We Need More Focus on Voter Suppression

What’s Wrong Today:


Now that the 2013 election is behind
us, let’s revisit the issue of voter suppression. Let’s focus on Virginia. As
you know, the Democrat, Terry McAuliffe beat the Republican Ken Cuccinelli on
Tuesday. Mr. Cuccinelli had wanted to make
felons out of consenting couples who engage in oral or anal sex in the privacy
of their own homes, I wonder what he’d have to say on this article… He supported a law that was struck
down
by federal courts after he blocked efforts to bring it in line with
the Supreme Court’s 2003 Lawrence v. Texas
ruling.


So, with only
37% of Virginia voters turning out
, Cuccinelli lost. It was African-American
voters that provided the margin of victory. Keep in mind that in November, 2012,
80%
of Virginia voters turned out
, but this November, only black turnout was the
same as in 2012.


This shows why Republicans are working
overtime to suppress voters all over the country. While voter suppression is
not just a race issue, there have been overwhelming attempts to stop blacks from
voting in Virginia. From The
Advancement Project
:


Over 350,000 Virginians – nearly 7% of the voting
population – have had their civil rights taken away forever…1 in 5
African-Americans are disenfranchised for life


By law, the only way
to restore the voting rights of any Virginian is through individual approval by
Virginia’s Governor. Even with a Democrat in the state house, that is not
likely to make much of a difference. But voter suppression efforts are
not limited to Virginia. This chart from the Advancement Project shows how pervasive these
efforts are:



Anyone who cares about 2014 and 2016 should be
making voting rights and turnout efforts their No. 1 issue
.


Virginia’s 2013 election shows that it’s
not impossible for Democrats to make 2014 the kind of “wave” election that
could let them take back the House of Representatives, as they did in 2006. Virginia
also shows that the so-called Obama coalition can survive without his name on
the ballot. Put differently, for the
second year in a row, African Americans turned out at a rate above their
percentage of the population, and supported the Democrat by a 9-to–1 margin.



In McAuliffe’s case,
that meant that more than 37% of his vote total came from African Americans.
A four percentage point drop in
black turnout would have slashed roughly 80,000 votes from McAuliffe’s total,
enough to turn Cuccinelli’s loss into a victory.



The right to vote is
our most important civil right. As the Supreme Court said a long time ago, this
is because the right to vote preserves
of all of our other rights
. The voting booth is the one place where we all
are presumed equal, yet the reality is that the playing field for potential
voters is far from level.



More than in the
past, citizens are denied an equal opportunity to cast a ballot and have it counted.
This is due to the Roberts Court’s decision in Shelby County vs.
Holder
that struck down elements of the Voting Rights Act. Since that
decision, the Brennan
Center
reports that as
of October 24, 2013, restrictive
voting bills
have been introduced in more than half the states:


  • At least 90 restrictive bills were
    introduced in 33 states
  • Of those, 18 restrictive bills are
    pending in 7 states
  • 8 states have already passed restrictive bills this session


The SCOTUS vote to gut the Voting Rights
Act was 5-4. No one should say that voting doesn’t matter: There is a direct
line from 2000, when Nader’s 3% of the vote was enough to throw Florida into
chaos and hand the Presidency (via SCOTUS) to George W. Bush. Consider the
following:


  • There is a direct line from
    November 2000 to Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito


  • And there is a direct line from
    2010, when the 2008 voters stayed home and handed the House of
    Representatives to Republicans while Republicans won state houses 21-12


  • There is also a direct line from November
    2010 to the SCOTUS Voting Rights Act ruling


Will
you be energized and organized to take on the challenge in 2014
? Will you donate to get out the vote
efforts? Will you volunteer to drive voters to the polls? Will you make calls?
Or will you sit at your computer complaining because the mean nasty Republicans
remain mean and nasty?

Our democracy is only as good as we make it. Without significant participation,
the loudest voices win. We have to be the loudest voices.


Anything less, and we
deserve what we get.

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