Some Voting Suppression Being Stopped

voter-id-laws-2015Rock Creek, Montana   Luckily in some states, we’re still finding that the law is thankfully on our side.

We’ve mourned the fact that in Kansas they are standing with their arms folded in front of the door holding the ballot box for thousands despite losing in court at every turn, as Republicans led by their rabid Secretary of State spuriously attempt to block some 13,000 or more citizens from the right to vote at least in local and statewide elections where they are just outside the boundaries of the law. We would call it shameless, except that it is all a raw political calculus of maintaining power, literally by hook or crock.

In Texas for the fourth time in about five years voter ID laws have been overturned, this time by the arch conservative Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which says something about how brazen and transparent their disregard for the simple and equal access of a voter’s right to the ballot was. Even though holding the ID laws unconstitutional they essentially sent it back to the state without exactly overruling, but instead demanding that they come up with alternate procedures to allow largely lower income and minority voters some viable alternative to allow them to vote. Suggestions included accepting alternative forms of identification that were more common and less discriminatory. Some may remember that a student ID was not satisfactory as identification for voting in Texas, but for some strange reason a gun license was hunky dory. They also suggested the voting registration card itself, sent dutifully to the registered voter at their home would also be satisfactory, because remember this blatant effort to deny voting access was to voters already ready and able to vote and duly registered and certified by the state. Finally, they even suggested, as Louisiana and other states even allow, that a voter could sign an affidavit certifying their identity, if lacking any other identification, and then proceed to vote. None of this is a perfect solution for an almost unheard of infraction, but at least Texas has been stopped from disenfranchising lower income and minority voters once again until they come up with something newer and less obvious.

Now comes an even more telling smack down of the North Carolina ID law in almost record speed. A federal appeals court, this time the Fourth, not the Fifth, struck down North Carolina’s voter identification requirement, upending voting procedures in this crucial, battleground state slightly more than three months before Election Day. “In holding that the legislature did not enact the challenged provisions with discriminatory intent, the [lower] court seems to have missed the forest in carefully surveying the many trees,” the Fourth Circuit panel said of the district court ruling that upheld the law passed by the Republican-controlled General Assembly. “This failure of perspective led the court to ignore critical facts bearing on legislative intent, including the inextricable link between race and politics in North Carolina.” The appeals court added later, “Faced with this record, we can only conclude that the North Carolina General Assembly enacted the challenged provisions of the law with discriminatory intent.”

Finally, a court didn’t play footsy with the situation and hit the nail on the head. They saw discrimination and unmasked it without bothering to spend much time or trouble dissecting the rationalizations by the legislature. These are three significant victories, but it is hard to believe that they will stem the tide of so many efforts in so many other states to do anything possible to deprive the vote of minorities, Hispanics, and African-Americans. The message is clear that they the courts know they are up to no good, but this seems to be a contest for survival for the Republicans in many states who are more than willing to shred any democratic pretense in their efforts to remain in power by any means possible.

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