‘No’ on voter ID

For more information about your right to vote—and to contact the U.S. Department of Justice’s voting rights section—visit its website at www.justice.gov/crt/about/vot.

Despite the dire picture for job growth, a surprising number of states have been more concerned with passing new restrictions on voting rights than with expanding the economic base. More than a dozen states have recently passed or are considering “voter ID” laws that would require particular types of photo identification in order to cast a ballot. This will have the greatest impact on voters who are poor, elderly and people of color—those least likely to have photo ID cards.

Another tack that’s been taken is the path Ohio has chosen: severely reduce or eliminate the possibility of early voting. During the 2008 election, close to one-third of black voters in Southern states voted early, on the Sunday before Election Day. Throughout the country, early voters account for a good chunk of the electorate, and again, these voters are predominantly older, poorer and members of racial minorities.

It’s no accident that Republican-majority state legislatures are in such a hurry to pass these laws, given that they target voters who tend to favor the other party.

So let’s call it what it is: a deliberate attempt to disenfranchise voters who don’t support Republicans. And let’s demand that both the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Elections Commission put a stop to it. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 guarantees that citizens have a right to their ballot. There is no excuse for limiting that right, especially to the advantage of one party.