Are you a student, or poor, or black, or Hispanic? The Republican Party thinks you probably support the Democrats (whether that’s true of you or not), and doesn’t want you to vote. And it’s doing everything in its power to keep you from doing so.
If you aren’t yet aware of all the GOP initiatives to make it harder for certain demographic groups to cast their ballot at the polls, then you must read this NY Times editorial summarizing all these efforts (boldface mine):
Next fall, thousands of students on college campuses will attempt to register to vote and be turned away. Sorry, they will hear, you have an out-of-state driver’s license. Sorry, your college ID is not valid here. Sorry, we found out that you paid out-of-state tuition, so even though you do have a state driver’s license, you still can’t vote.
Political leaders should be encouraging young adults to participate in civic life, but many Republican state lawmakers are doing everything they can instead to prevent students from voting in the 2012 presidential election. Some have openly acknowledged doing so because students tend to be liberal.
Seven states have already passed strict laws requiring a government-issued ID (like a driver’s license or a passport) to vote, which many students don’t have, and 27 others are considering such measures. Many of those laws have been interpreted as prohibiting out-of-state driver’s licenses from being used for voting.
It’s all part of a widespread Republican effort to restrict the voting rights of demographic groups that tend to vote Democratic. Blacks, Hispanics, the poor and the young, who are more likely to support President Obama, are disproportionately represented in the 21 million people without government IDs. […]
Republicans usually don’t want to acknowledge that their purpose is to turn away voters, especially when race is involved, so they invented an explanation, claiming that stricter ID laws are necessary to prevent voter fraud. In fact, there is almost no voter fraud in America to prevent.
William O’Brien, the speaker of the New Hampshire State House, told a Tea Party group earlier this year that students are “foolish” and tend to “vote their feelings” because they lack life experience. “Voting as a liberal,” he said, “that’s what kids do.” And that’s why, he said, he supported measures to prohibit students from voting from their college addresses and to end same-day registration.
Read the whole thing here.
The Times also links to a report from the non-partisan Brennan Center for Justice, detailing all the changes in voting laws for 2012 (boldface mine):
Ahead of the 2012 elections, a wave of legislation tightening restrictions on voting has suddenly swept across the country. More than five million Americans could be affected by the new rules already put in place this year — a number larger than the margin of victory in two of the last three presidential elections. […]
Over the past century, our nation expanded the franchise and knocked down myriad barriers to full electoral participation. In 2011, however, that momentum abruptly shifted.
State governments across the country enacted an array of new laws making it harder to register or to vote. Some states require voters to show government-issued photo identification, often of a type that as many as one in ten voters do not have. Other states have cut back on early voting, a hugely popular innovation used by millions of Americans. Two states reversed earlier reforms and once again disenfranchised millions who have past criminal convictions but who are now taxpaying members of the community. Still others made it much more difficult for citizens to register to vote, a prerequisite for voting.
These new restrictions 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. Based on the Brennan Center’s analysis of the 19 laws and two executive actions that passed in 14 states, it is clear that:
• These new laws could make it significantly harder for more than five million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012.
• The states that have already cut back on voting rights will provide 171 electoral votes in 2012 – 63 percent of the 270 needed to win the presidency.
• 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.
States have changed their laws so rapidly that no single analysis has assessed the overall impact of such moves. Although it is too early to quantify how the changes will impact voter turnout, they will be a hindrance to many voters at a time when the United States continues to turn out less than two thirds of its eligible citizens in presidential elections and less than half in midterm elections.
Many more details here. I highly recommend reading it to see how these new laws might affect you.
Look, it doesn’t really matter to me which party or which candidate you support at this point. But I think it matters very much that the Republicans think they’ve got you pegged — and rather than trying to reach out to you and change your mind, they’ve written you off. And they’re trying to silence you.
They’re not trying to win fair and square. They’re trying to grab power by disenfranchising millions of Americans who might disagree with them. If you think you have the right to vote, if you care at all about having a real working democracy, if you think Washington should listen to the voices of all the voters rather than making it harder for their voices to be heard, then I hope you’re as well and truly pissed-off as I am. And I hope you realize, if you haven’t already, that this says something pretty important about what the Republican Party really believes.
Spread the word. Make some noise. Contact your representatives. And above all, this fall, exercise your right to VOTE — and let the GOP know exactly what you think of them trying to take it away from you.
(Image via The Voter Update)