Voter Suppression Bills Sweep the Country

Let the people voteA wave of voter suppression legislation is emerging from newly elected GOP governors and Republican legislators that would make it much more difficult for traditional Democratic constituencies to vote -- just in time for the 2012 election. About a dozen states are are actively considering legislation that would make voting much more difficult for college students, minorities, the elderly and the disabled. In some states, like Ohio, it is estimated that close to one million people would be affected by these changes.

An editorial in the New York Times linked this wave of voter suppression to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). On ALEC's website, there is a "Voter ID Act" link that is only accessible to members. But Campus Progress obtained a copy of the ALEC Voter ID Model Legislation that provides a roadmap to this coordinated assault on voter rights. Most of the bills being debated require a specific list of state-issued IDs to vote, like a birth certificate, or in Texas, a handgun license. Some end "same day" voter registration often used by students. In others, college student IDs are often not acceptable or other hurdles are created. College students were a key demographic in President Obama's successful 2008 campaign.

Many of the states seeking to enforce these new voter ID bills have newly-elected Republican governors and legislators, including Florida, Ohio, Maine and Wisconsin. This attack on the right to vote comes on top of attacks on public sector unions in these states that makes it harder for unions to bargain, collect union dues and organize political activities.


In Wisconsin, the law would would require a photo ID for the first time in Wisconsin history and only a very narrow range of ID's would qualify. Voters would have to show a Wisconsin driver's licenses, state-issued ID cards, military IDs, passports, naturalization certificates, IDs issued by a Native American tribe based in Wisconsin or certain student IDs. Students not living in dorms would have to show fee payment receipts. Common Cause Wisconsin characterizes the Wisconsin measure as "the most restrictive, blatantly partisan and ill-conceived voter identification legislation in the nation."

While Governor Scott Walker has pushed forward an anti-union agenda with gusto and justified the push by repeating that "Wisconsin is broke," money is apparently not a concern when it comes to voter suppression. AB-7 is expected to cost the state some $5.7 million. That includes $2.2 million for the Government Accountability Board, almost $2 million for the Transportation Department (to cover employee expenses and the cost of free IDs) and more than $1.6 million if universities chose to remake student IDs.

Wisconsin's Voter ID bill is up for debate in the state Assembly this week and is expected to pass. The Isthmus reports that there were some modest changes to the bill in committee: "Most significantly, the Assembly version would include university-issued student identification cards as an acceptable form of ID. But there's a catch: the student IDs must include a current address, birth date, signature and expiration date -- requirements no college or university in Wisconsin currently meets."


Rock the VoteHouse Bill 159 was passed on March 23, 2011 by the Republican-led Assembly and is now awaiting a Senate vote. HB 159 would require all voters to show a government-issued photo ID to cast a ballot in person. Five forms of photo identification make the bill's list: an Ohio driver's license, state ID card, military ID, U.S. passport or a new photo ID being issued by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles to citizens who qualify. College IDs would be unacceptable.

Those who oppose the bill say close to 1 million voters in Ohio will be disenfranchised. Rock The Vote, a campaign protesting the changes, says: "Under this bill, more than 600,000 students in Ohio would be restricted from using their student IDs to vote and over 40,000 out-of-state students who are legally registered Ohio voters would be out-of-luck. An estimated 25 percent of African Americans and 18 percent of seniors wouldn't have the right kind of photo ID under HB 159."

North Carolina

The Republican General Assembly in North Carolina wants to pass a proposal that would require a state-issued ID at the time of voting, eliminate same day registration at early voting sites and disallow 16 and 17 year olds to pre-register.

Duke University's Student Free Press reports that Democrats in the Assembly say the changes would disenfranchise people who traditionally vote Democratic like African Americans, college students and the elderly. "State Sen. Martin Nesbitt, D-N.C., argued that these groups often do not have state-issued photo IDs, adding that the requirement serves as a partisan roadblock to keep these demographics from voting. 'It is blatant voter intimidation—there is absolutely no problem with voter fraud. It's a political bill,' Nesbitt said. "It's fine to play politics. It's not fine to disenfranchise people."


Citing problems with voter fraud as a reason to end election day registration and require people to present a photo ID prior to voting, Maine legislators are trying to pass two bills that would disenfranchise 11 percent of the state. Maine has one of the highest voter turnout rates in the country. Apparently, Maine Republicans think this is bad for democracy.

The Sun Journal reported that in early March, "A legislative panel [Joint Finance Committee] voted 6-6 along party lines to recommend LD 199 to the Legislature ... Same-day registration could soon come to an end under a bill [LD 203] proposed by Rep. Gary Knight (R-Livermore Falls). His bill, which has yet to be heard by the committee, would halt voter registration seven days before an election."

LD 199 and LD 203 would cost the state "millions of dollars as well." Neither bill has been voted on yet in the Senate or Assembly.


"Florida is on the verge of passing a law that will make it harder for groups like Rock the Vote and our volunteers to register voters, harder for you to cast your ballot, and, ultimately, harder to have your ballot counted," states the Rock the Vote website. Bill HB 1355 would disallow address changes at the polls, end volunteer-run voter registration drives, limit early voting periods, as well as greatly increase the number of provisional ballots used.

Florida's League of Women Voters (LWV) said the bill "when taken as a whole, unduly burdens Supervisors of Elections and third-party voter registration groups and assumes that voters are guilty until proven innocent."

The New York Times reported that the bill "would tighten the rules on third-party voter registration and limit the number of days early voting can take place, an effort that Democrats portrayed as blatant voter suppression" The Florida Senate passed the bill last week, 25-13. It will most likely pass in the Assembly.


In Texas, SB 14 is awaiting the governor's signature to become law. The bill amends the Texas Election Code to "require a voter to present an acceptable form of photo identification in order to cast a ballot. Acceptable identification includes a drivers license or personal identification card issued by the Department of Public Safety, a U.S. military card, a U.S. citizenship document with photograph, a U.S. passport, or a state-issued concealed handgun license. Exceptions to these requirements are made for those 70 years of age or older and who have a disability rating of 50 percent or greater."

Rock the Vote has been tracking these bills closely. Visit Rock the Vote for more information.



I know a lot of people. My girls are in Girls Scouts, We go to church, We attend extracurricular classes, and work with the public. The only people we know that have no driver's license, no ID, Nothing to use for Voter ID, are subversive, and wouldn't want to or shouldn't be voting. As a poll worker, I talk to other poll workers, and voters. Workers tell voters coming in voluntarily presenting their DL that it is not necessary, (and wonder why). And most voters Wonder why their name and vote is not better protected by a requirement of ID when they vote. The way it is now, unless a poll worker personally knows the face of the name being used by the voter, they could be anybody.

There is a whole segment of the population that will agree with you. They are the Republican Party, and they are willing to subvert our democracy by suppressing the voting rights of those they deem "Subversives", ie anyone likely to vote against them. Their ideology is dictated and paid for by the wealthy elite and a corrupt Supreme Court.

Holy cow- subversive? Really? What exactly counts as subversive? People who don't agree with you? See, thats not really a democracy, when only certain groups (who have the right ideas) get to vote.

Your assumtion is that everyone lives a "Rockwll live" There are many citizens who do not even have a bank account, automobile, employment or even having a normal place to live. A lot of individuals are working 2-3 part-time jobs, living with a friend or relative, can not affored publc transportation or even have a safe location to keep their important doucuments. The fact is, there is no voter fraud to be concerned about, therefore, i don't get why you are spinning it this way.

Please tell us all (I'm sure others are curious, too.) what form of picture ID your children carry. I've never heard of one other than a passport, and I'm sure they don't carry that around.

ALEC is like a poison that is being injected into the nation's blood stream -- i.e., politics, education and culture. Check out the site that exposes it at Check out how many of your state legislators are members of it. Nearly all of the Arizona legislature are members and the governor has had past involvement in it. It was and ALEC member who wrote the AZ immigration law. Check out their list of legislative bills and see what their plans are for this country. They represent the greatest threat to the broad, basic democratic principles that this country has faced in its history. If they are allowed to go exposed and unchecked they will serve to undermine the rights and freedoms of every individual in this country. We will be left at the mercy of the corporation that are the controlling interest behind ALEC. When the Republicans and their crony corporate supporters can't win in fair elections, they resort to dirty tricks, fear mongering and rule changing to skew the balance in their favor. It is time oppose them and end their domination of state and federal governments.

The GOP is doing everything they can to suppress the vote in key Democratic areas that go way beyond photo ID including restricting early voting. As for photo ID requirements they disproportionately affect minority and elderly voters who don't normally maintain driver's licenses, and requiring such groups to obtain and keep track of photo IDs that are otherwise unneeded is a suppression tactic aimed at those groups. In 2011, the state of Florida imposed a short deadline for the submission of voter registration forms, with stiff penalties for late filing. What most people don't know is that every year, elections officials strike millions of names from the voter rolls using processes that are secret, prone to error and vulnerable to manipulation. In the 2002 New Hampshire Senate election phone jamming scandal, Republican officials attempted to reduce the number of Democratic voters by paying professional telemarketers in Idaho to make repeated hang-up calls to the telephone numbers used by the Democratic Party's ride-to-the-polls phone lines on election day. In Wisconsin The Republican Party attempted to have all 60,000 voters in the heavily Democratic city of Milwaukee who had registered since 1/1/2006 deleted from the voter rolls. The requests were rejected by the Milwaukee Election Commission with Republican commissioner Bob Spindell voting in favor of deletion.

First, they were sold by their own into slavery. Then they were treated as chattel all of their lives as slaves. Then with freedom they were marginalized and sequestered in rural shanty towns, and urban slums. They were hung for crimes but without trial and they were disenfranchised and murdered for wanting their franchise, and now we witness in the 21st Century...redux. We hear the pathos in the rythms and the words of Billy Holiday's "Strange Fruit Hanging From Poplar Trees." Voter suppression steals from its victims their franchise as Americans. It robs them of their hard fought right to participate in the one act that truly defines our way of living in a democratic republic.It's a lynching, killing participation in this nations life. Are there anymore Lincoln's, MLKs, Malcoms, or JFKs? Who will stop this criminally disgusting assault masquerading as voter protection? Maybe they'll just cut down all the Poplar trees.

The Democratic National Committee should launch a campaign to encourage all registered Democrats, Independents, and new voters to register as Republicans in order to thwart the massive voter suppression tactics perpetrated by the Republicans across the country. In most, if not all,states this can easily be done tbrough the mail.