New Orleans Fox News Special Reports doing a documentary on voting rights would seem to some to be an oxymoron, while others would be certain that it would be me that was the moron for even being willing to sit down with these folks, but, hey, someone has to carry the weight and, frankly, the issue is very, very important. By waving the bloody shirt of alleged voter abuse and the ACORN flag, right wing Republican majorities in state after state have used this thin rationale to suppress the votes of lower income voters, minorities, youth, and others.
Preparing for their visit with me in our New Orleans offices, I wanted to be up to date so did a little research. Let me tell you, it is worst than I even imagined!
First you just have the general mess of our patchwork voter system. According to recent reports by Pew:
- 24 million citizens are no longer validly registered or have information that is significantly inaccurate.
- 1.8 million deceased are on the voting rolls
- 2.75 million are registered in multiple states
- 51 million or 24% of the eligible population is NOT registered!
In 2008 over 2 million ballots were cast nationally. Half were rejected because the voter was NOT registered, meaning, it seems to me, that they thought they were registered, so they were simply disenfranchised.
Secondly, we have the systematic attempts now to restrict voting access, especially by requiring IDs. According to the New York Times’ compilations:
- 11% of citizens or 21 million people do NOT have a current photo ID
- The demographics of disenfranchisement would decrease the voting of 15% for low income citizens, 18% for young voters, and 25% for African-American voters.
Thirdly, if you take the accumulated weight of all of the new initiatives to restrict access to the ballot, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU:
- The cumulative impact will be that 5,000,000 people will find it harder to vote in 2012.
- States attempting to suppress the vote account for 63% of the electoral vote in 2012.
I’ll have more to say about this, but how can anyone pretend that these measures are democratic? Not me!