Enough of the Hurt Feelings, Pay Attention to Voter Suppression
New voting restrictions try to ensure President Obama is a one termer
Forget about whether President Obama deserves a second term. Forget about the pony that was promised to you during the campaign of “Hope” and “Change.” Your support of or disappointment in the Obama administration’s progress over the past three years doesn’t matter.
That’s because the GOP by way of Republican lead state legislatures have put in place new voting laws that will make it much more difficult for traditionally Democratic voters to cast their ballots next year. The GOP’s all out assault on voting will affect nearly 5 million people and almost all of them are Democratic voters.
According to a new report released by the Brennan Center for Justice, the impact of new voting restrictions on 2012 could be significant. The groups that will be affected by these new voting restrictions are minority and poor voters.
“This is the most significant cutback in voting rights in decades. More voters may be affected than the margin of victory in two out of the past three presidential elections,” said Michael Waldman, the Center’s executive director. “In 2012 we should make it easier for every eligible citizen to vote. Instead, we have made it far harder for too many. Partisans should not try to tilt the electoral playing field in this way.”
According to the Brennan report, the states affected total 171 electoral votes. In order to win the White House, President Obama or his challenger will need to win 270 electoral votes. Five of the twelve battleground states have already put some of these restrictions on voting in place.
The changes include photo ID laws, proof of citizenship laws, laws making voter registration harder, laws reducing early and absentee voting days, and laws making it harder to restore voting rights of felons. While many on the left and most recently at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation conference over a week ago were still on the “Obama isn’t doing enough” bandwagon perhaps the focus should have been on how we are even going to get a second Obama term, not to mention a Congress that a second term President Obama can work with to pass legislation.
In Rolling Stone, Ari Berman reported that this campaign to put in place many of these new voting restrictions is supported by the Koch Brothers. Speaking with a group of activists in July, President Clinton said of these new rules, “[T]he most pervasive political movements going on outside Washington today is the disciplined, passionate, determined effort of Republican governors and legislators to keep most of you from voting next time. Why is all of this going on? This is not rocket science. They are trying to make the 2012 electorate look more like the 2010 electorate than the 2008 electorate. There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit the franchise that we see today.”
Whether you believe President Obama deserves a second term is a moot point. The person who wins the White House in 2012 will largely be dependent on whether Americans have equal access to our constitutional right to vote. If these restrictions put in place by Republican legislatures, which took over after a low Democratic turnout in the 2010 midterms, have the desired effect President Obama will be a one term President achieving Minority Mitch McConnell’s single most important political goal.
We need to stop the infighting on the Left and get to work. If we don't we'll have plenty of time over the next four years to complain.