The Root's Cynthia Gordy has a good primer on why the new voting laws that are sweeping the country actually matter. We've written about how the array of new laws that make it harder for likely voters to register or get to the polling booth before, but Gordy's rundown is a simple rundown of why that's ultimately at stake.
A report published last month from the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU estimates five million voters from traditionally Democratic demographics could be affected by the new of restrictive voting laws. And these new restrictions fall most heavily on young, low-income, and voters of color, as well as on voters with disabilities.
As Gordy points out:
- Even when citizens try to abide by the new laws, they can face roadblocks.
You've likely heard the story of Dorothy Cooper, a 96-year-old black woman in Tennessee who tried to comply with her state's impending photo ID requirement for voting.
- Not all voting laws are created equal.
Although different voting changes around the country have been lumped together in most reports, some of the proposed laws are far less draconian than others. Although different voting changes around the country have been lumped together in most reports, some of the proposed laws are far less draconian than others.
- Some members of Congress are pushing back.
Last week U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, introduced two bills -- one to make Election Day registration available nationally, and the other to prohibit photo ID requirements for voting.
- The Justice Department will speak their piece this month.
Texas, South Carolina and Alabama must have changes to their voting laws precleared by the U.S. Department of Justice, as stipulated by the Voting Rights Act of 1965, so in those cases the feds will be weighing in on whether they have a disproportionate impact on certain groups.
- Regular people can do something about it, too. In some states, they already have.
Instead of focusing only on the injustice, let's talk about the solutions. "Other than Florida and Iowa, where they essentially have a permanent disenfranchisement of people who were formerly incarcerated, none of the new laws that have passed should make it impossible for anybody [else] to vote.
The states that have already cut back on voting rights will provide 171 electoral votes in 2012 - 63 percent of the 270 needed to win the presidency.
A new campaign launched by voting rights advocates is calling on the Obama administration to step in and block voter intimidation efforts in the 2012 elections, The groups' video below looks at how many of these new voting restriction initiatives are being funded by two wealthy brothers. (Full discretion: Colorlines.com's publisher, Applied Research Center, has endorsed the aforementioned campaign.)