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.


Adjacent posts

One reply on “U.S. Representative Rick Larsen leads the charge to stop voter suppression”

  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.

Comments are closed.