likely to vote, according to research by political science professor Margie Hershey of Indiana University.

But some determined Hoosiers won't give up trying to vote. Take the never-ending bureaucratic maze Theresa Clemente, a 79-year-old Fort Wayne resident born in Massachusetts, has been forced to navigate. An Indiana resident for 15 years, she'd never had a driver's license when she moved to the state to live near her son. So when she learned that the state required a state-issued photo I.D. to vote, her husband drove her down to the delay-plagued Bureau of Motor Vehicles to get a photo I.D. On her first visit, she brought her Social Security card, her voter registration card, two bills and a credit card, but that wasn't good enough. She had to return three more times, with BMV drones telling her successively she needed a copy of her birth certificate, then a $28 state-certified birth certificate from Massachusetts, and finally a marriage certificate because her birth certificate listed only her maiden name -- although all her various I.D.s carried the married name she has used for 53 years.

The right to vote is the foundation of our democracy, and although there are plenty of stories of Democrats and Republicans manipulating elections to their advantage, I don't know of any instances outside of Jim Crow where we've seen such a concerted effort to deprive people of this right. A must-read.