Voter suppression is growing rapidly in America today.Over half of states now have voter ID requirements more stringent than that required for first time voters in federal elections.Several states are clamping down on voter registration drives or are considering proof of citizenship requirements.
In a blow to voting rights, Indiana's strict voter ID law, which requires government-issued photo identification every time a person votes, has been upheld by the United States Supreme Court. This deeply disappointing decision will undoubtedly give new momentum to efforts to expand voter ID laws in many states (Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, and possibly Illinois appear likely to pass new voter ID laws in the immediate future). However, progressive legislators and advocates can take the offense in broadening the debate over the real sources of fraud and intimidation in our elections.
Since the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) established the
requirement that first time voters present some form of identification
before voting in a federal election, voter identification requirements
of all sorts have been enacted across the country.Currently
26 states have laws that are more restrictive than the HAVA mandate,
and 21 states require ID from voters every time they vote.These laws have been passed by arguing they are necessary to prevent voter fraud, even though all evidence suggests that such fraud is extremely rare and poses no threat to the integrity of our voting systems.Instead, these fraud arguments have merely been a partisan tool, used for decades, to suppress turnout
among new groups entering the electorate in large numbers and
threatening the power of those currently in charge, whether they be
minorities, immigrants or students.