New Orleans A lawsuit filed against the State of Louisiana by the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division may give another sad clue to the strategy of Republican governors seeking to block voting access to poorer citizens. The federal lawsuit flatly alleges that that state agencies responsible for administering welfare and disability benefits are not asking applicants and clients if they want to register to vote and then supplying them with the forms to allow them to do so.
The facts behind the suit are the 10-year low in registrations from welfare and public assistance offices. According to The Times-Picayune
“roughly 1.1 percent of voter registrations, about 6,000, were received …in 2009-10….a little more than 1,200 voter registration forms were received from disability offices, or about 0.2 percent of all voter applications forms in the same period….”
The Republican voter registration strategy for the poor and differently able is clear: “don’t ask, don’t tell!”
Furthermore, make the DOJ sue in Louisiana and other states…diddle around, then settle, but do so late enough that registrations will not be encouraged or filed in time for the 2012 federal elections cycle.
The DOJ lawsuit is a good thing. There should be more active litigation in this area. There should also be a field program that is aggressively bringing access into these communities now being cutoff. I fear that time is already ticking off the clock on that effort as well.
Yesterday, I noted that in the top dozen states where federal benefit payments were 20 to 30 percent of personal income, 10 of the 12 had Republican governors. If this strategy prevails successfully in all of these states on the “Louisiana model,” then we will see a precipitous drop in new registrations in these areas as well, where the numbers are huge.