Are We Going Back to Selma?

By Peter Galuszka

Imagine it is Alabama in early 1965. The Southern state, like Virginia, has for decades deployed a number of ruses such as poll taxes and literacy tests to prevent U.S. citizens and state residents from voting. These people otherwise would have been qualified voters but also happened to be African-Americans whom the ruling white elite wants to keep from exercising their constitutional right. In Selma in 1965, three civil rights workers, Jimmie Lee Jackson, James Reeb and Viola Luizzo who are advocating for voter rights, are shot and killed in their car by the Ku Klux Klan.

Travel a bit farther into south Texas and find that the Lone Star State has its share of disenfranchisement devices in use to stop Mexican-Americans from voting, even though some have been legal residents from the day Texas became a state and part of the United States. In some counties, Mexican-Americans are by far the large group, which is exactly why the white elite want them not voting in strength.

And imagine, a well-meaning, white, privileged and otherwise intelligent man from these parts supporting restrictions on voting, telling people they should “get over it.”

Welcome to the future. The events in 1965 resulted in the Voters Rights Act, a landmark piece of legislation. Yet when Gov. Robert F. McDonnell signing his own weasely version of the voter identification law supported by arch conservative Republicans in the General Assembly, the Old Dominion, most of which still under federal election supervision for its tarnished past, is putting new roadblocks in front of voters.

They used to have to show a photo ID and if they didn’t have one, they’d sign an affidavit saying they were who they claimed to be. Now, their vote will be “provisional” and they will have to show up official at a later date and show the ID. Only then will their vote be counted. To make things easier, McDonnell is ordering millions of new “voter ID” cards to be issued statewide. Odd that he doesn’t mention how much this will cost since the flavor of the moment is strictly containing budget expenses.

A few points on this rather strange set of events:

  • There have been absolutely no known major scandals involving voter fraud in Virginia. So, if there’s nothing broken, why go through all the trouble to “fix” it?
  • It is clear that restricting voting is a major ambition of the Republican Party which fears that President Barack Obama may get the boost in November’s election as he did in 2008 from the poor, the minorities and the young.
  • Regarding these groups, 25 percent of African-American voters do not have valid government-issued IDs compared with 8 percent of whites, according to a study by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. Some 15 percent of people earning less than $35,000 a year likewise have no such ID. According to the Project Vote, about 15,000 people voted without IDs in Virginia in 2008.

Thus, Virginia’s conservative leaders and their cheerleaders are targeting what they consider to be a threatening group of voters as part of a campaign to correct a phony “wrong.” This is just another part of a sweeping socially-conservative agenda that has women, gays, dark-skinned immigrants and African-Americans in their crosshairs.

And no, I’m not going to “get over it.” I refuse to be patronizing when it comes to basic civil rights.

There are currently no comments highlighted.

0 responses to “Are We Going Back to Selma?

  1. Peter, this sounds like a “Fred Hiatt-Don’t Confuse Me with Facts” rant. How do you answer the Eric Holder or my acquaintance who wants college students to vote ins states where they are not domiciled? Better to dilute my voting rights than inconvenience the Obama worshipers in their effort to cheat.

  2. TMT
    Not familiar with the case you state. Not sure I see the problem with college kids, provided they can’t vote in two locations.
    As for Fred Hiatt, I like him but he is sometimes a little too conservative.
    PG

  3. Eric Holder http://news.yahoo.com/eric-holder-ballot-trickery-proves-ease-voting-fraud-215100461.html http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5p70YbRiPw

    Peter , how do you address the fact that a white person would have been allowed to vote in Eric Holder’s name? It’s not that hard to have ID, which is needed for everything else. It’s all about casting illegal ballots.
    For example, my daughter is a student at NC State and lives much of the year in Raleigh. Should she be able to vote in North Carolina elections? She has a Virginia drivers license; drives a car with Virginia plates; files Virginia state income tax and lists a Virginia address on her federal return. Of course not. She has a right to vote absentee in Fairfax County.
    But I have an acquaintance who argues reelecting Obama is so important that students might not actually vote absentee such that students should be able to vote without photo ID in their college town. Talk about out and out fraud! I don’t know who my daughter might vote for — that’s her business, not mine. But she is a resident and domiciliary of Fairfax County, Virginia, and that’s the only place she can vote lawfully.

  4. Sorry, Peter, but you’re way overreacting. Likening the Voter ID law to Selma, Alabama, and the KKK is akin to people on the right calling Barack Obama a communist. You make a respectable case for saying that the legislation is misguided, but you sound hysterical when you draw comparisons to the violent suppression of the Civil Rights movement. I just can’t take that seriously.

    As I said in my earlier post on the subject, McDonnell is putting into place what should prove to be effective remedies to the problem that some voters may not have ID cards. Over and above those measures, the Democratic Party get-out-the-vote apparatus is more than capable of ensuring that all prospective Dem voters have the cards.

    I do agree that there’s no compelling reason for the Voter ID law, but I see no harm in it either — other than the fact that it sets otherwise sane people to foaming at the mouth. On the other hand, let’s not pretend that voter fraud does not happen in Virginia. We saw recent evidence with Michael Herring’s indictment of ten or so ex convicts in Richmond who voted illegally at the behest of an unnamed voter-registration group.

    • Jame
      I agree with Peter. He is not hysterical or insane. There’s no problem being fixed here other than the “wrong” people are voting. You are being the Republican lackey on this issue.

  5. I don’t think I am “overreacting.” I waited a day and took three deep breaths before I wrote it.

  6. I’m missing something here. The reports say the SBE is sending me a voter ID card. How do they know it’s really me that’s getting it? Shouldn’t I have to show an ID to get an ID? Does it have my picture on it? Is my voter registration now null and void? Or is this whole thing somehow related to the Real ID fiasco that DHS says states must accept by next year?

    • I am with Darrell here. I already have a voter registration card which I got when I moved to this precinct. I have a Virginia driver’s license which I first got in 1975 (some changes in the photo might have occurred).

      What will the state send me? What does this thing look like? I assume it will not have my picture on it since I assume the state only has pictured of those with drivers licenses and you don’t need a drivers license to vote. Will it just be another voter registration card?

      I also wonder why Jim Bacon agrees that the card is unnecessary but has no problem with taxpayer dollars paying for it.

      Finally, it’s almost June. The elections are in November. I suspect a fiasco emerging with these cards. If one person who should have gotten a card doesn’t get one – Katy bar the door. What are the odds that the state can distribute these cards with 99.99999999% accuracy?

      If I don’t get my card and can’t vote in the election, do I get to demand a card and then vote with my vote counted? Where will I vote given that the polls will be long closed?

      The more I think about it, the worse this idea seems.

  7. We got cards and because of the census where we voted changed.

    They routinely ask for these cards but as DJ/Darrell say..they just mail these cards to you and as far as I recall, the card it all they ask for.

    Things are about the same with absentee ballots.

    Anyone can vote in a Federal election with an absentee ballot without having to give a reason why you are voting absentee.

    As evidenced by my previous comments, I was apparently under the mistaken impression that PHOTO ID was going to be required.

    • One slight correction …

      You do have to say why you are voting absentee. There are a number of choices. I don’t remember them all since being out of the state on business is the reason I always choose. However, you must state a reason and sign the form with the usual “you will go to jail” language for lying.

  8. Florida says more than 53,000 dead people on voting rolls
    “TAMPA, Fla. — Florida is calling on county election supervisors to remove more than 53,000 dead people from the state’s voting rolls.
    State officials this year checked Social Security files and concluded that people who died were still registered to vote. This was the first time the state checked the files. It was allowed under a controversial election law that passed the GOP-controlled Legislature last year.
    “An attorney with the Department of State told election supervisors on Wednesday they have seven days to remove a deceased voter from the rolls.
    “But some supervisors want to know if they will be given more proof that the voter is dead.
    “The move to remove dead voters comes at the same time when state officials are pushing to remove thousands non U.S.-citizens from the rolls. ”

    Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/05/16/2802540/fla-says-more-than-53000-dead.html#storylink=cpy
    Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/05/16/2802540/fla-says-more-than-53000-dead.html#storylink=cpy

    Would the Obama support team attempt to vote any of these corpses? Of course not.

  9. ” Any registered and qualified voter may request a mail ballot for presidential and vice-presidential electors only by writing across the top of their absentee application “request ballot for presidential electors only.””

    http://www.sbe.virginia.gov/cms/Absentee_Voting/Index.html#Who May Vote Absentee

  10. I don’t have a problem with voter ID, so long as it is not a problem for people who vote.

    I have a real problem with raising bogus conspiracy theories and statistics in order to make it happen. The point ought to be to have an election that is representative, so which conditions makes an electio less representative, having 60 fraudulent votoers or 6000 disenfranchised voters?

  11. Florida is calling on county election supervisors to remove more than 53,000 dead people from the state’s voting rolls.

    Big deal. How many of those dead people voted?

  12. What are the odds that the state can distribute these cards with 99.99999999% accuracy?

    Pretty close to zero. Wouldn’t 99.99% be close enough?

  13. Do we really wan thte state spending the money that would be necessary to chase down those last six nines?

Leave a Reply