The Rant

The unseemly pillaging of the Voting Rights Act by Southern states.

| August 29, 2013
- Matthew Valentine |

It's worth noting that, in the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision that took a wrecking ball to one of the pillars of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, new voter identification laws have spread throughout the South like kudzu. Certain states whose past actions indicated voter suppression, and were thus obliged to pre-clear any changes in election laws with the federal government, were freed to harness the old partisan mules and plow that rotted field. The surge in states voting to make major changes in voting laws looks like a map of the old Confederacy, including the recent additions of Alabama, Virginia, and North Carolina. 

Every week, another rebel state makes a symbolic secession from the union, in defiance of the federal government's desire to uphold the right to vote. Only hours after the court's decision. Governor Rick Perry of Texas announced that the strictest voter ID law in the country, which had been blocked by the government, would become effective "immediately." In turn, last week the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas. Attorney General Eric Holder stated, "We will not allow the Supreme Court's recent decision to be interpreted as open season for states to pursue measures that suppress voting rights."

So, you may ask, "What's the big deal? You need a photo ID to do everything from cashing a check to buying cigarettes. Besides, I've always presented my identification at the polls." The facts are that before the 2006 mid-term elections, no state ever required a voter to produce a government-issued photo ID as a condition of voting. In the past, a driver's license, a student ID, a utility bill, or any other proof of address was sufficient. The new voter ID laws sweeping the South require that voters obtain a special photo ID, given either for free or with a fee to recipients by the government to combat "voter fraud." Critics say the laws disproportionately affect minorities, the elderly, and lower-income groups, because obtaining new, official state-approved voter ID cards can be a burden to those without transportation. Even free, state-issued IDs require a birth certificate, which costs $25 per copy and is often difficult for the elderly to locate. Many states eliminate the right of college students to vote on their own campuses, forcing a trip to their home state in order to exercise their franchise. For poor and minority voters, it's the return of the poll tax, plain and simple.

A 2007 New York Times study found that in the previous five years, there were 86 convictions of voter fraud. The new laws are an antidote looking for an illness. Voter fraud today isn't committed by some ward hack trying to register the dead; it's done by voting machine irregularities and tampering by election officials. In presidential elections dating back to Clinton, there have been proven incidences of the miscounting of absentee ballots or the wholesale discarding of provisional votes, not to mention Bush v. Gore, the Super Bowl of vote tampering.

Do you remember the last election, when a state legislator in Pennsylvania bragged on camera that the commonwealth's new voter ID law would deliver the state to what's-his-name Romney? Minority voters turned out in droves. Out of the 30 states recently enacting changes in voter ID laws, all of them, with the exception of Rhode Island, have been introduced by Republican-led state legislatures. That includes the distinguished statesmen in the Tennessee House — the same ones who thought it was a good idea to allow guns in bars. If you don't believe the intention of these laws is voter suppression, just watch the zeal of the GOP officials announcing the changes. And it's not just voter ID laws: States under Republican control are reducing the number of early-voting days, reducing voting hours on Election Day, and eliminating Sunday voting, the day that many Southern African-American churchgoers traditionally have gone to the polls.

The Tea Party sticklers for fiscal responsibility conveniently discard that philosophy when it comes to disenfranchising black voters and resurrecting a new type of Jim Crow. Of course, a huge new government bureaucracy dealing with the creation and distribution of state-approved voter ID cards could certainly be a job creator and a stimulus of sorts. Of the estimated 21 million citizens without a government-issued ID, the great majority are Hispanics, African-Americans, and the poor. That's enough to alter an election.

In 2012, a federal court found Texas' voter ID law and redistricting plans to be discriminatory against particular racial and language groups — in other words, Democrats. After the recent Supreme Court decisions, the rulings of the federal court were thrown out. So, Texas Republicans are free at last. Recalling the long lines of people determined to cast their votes in the last election, regardless of restrictions, the foolish, Limbaugh-listening fundamentalists attempting to hold on to their dwindling political power by rigging the game will probably ignore the warnings of Colin Powell. The former defense secretary said, "These kind of procedures [which] make it likely that fewer Hispanics and African-Americans might vote ... are going to backfire."

There aren't enough angry white men to go around anymore. Of course, the Supreme Court's decision leaves it up to the legislative branch to determine which states are to be covered by the Voting Rights Act in the future. Considering the current, do-nothing Congress, any bets on who makes the list?

Randy Haspel writes the Born-Again Hippies blog, where a version of this essay first appeared.


Comments (23)

Showing 1-23 of 23

If it's not discriminating to have an ID to "cash checks or buy cigarettes" why is it to vote?

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Posted by oldfart on 08/30/2013 at 8:35 AM

Because one causes disenfranchisement and the other doesn't, duh!

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Posted by tartuffe on 08/30/2013 at 8:58 AM

Because one causes disenfranchisement, and the other one doesn't, duh!

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Posted by tartuffe on 08/30/2013 at 9:00 AM

It doesn't deprive anyone's RIGHT to vote. You've got plenty of time to get an ID, if you really want to exercise that right. Get off your dead ass and get an ID!

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Posted by Oldfart on 08/30/2013 at 9:09 AM


do you need a bank account, drivers license, or to even smoke or drink? All of the things you stated are optional. If one want those things, then they have to follow the rules set for them.

Voting is a fundamental right. It is the most fundamental right that U. S. Citizens have. The only thing that should be an impediment to voting is a compelling government interest. Voter fraud and trying to prevent it can be a compelling government interest, but, first the government should be able to produce facts that support that rampant voter fraud has occurred.

The other problem with these voter id laws is the types of identification required. If the identification is needed to verify the person, why couldn't the many sources of identification be used? Why can't a valid student id from a state college be used? Why not a library card from a quasi government source be sufficient? Why not an employee picture id? I am a veteran and am in the VA Health Care System. I have a valid VA picture id from the VA. In order for the VA to issue one to an individual, it must go through Homeland Security first. Well, guess what? My VA Medical Card won't do according to these state voter id laws. They say it doesn't have an expiration date on it. Hell, the medical card and the VA System is issued for life to the veteran. That is why no expiration date is on it. There is the Treasury Department (Internal Revenue) employee id. In order to get it, one must pass a federal background check, yet, it doesn't have an expiration date on it. The point of this paragraph is to show that these red state's voter id laws are bullshit. They were implemented to suppress the vote of certain people, thus, giving the GOP, with its dwindling number of voters, a chance to win elections.

So, Oldfart and others who think the same, now is your chance to make yourself famous and explain why we need these stringent voter id laws and why are the identification requirements so stringent. Some, anyone, go for it. Let me and others know why these laws are necessary?

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Posted by oldtimeplayer on 08/30/2013 at 9:33 AM

Oldfart, your Republican myopia is quite palpable! Anyway, the east and west coasts and all of the lovely, liberal young people will see that Hillary will assume the next presidency, the perfect follow-up to our current and beloved president.

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Posted by tartuffe on 08/30/2013 at 9:37 AM

This nonsense AGAIN???

Just get off your lazy butts and get the free State ID and you have no problems.

You can find these church vans to deliver all the democrats to the South Memphis polling places on election day. Mobilize that same fleet to get them to the driver license station so they can get a free ID.

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Posted by JuliusJones on 08/30/2013 at 10:16 AM


I see that you are not responding to what I have posted.

You are naïve and not very smart when it comes to politics and governing. As it stands now, and unless something drastically changes the trend, the Republican Party is losing voters. Hillary in 2016? Hell, any democrat for president in 2016. The reality of it is that in presidential elections, the electoral votes are the one that county. Any democrat that runs starts out with 91% of the electoral votes needed to win. Yes, the blue states account for 246 electoral votes. It only takes 270 to win.

Even the old south is in trouble. Mississippi has a 37% minority population, N. C. over 30%, Georgia, almost the same. These states, any day now will be able to put forth the right democrat candidate for governor or senator and win. In the near future, the numbers will automatically be against the GOP, even in these southern states that I have named. Texas is the prize. In 8 years or less, Texas will be blue. The numbers and the demographics don't lie; Arizona the same.

The fear that you and other GOP conservative voters have is the fact that if the house goes democratically controlled and the senate is held by the democrats, there will be a new federal voting law passed. With a majority of both houses, the democrats will legislate nationally their concerns to do a run-a-round of state led GOP efforts. The democrats need to pick up 17 seats to retake the house. Maybe not in this mid-term election, but, surely the next, presidential election. Several governorships in Gop hands now are very likely to be lost in these mid-term elections. Those governors are in, VA., Mich., PA., Wisc., and Ohio, and, of course, Fla. That will reverse the extreme gerrymandering that the GOP has done.

OldFart and other GOPERS, have fun while you can, for the tide is already shifting beneath your feet. You are just too blind and wrapped up in your own nonsense to realize it. If the GOP does not pass immigration reform this year, that change will happen sooner than you and I both think. You need to take the blinders off and look around and see what is happening all over the U. S.

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Posted by oldtimeplayer on 08/30/2013 at 10:33 AM

One more thing you losers ... don't look for reasons not to accomplish a simple task, look for solutions and "git er done".

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Posted by JuliusJones on 08/30/2013 at 11:02 AM

Julius Jones, thanks for reaching across the aisle!

Posted by tartuffe on 08/30/2013 at 11:27 AM


Posted by SBD_Fart on 08/30/2013 at 11:58 AM

Thanks Julius. You have provided the solution. With these laws designed to oppress the vote of certain people, you have stirred up a hornets nest. You heard that if you stir shit, it will stink.

Instead of leaving things alone, you tried to do one better, passing restrictive voting laws, closing down voting places, cutting hours, making more nonsense challenges possible, you woke up that sleeping voting minority, making them angry and giving them all the more resolve to vote in numbers like they never voted before. You tried to defund Planned Parenthood, tried taking the right for a woman to choose, voted against the fair pay act for women, cut food stamps for the poor, which many households are now headed by women, tried to take away health care from poor people and people with previous health conditions, etc. Now you are sitting around lamenting why young women are turning away from the GOP. You called illegal immigrants everything bad except being a child of god. You called for splitting families, self deportation, rounding up children that were brought here at a very early age by their parents who had no say so in the matter, children that only know one country, the USA and you want to ship them back. Push comes to shove, you say, well, if they stay here, they won't have any rights or a way to citizenship; we will just underpay and abuse them as long as they are here. Now, with the midterm elections coming, you are trying to figure out ways to get them to vote for you.

Yes, JuliusJones and all the rest of you Republicans. Thanks for making the solutions much easier for the democrats. How about legislating some more of your crazy, partisan laws. Again, Thanks!

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Posted by oldtimeplayer on 08/30/2013 at 12:40 PM

I am personally surprised that The Dear President doesn't support these photo ID laws, after all, isn't it easier to find, spy on and harass those who don't support you if they have to obtain a government ID?

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Posted by CEBorst on 08/30/2013 at 1:37 PM


The president already know who and where you are!

You seem to forget, Little Bush was a great teacher on how to spy on fellow americans.

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Posted by oldtimeplayer on 08/30/2013 at 2:39 PM

Here's the thing. Currently Republicans like to prevent non-Republicans from voting. And Democrats like to vote dead people.
Is there some way or somebody seeking to prevent either political malfeasance?

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Posted by CL Mullins on 08/30/2013 at 2:41 PM

You're damn right he knows where I live OTP.

And put a capital "A" on Americans.

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Posted by CEBorst on 08/30/2013 at 3:34 PM

OTP, ... I did all that???

I just suggested using the church vans you folks use to haul your pigeons to the polls to vote the way you tell them to, and then feed them a chicken lunch of dinner after they vote. ... Those same vans to haul them to the driver license station so they can get a free ID.

OTP, ... you need to look for solutions to problems, and not add to the problem. Get it? .... Saddle up those vans and get those folks to the ID station, ok?

BTW, why do you feel "picked on" because your folks would have have to get the very same ID everyone else has to get to vote. Looks to me as though you believe certain folks are "special", and should not be required to do what everyone has to do to vote. Hmmmphf, ... appears you're looking for the standards to be lowered, again! (((oops, did I really say that????)))

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Posted by JuliusJones on 08/30/2013 at 6:44 PM


I love the way you eased that word, pigeon, into your post. I see you are never the one to leave out a sarcastic, maybe bigoted phrase here and there.

First of all Julius, the argument from the folks that will be negatively affected by these harsh laws, are not against id, per se, they are against the limitation of certain id's. That is the problem with these voter id laws. These laws are restrictive in that they will only accept a narrow list of acceptable ids, all going back to the foundation of a birth certificate, for many people, especially the elderly, a very difficult thing to get.

Some blue states require id, but, they accept practically any id from reputable institutions. Even with that, some states, if all else fails, accept statements, under penalty of law, from another registered voter attesting to the identification of another voter who still lacks id. They are also protecting the purity of the ballot box, but doing it in a way that does not curtail the rights of anyone who wants to vote. We have no problem with those states.

As for having a chicken lunch, why does it have to be chicken? Have you seen the price of chicken lately? Hell, one can buy a steak now for the same price of a chicken.

Julius Jones, we have shown you that these stupid laws don't work. It makes the very people that these laws target angry and they come out in droves as a backlash to these laws. That is one of the reasons Romney didn't win. The GOP thought that with these new laws and the shutting down of polling places and cutting the hours for voting would stop enough voters, democrats, from going to the polls. It had the opposite effect. People came out in droves, some stood in lines in excess of 8 hours, but they put steel in their spines and toughed it out. Result, an Obama win, when all of the GOP and conservative polls showed that Obama would lose. That is why I said thanks for giving us the solutions and the strength to go out and vote.

Your conservative polls are again predicting a very good GOP outcome in the mid term elections. I think not! The minorities and angry seniors will, again flock to the polls and vote.

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Posted by oldtimeplayer on 08/31/2013 at 1:27 AM


No one is "targeting" anyone with the voter ID laws / proposals, except of course, ineligible voters.

I have a real hard time understanding why anyone has a problem with complying with laws which apply to everyone, and are forged in the the best interest of all. Help me understand why you believe the voter ID requirements shouldn't apply to everyone, ok?

It's really quite simple ... go to the driver license office, provide the necessary documentation and get an ID. You've mumbled occasionally about using some alternative forms of identification, library card, etc. The problem with most of what you propose is the documentation and controls to obtain those ID's is inadequate.

Don't look for excuses not to perform ... look for solutions, and "git er done".

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Posted by Marsha Owens on 08/31/2013 at 11:14 AM

Julius and Marsha,

Given the history of voter repression on the South I think if you try real hard you can understand the trepidation some feel when any obstacle is placed before voting. This debate would go much quicker if y'all would quit being so dang cute and tell us what is really, really bothering you.

OTP is somewhat right in blaming you suppressionists for securing Obama's elections. Why do you keep doing this? Is this some kind of Wall Street plot?

And what is this "git er done" shit? Are you Romney types trying to connect with the working class?

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Posted by Mia S Kite on 08/31/2013 at 2:01 PM

Marsha Owens

I am not against voter identification. I am against restrictive voter identification. There is a difference, you know.

Number one, there is no constitutional law that every one must have an id. Second, having a driving license is not a right or a mandate. You don't have to have a drivers license to be a citizen of the United States or the various states. You don't have to have a bank account, credit card, etc either.

To say that having an id to vote applies equally to everyone is deceiving. The GOP know very well, after studies, which type of id that large numbers of young, elderly and minority voters don't have. Having to have a certified birth certificate to get a state issued drivers license is also more of a burden on elderly blacks than whites. In many instances, blacks of a certain age were born at home and their birth never recorded. What about them? It is a fact that elderly voters, regardless of race, are the most reliable voters there are. Very few young blacks at the age of 18 have drivers license, very few have their own cars or the use of their parents cars. Blacks don't believe in letting their teens drive because, they can't afford it and they don't think their teens are mature enough to handle it. This is backed by studies that show many deaths attributed to teenage drivers, and in this case, most of the accidents and/or deaths is by white teen drivers.

Why would not my VA Medical Card be sufficient to vote? It was cleared by Homeland Security, which, is ranked higher than any state agency. Why not a library card? Hell, it was issued by a government agency. There are many id's that satisfy a person's identity. This is the flaw in your reasoning. Are you trying to say that a person that works for the Internal Revenue, Memphis Service Center, that has a Department of the Treasury ID, checked by the FBI and Homeland Security is not good enough to vote? What about a student attending a state university? Why would an expired boating and hunting and fishing licensure issued by Alabama bee good enough to vote, but, the ones that I have mentioned not be good enough?

Marsha, my dear, you are full of shit! You have not given any justifications for these restrictive voter id laws. How many people have been prosecuted for voter fraud in this state in the last 20 years? Voter ID's do not stop voter fraud, it may stop voter impersonation, but not voter fraud. There is already a safeguard built in. The computer will not let the same person vote twice. It will kick out both votes.

Marsha, do you know what happens when an employer turn in his W-4 information on its employees? The Internal Revenue crosschecks the SSN with government data bases and if they do find a match, they send a letter back to the employer demanding proof that the employee has a right to work in this country. The employer has 30 days to respond or fire the worker, thus taking back their employee ID. So, their is no reason why employer issued ID's should not be sufficient to vote.

Yes, these attempts at voter oppression is what put Obama over the top. They made minorities and the elderly and young so angry that people who had never voted before went to the polls. Anger is a great motivator. So, actually, you and the GOP are doing the democrats a big favor by pushing these oppressive laws. Keep it up, along with laws against women.

If you can't see what I am talking about, you are, what I would call a closet racist! That is the only explanation for your way of thinking. Hell, we died for the right to vote.

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Posted by oldtimeplayer on 08/31/2013 at 3:48 PM

Imagine if you had to present government issued ID to exercise other constitutionally protected rights.

"I'm sorry ma'am, but before I can allow you to enter this church, I'm going to need to see some identification."

"I understand that you're exercising your right to protest against abortion/gay marriage/Obamacare/unions/welfare, but if I don't see some ID from everyone, I'm going to have to ask you all to disperse."

"Oh, you don't have identification? Well then we're going to let these soldiers sleep at your house for about 6-months. We'll need you to feed them too."

"Well, we would need a warrant to search your house...but since you don't have ID, please step aside and let our officers get to work."

"You would have the right to remain silent, but since you don't have ID, you're going to stay in this cell until you tell us what we want to know."

I guess it's only discriminatory when it affects you. As long as it affects people you don't like, it's fine.

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Posted by mtblake on 09/03/2013 at 2:17 PM

Or when you want to buy and bear arms.... whooops.

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Posted by CL Mullins on 09/03/2013 at 5:50 PM
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