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Voting Rights, Part 1: State restrictions

A BRIEF CASE STUDY

Before we get into the nitty gritty, we present you with the following recent (yes, 2017, not 1950) voting rights and requirements bills passed in Virginia:

SB 871: Restricts third-party voter registration efforts, requiring groups to register with the state and maintain detailed records about all volunteers/employees working on behalf of the group.

Why is this a problem? This will severely limit not-for-profit GOTV campaigns and initiatives. By doing so, areas that need the most help and unconventional outreach support (like driving to rural homes to register constituents) will be further disadvantaged.

SB 872: Requires any voter requesting a mail-in ballot to vote absentee to send in a photocopy of their identification.

Why is this a problem? Not everyone has access to the technology required to scan and send their ID copy (e.g. military members stationed abroad; lower class families)

SB 1105: Allows local election boards to investigate when the number of registered voters exceeds the voting age population

Why is this a problem? It appears that this supposed issue has never been a problem. This opens up the potential for slow, unnecessary, subjective "investigations."

DO VOTER ID LAWS ACTUALLY SUPPRESS MINORITY VOTING?

The short answer is yes, the absolutely do. Not only that, but between 2006 and today, 33 states (more than half of the country's population) have some form of voter identification laws. Ten of those states require photo identification to vote on Election Day.

VOTER FRAUD

Many of these Voter ID laws are introduced as solutions to rampant voter fraud that is sweeping that nation. The basis of that excuse is a myth. Inconsistencies in voting are common because of the complex nature of the American electoral system. This does not amount to fraud, and things like voter impersonation very rarely happens.

NEGATIVELY-IMPACTED GROUPS

Income is a predictable variable when it comes to having acceptable photo ID. According to a study by Barreto et al. (2009), there are significant gaps in access to cover ID between lower-income and less-educated blacks, and higher-income and more-educated whites.

Overall, strict ID laws have a significant limiting impact on the turnout of racial and ethnic minorities, as well as lower-class voters.

Now, this is important -- Voter ID laws benefit the political right. That is, many voters inhibited by voter ID laws would vote democrat, if they weren't being oppressed and intimidated from voting.

You can check out this great article by the Washington Post for a graph that illustrates how, in states with strict ID laws, the gap between white and Latino voter turnout is 13.2 percentage points. That is significantly higher than the average gap, which is typically 4.9 points. This adverse affect is even more prominent in primary elections.

Is your mind blown yet?

SIGN UP TO FOLLOW LET AMERICA VOTE

A new but quickly growing organization from Jason Kander (previous Senate candidate; D - MS) that seeks to fight back against restrictions on voting rights around the country. See more information here, and stay tuned!

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