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OH - Campaigns and Elections
Pennsylvania’s new voter-ID law seems to be creating more than a few headaches lately.
When a person has to stand in numerous lines, fill out multiple forms, and spend over four hours of their day to receive an ID that is only good for the sole-purpose of voting, there is a problem within our democracy.
Voter-ID laws are a trend occurring all over the nation in states controlled by Republican legislatures; including swing-states such as Ohio, New Hampshire, Florida, and Wisconsin. They say that the new law will help protect against voter fraud. However, when allegations of voter fraud have been investigated, the numbers just do not seem to add up. In a major attempt by the Bush Administration to crack down on voter fraud between the years of 2002 to 2007, only 86 people were convicted of voter fraud out of the 300 million votes cast during that time. In the meantime, while Republicans beat their war drums against “big government spending,” the states that have implemented such laws will be spending a combined total of as much as $828 million over the next four years to have these laws implemented. This argument just lacks pure logical sense.
The reality is that state Republican legislatures are enacting a new form of “poll tax” on to groups who generally do not need or have a difficult time obtaining a new photo-ID. These groups (young voters, minorities, the poor, and the elderly) coincidentally enough, were what helped push Obama to victory in 2008. How odd that now these are the voices that Republicans seem to be attempting to suppress for the upcoming 2012 Election.
The Voting Rights Act prohibits states from imposing any “voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure ... to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color." This put an end to that era’s Jim Crowe Laws that dominated the polls within the Southern states and reinforced the ratification of the 15th Amendment.
These new laws are nothing more than a replacement to the laws that civil rights activists worked so hard to overthrow. They are taking away people’s rights to vote and suppressing the voices of the people. These states should be taken to court where, hopefully, these laws will be found unconstitutional.
After passing the bill only weeks ago, Republicans are now looking to repeal a bill that would cut back on the number of days available for early voting and eliminate the so-called "golden week" prior to an election during which someone can register and vote on the same day.
From the NBC4 story:
"Republican Sen. Bill Seitz ofCincinnatisaid the GOP was taking action Democrats had requested in earlier statements and he urged them to cooperate in drafting a replacement bill.
"If we're going to get something done we've got to get it done by the end of May," Seitz said. "If you all don't want to do it, then we're back to the drawing board."
Seitz accused Democrats of changing course because President Barack Obama's re-election campaign determined joining the fall repeal effort on November's ballot would be a political advantage.
But Sen. Nina Turner ofClevelandsaid it's telling that Republicans "suddenly see the light" and want to repeal the bill before voters get their chance. She said Republicans are blatantly trying to suppress voter turnout in November.
"You can dress it up and you can criticize Democrats but we are not the ones that tried to ram this down the throats of the voters of this state," Turner said. "We stand up for the right to vote and this bill is wrong."
Voter suppression efforts by governors are picking up across the country, all supposedly in the name of reducing voter fraud when in reality these laws are just reducing the number of voters who can easily access the ballot. Governor John Kasich of Ohio signed an elections reform bill into law at the beginning of July that added numerous restrictions to voting as well as allowed poll workers to refuse to tell voters where they can vote.
- Early voting by mail would be cut to 21 days under the Republican plan.
- The new law would ban early voting by machine anywhere except at county elections offices.
- The legislation also would forbid counties from mailing unsolicited absentee-ballot applications to voters
These restrictions would mean that 4 out of every 10 voters in Columbus alone would not have been able to vote when and where they did in 2008.
In addition to these limitations in Ohio, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin signed a similarly restrictive bill into law earlier this year requiring Wisconsin voters to present a photo ID, making it harder to vote for groups like elderly voters, young voters, students, minorities and low-income voters. Now that he has signed that law, Walker is making it even harder on voters by finalizing a plan to close up to 10 offices where people could have obtained photo IDs. All of these efforts are working to suppress the vote and trying to reshape the electorate in time for the 2012 elections rather than encouraging more people to have their voices heard.