Think You Have the Right to Vote? Not so Much!
Posted on March 29th, 2012 by Craig Newmark
Folks, think you have the right to vote? Maybe not so much. I've been working with some good folks focusing on Voter Suppression issues that are happening across the country. There are some bad actors who are trying to pass legislation that will keep eligible people from voting.
What I learned in high school civics class is that an attack on voting rights is virtually the same as an attack on the country. So I asked people smarter than me to help me do what George Washington would have wanted me to do, collect and release the information you're getting from us today.
I worked with the craigconnects team to create an extremely factchecked infographic to show what's been going on. I feel that people in the social sector are starting to work together in more and better ways – the good people at Brennan Center for Justice, League of Women Voters, Rock the Vote, and Voto Latino have been very helpful with all of their research and surveys. These folks aren't social workers or do gooders, they're just trying to defend Americans and Founding Father values; it's basic patriotism.
Voter Suppression is happening across the U.S. as restrictive voting laws are being both introduced and passed. 164 laws were introduced in states that would restrict U.S. Citizens from voting in the 2012 U.S. Election.
Restrictive voting has taken these forms:
- Eliminating election-day registration
- Restricting third-party voter registration activities
- Reducing the number of days for early voting
- Legislation requiring photo ID for in-person voting
Restrictions most heavily disenfranchise young, minority, and low-income voters, as well as voters with disabilities. We need to prevent bad legislation from preventing people to vote in the 2012 U.S. election.
Funny enough, though, Protecting the Vote explains that between 2000 and 2007, there have been 32,299 reports of UFO sightings, 352 deaths caused by lightning, and only 9 instances of possible voter impersonation.
Some other important stuff we uncovered:
- 5 million eligible voters may find it harder to vote in the 2012 U.S. election due to the voter suppression laws.
- Voter ID laws could cost taxpayers $65.8 million in 4 states: PA, IN, NC, MI. All of these states had huge budget shortfalls in 2011.
- 34 states introduced legislation requiring voters to show photo ID in order to vote.
- More than 20 million voting age citizens don't have the type of photo ID required by the state voter ID laws.
- The people who don't have a government issued photo ID?
- Aged 65+ = 18%
- Whites = 8%
- Latinos = 19%
- Blacks = 25%
- Asian-Americans = 20%
- 3 states passed laws slashing early voting periods by 50%. 1-2 million voters will be affected by the reduction of early voting periods.
- 15 states introduced legislation that would require proof of citizenship to register and to vote. This will affect 696,000 citizens and potential voters.
Again all of this data has been very seriously factchecked. My gut says that people have always wanted to help others more, but thought they were the exception and there was nothing they could do. Now, on the net you can see that others feel like you do, and that you can get stuff done together. There are a lot of drives and good organizations that you can get involved with. Check out the infographic and the Voter Suppression resources list we put together for some tips on where to get involved.
Awareness and helping to spread the word is a big deal, but understanding a given issue and its complexities is equally important for folks who want to stand up for change.