Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette
Back in August, columnist Ari Berman wrote an article in Rolling Stone about the GOP war minorities, elderly, students and the poor who traditionally vote Democratic, by passing state laws that make it increasing difficult, not just register to vote but to actually suppress voting:
As the nation gears up for the 2012 presidential election, Republican officials have launched an unprecedented, centrally coordinated campaign to suppress the elements of the Democratic vote that elected Barack Obama in 2008. Just as Dixiecrats once used poll taxes and literacy tests to bar black Southerners from voting, a new crop of GOP governors and state legislators has passed a series of seemingly disconnected measures that could prevent millions of students, minorities, immigrants, ex-convicts and the elderly from casting ballots. “What has happened this year is the most significant setback to voting rights in this country in a century,” says Judith Browne-Dianis, who monitors barriers to voting as co-director of the Advancement Project, a civil rights organization based in Washington, D.C.
On Sunday the Brennan Center for Justice released it’s study that these new laws will disenfranchise at least 5 million votes in 2012.
These new restrictions fall most heavily on young, minority, and low-income voters, as well as on voters with disabilities. This wave of changes may sharply tilt the political terrain for the 2012 election. Based on the Brennan Center’s analysis of the 19 laws and two executive actions that passed in 14 states, it is clear that:
These new laws could make it significantly harder for more than five million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012.
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.
Of the 12 likely battleground states, as assessed by an August Los Angeles Times analysis of Gallup polling, five have already cut back on voting rights (and may pass additional restrictive legislation), and two more are currently considering new restrictions.
States have changed their laws so rapidly that no single analysis has assessed the overall impact of such moves. Although it is too early to quantify how the changes will impact voter turnout, they will be a hindrance to many voters at a time when the United States continues to turn out less than two thirds of its eligible citizens in presidential elections and less than half in midterm elections.
This study is the first comprehensive roundup of all state legislative action thus far in 2011 on voting rights, focusing on new laws as well as state legislation that has not yet passed or that failed. This snapshot may soon be incomplete: the second halves of some state legislative sessions have begun.
So far, 34 states have passed such laws.
Mr. Berman sat down for a discussion on Democracy Now with Amy Goodman and ProPublica reporter Lois Beckett who co-wrote, “The Hidden Hands in Redistricting: Corporations and Other Powerful Interests,” about how money is helping re-shape Congressional districts along partisan lines, a practice known as gerrymandering.:
Question: Where is the Obama Justice Department that should be challenging these laws as they relate to the 14th Amendment and the voting rights act?