June 20, 2012

Sidebar: Voter Purge

Shortly after posting part 1 on voter purge, I read an email from the Brennan Center for Justice, asking for my help in pushing back against "the biggest rollback in voting rights since the Jim Crow era."

The email references three citizens who are having trouble obtaining or maintaining their voting rights, including a veteran in South Carolina who can't vote without the correct state photo ID, but can't get one because he doesn't have his actual Social Security card. Which, of course, he can't get without his South Carolina ID card.  I chuckled uncomfortably at this one, remembering my own situation of  trying to obtain an ID card without having an ID card.

Also mentioned was a 93 year old woman, who worked for 30 years at the Statehouse in Tennessee. Trusted to clean the building, including the governor's office, she "was almost barred from voting for the first time in decades" because her ID card didn't meet the new standards.  She'd been voting all along, without any issue.

The third situation pertains to an 88 year old woman, whose name on her birth certificate doesn't match the name on her ID, so she needs to provide her 65-year old marriage certificate, assuming she's eventually able to find it. Kinda thinking that most married women have one name today and another one when they were born, don't you think?

These are just a few of the many cases that have come to light where seniors, young people, and other traditional Democratic-leaning constituencies have been made to jump through hoops to maintain their right to vote by Republican-controlled state legislatures.  The Florida League of Women Voters and Rock the Vote had suspended voter registration drives in protest over the Sunshine State's new laws, and only recently went back to work there.

But here's the thing -- regardless of which party is behind the changing rules or the voter registration drives, the real problem is that so many eligible voters don't vote.  That should be a bigger concern, and more important area of focus, than disenfranchising the ones who do.