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Opinion: Republicans Are Creating Poll Taxes 2.0

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Early voting sign (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Early voting sign (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The Buck Starts Here

5 million eligible, legal American voters may miss out on this Presidential election because Republicans across the country have moved to make it more difficult to vote.

5 million people. That is a big number. Disenfranchised by design by the New Suppressionists.

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law has done a full analysis of the legislative activities of the New Suppressionists and their findings are disturbing.

Like the search for the Loch Ness Monster or Big Foot, right wing zealots are searching for something that does not exist. The great inequity in our voting system is not voter fraud but rather the level of difficulty in participating.

With the level of financial investment the New Suppressionists have put into their work, if there was a problem with voter fraud, they would have proof. In the absence of proof they assert that it exists as an article of faith.

Currently, about one in two eligible Americans participates in midterm elections and two in three in Presidential elections. Over the past two decades the momentum for election laws was for greater participation. Measures like the Motor Voter law, which allows voters to register when they get their license, and early vote have brought more voters into the system.

And that is the real problem Republicans see in the voting system.

They seem to long for the poll workers in Jim Crow days who would administer poll taxes and reading tests to block mostly poor, mostly black voters from participating in elections.

The targets of the New Suppressionists are mostly minority and mostly young or elderly.

The New Suppressionists are reintroducing the poll tax by demanding every voter have a government issued ID that reflects the current address of the individual.

Of course, for people that rent and move often, for college students, for elderly non-drivers and for those that cannot afford to own a car, this is an expensive barrier to overcome. They do not allow for utility bills – one of the documents that motor vehicle department’s accept when issuing an ID as proof of residency.

One in ten eligible voters do not possess a government ID.

The modern version, Poll Tax 2.0, has the desired effect for Republicans: make voting unnecessarily burdensome and expensive for those with the least means.

The Poll Tax 2.0 is but one example. New Suppressionists have made voter registration more difficult and have cut back early vote in an effort to target minority voters. Specifically,

Florida eliminated Sunday early vote, which was the highest participation day of the week for African American voters.

According to the Brennan Center at New York University’s School of Law, there have been at least 180 restrictive bills introduced since the beginning of 2011 in 41 states and 47 restrictive bills are currently pending in 12 states. 18 states have passed restrictive laws.

Not surprisingly, Republicans have been very focused on the Presidential implications of using the law to suppress voters. Key states including Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin – all states won by President Obama.

These five states would swing the election for Republicans.

This time rigging the system to block minority and elderly Democratic voters in Florida will not be enough for Republicans and Willard Mitt Romney.

About Bill Buck

Bill Buck is a Democratic strategist, President of the Buck Communications Group, a media relations and new media strategies consulting business based in Washington, DC, and Managing Director of the online ad firm Influence DSP. He has over twenty years of international and national communications experience. The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of CBS Local.

 

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