Righteous explanation by Charlie Pierce at Esquire‘s Politics Blog on why 2012 just got more interesting:
Back in 2000, when the Supreme Court stepped in and foozled a presidential election to achieve the outcome that some of its members desired — oh, don’t bother to deny it — the dismissal du jour was to tell grumpy liberals to “Get over it!” This was so successful that not a single Democratic senator was willing to stand up with John Lewis and contest the election, and if you won’t stand up with John Lewis on an issue of voting rights, then you’d have rolled dice for the robe on Golgotha.
The problem, of course, was that a lot of the forces demanding that people “get over” 2000 were far from getting over it themselves. They set about trying to make sure that their side wouldn’t come that close to losing an election again, and they worked to turn “voter suppression” into a science. It used to be that Ed Rollins could suppress votes by buying off a few preachers. Now, though, it can be done through willing local satraps — Katherine Harris, say, or Ken Blackwell, or that woman in Waukesha, Wisconsin, who apparently keeps election results in her freezer. It can be done through willingly partisan judges who wink and nod — hi, there, Tony Scalia! — or through the wholesale corruption of the Department of Justice, which is what happened during the Bush Administration when U.S. Attorneys were fired because they declined to conduct political prosecutions at the request of political appointees up to and including the president’s political guru.
On Monday, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU law school published an exhaustive study (short versions here and here) of the effect of these new laws and concluded that more than five million eligible voters will find it more difficult to vote in 2012. The political implications are so obvious as to beggar explanation. What’s more compelling is the hole in our soul…
The Brennan report is one of those things that ought to unite people on the right and left who realize that they’re getting played by the true centers of power in this country, and that laws are now being devised to prevent them even from having the ability to defend themselves in the most basic way possible — by voting the bastards out. But I doubt that it will be. Thirty years of effective rhetoric have convinced too many people in this country that “politics” are something practiced elsewhere, usually on behalf of people they don’t like, and that the “government” is an alien entity over which they have no control anyway, so what do they care that ex-felons, or poor people without cards, will find it so difficult to vote that they give up? What’s the point anyway? The whole thing’s a rigged game. Believe that long enough, and it will come true. Because there will always be people whose power depends on the rigging of the game…
By all means, read at least Adam Serwer’s MoJo summary: Five million Americans potentially disenfranchised:
…The rash of new voting restrictions is ostensibly intended to combat “voter fraud.” But there’s only one kind of election fraud that has been shown to be a real problem throughout American history, and voter ID laws don’t prevent it. “Any kind of successful fraud we’ve seen in the past is not someone pretending to be someone else, but election officials and party bosses manufacturing votes,” Norden explains…
The new voter ID laws may serve a purpose beyond preventing fraud, however—the same purpose as curtailing early voting, restricting reinfranchisement post-incarceration, and ending election-day voter registration. None of those reforms actually reduce the kind of fraud Republicans claim to be concerned with, which as stated earlier, is extremely rare. They all, however, make it slightly more difficult for Democratic-leaning constituencies to cast ballots.