Extremists in the Republican party (I am not saying this is all or even a majority of Republicans, just a very loud and powerful few) are doing their best to limit the number of voters from parties other than their own.
My current favorite trick was tried in Ohio, where early voting hours in heavily Democratic counties was limited to 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. In at least two of these counties, nearly 50% of the early voters voted on nights or weekends in the last election. Counties with a high Republican registration were approved to have expanded early voting hours on nights and weekends. Eventually, the Republican Attorney General who had blocked the extended early voting hours in the urban areas backed down and ordered all county boards of election to have the same hours.
Florida passed HB1355 which made it so difficult for a third party to help others to register to vote that the Florida League of Women Voters ceased voter-registration efforts. It also decreased early voting in that state.
Photo ID laws are another means of keeping people currently registered to vote from being able to vote in the future. My own state, I regret to say, is one that tried (unsuccessfully, as of a court case concluded yesterday) to institute a picture ID requirement. There’s been a study that reports that currently approximately 1 million (7.4%) of the 13.5 million registered voters in Texas do not have a picture ID.
Even if the photo IDs themselves are free, getting the documentation required to get one might not be. Neither is the transportation necessary to get to a place where one can apply. There are plenty of places in my fair state where one has to drive 60 miles or more to get to a Driver License office (the office Texas was going to use to administer the “free” ID).
Texas requires all applicants for a Driver License or ID (and renewals, if not previously provided) to provide some pretty strict identification requirements. If you don’t already have a governmental-issued picture ID card (Texas Driver License, Passport, U.S. Military ID card, etc.), it’s usually going to take at least three pieces of documentation to get an ID in Texas. I don’t see that they’d require any less for a voter ID.
Another way of keeping people from voting is purging the voter rolls. CNN reported in October of 2008 (sorry, I can only find secondary sources, CNN has removed the original article) regarding Kyla Berry, who received a letter dated October 2 saying she had one week to respond and challenge the finding that she was no longer eligible to vote because she was deemed not a citizen and must prove that she was. The letter was postmarked October 9. The same happened to another 4500 voters in Georgia that year, who suddenly were forced to prove their eligibility to vote because of a “computer error.” [Here’s a secondary source. Here’s another one where Georgia got its hand slapped.]
I’ve heard a rumor that the day after President Obama won the election, the Florida Republican party chair announced that everything was going to be done to keep him from being reelected. It was decided the best way to do that was to keep Democrats from voting. It was particularly aimed at keeping minorities and those of lower income from voting. If you have a source for this, please share it with me. I haven’t been able to confirm it.
I’m off to think of pleasanter things. I hope you have a happy and safe Labor Day weekend.
Internal Jukebox: Guide My Feet, Lord