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The Right to Vote under Attack: The Campaign to Keep Millions of Americans from the Ballot Box, a Right Wing Watch: In Focus report by PFAW Foundation, details the worst of the worst of the Right’s fight to suppress the vote. Many states have indeed taken up this fight with voter ID, proof of citizenship, and other suppressive legislation.
Last November, Mississippi voters approved by referendum a voter ID constitutional amendment. Because the amendment required enacting accompanying legislation, the legislature then passed HB 921, which Governor Phil Bryant signed into law on May 17, 2012. ALEC Members Joey Fillingane and Bill Denny were behind these efforts.
We have known for some time that such laws put voting even further out of reach for many vulnerable populations, and recent analysis confirms that the Mississippi law could make it virtually impossible for some of these citizens to vote. Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann has asked state residents to let his office know if they lack ID, and says that they aim to provide free ones. But, that free ID is causing its own problems. Jackson Free Press:
With the nationwide attack on voting rights a regular topic of discussions these days, we must not forget that our democracy is strongest when all citizens participate – which is exactly what the National Congress of American Indians reminded us last month when it called for immediate action to empower Native voters.
UPDATE: Though July 1 has now passed, Governor Rick Snyderstill has yet to sign the voter suppression package. The Michigan chapter of the National Action Network is planning a march from Detroit to Lansing on July 23-27 to protest these and other measures, should the Governor come down on the wrong side of civil rights. Chapter president Rev. Charles Williams II, a supporter of PFAW Foundation’s African American Ministers Leadership Council, says that the bill’s proponents are "playing games" and "we’re standing against it."
UPDATE: The New Hampshire legislature has overridden Governor Lynch’s veto on SB 289 by an 18-5 margin in the Senate and 231-112 in the House. The SB 318 veto fell along similar lines, 18-5 and 232-110, respectively. Both are now on the books, but at least voter ID still has to be cleared by the Department of Justice.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota along with the League of Women Voters Minnesota, Common Cause Minnesota, Jewish Community Action, and five Minnesota voters have challenged an amendment to the Minnesota constitution (HF 2738, sponsored by ALEC State Chairwoman Mary Kiffmeyer) because it would confuse some voters into believing that prohibited forms of identification, such as student or company ID, would be accepted. The plaintiffs argue that the amendment is “misleading and false” because the ballot language references “valid photo identification” while the amendment uses the phrase “government-issued.”
Changes to Maine’s voter registration form have lead the Secretary of State’s office to halt production of the old version, thus leaving voter registration drives with limited options as they await the new release. Colleen Lachowicz, a Democratic candidate for State Senate, recalls her trip last week to pick some up.
A series of voter suppression bills, whose ALEC ties include Representative Dave Agema and Senators David Robertson and Darwin Booher, have now made their way to Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. Supporters claim that the legislation is necessary to combat voter fraud, but there is a reason the Right Wing has been so eager to invent such a problem and then offer gratuitous solutions: to disenfranchise the voters least likely to back conservative politicians.