New Republican-passed voting restrictions for 2012 lead experts to warn there could be 'chaos in a dozen states as voters find themselves barred from the polls'...
By Brad Friedman on 8/31/2011, 12:21pm PT  

[NOTE: Ari Berman, author of the article discussed below, joined me on my KPFK/Pacifica Radio show today. That interview is now posted here. - BF]

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While readers of The BRAD BLOG may be familiar with many of the items covered in Ari Berman's fine new article "The GOP War on Voting" at Rolling Stone today (and in its Sept 15, 2011 issue on newsstands), it's great to have a summary of all of the latest state-based assaults on voting rights instituted to date, in the wake of last year's Republican wave election, all in one place.

Berman covers all of these and more in his piece on the "unprecedented, centrally coordinated campaign to suppress the elements of the Democratic vote that elected Barack Obama in 2008," described by one civil rights advocate as "the most significant setback to voting rights in this country in a century"...

In a systematic campaign orchestrated by the American Legislative Exchange Council [ALEC] - and funded in part by David and Charles Koch, the billionaire brothers who bankrolled the Tea Party - 38 states introduced legislation this year designed to impede voters at every step of the electoral process.

All told, a dozen states have approved new obstacles to voting. Kansas and Alabama now require would-be voters to provide proof of citizenship before registering. Florida and Texas made it harder for groups like the League of Women Voters to register new voters. Maine repealed Election Day voter registration, which had been on the books since 1973. Five states - Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia - cut short their early voting periods. Florida and Iowa barred all ex-felons from the polls, disenfranchising thousands of previously eligible voters. And six states controlled by Republican governors and legislatures - Alabama, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin - will require voters to produce a government-issued ID before casting ballots. More than 10 percent of U.S. citizens lack such identification, and the numbers are even higher among constituencies that traditionally lean Democratic - including 18 percent of young voters and 25 percent of African-Americans.

Taken together, such measures could significantly dampen the Democratic turnout next year - perhaps enough to shift the outcome in favor of the GOP.

Berman even offers the context, cited many times over the years here, of ALEC's late founder and Rightwing demi-god Paul Weyrich who offerd the Rosetta Stone for the GOP's long-waged voter disenfranchisement campaign when he intoned at a convention of Baptist preachers in Dallas back in 1980 (see video at right): "I don't want everybody to vote...As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."

Yes, that is precisely what this is all about, keeping legal (Democratic-leaning) voters from being able to cast their vote. It has nothing, of course, to do with "voter fraud", as Berman spells out quite clearly (and with facts to back it up), no matter how many democracy-hating Republicanist clowns and disinformation specialists hide behind that entirely unsupportable claim.

Berman details the four main front ends to the GOP's War on Voting, namely: "Barriers to Registration", "Cuts to Early Voting", "Photo IDs" and "Disenfranchising Ex-Felons".

"Even in 2008, which saw the highest voter turnout in four decades," Berman concludes, "fewer than two-thirds of eligible voters went to the polls. And according to a study by MIT, 9 million voters were denied an opportunity to cast ballots that year because of problems with their voter registration (13 percent), long lines at the polls (11 percent), uncertainty about the location of their polling place (nine percent) or lack of proper ID (seven percent)."

"Come Election Day 2012," he adds, "such problems will only be exacerbated by the flood of new laws implemented by Republicans. Instead of a single fiasco in Florida [as in the 2000 Presidential election], experts warn, there could be chaos in a dozen states as voters find themselves barred from the polls."

The piece is very much worth reading in full, as the Republican assault on voting remains among the most undereported story affecting the 2012 elections --- even as the bulk of the mainstream corporate media remains dysfunctionally fixated on the horse race, as usual, rather than the track conditions which may actually end up determining both the results of the Presidential race as well as hundreds of others across the nation.

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