By now, everyone knows that seven states have passed laws that compromise the ability of some people to vote; the feeling is that the laws unfairly impact minority voters.
Seven states, including Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, West Virginia, Ohio, Wisconsin and Maine, have passed laws that prevent early voting, and at least 15 states have passed laws that require voters to have a photo ID. States requiring photo identification include Texas, South Carolina, Kansas, Floria, Wisconsin, Rhode Island,Mississippi and Kansas.(The states with new voter ID laws include Kansas, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Wisconsin.)
Civil rights organizations are concerned that these new laws, which have been adopted in so-called “battleground” states, will unfairly impact minority voters. It is estimated that about 5 million voters will be negatively impacted by the new laws. A study by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, states that about 18 percent of seniors and 35 percent of African Americans do not have the proper photo identification.
This, after so much blood was shed by black and white people, during the 60s, to give African Americans the right to vote.
In October of 2011, a 96-year-old Tennessee woman, having learned of the new photo ID requirement of her state, was denied a photo ID because, in spite of having an envelope full of documents which affirmed her identification, including her birth certificate, she didn’t have her marriage license.
That was a problem, said the clerk, because the name on her birth certificate and on her old voter registration card was different from the name she currently has.
That sounds like something from the days of poll taxes, where clerks denied African Americans the right to vote for all sorts of contrived and dastardly reasons.
GOP presidential candidates, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich say the new laws are necessary to prevent voter fraud.
The United States Justice Department is looking into these laws, but the slowness of “the system” is a tad worrisome. It is January, sure, but before we know it, we will have gotten through what is sure to be a lurid election campaign season and November will be upon us.
I am sure there are nice, compact “directions” on what people should do in order to make sure they have the correct identification come November, but folks who make laws know how people work. They know that a great number of people will either remain uninformed about the new laws, or will wait until it’s too late to get the needed photo identification, and then, come voting day, tear-tear…they will not be able to vote.
The Justice Department has locked horns with South Carolina over their new law. Some Republicans say that its “intrusion” into South Carolina’s business is just another example of “big government,” and is proof of why President Obama, dubbed by some as “the most liberal president in United States history” needs to be out of the White House.
But, no. I would have to disagree. In its history, the United States government has been either slow or absent in matters pertaining to protecting or ensuring the rights of African Americans far too often. A government that said nothing about what’s going on to compromise the right to vote for African Americans and others would be a government that would not be worthy of respect.
This is not the time to go backwards.
A candid observation…