Time and time again Republicans try, very often succeeding. Defying court orders or finding ways to circumnavigate such orders is not beneath them. In fact, they find this calling “respectable.” No court’s language is precise enough to keep Republicans from finding loopholes in it in their efforts to suppress the vote. If conservatives put as much energy into formulating a health care plan or creating jobs, cancer would be cured, obesity a thing of the past, and full employment would be the norm.
Suppressing the vote is to the Republican party like the siren’s song whose melody is so rapturous they cannot ignore. Time and time again the court’s have struck down their Machavellian plots and time and time again they are not deterred.
In the most recent cases Republican legislatures in both Texas and North Carolina are either directly defying or working around court orders which have found their voter ID laws discriminatory. As written in ThinkProgress: “In July, a federal appeals court held that Texas’ voter ID law, a common method of voter suppression, violates the Voting Rights Act.” The Texas law was infamous for not accepting student ID’s as a valid proof of identification, but accepting a concealed carry license.
Again, according to ThinkProgress: “Texas agreed to be bound by a court order during the upcoming election that offers a workaround for voters who “cannot reasonably obtain” ID.” Of course, such language as “cannot reasonably obtain” is vague enough for clever lawyers to get wealthy by finding ways around it. But I digress!
“The court order provides that registered voters who “present a valid voter registration certificate, a certified birth certificate, a current utility bill, a bank statement, a government check, a paycheck, or any other government document that displays the voter’s name and address” may cast a regular ballot so long as they “sign a reasonable impediment declaration” — a document stating that the voter was not reasonably able to obtain the forms of ID mandated by the illegal Texas law.”
According to a Justice Department motion filed on Tuesday, Texas is directly defying the court order. As the ThinkProgress article notes: “Texas’ press releases, voter education materials, and poll worker training manuals claim that the right to vote extends only to voters who comply with the illegal law — those who “have not obtained” and “cannot obtain” ID.
According to civil rights groups and the Justice department who challenged the law, around 600,000 registered Texas voters do not have one of the limited forms of voter ID required by the law. The law had its intended effect. As a MSNBC article points out: “For starters, turnout dropped to 33.6%, down from 37.5% in 2010 — a decline of 271,000 voters. That happened despite a high-profile governor’s race, and an increase of 700,000 in the number of registered voters.”
Despite any collaborating evidence, Texas Governor Greg Abbott described voter fraud as an “epidemic.” Like so many Republican narratives, this statement is entirely false. Out of several million ballots cast in the last few years, there have been only two such cases of voting fraud in Texas according to experts. As another MSNBC articlestates: “And the plaintiffs have pointed out that the law doesn’t require an ID for absentee ballots, even though that’s where fraud is far more likely to occur. In addition, some of the forms of ID that are accepted under the law can be obtained by non-citizens, who aren’t eligible to vote.”
Similarly, a federal appeals court struck down provisions of a North Carolina voter ID law. In fact, the court said the law’s provisions “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision” in an attempt to suppress the black vote.
“The North Carolina ruling tossed out the state’s requirement that voters present photo identification at the polls and restored voters’ ability to register on Election Day, to register before reaching the 18-year-old voting age, and to cast early ballots, provisions the law had fully or partly eliminated.” “The judges noted that Republican leaders had drafted their restrictions on voting only after receiving data indicating that African-Americans would be the voters most significantly affected by them.”
Republican Governor Pat McCrory of North Carolina vowed to take the case to the Supreme Court where the Court deadlocked 4-4, upholding the lower court’s decision. The case gravely illustrates the importance of a Democratic victory in the November election and the concomitant appointment of a liberal justice to the high court.
“A review of these documents shows that North Carolina GOP leaders launched a meticulous and coordinated effort to deter black voters, who overwhelmingly vote for Democrats. The law, created and passed entirely by white legislators, evoked the state’s ugly history of blocking African-Americans from voting - practices that had taken a civil rights movement and extensive federal intervention to stop.”
Unfortunately, Republican state lawmakers are not deterred. Again, according to the Chicago Tribune article:
“When the appellate court restored that week of early voting previously eliminated by HB 589, the judges did not specify what times or places the early voting would take place. Now, Republicans in many counties appear to be using that opening to carry out the intended cuts of HB 589 anyway.” “Soon after, the election board in Wake County - which includes the capital Raleigh - tried a similar move by restricting the restored early voting days to a single location with limited parking.” “And in heavily African-American Lenoir County, Republican election board members are trying to eliminate Sunday voting and evening hours and slash polling sites from four down to one.”
Such efforts to disenfranchise black people have evolved over the decades from literacy tests and direct threats to convoluted voter ID laws putting a more benign face on racism. Still discrimination is discrimination. Thankfully, the federal courts are beginning to recognize that these voter ID laws are a solution to a non-existent problem. When hundreds of thousands are disenfranchised to combat one or two instances of voter fraud surely the cure is much worse than the illness and likely to kill the patient. It is nothing more than a cynical attempt to implement a conservative agenda that is increasingly losing popular support among the voting public.