“We all know what this is about. This is a way of restricting the franchise after 50 years of expanding it,”
Speaking at a 50th anniversary celebration of the Civil Rights Act in Texas, former President Bill Clinton told the audience everything you need to know about the Supreme Court’s ruling in Shelby County v. Holder in two sentences. “We all know what this is about. This is a way of restricting the franchise after 50 years of expanding it.”
Protecting your vote entails knowing a bit more about the tricks and traps Republican legislators have set up since that ruling.
For one thing, registering to vote is much harder now. If you move to a different district or a different state be prepared to spend several days navigating the bureaucratic nightmare that has become registering to vote.
Recently, I was told about the experiences of one person who recently moved to a different state and whose marital status had also changed. When they went to register, they had their driver’s license issued from their previous state. The license was still good. They had their passport, which had admittedly expired a few days earlier. They had utility bills. They also had their marriage certificate and birth certificate. In all, this person had a paper trail establishing that they are a U.S. citizen and therefore they are eligible to register and vote. Initially, they were told they need a valid passport to register. After some discussion, my informant was allowed to register. They told me that probably happened because they are white and wearing nice clothes because that would suggest they vote Republican. They were convinced that had they been black or perhaps wearing less expensive clothing, the law would have been strictly enforced and they would have been disenfranchised.
The lesson of this person’s story is understanding that the days in which registering to vote and voting were easy, even when you are eligible to vote and have ID, are over. These days registering to vote takes a lot of time, a lot of documentation and a lot of persistence.
The Republicans who passed these laws designed them hoping to discourage certain types of voters. They’re hoping that laws reducing early votes and banning weekend voting will keep turnout low from certain kinds of voters.
This year’s election is as much about fighting for your vote as it is about choosing who best represents your views on the issues and who is most likely to protect your interests.
Republicans are counting on Democrats being apathetic, being disheartened by Republican obstructionism or intimidated by all that money the Koch brothers are pouring into the Tea Party and its clown car of crazy candidates.
This also means you need to get informed about the documents you need to register to vote and to vote. It means taking the time to contact your local election officials to confirm what documents you need to register and to vote. It means checking to make sure you are registered. It means finding out if your state still allows early voting and if so when. It means making sure you go to the right poll place. In several states, if you vote at the wrong poll place your vote doesn’t get counted.
It means, if you are a woman, your ID must match your name exactly. If you are married, you government recognized ID must match your married name exactly as it appears on your marriage certificate.
The degree to which Republicans are out to suppress the vote wasn’t lost on former President Clinton. That’s why he spoke so eloquently about it.
Is this what Martin Luther King gave his life for? Is this what Lyndon Johnson gave his legendary skills for? Is this is what America has become — a great diverse American Democracy… to restrict the franchise?” “Here we are seriously considering undermining the spirit of both the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Act because of what’s happening with the franchise — this is nuts, it doesn’t make any sense.
It is nuts but then we are talking about Republican policies. Your voice matters. You have every right to use it and fight to keep using it.
Be ready for the obstacles that come your way by being informed and prepared. Be ready to wait in long lines. Be ready for a “poll observer” from the Koch Brother financed Tea Party, the Koch financed True the Vote or other similar organizations. In some states, you will need to be ready for that poll observer standing within 3 feet of you while you give your information to voting officials.
It sounds like a lot to do to be able to vote. Republicans are counting on you thinking just that and nothing would make them happier than if you stay home instead of making your voice heard.
I’ll be the first to admit that we shouldn’t have to fight this battle again. But we can win it by voting and we’ll definitely lose it if we don’t fight back.
Ms. Woodbury has a graduate degree in political science, with a minor in law. She is a qualified expert on political theory with a specific interest in the nexus between political theories and models and human rights.
Based on her interest in human rights and the threats that authoritarian regimes are to them, Ms. Woodbury’s masters thesis examined the influence of politics on the enforcement of international criminal law was cited in several academic studies.
Published work includes case summaries for the War Crimes Research Office.
She has an extensive background doing legal research in international and domestic law.
Ms. Woodbury’s work for politicusUSA includes articles on voting rights, the right to asylum and other civil/human rights.