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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Bringing Back Jim Crow

One of the most significant pieces of legislation passed by the Republican dominated government of 2002 was the (love the Rovian title) Help America Vote Act. The act made new requirements for state voter rolls. In reaction, important electoral college states like Ohio and Florida have thrown thousands of black voters off their rolls erroneously. Other states, like Indiana, now require photo ID to vote, a requirement which again disproportionately burdens the state's black voters. In all three cases, correcting these situation requires extraordinary patience. The New York Review of Books has a great piece explaining exactly how the black franchise came under attack during the last ten years.

For many years, the momentum was toward making the franchise universal. Property qualifications were ended; the poll tax was nullified; the voting age was lowered to eighteen. But now strong forces are at work to downsize the electorate, ostensibly to combat fraud and strip the rolls of voters who are ineligible for one reason or another. But the real effect is to make it harder for many black Americans to vote, largely because they are more vulnerable to challenges than other parts of the population.

During their reign at the beginning of the decade, the Republicans passed legislation which would game the system for them in future elections. The Republicans like to say that the Democrats are the party of lawyers. Well, why are the Republican using lawyers to take away the votes of Americans?

This election will be very close. In elections like these, every vote matters. Why does one party want to invalidate these votes? These are questions all responsible Americans should be asking.

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