GOP Voter Suppression Initiatives Could Disenfranchise Millions Of Voters (VIDEO)

For the past several weeks, Washington Watch has been focused on GOP voter suppression initiatives taking place all across this country. Republicans claim it’s about protecting the right to vote.

MR. MARTIN:  For the past several weeks, we have been focused on voter suppression taking place all across this country.  Of course, when you talk to Republicans, they say it’s about protecting the right to vote.  Yet, I have yet to find an example where they’re looking to expand the right to vote.  It’s really been about how do you contract the right to vote, and one of the ways they’re doing this is the voter I.D. laws.  The premise is that they will stop voter fraud, but the reality is they could disenfranchise millions of voters.  Now, when you begin to examine this whole issue, what’s the percentage of actual voter fraud?  Virtually nil, but they act like it’s a huge issue.

Here to help answer that question of what to do when it comes to combating these voter I.D. laws is Judith Browne-Dianis, co-director of The Advancement Project, a nonpartisan civil rights organization.

Judith, welcome to “Washington Watch.”

MS. JUDITH BROWNE-DIANIS:  Thank you for having me.

MR. MARTIN:  All right.  So, we – we have these voter I.D. laws, and so you have Republicans who’re saying this is about being able to protect the right to vote.  Yet, when you begin to look at the stats in various states, voter fraud is virtually nonexistent.

MS. BROWNE-DIANIS:  It’s a myth.  It’s a myth.  You know, there is some voter fraud in the system, but you are more likely to be struck by lightning than to find a prosecutable case of voter fraud.  In fact, the Bush Administration spent three years, from 2002 to 2005, looking for prosecutable cases, and they could only find a handful of those cases, and none of them would have been solved by voter I.D.

MR. MARTIN:  So, when we talk about these voter I.D.s, you know, these states – states are passing – in South Carolina, they passed it as well –

MS. BROWNE-DIANIS:  That’s right.

MR. MARTIN:  — but what’s amazing is these programs are actually going to cost states more money.

MS.  BROWNE-DIANIS:  That’s right, because under the Supreme Court law. they actually have to provide it for free.  But the problem is not just that they’re providing it for free, but people are going to have to pay for the underlying documents.  So, that’s why we consider this to be the – you know, the stepsister to the poll tax, because you are going to have to pay for the birth certificate.  A lot of people can’t afford that.

MR. MARTIN:  Now, we d- — we – you – you’re talking about young people, the elderly –

MS. BROWNE-DIANIS:  That’s right.

MR. MARTIN:  — minority voters as well.  Here’s what the Kansas secretary of state said – Chris Kobach – that, “It is absurd to suggest that anyone is being disenfranchised by these measures,” but you say, “Nope.  You’re wrong.”

MS. BROWNE-DIANIS:  That’s right.  The impact is squarely on African-American, Latino voters, elderly voters and young voters.  When you look at places like Wisconsin, for example, 78 percent of African-American males between 18 and 24 do not have photo identification.  Fifty percent of African-Americans, generally, in Wisconsin do not have photo I.D.  And so we know the impact is going to be on the communities that turned out in high numbers in 2008.

MR. MARTIN:  So, here you have a barrier.


MR. MARTIN:  Laws have been passed.  The Georgia voter I.D. law was approved –

MS. BROWNE-DIANIS:  That’s right.

MR. MARTIN:  — by the Bush Justice Department.  And so are you seeing voter registration organizations having a combined effort – that is, trying to, one, get people registered; but then also trying to make it possible for them to get these voter I.D.s?

MS. BROWNE-DIANIS:  Well, sure.  I mean we have – we have to turn to making sure that people can get the I.D.s.  We’re fighting the laws.  We believe that those laws are going to – some of the laws – there were 32 states that took it up in the first two months of 2011.  Only seven states passed it.  Five vetoed it, and that’s because there was an effort on the ground to get a veto of those laws.  And so as we see them coming up again in 2012, we will fight them again to make sure that they’re vetoed, to make sure they don’t get passed.  But in the states where it’s implemented, we’re going to make sure that people get the I.D.

MR. MARTIN:  And again – and what are those states, so people watching can understand exactly who is most affected?  South Carolina –

MS. BROWNE-DIANIS:  South Carolina.

MR. MARTIN:  — is one.  Georgia’s one.

MS. BROWNE-DIANIS:  That’s right.  Texas is another state that has a very restrictive one, but you can bring your gun license.  There’s –

MR. MARTIN:  So, you can bring a gun license –

MS. BROWNE-DIANIS:  That’s right.

MR. MARTIN:  — to vote –

MS. BROWNE-DIANIS:  That’s right.  That is right.   That’s right.

MR. MARTIN:  — [chuckles].

MS. BROWNE-DIANIS:  Either you have – and you di- — cannot use a student I.D. in Texas.  South Carolina –

MR. MARTIN:  Public school and state school?

MS. BROWNE-DIANIS:  — that’s state – that’s right – exactly.  In South Carolina, you cannot use a student I.D.  Kansas passed it, and then we’ve got Wisconsin, which is probably the most restrictive of them.  Wisconsin, you can use a student I.D., but the requirements for the I.D. are not on any I.D.s – student I.D.s – in Wisconsin, and so we know that students are going to be really impacted in Wisconsin.

MR. MARTIN:  All right, then.  So, we’re cl- — and, clearly – and, of course, that was a state that Pres. Obama won –

MS. BROWNE-DIANIS:  That’s right.

MR. MARTIN:  — in 2008 –

MS. BROWNE-DIANIS:  That’s right.

MR. MARTIN:  — and, of course, we saw the defeat of Russ-Feingold there as well.


MR. MARTIN:  So, Republicans see –


MR. MARTIN:  — an opportunity to win that state.

MS. BROWNE-DIANIS:  And – and we have to connect the dots to the collective bargaining fights in Wisconsin – right?  This – I mean that’s the thing – is that we have got to connect the dots.  This isn’t just about voting – right?

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

MS. BROWNE-DIANIS:  When we look at what has happened with corporate greed, they’re taking our homes.  They’re taking our jobs.  Now they want to take our vote –

MR. MARTIN:  Well – [crosstalk] –

MS. BROWNE-DIANIS:  —  because the folks behind it are the same people who are doing these other things.

MR. MARTIN:  Well, we made a point that we’re going to focus on this every, single week and, again, providing people information on how they’re impacted and how they can also get over it; because the law’s in –


MR. MARTIN:  — place, but you[‘ve] got to get the voter I.D.

MS. BROWNE-DIANIS:  That’s right.

MR. MARTIN:  So, the focus is to make sure that happens.

MS. BROWNE-DIANIS:  That’s right.  We’ll –

MR. MARTIN:  All right.

MS. BROWNE-DIANIS:  — we’ll still keep fighting it, though.

MR. MARTIN:  All right.  Julie, we appreciate it.  Thanks a lot.

MS. BROWNE-DIANIS:  Thank you.


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  • TruthBringItON

    Every student that attends a school gets a school identification card, but not every student is a citizen of this country. So why bring up that you can’t use a school ID?Gun licenses require that you provide proof of citizenship so don’t act like that is some hokey, redneck thing. Do you agree that only citizens of the US should be able to vote? This interview is all spin. Roland, you are not that dumb so you know you are lying to make this issue look like an evil that it is not. There is no excuse for that.