-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
Although Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) does not believe “there is any particular evidence of polls barring African Americans from voting,” there is plenty of evidence that States are making it more difficult for African Americans to vote. Paul is using a strawman argument to recast the voting issue to one in which African Americans are prohibited from voting. Preventing African Americans from voting is the intended result of Republican efforts in numerous states. Using analysis of voting habits, Republicans have passed laws that intentionally create voting difficulties for groups that traditionally vote Democratic. Jim Crow has been dressed up a little, to become James Crow, Esq., but statistically speaking, the results are the same.
In Florida, minority voters waited to vote nearly double the time of white voters, as shown by this graph. Statistical analysis of voting patterns showed that 61.2 percent of all early voting ballots were cast by Democrats, compared with 18.7 percent by Republicans. The Republican solution: delete six days of early voting and extend voting hours to accommodate those voters who have jobs. A GOP consultant noted that “cutting out of the Sunday before Election Day was one of their targets only because that’s a big day when the black churches organize themselves.” Although not directly targeting African Americans, the intention is to reduce African American voter turnout.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker closed down DMV offices in predominately Democratic areas after passing a voter ID law. In Ohio, Republicans curtailed early voting from thirty-five to eleven days, including the Sunday before the election when African-American churches historically rally their congregants to go to the polls.
In North Carolina, voter suppression has been taken to new levels. Among the new measures are:
- The end of pre-registration for 16 & 17 year olds
- A ban on paid voter registration drives
- Elimination of same day voter registration
- A provision allowing voters to be challenged by any registered voter of the county in which they vote rather than just their precinct
- A week sliced off Early Voting
- Elimination of straight party ticket voting
- Authorization of vigilante poll observers, lots of them, with expanded range of interference
- An expansion of the scope of who may examine registration records and challenge voters
- A repeal of out-of-precinct voting
- A repeal of the current mandate for high-school registration drives
- Elimination of flexibility in opening early voting sites at different hours within a county
North Carolina now has the strictest voter ID law in the country. US military ID cards will be accepted, but IDs from students at state colleges will not be accepted. In the election of 2012, 1.4 million voters voted straight-ticket Democrat, while just 1.1 million voted straight ticket Republican, so that feature is gone. During the first seven days of early voting in the 2012 election, now eliminated, 458,258 Democrats used in-person early voting, while just 240,146 Republicans did so. Although not directly targeting African Americans, the intention is the same.
There doesn’t appear to be any help from the Constitution which states:
The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.
In a 2007, the Brennan Center for Justice reported (pdf) that “by any measure, voter fraud is extraordinarily rare.” If Republicans can’t win by getting more votes than Democrats, they’ll lessen the number of Democratic voters and achieve an identical result.
As President Lyndon B. Johnson said in 1965 regarding the right to vote:
Every device of which human ingenuity is capable, has been used to deny this right.