Perhaps the most important editorial in the US today.
The following guest op-ed prompted my mind to wander to the “Jets” number in West Side Story, only with a twist I find all too frequently applicable to me: “When you’re a senior, you’re a senior all the way, from your first forgotten moment to next ‘I can’t remember that’” I’m somewhat familiar with the Constitution, so how I misremembered the relevant voting provision in Article 1, Section 4 . . . As I said — it was a “senior” thing, and I submit the editorial for your perusal with the request that you get your own copy of the Constitution. It’s free. There are no hard words, and it’s important.
— Ed Tubbs
Palm Springs, CA
May 2, 2008
Voting Rights Are Too Important to Leave to the States
By ADAM COHEN
It would be hard for Florida to surpass its disastrous performance in the 2000 election, but give the Sunshine State credit for trying. Its latest assault on democracy: a law threatening volunteer groups with crippling fines if they make small mistakes in registering voters. The law seems clearly aimed at keeping new voters — especially minorities and the poor — off the rolls. And it is working.
The League of Women Voters, which has registered Florida voters since 1939, has called off its registration drive this year.Florida is not the only state trying to stop eligible people from voting.
Georgia passed a law in 2005 that made voters pay for their voter ID cards — a modern poll tax. The fee was eventually removed, but the law could still block as many as 300,000 registered voters without the right ID from casting ballots.
In 2004, Ohio ordered counties to throw out voter registration forms that were not on thick enough paper.
It is chilling to think that state legislators and election officials would intentionally try to make it harder for Americans to vote, but they always have — with poll taxes, literacy tests and gerrymandering.
There was a time when the Supreme Court regularly struck these restrictions down. In 1966, it held Virginia’s $1.50 poll tax unconstitutional. In 1972, it ruled that Tennessee’s one-year residency requirement for voting violated the Constitution.
Now the Supreme Court has switched sides. This week, it upheld a harsh Indiana voter ID law that could disenfranchise many poor, elderly and student voters. The ruling will make it even easier for other states to block voters’ access to the ballot box.
If the courts won’t protect voters, Congress has to. The Constitution, in Article 1, Section 4, gives Congress broad authority to set the rules for federal elections. It should use this power to set minimum voting rights standards that would apply nationwide and ensure that all eligible Americans could vote.Voter registration rules are the place to start.