ROLAND S. MARTIN: GOP Voter Suppression Is Real And Must Be Stopped

By Roland S. Martin

When Americans salute the nation’s military at ball games in airports and in churches nationwide, we do so with a sense of pride for those who are putting their lives on the lines for the tremendous freedoms we enjoy.

One of those that we cherish the most is the ability to elect our own representatives on the local, state and national level. Our political leaders often extol the virtues of the United States, saying what makes us different from other nations is our respect for the ballot box.

Yet while we are pounding our chests to the rest of the world, we see a massive effort nationwide to thwart, circumvent and downright block more Americans from voting.

And unfortunately, the Republican Party has made this massive voter suppression campaign a hallmark of their strategy to win the White House in 2012.

My Republican friends want folks to think that there is nothing wrong requiring voters to show identification at the polls. But what is even more sinister is that the voter ID laws, along with the other measures enacted in more than 30 states, really is a so-called solution in search of a problem.

The GOP calls their efforts voter protection, an effort to combat voter fraud. Yet when even the Republican Lawyers Association tried to wave a report “proving” voter fraud, they essentially came up with little more than 300 cases over a 10-year period.

Yes, with millions of votes cast in multiple elections, that’s all they could come up with. And that was supposed to be the smoking gun? Maybe they were smoking something else instead!

No one wants to see an election — any election — tainted by fraud. But this GOP-led effort isn’t even an overreach. It is a campaign to clearly target voters that are not traditional GOP voters.

In fact, I’ve asked my GOP friends to name me one example of the GOP trying to expand, rather than contract, voting. I’m still waiting.

In Maine, voters were allowed to register and vote on the same day. This was put in place to encourage more people to get involved in the electoral process. But two years ago, the GOP-controlled legislature didn’t like that idea, so they did away with same day registration. So last year, Maine residents fought back and overwhelmingly reinstated same day voter registration.

Was there something wrong with the old plan? Nope. But the GOP legislature felt a fix was needed. Fortunately, the voters rebuked them.

In Ohio, enough people signed petitions last year to keep a voter suppression law from going into effect. Not only was early voting shortened but also the most pathetic and egregious aspect of the law was the provision that a poll worker didn’t have to tell a voter where their correct polling location was.

So let’s say you showed up at a voting location and discovered that your precinct had moved. Had this law gone into effect, the poll worker had the option to tell you — or not — of the correct location. You could say, “Sir, so where do I vote?” That poll worker could ignore you and tell you to figure it out yourself.

Is that the kind of nation we have become? We should be helping anyone cast a ballot. Instead, the GOP in Ohio wanted to ignore common sense. That law is on the ballot in November, and let’s hope it is soundly rejected by Ohio voters.

Let’s go to Florida, where they have had years of voting issues.

Gov. Rick Scott and the GOP-controlled legislature pushed through a bill that levied fines on organizations that didn’t turn in completed voter registration forms within 48 hours. The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan organization that is about fairness for all voters, was so afraid of the law that it shut down voter registration efforts. The result? According to an analysis of registration figures by The New York Times, since the Florida law took effect in May 2011, about 80,000 fewer voters have registered than during the same period before the 2008 election.

Florida Republicans also slammed the door shut on early voting on the Sunday before the election. So the successful efforts of churches to get their parishoners to vote after church will not take place this year. The sponsor of the Florida bill said election workers had a difficult time getting ready for voting on Tuesday because they had to count the votes that came in on Sunday.

Seriously. Were we born yesterday?

These voter suppression laws will have a negative impact on millions of Americans, whether they are black, white, Hispanic, young, old, you name it.

No American, Republican, Democrat or independent should support these shameful political games. They are, frankly, un-American.

Roland S. Martin is an award-winning CNN analyst and author of the book “The First: President Barack Obama’s Road to the White House as Originally Reported by Roland S. Martin.” Please visit his website at To find out more about Roland S. Martin and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at


  • Stan_1234

    What a steamy pile you’ve made there, Roland. You can’t buy beer or cash a check w/o an ID, but Roland says it’s “voter suppression” to make sure my vote isn’t cancelled out by fraud.


  • Tam_from_Michigan

    If you think it is too much trouble to get yourself properly registered and to identify yourself, just stay at home.  You probably also think it is too much trouble to look into the issues and the candidates as well.  It is a person’s civic duty to participate in election. It takes a minimal amount of maturity and effort to make sure that you are prepared for the job.

  • Are you kidding me? You cannot get on a flight with a plane ticket bought with own money, if you don’t have a PHOTO ID!
    I’ve always automatically shown my Driver’s Lic. when voting -OUT OF HABIT. Been asked for your ID every where you go, created that habit. And you and others call asking for a photo ID when voting in person, SUPPRESSION?!!!  Then we must be suppressed when registering for utilities. Now even for homestead property tax people are being asked for proof of INCOME, how many live in the house, etc. when you are the owner and you lived in the house for 20yrs.!
    Suppression? Ridiculous!

  • Did you know that people don’t need the Women’s group to register to vote?
    I registered at the post office many years ago. When I moved, I
    changed my address and re-registered. My mother 86! years old, WANTS to vote,
    so she makes us kids help her. She asks for us kids to take her to the voting booth, for voting in person.
    Voting is a right, a privilege, and should be up to the individual, NOT going door to door
    and registering people who are dead, non-citizens, and promote fraud.
    If proof of identity is required for everyday activities, it should be Okay at the voting booth.
    Plain and simple!

  • It’s amazing that for over two hundred years (approximately until Bush was ushered into office by his daddy’s supreme ct. appointees and some hanging chads) almost no one was really concerned about photo id’s or voter fraud.  Or, perhaps, it really became an issue once the voters elected a black man for president. Regardless, almost every state that has studied the issue has concluded that thousands of people who are LEGALLY entitled to vote would either be totally disenfranchised or greatly inconvenienced by the new photo ID laws. Some of the earlier commenters in favor of these laws are either blissfully ignorant, or complicit in the hidden agenda of suppressing the vote of anyone anticipated to vote against the republicans.

    • Stan_1234

      Pure nonsense.