Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 9 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds   

Equal Voting Rights Still In Question in 2009

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   No comments
Message Project Vote
Cross-Posted at Project Vote's Voting Matter's Blog

Weekly Voting Rights News Update

by Erin Ferns

After the voters spoke last November by turning out in record numbers, we enter a new year with a new president and multiple new agendas for election administration in the states that bring both excitement and concern from voting rights advocates. Whether the discussion is about  upholding the landmark Voting Rights Act, the disenfranchisement that comes with voter ID, or even the distribution of provisional ballots, the conclusion remains the same: we should work to protect and facilitate every eligible citizens' right to vote, not impede it.

In spite of our advances as a nation, the New York Times argues that we still face political and racial tensions, necessitating protections guaranteed under a currently challenged section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The Saturday editorial writes on the origin of the law, particularly Section 5, which was explicitly written to halt voter suppression tactics that were brazenly used to "stop blacks from voting or being elected to office." The law, reauthorized by Congress in 2006, is being challenged by a municipal utility district in Texas that argues that Section 5  of the law "is unconstitutional, and...imposes too many burdens on jurisdictions covered by it."

"Discrimination against minority voters may not be as blatant as it was then, but it still exists," the Times wrote. "District lines are drawn to prevent minorities from winning; polling places are located in places hard for minority voters to get to; voter ID requirements are imposed with the purpose of suppressing the minority vote."

Meanwhile Voter ID, a leading election issue that also disproportionately disadvantages minority voters, is facing debate in at least 12 state legislatures this year, including Alabama and Minnesota.

The recently introduced "Voter Integrity Act of 2009," a photo ID bill, brings warnings from Minnesota voting rights advocates who claim the law is at best unnecessary and, at worst, a deterrent for voters, according to local broadcast news outlet, KARE 11.

"There is no evidence of voter fraud in Minnesota," said Dan McGrath, Executive Director from Take Action Minnesota. "On November 4 we received calls from people who couldn't figure out what they needed to register to vote. If this [bill] is passed I think it will make an already confusing process more confusing...and will make it difficult for the elderly and other's who don't have a driver's license."

Despite the lack of evidence of voter fraud in the state, bill author, Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Delano) attempted to justify the risk of disenfranchising voters by saying "every law that has to do with voting will inconvenience someone in some way." he said.

Allegations of "voter fraud" are not only used to create unnecessary and potentially harmful laws like voter ID, but also to undermine efforts to facilitate voter participation like Same Day Registration, which, studies show, can increase voter turnout by as much as 10 percent.

Last fall, Ohio implemented a new procedure that allowed voters to register and cast in-person absentee ballots during the early voting period, a procedure that Hamilton County, Ohio Prosecutor Joe Deters alleged to be rife with voter fraud. However, the allegation was recently found to be a grossly misreported and highly partisan effort to negate legitimate votes, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer on Tuesday.

Deters, "who was Southwest Ohio regional chairman of Republican John McCain's presidential campaign" had "specifically asked at that time that more than 600 votes cast between Sep. 30 and Oct. 6 - the 'golden week' - be investigated because of the allegations of widespread voter fraud."

"Ultimately...the investigators discovered 'get-out-the-vote' practices, sponsored by community organizations, which took full advantage of this unique absentee-voting period, but no evidence these practices violated Ohio law," according to a report by Special Prosecutor Michael O'Neill.

And, "the only criminal case stemming from Deters allegations of widespread voter fraud last fall was against a Connecticut man," who ended up turning himself in, the Enquirer wrote.

Ohio remains in election-related news not just for voter fraud myths and Same Day Registration battles, but for its "inaccurate voter-registration lists and a needlessly confusing voter-identification law" that cause the state to rely too much on "potentially disputed" provisional ballots, according to the Akron Beacon Journal.

Next Page  1  |  2

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

Must Read 1   Well Said 1   Supported 1  
Rate It | View Ratings

Project Vote Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Project Vote is the leading technical assistance and direct service provider to the civic participation community. Since its founding in 1982, Project Vote has provided professional training, management, evaluation (more...)
Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Mich. GOP Targets Foreclosure Victims for Election Day Dirty Tricks

Ohio's Brunner Right to Demand Cleveland Board of Elections Resignation

After 2008 Election, Some States Want to Make Voting Easier; Others Determined to Make it Harder

Project Vote & ACORN Complete Historic 1.3 Million Voter Registration Drive

Youth Voter Participation Surges - But So Do Voter Suppression Attempts

Living in Glass Houses: The GOP's Own Man is Convicted of Voter Registration Fraud

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend