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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes – Voter Suppression Edition

In the Philadelphia News, Will Bunch’s “Poll gives Obama the edge, but how would voter ID affect the lead?” offers an encouraging observation from veteran Philadelphia-based political analyst Larry Ceisler: “The reality is it [voter ID] will not have much effect – if anything it will boomerang” against the Republicans, wile noting that it might have more of an affect on some local races.
There have to be swing voters out there who are repulsed by Republican efforts to make voting harder. Google up “voter suppression” +”unamerican” and you get about 22K hits, one example being “F-L-A Governor Rick Scott’s Walk On The Wild Side: Voter Suppression Is UnAmerican” at Shred of Truth. Progressives have been reluctant to use the term, perhaps because it was used to destroy innocent people during the ‘Red Scare’ era. But if anything is a shameful betrayal of American democracy, it is voter suppression. There may not be much Dems can do to invalidate these laws between now and November, but we can certainly crank up the outrage among fair-minded voters. Maybe it’s time for high-profile Dems to start working the “U” word a little more aggressively and say it plain.
Regarding voter i.d. laws, Republicans are able to hide behind a phony concern about ‘voter fraud,’ even though all relevant data indicates that it is all but non-existent. But the rationalizations for repealing early voting laws are even more indefensible, and opponents of early voting should be compelled to explain their views at every opportunity. It would be fun, for example to hear Romney or Ryan try to boil this essay against early voting into credible soundbites — if the MSM had the gumption to call them out.
As for overcoming voter suppression in PA, at PolitcusUSA Adalia Woodbury’s “Keep Fighting: How to Beat Pennsylvania’s Attempt to Suppress Your Vote ” walks her readers through the steps needed to insure their voting rights in the Keystone State.
The hope is that the Republican campaign to suppress early voting will backfire by pissing off the highest-turnout constituency, seniors, especially those with mobility issues. But it’s a calculated risk Republicans are willing to make, since no constituency votes more Democratic than African Americans. Stephanie Siek explains, for example, at The Griot “How early voting changes in Ohio will hurt Democratic, black voters”.
Here’s an Ohio ACLU precis on the state’s balkanized, racially-motivated early voting system and the resistance to it.
In her HuffPo article, “GOP to Young Voters: Don’t Vote,” Christine Pelosi, executive director of Young Democrats of American, explains the techniques of — and remedies for — Republican youth voter suppression.
James Ridgeway’s “The Mother of All Vote-Suppression Tactics?” at Mother Jones provides an excellent overview of felon disenfranchisement laws. Ridgeway notes: “Florida leads the pack in the number of citizens excluded. But according to the Brennan Center for Justice, 48 states (exceptions: Maine and Vermont) prohibit current prisoners with felony convictions from voting and 29 of them also bar those on probation or parole…black men make up 36 percent of the nation’s disenfranchised population, but just 6 percent of the nation’s general population…According to Desmond Meade of the nonprofit Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, “Over 1 million people in Florida right now are disenfranchised,” he says. Nearly 1 in 3 of them are African American men. If these people were able to vote, Meade continues, “Florida would no longer be a swing state.”
Indications are Dems still have a lot of work to do to educate voters about the realities of voter ‘fraud’ and suppression, as this Washington Post poll reported by Michael Brandon and Jonathan Cohen suggests. The poll found that a healthy majority supports voter i.d. laws, and there may not be time to persuade a critical mass of these voters otherwise by November 6. Maybe Dems should put more muscle into fighting other forms of voter suppression, like felon disenfranchisement and restrictions on early voting.
The AFL-CIO has an impressive “Voter Suppression and Voter I.D. Laws: A Toolkit for Activists,” which should be of use to anyone who wants to get more involved in fighting to protect voting rights.

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