Do most people know that Florida has been mailing “ominous and legalistic” letters to thousands of registered Florida voters questioning their citizenship and eligibility to vote?
A friend asked the other day if I thought our group of Obama volunteers knew about it, which raised a broader question in my mind: do most people know about the long list of voter suppression laws and efforts our Republican-controlled state government has passed in the last few years?
“Will you be allowed to vote on Election Day?” last October talked about that fact, and an excellent Op Ed in today’s New York Times (“Darkness in the Sunshine State”) brings the national audience up to date:
“Few states in the union have done more in recent years to restrict and suppress voting — particularly by groups who lean Democratic, such as young people, the poor and minorities — than Florida.”
It really should be criminal.
Yet Florida’s not alone. A recent analysis of potentially restrictive laws related to voting that were proposed nationwide in the 2011 and 2012 state legislative sessions, and that have been passed or remain pending, by the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law identified:
At least 180 restrictive bills introduced since the beginning of 2011 in 41 states.
47 restrictive bills currently pending in 12 states.
23 laws and 2 executive actions passed since the beginning of 2011 in 18 states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin).
15 states have passed restrictive voting laws that have the potential to impact the 2012 election (Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, and West Virginia). These states account for 210 electoral votes, or nearly 78 percent of the total needed to win the presidency.
Of these, 12 laws and executive actions are currently in effect in 8 states (Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia).
Details here, by state.
Please do me a favor. Make sure everyone you know is aware of this nation-wide effort to make it harder for citizens to vote. It shouldn’t matter if you are a Republican, a Democrat or an Independent. We should all be outraged that citizens’ right to vote is being systematically restricted for what can only be political purposes.
And there's one more thing you can do, starting now and through Election Day: help register voters and then get out the vote in November. Find a volunteer event near you, wherever you are, at www.barackobama.com/events.