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Thursday, August 23, 2012

I was for voter ID before I was against it

OK, someone has already said that but I just found out it can actually happen.  It didn’t seem wrong to me to simply ask an individual if they were actually the person whose name was on the voting rolls.  If I have to prove who I am to get on an airplane, and I do, then why not when I vote?  But then I started checking into the demographics of those that would be affected most, plus reading a recent report of just how rare voter fraud is in the U.S.  Now I’m not sure either way.

Those most likely to be affected are the poor, minorities and elderly.  Is it a coincidence that much of this group would be most likely to vote for Democrats?  No it definitely is not just fate since the major force behind voter ID laws is Republican led.  As an example, according to Open Channel on NBC, the ultra conservative organization American Legislative Exchange Counsil (ALEC) has launched a “flurry” of voter ID bills.  So much for GOP credibility.

Let’s talk demographics starting with Hispanics.  The Latinos population represents 16.3%, based on the latest Census figures.  For a family of four, the poverty level is considered to be around $22,350 and that represents 13% of U.S. population.  The elderly defined as being age 65 plus number 13%.  This comes in at a grand total of 42.3% of the U.S. population.  Let’s assume the majority of these three groups would lean to voting for Democrats.

According to 2008 election figures, there were 213,313,508 eligible voters representing 70.2% of the U.S population.  But only 132,653,958 voted in 2008 or just 43.6% of the population and 62.6% of eligible voters.  The question, of course, is just how much of the 42.3% above is represented in the 132,653,958 that voted in 2008, or better yet, not represented. 

The turnout rate for the voting age population in 2008 was 56.9% and we might wonder if some or all of the above profile are included.  In either case, voter ID laws could certainly only further discourage whatever number that was.

The hardest hit will be the minorities, particularly Hispanics in certain states.  Arrests through Arizona’s Maricopa County sweeps by Sheriff Joe Arpaio have put the fear of potential jail, at least harassment into even the legals in the state and nationwide, even though they have proof of legality.  USA Today reports, “Every year, 600,000 more Latinos become eligible voters, making them a potentially potent voting force.”  The problem is getting them to the polls.

And this will certainly change with the younger Latino generation that is on the way.  I say that by witnessing first-hand here in Arizona how these young undocumenteds are applying for President Obama’s Deferred Action Plan in large numbers.  Although they are illegal according to Arizona’s Gov. Jan Brewer, they are openly defying her executive order against giving them state benefits, including obtaining driver’s licenses to get to work.

Young Turks expose GOP support of voter ID is to win elections:

The stupid antics of Brewer and disgraced former State Senator Russell Pearce, including some in the state legislature, will come back to haunt the Arizona GOP in future years.  A Hispanic voting bloc large enough to vote these fanatics out of office can’t come soon enough for most progressives in the state.  Pew Research reported 6.6 million Latinos voted in 2010, adding that they expect a turnout of a record 12.2 million in November, which would be a 26% increase over 2008.

But when it comes to voter fraud, one of the primary reasons Republicans are pushing voter ID, a study has found that it is almost non-existent.  2,068 cases of alleged voter fraud were analyzed and only 10 cases of alleged in-person voter impersonation were found since 2000.  That’s less than one per year.  Based on 146 million U.S. registered voters, that comes out to one in every 15 million registered voters.  It would appear the GOP has no grounds for suspicion there.

Raging prejudice but it happens
Republican Mississippi state representative, Bill Denny, who sponsored his state’s voter ID law, said, “Whether you have proof of it or not, what in the heavens is wrong with showing an ID at polls?"  Here’s why.  The state has a black population of 37%, Hispanics 2.7%.  Total population is 2,983,922 so that means a full compliment eligible to vote would equal a total number of 1,184,617 that could throw Denny and other bigots like him out of office in November.

The answer is education before enacting voter ID laws.  We must educate the population on just how important is to register and vote in all elections.  Using activists reaching the poor and elderly, and in the black and Latino communities, to get the word out that to expect representation of their needs, they must go to the polls and elect those who believe what they believe.  And most of all, we must take the fear out of voting for minorities.

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