As the Republican presidential candidates viciously tore each other down during Saturday’s debate, the urgency with which Republican legislatures have passed restrictive voter ID laws has made itself very clear. Every debate between these liars and hypocrites has little substance beyond them collectively reminding America why none of them are fit to be President of the United States, highlighting just how little chance they have of winning an election by honest democracy.
Since they can’t win this game, they have elected to change the rules instead, by passing restrictive voter ID laws that disenfranchise a large number of voters – especially minorities – from exercising their right to vote. They justify this in an underhanded appeal to “protecting the integrity” of our democracy by waving the imaginary specter of “voter fraud” over the nation’s head. This is an entirely manufactured crisis that does not exist, but has been used to deprive thousands of potential Democratic voters of their rights.
For example, state officials in Alabama recently provoked a public outcry when they passed a very strict voter ID law requiring photo ID – and then closed 32 DMVs in primarily African-American counties, including every single county where 75% of the population was African American, and therefore more likely to vote Democratic, because the Republican Party has systematically alienated every demographic group that isn’t Christian white males.
In 2012, the Brennan Center for Justice found that 3.2 million Americans lack a photo ID that they would need to vote with; that number is certain to have gone up with the Republican efforts to disenfranchise the groups most likely to not have voter IDs – the elderly, minorities, and young folks aged 18-24. Numerous bureaucratic hoops stand in the way of anyone attempting to get an ID, as anyone who has ever spent time in a DMV knows: “people are caught in a Catch-22: You need a birth certificate to get this ID, but to get a birth certificate you have to have an ID,” notes Elisabeth MacNamara, head of the League of Women Voters.
The right to vote is one of the cornerstones of our democracy, and one of our most sacred rights enshrined in the Constitution by six different amendments. The shady Republican campaign to make it more difficult to exercise that right is an indictment of their own inability to put together a policy platform with an appeal to anyone who isn’t a white Christian male, and is a direct attack on the integrity of our political system. We must not let them steal the White House by way of dirty tricks.
Watch John Oliver break down the attack on voting rights here:
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.