I said in my introduction that Republican voter suppression efforts are the major issue facing this country right now, and if this study is anywhere close to accurate the time to start pushing voter registration and education efforts is now.
Restrictive voting laws in states across the country could affect up to five million voters from traditionally Democratic demographics in 2012, according to a new report by the Brennan Center. That’s a number larger than the margin of victory in two of the last three presidential elections.
The new restrictions, the study found, “fall most heavily on young, minority, and low-income voters, as well as on voters with disabilities. This wave of changes may sharply tilt the political terrain for the 2012 election.”
The GOP takeover at the state level over the last several years has led directly to voter ID laws designed to disenfranchise millions of traditionally Democratic voters. 2010 proved that when turnout is low, Republicans run rampant. In a presidential election year next year, that could very well prove to be fatal to the country. If your cynical, jaded self recognizes only one difference between the GOP and the Democrats, it’s that the GOP wants to make voting as difficult and as exclusive as possible. Where they have gained power, they turn to voter ID efforts to limit turnout in order to maintain power. Even if you dispute the numbers in the study, the GOP intent is clear.
Here’s the real kicker:
Of the 12 likely battleground states, as assessed by an August Los Angeles Times analysis of Gallup polling, five have already cut back on voting rights (and may pass additional restrictive legislation), and two more are currently considering new restrictions.
One of those states is Ohio, and as Kay across the river from me can attest to, Ohio’s battle to stop John Kasich and the GOP from disenfranchising tens of thousands of Ohio voters is just beginning. So far opponents of Ohio’s measure have collected more than enough signatures to put the law to a referendum in 2012, meaning that as soon as the petitions are validated, Ohio will operate under the same voting laws as the 2010 election both this year and next.
But that’s only one state. The efforts to reduce turnout are national, well-funded, and well-coordinated. Ohio proved that efforts to fight these restriction can work, but the bottom line is turnout and GOTV efforts in 2011 and especially 2012 are vital to preventing a complete Republican takeover. It’s past time to examine what you can do where you live to help locally with these efforts. No matter what the GOP does, we have to get people out there to vote, period.
It’s astonishing to think that in 2011, a major US political party is running on a platform to limit voting as much as possible. So far they haven’t paid a political price for doing so.
That needs to change.