In recent years it has become abundantly clear the the GOP wants to win the 2012 presidential election by any means neccessary. Immediately after the country elected it’s first African-American President, the Grand Old Party begin to reignite a push to pass new voter ID laws. In February 2007 research was presented to the U.S. Election Assistance Commision by the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University suggests that voter ID requirements disproportionately suppress minority turnout in elections. The League of Women Voters Paresident Mary G. Wilson says that the findings confirm the belief that restrictive ID requirements in many states are disenfranchising minority voters, and that ID laws such as those requiring that voters have photo IDs with current name and address, have harmful effects on our electoral proccess.
Supporters of the legistration have stated that obliging voters to show photo ID prevents the onset of voter fraud and maintains the integrity of federal elections. Opponents have consistantly claimed that such laws would affect poor and minority communities whose members are les likely to have government-issued ID, such as passports, of drivers licenses, or be able to afford them if required to purchase them.
Democrats for the most part claim that the voter ID bill recalls a dark era in our nation when individuals (minorities particularly) were required to pay a poll tax to cast their ballot, and has been termed a 21st century poll tax.
In November 2011, while the two parties sparred over the proliferation of voter ID laws across the country, one lone republican said the evidence of voter fraud demands a solution such as ensuring all voters are legal citizens with a picture ID. Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) said, “They have only one purpose which is to disenfranchise eligible voters.” Several Democrats joined her adding that Republican claims of voter fraud were baseless. Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) said “There is no threat of voter fraud. Are there rampant cases of impersonation, voting ass someone else? No. Voter fraud is not rampant, there are not numerous caes of impersonation.” Holt added that there may be some cases of voter fraud, but said these do not demand solutions that could disenfranchise millions of voters. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said that voter fraud is a non-existant problem. “They claim we need to crack down on the epidimic of voter fraud that does not exist, there is simply no evididence of widespread voter fraud.
During a special order speech, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) rejected these arguments and said the scandal involvong the now defunct Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), in which the group admitted to fraudulently registering hundreds of thousands of voters, should count as widespread fraud. “How much more widespread would you have to be than operations going on in nearly all if not all of the 50 states, the major cities and millions of dollars spent to pay people to go out and fraudlently register voters?” He asked. King reminded his Democratic colleagues that Congress agreed to shut down funding for ACORN, and said that groups activities seemed to have damaged the integrity of the vote in the United States.
The Congressional Black Caucus charge that voter ID laws popping up around the country are aimed at dissuading minority voters from voting, and making it harder for President Obama to win his bid for re-election.
In light of this movement, the nations largest labor federation plans to mount an aggressive campaign against voter ID laws in a half-dozen battleground states that will be key in the presidential election. AFL-CIO Executive Vice-President Arlene Holt Baker said that the labor federation will have boots on the ground registering and helping voters in Florida, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin with the goups political program. Baker said the AFL-CIO would execute it’s” most aggressive push” yet against the ID laws in 2012. “This year, we will be running the strongest voter protection program ever. This will be our most aggressive push, and we have never done anything on this scale before becaue the attacks that we are seeing on the right to vote are unprecedented.” Baker called the voter ID laws passed in several states “a modern day version of a poll tax and a new form of Jim Crow.” If this bill passes, it would amend both, the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, and the Help America Vote Act of 2002.
Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin have photo ID requirements and several other states have implemented new voting rules that reduce early voting and limit same-day registration. Wisconsin, which passed it’s new voting laws the summer of 2011, held a mock election in October in Madison with election officials and volunteers. The dry run revealed a number of problems including increased waiting times for voters. The law took effect on February 21, the Spring primary. The mock election arranged by Madison City Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl, also proved that new training of poll workers is greatly needed.
Most of the states with new voting laws face legal challenges, or must receive pre-clearance from the Department of Justice. Rep. Sheila Lee (D-Texas) said she would encourage the Justice Department to be dilligent on reviewing all of these voter ID laws, she added, “Texas is now being reveiwed and it has not been pre-cleared. We ask the Justice Department to declare that it is in violation of the Voting Rights Act.