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Moving Forward: Increasing Turnout as the Progressive Response to Voter Suppression
Cristina Francisco-McGuire on November 11, 2010 - 1:21pm
With headlines in the run-up to the election dominated by political forecasts and endless polling, it was easy to miss the October decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals - one that was a mixed bag for historically disenfranchised populations. Though the 9th Circuit struck down Arizona’s draconian law that required proof of citizenship in order to register to vote - proof that a disproportionate number of poor, elderly, and minority voters do not readily possess - the Court also upheld the state’s burdensome photo ID requirements at the polls. This latest blow to participation in the electoral process follows on the heels of a voter ID ballot measure that was resoundingly approved by voters in Oklahoma on Election Day, as well as a decision by the U.S. Department of Justice in August to green light Georgia’s controversial voter verification system. As newly-elected Republican officials like incoming Secretaries of State Kris Kobach (Kansas) and Matt Schultz (Iowa) prepare to follow through on their promises to enact photo ID requirements and the Texas legislature steels itself for debate on voter ID, it is more important than ever to push progressive election reforms that will boost turnout to counterbalance the effects of such harmful legislation.
As conservatives increasingly try to frame photo ID legislation as a precaution needed to prevent “the illegal registration of alien voters,” progressives need to remind the public of the real disenfranchising consequences of such tactics that are solutions in search of problems that hardly exist. Expanding participation among low-income, minority and youth voters not only mitigates the effects of photo ID legislation, but it can also serve to gradually transform the political debate: the progressive issues these voters traditionally care about will receive more and more attention as their political participation increases. Click here to read more about Progressive States Network's work on this and other election reform policies.
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