So, you may ask, "What's the big deal? You need a photo ID to do everything from cashing a check to buying cigarettes. Besides, I've always presented my identification at the polls." The facts are that before the 2006 mid-term elections, no state ever required a voter to produce a government issued photo ID as a condition of voting. In the past, a driver's license, a student ID, a utility bill, or any other proof of address was sufficient. The new Voter ID laws sweeping the south require that voters obtain a special photo ID, given either for free or with a fee to recipients by the government to combat "voter fraud." Critics say the laws disproportionately affect minorities, the elderly, and lower-income groups because it's a hassle to get. Obtaining the new, official, Flash Gordon, state-approved voter ID card can be a costly burden to those without transportation. Even free, state-issued ID requires a birth certificate, which costs twenty-five dollars per copy and is often difficult for the elderly to locate. Many states eliminate the right of college students to vote on their own campuses, forcing a trip home to see Mom and Pop in order to exercise their franchise. For the poor and minority voters, it's the return of the poll tax, plain and simple.
A New York Times study, done in 2007, found that in the previous five years, there were a total of eighty six convictions of voter fraud. The new, state ID is an antidote looking for an illness. Voter fraud today isn't committed by some ward hack trying to register the dead, it's done by voting machine irregularities and tampering by election officials. We've all seen it. In previous presidential elections dating back to Clinton, there have been proven incidences of the miscounting of absentee ballots or the wholesale discarding of provisional votes, not to mention a little thing called Bush v. Gore, the Superbowl of vote tampering. Do you remember way back to the last election when a state legislator in Pennsylvania bragged on camera that the Commonwealth's new Voter ID law would deliver the state to what's-his-name Romney? Minority voters turned out in droves. Out of the thirty states recently enacting changes in Voter ID laws, all of them, with the exception of Rhode Island, have been introduced by Republican-led state legislatures. That includes the distinguished statesmen in the Tennessee House as well- the same ones who thought it was a good idea to allow guns in bars. If you don't believe the intention of these laws is voter suppression, just watch the zeal of the GOP officials announcing the changes. And it's not just Voter ID laws that have been altered. States under Republican control face cuts in early voting days, and the elimination of Sunday voting, the day that African-American church-goers traditionally go to the polls.
The Tea Party sticklers for fiscal responsibility conveniently discard that philosophy when it comes to disenfranchising black voters and resurrecting a new type of Jim Crow. In their favor, a huge, new government bureaucracy dealing with the creation and distribution of state approved voter ID cards would certainly be a job creator, and a stimulus of sorts. Of the estimated twenty-one million citizens without any government issued ID, the great majority are Hispanics, African-Americans, and the poor. That's enough to alter an election. In 2012, a Federal Court found Texas' Voter ID law and redistricting plans to be discriminatory against particular racial and language groups- in other words, Democrats. After the recent Supreme Court decisions, the rulings of the Federal Court were thrown out. So, now Texas Republicans are free at last. Recalling the long lines of people determined to cast their votes in the last election, regardless of restrictions, the foolish, Limbaugh-listening fundamentalists facing extinction who are attempting to hold on to their dwindling political power by rigging the game will probably ignore the warnings of Colin Powell. The former Secretary said, "These kind of procedures (which) make it likely that fewer Hispanics and African-Americans might vote...are going to backfire." There just aren't enough angry white men to go around anymore. Of course, the Supreme Court's decision leaves it up to the legislative branch to determine which states are to be covered by the Voting Rights Act in the future. Considering the current, do-nothing Congress, any bets on who makes the list?