The Politics of Voter Suppression

We all know (or should know) of this year’s illegal purging of voter rolls, curtailing of early voting to keep working people from getting to the polls, the requirement of and charging for picture IDs accompanied by the closing of DMVs in Democratic districts to prevent those who might vote Democratic from obtaining the necessary ID.  No need to get into more detail about that here.

But here are some additional things you might be interested to know:

–According to Carmen Berkely, of the Generational Alliance, 54 percent of young voters turned out in 2008, and they are as thoroughly engaging with political issues this year.  But  people just turning 18, for whom this will be their first election, may not know what requirements they must meet to register.  They’re still in school, and may not have a driver’s license or know their social security number.  They are also harder to locate in order to register them and, when in college, the location where they plan to register may not correspond to where they are.  With the goal of “meeting people where they’re at,” Berkely suggests creative approaches such as the use of social media, and even voter registration parties, to reach them.

–Clarissa Martinez, of the National Council of La Raza, says we need to “put voters back in the driver’s seat,”  that no politician should be able to change the rules in order to make themselves win.  According to Martinez, , La Raza has registered 70,337 voters this year thus far, about 45,000 in Florida.

–Finally, Tova Andrea Wang, author of The Politics of Voter Suppression:  Defending and Expanding Americans’ Right to Vote, has noted that those trying to prevent people from voting have been trying to reframe voting as a “privilege”–something that you have to “earn”–rather than the right that it is.  Wang says that the battle we’re fighting now is not new; the arguments and the rhetoric are not new.  These manipulations of the voting process have occurred in one incarnation or another for the last 150 years.

This, and much, much more was covered today at the AFL-CIO book series, which featured a panel discussion by Wang, Martinez, and Berkeley of Wang’s book, The Politics of Voter Suppression:  Defending and Expanding Americans’ Right to Vote.  The panel was moderated by AFL-CIO Executive VIce President Arlene Holt Baker.

AFL-CIO fall book series-sept. 19th 2012

From right to left: AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker, author Tova Andrea Wang, Clarissa Martinez of the National Council of La Raza, and Carmen Berkley of Generational Alliance

I highly recommend Wang’s book, available, among other places, at our wonderful  local independent bookstore, Politics and Prose.

ALF-CIO book table

Politics & Prose book table outside AFL-CIO Book Reading. (Look closely: they read the books they sell!)


Rights for D.C. — Get Educated!

The District of Columbia has no senator and only one representative in Congress, and that representative cannot vote.  Perhaps people around the nation know this, perhaps not.  But of those who do, how many know that we also lack power over local matters?  That although we pay two sets of taxes (federal and District) like anyone else, Congress determines whether the laws we pass to govern ourselves locally can take effect?  For us, the issues of voting rights and statehood are not only about having a say concerning national matters, but about self-determination.

This week, the organization D.C. for Democracy, along with other D.C. citizens groups, is going to Charlotte to chat with delegates in and around the Democratic Convention, to further a process of educating other fair-minded citizens of our country concerning the full parameters of our situation.  More on that in the days to come, but, as a beginning, I highly recommend this superb short video:  Dreaming of Statehood:  D.C. Democrats Share Their Feelings.