GOP Voter ID Laws Would Disenfranchise Millions Of Blacks and Hispanics

Apr 20 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

After their historic defeat in 2008 was fueled by surging minority turnout, Republicans nationwide are backing Voter ID laws that would cost taxpayers millions of dollars and disenfranchise millions of African-American and Hispanic voters.

In the aftermath of 2008, Republicans in states across the country have used the boogeyman of voter fraud to pass Voter ID measures, but as the Brennan Center for Justice noted, voters are more likely to be struck by lightning than commit voter fraud. The Bush Justice Department spent 5 years on a voter fraud investigation, and came up with 86 convictions out of 196 million votes cast. These new laws don’t come cheap. Depending on the size of the state, tens of millions tax payer dollars must be spent to implement them.

Rachel Maddow has focused on the attack on new voters and the state of Kansas, but just as much as young people, seniors, the poor, and the disabled, there are two particular groups that these laws are targeting. These laws are specifically going after Hispanic and African-American voters. The 2008 electorate was the most diverse in American history, and the GOP is out to put a stop to that.

According to the Pew Hispanic Center’s 2009 report:

In 2008, Latino eligible voters accounted for 9.5% of all eligible voters, up from 8.2% in 2004. Similarly, the share of eligible voters who were black increased from 11.6% in 2004 to 11.8% in 2008. The share of eligible voters who were Asian also increased, from 3.3% in 2004 to 3.4% in 2008. In contrast, the share of eligible voters who were white fell from 75.2% in 2004 to 73.4% in 2008.

With population growth and increased voter participation among blacks, Latinos and Asians, members of all three groups cast more votes in 2008 than in 2004. Two million more blacks and 2 million more Latinos reported voting in 2008 than said the same in 2004. Among Asians, 338,000 more votes were reported cast in 2008 than in 2004. The number of white voters in 2008 was also up, but only slightly-increasing from 99.6 million in 2004 to 100 million in 2008.

The demographics of the American electorate are changing:

In 2008 Obama crushed McCain with Hispanics, (67%-31%), and African-Americans, (95%-4%). Instead of trying to solve their problem by appealing to these voters based on the issues, Republicans have decided instead to make it as difficult as possible for them to vote.

2004 studies conducted at Rutgers and Ohio State universities found that voter ID laws decrease Hispanic turnout by 10%, and African-American turnout by 5.7%. Since the Hispanic and African-American turnout was a point higher in 2008 than in 2004, these numbers are underestimating the true level of voter disenfranchisement.

The 2010 Census found that the US Hispanic population grew by 56% over the last decade to 50.5 million, and these Americans heavily lean Democratic. According to a survey done by Latino Decisions, 92% of eligible Latinos registered to vote in 2008. Of those 92%, Democrats outnumbered Republicans by more than 3 to 1 (61%-17%).

When Republicans decided to sell out to white male conservative voters and go hardline on immigration, they lost much of their support with Hispanics. Instead of trying to woo those voters back into their fold, spiteful Republicans have decided to disenfranchise them.

New voters and young people are two of the targets of these proposed voter ID laws, but just a big a threat to the GOP is the growth of America’s Hispanic population, and the energized force of African-Americans.

What this means in practical terms for 2012 can be found by looking at North Carolina. Obama carried the state by only 14,177 votes in 2008. The Obama campaign accomplished this with a large grassroots effort to register new voters and get those voters to vote. (28% of the early voters in the state were African-Americans).

These laws are being considered in 37 states across the country, and their passage would disenfranchise millions of minority voters.

The Republican response to this defeat has been to propose a change in the law so that voters would have to show an official ID before they could vote. The State Board of Elections found that this could cause a problem for 556,000 North Carolina residents who have no photo ID. African-Americans make up 20% of the state’s electorate, but 27% of them lack an ID. The disenfranchisement of a 1% of these people could swing the state Republican in 2012.

This is a big, big issue, and with the exception of Rachel Maddow, it is not being discussed. Republicans have decided that they can’t win a fair fight, so they are reshaping the electorate into one that they can carry.

If Republicans can’t beat the grassroots, then they’ll kill the grass.

Before we get to Election Day in 2012, we must first eliminate a plague of disenfranchisement that if unchecked will leave Lady Liberty frail, stricken, and disabled.

The right to vote is the bedrock of our collective American values . When disenfranchisement occurs it not only hurts the voter but dims the beacon of freedom that shines though out this land in the name of our great republic.

Image: KOK Edit: Katharine O’Moore-Klopf

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