Saturday, July 28, 2012

Why New Voter ID Laws Should Frighten Women, Minorities and Poor

Some view this new wave of stricter voter identification laws as a tactic to dampen voter turnout of groups more prone to cast ballots in favor of Democratic candidates. There may a short term goal of suppressing a certain voting block for the 2012 election, but this restrictive voter ID law trend reaches back into an ugly past where women, African American and the poor were not allowed to vote.

There was a time in this great country when only those that owned a certain amount of property could vote in most states. At the time of ratification of the Constitution property ownership requirements disqualified over half the white men of voting age, by some estimates, from voting. Property rights requirements also disqualified most freed slaves from voting in states where it was legal for them to vote. Property rights requirement were eventually dropped as voting requirements for white men, but remained in place for blacks. In 1869 the 15th Amendment was passed that guaranteed black men the right to vote, but women of all races were not allowed to vote. Many states immediately passed voting laws to discourage blacks and poor whites from voting such as poll taxes and literacy tests. Other tactics were used like hidden polling places and something the State of Florida is using today called felony disenfranchisement. The last poll tax law was struck down in 1966.  


Women were not allowed to vote in national elections at all until ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. Women were granted the right to vote in time to participate in the 1920 Presidential election. So you may ask why women and poor people of all races should be alarmed by the more severe voting laws.

The old advisory of those not knowing their history will be doomed to repeat it applies to what is going on with these new voter identification requirements. These new voter requirements will hurt women, the poor and minorities the most. Economics is the reason women, minorities and the poor are hurt be these new voter identification laws because those groups will least be able to afford the required documents and/or travel to locations to obtain the required voter ID cards. Poverty among women is at an all time high and sparing dollars to obtain birth certificate copies etc is not logical.

The main reason these groups should be outraged is because of the struggles they undertook to gain the right to vote to begin with. Now some in these groups think these new voting restrictions don’t apply to them and are protecting them from a massive voter fraud problem that does not exist. In reality the same bus that some are trying to exclude others from riding may toss them off along with the rest in the process. The main reason these groups should be outrage is the attempted march backwards to a time when voting was for the privileged instead of being a privilege.  

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