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Requiring government-issued ID will decrease the voting populace

 

Democracy is clearly being taken away at a very slow, yet firm rate in the upcoming 2012 elections. The GOP has recently introduced a campaign that aims to limit the amount of people voting. Among the groups that would be affected are minorities, college students, ex-felons and immigrants.  

Though — by legal definition — states are not allowed to discriminate voter’s rights, states have historically had the discretion to abridge their citizen’s right to vote in one way or another. Take for example the literacy tests in the south that have since been outlawed for being discriminatory. 

Lawmakers have always found loopholes to inhibit voting rights, and in this upcoming election, they have taken full advantage with laws in a dozen states that will limit the amount of citizens voting, targeting the demographic of voters that were likely the reason Obama won the 2008 election.

Despite the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and Civil Rights Act of 1965 that were put in place to protect citizen’s natural and inalienable rights, Republicans have long been trying to impede this right and turn it into a privilege, instead. 

“I don’t want everyone to vote…” Conservative activist Paul Weyrich stated in a 1980 conference. “As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

Weyrich’s founding of a conservative advocacy group has helped to further advance the GOP’s effort to truncate and eliminate the people’s voices. 

While only 12 states currently have laws that constrict voting, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch are aiding to what Rolling Stone reporter Ari Berman calls a “systematic campaign” that has allowed 38 states to introduce similar legislation. 

ALEC has prided itself on being a nonpartisan membership association of state lawmakers that share common ideas inspired by Jefferson’s concepts of federalism. Their mission statement is to further these “principles of free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual liberty,” among others. 

How can ALEC claim to be a nonpartisan group that actively pursues individual liberty when it is obstructing the very rights that allow for said federalism to work?

David and Charles Koch, modern day Rockefellers, have aided this cause in their motivation to get rid of Obama. The Koch brothers are some of New York’s “most prominent philanthropists,” with lavish donations to the Metropolitan Opera House and the Lincoln Center New York State Theatre building, which now bears David Koch’s name. However, their beliefs and actions have made them a very controversial pair. 

The libertarian brothers believe in “drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry — especially environmental regulation.” They claim that the Greenpeace report “distorts the environmental record of our companies.”

While Kansas and Alabama are requiring proof of citizenship before registering, Florida and Texas are imposing sexist rules to impede the League of Women Voters from registering new voters. 

On the more subtle side is Maine’s repeal of Election Day voter registration, and five other states — also including Florida — cutting their early voting periods. 

Ex-felons in Florida and Iowa have also lost their right to vote, creating a drastically large group of “disenfranchised” voters. 

Other states, such as Alabama and Kansas, will require government-issued IDs before voting. About 18 percent of students and 25 percent of African-Americans do not have this form of identification. This accounts for 10 percent of our nation’s population, which means the 2012 elections could have the GOP’s intended shift of power. 

Surely the 2010 triumph within the legislative branch has created high hopes for the GOP to recreate that in the 2012 presidential elections, especially with the success of the Tea Party movement.

While blatantly racist laws — such as the Jim Crow laws — have vanished, this campaign proves that this nation is still just as divided as ever.  

Nayeli Carrillo is a junior journalism major and contributing writer for the Daily 49er.

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