Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A handy guide to GOP voter suppression efforts

Talking Points Memo has put together a somewhat basic guide to GOP efforts to suppress votes around the country. I say "somewhat basic" because I'm sure there is a lot more out there. Still, it's very useful and, unfortunately, very necessary.

Post election, I would love to see a couple of things done by some enterprising blogger/reporter.

First, a visual guide to how voter suppression works. Maybe some dramatization, maybe a graphic, maybe a guide. Something eye-catching.

Second, a history of the more egregious vote fraud efforts in the history of the US. We've all heard the joke about voting early and voting often in Chicago. Mo Udall used to say that when he died, he wanted to be buried in Chicago, so he could be politically active when he was dead.

It's great that we have lots of new media spreading the word about vote fraud, but this is the first election when I have heard this much about it BEFORE the election. I'd love to know more about the history, so we can start making concerted efforts to get the right laws passed to prevent this kind of thing in the future.

I also feel compelled to take a stand that may be controversial for a good liberal. The GOP has been using "Voter ID" laws as a way of suppressing the vote. It's a simple idea: require all voters to show a photo ID, in the name of preventing fraud, before they vote. The problem is that there are a fair number of people, many of them minorities, who don't have a photo ID. They may not have a driver's license, they probably don't have a passport, etc.

When I vote in California, I am asked for my driver's license, which I always have with me. It does make sense that people have to prove who they are to be able to vote. I also have to sign something.

I think liberals should be in favor of Voter ID laws with some key caveats. First, establish a significant lead time between the passage of the law and its implementation, so that there is enough time for people who do not have photo ID's to get them. Second, allocate money for an outreach program so that those people who do NOT have photo ID's can get one very easily. After all, if Republicans are in favor of photo ID's being required for voting, presumably they will be in favor of making it easy for people to get those photo ID's.

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