NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

U.S. Representative Rick Larsen leads the charge to stop voter suppression

React­ing to laws mak­ing aim­ing to increase the dif­fi­cul­ty to vote since con­ser­v­a­tives took con­trol of  state gov­ern­ments in the 2010 midterm elec­tions, Con­gress­man Rick Larsen, along with 14 oth­er House Democ­rats, intro­duced a bill yes­ter­day to “com­bat vot­er sup­pres­sion efforts across the coun­try”. Only two of the cur­rent co-spon­sors rep­re­sent a state which has enact­ed a vot­er ID law since 2010, though Vir­ginia, where co-spon­sor Rep. James Moran rep­re­sents the 8th Dis­trict, tried to enact vot­er ID pro­vi­sions in 1999.

This leg­is­la­tion is par­tic­u­lar­ly as Repub­li­cans try to use vot­er eli­gi­bil­i­ty and access to the right to vote a polit­i­cal tool in order to help the elec­toral chances of their can­di­dates, includ­ing the much aired state­ment by Penn­syl­va­nia House Major­i­ty Leader Mike Turzai, who said that the law enact­ed in Penn­syl­va­nia, the one which was ordered yes­ter­day by the Penn­syl­va­nia Supreme Court to be recon­sid­ered, would “allow Gov­er­nor Rom­ney to win the state”. Think Progress just report­ed today that the Ohio Sec­re­tary of State told Tea Partiers that strict vot­er ID laws be pushed through their Gen­er­al Assem­bly once the Novem­ber elec­tion was over.

Rep. Larsen was inter­viewed by NPR today about the bill intro­duced by him­self and his col­leagues, where he likened the “states rights” argu­ments which might be used against this leg­is­la­tion, liken­ing vot­er ID to pre­vi­ous attempts at vot­er sup­pres­sion in the past, ref­er­enc­ing Jim Crow laws and poll tax­es, more explic­it forms of dis­en­fran­chise­ment. He described the leg­is­la­tion as sim­i­lar to Wash­ing­ton’s sys­tem, where vot­ers sign an affi­davit attest­ing to their iden­ti­ty. While this eas­es vot­ing, it car­ries high penal­ties for fraud, just like we have in Wash­ing­ton.

The fed­er­al gov­ern­ment has stepped in before when the right to vote has not been upheld for all cit­i­zens, and the Amer­i­ca Votes Act of 2012, as it is called, is no dif­fer­ent, pre­vent­ing rights from being sub­ject to polit­i­cal cal­cu­la­tion. The bill pro­vides a sim­ple solu­tion to prob­lem which push­es large swathes of vot­ers out of our demo­c­ra­t­ic sys­tem. Con­sid­er­ing the cur­rent com­po­si­tion of the House (that’s a recur­ring theme, isn’t it?) action is unlike­ly to be tak­en about a bill which hurts the Repub­li­can House major­i­ty’s chances, but at least some of our elect­ed offi­cials are try­ing to take action to solve a prob­lem which affects the rights of every­day cit­i­zens.

 

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One Comment

  1. There needs to con­cern about the integri­ty of elec­tron­ic vot­ing, par­tic­u­lar­ly in swing states. This is espe­cial­ly true in Ohio, where there have been prob­lems in the recent past, and that cer­tain­ly were a major fac­tor in the 2004 Pres­i­den­tial Elec­tion. What can be done about this? Do we need to bring in an inter­na­tion­al body to observe our elec­tions? It cer­tain­ly would be in the rest of the world’s inter­est to ensure that US elec­tions are accu­rate­ly and hon­est­ly con­duct­ed.

    # by Eric Madis :: October 17th, 2012 at 11:52 AM