Great piece by John Lewis on voting:
Since January, a majority of state legislatures have passed or considered election-law changes that, taken together, constitute the most concerted effort to restrict the right to vote since before the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The 1993 National Voter Registration Act — also known as the Motor Voter Act — made it easier to register to vote, while the 2002 Help America Vote Act responded to the irregularities of the 2000 presidential race with improved election standards. Despite decades of progress, this year’s Republican-backed wave of voting restrictions has demonstrated that the fundamental right to vote is still subject to partisan manipulation. The most common new requirement, that citizens obtain and display unexpired government-issued photo identification before entering the voting booth, was advanced in 35 states and passed by Republican legislatures in Alabama, Minnesota, Missouri and nine other states — despite the fact that as many as 25 percent of African-Americans lack acceptable identification.
Having fought for voting rights as a student, I am especially troubled that these laws disproportionately affect young voters. Students at state universities in Wisconsin cannot vote using their current IDs (because the new law requires the cards to have signatures, which those do not). South Carolina prohibits the use of student IDs altogether. Texas also rejects student IDs, but allows voting by those who have a license to carry a concealed handgun. These schemes are clearly crafted to affect not just how we vote, but who votes.
John Lewis, a Democrat, is a congressman from Georgia.
If we make it difficult for poor and young people to vote, or, in the case of “provisional” (second-class) ballots, make it difficult to have their votes counted, fewer poor and young people are going to vote and fewer poor and young people are going to have their votes counted.
One wrongfully disenfranchised voter is one too many, but in our country, in our cash-choked system, where moneyed interests already have a hugely outsize political voice relative to their actual numbers fewer poor and young people voting is a flat-out disaster.
So what’s it going to take before this becomes a top-tier issue for ordinary middle class democracy enthusiasts who may not (yet) be directly affected by these laws?
An attempt by conservatives to have portions of the Voting Rights Act declared unconstitutional? The same Voting Rights Act sections that were defended (successfully) by a majority in Congress as recently as 2006?
You got it. Last week, in Arizona.