Jim Crow America, 2011! An interactive map of GOP vote-blocking laws

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Dear Mark,

As you may be aware, legislation requiring voters to produce restrictive photo identification at the polls has been popping up all over the country. The Lawyers’ Committee continues to be a vocal opponent of these measures, as they create unnecessary new hurdles to the ballot box that are especially burdensome for low-income, minority, elderly, disabled, and student voters, many of whom were able to vote before but, thanks to new requirements, may be unable or discouraged from doing so in future elections.

How do these laws create barriers to the ballot? Here are just a few of the many examples that we’ve seen recently:

  • In Tennessee, 96-year-old Dorothy Cooper, a woman who has voted in elections since 1960, attempted to secure the new ID that she would need to vote in the next election. When she arrived at the DMV, she was turned away because, despite having her birth certificate, current voter registration card, and a copy of her lease, she did not have a marriage license to verify the change of name.
  • In Texas, thanks to a new voter ID law, students may not use their school-issued photo IDs to vote, while Texans who possess concealed weapons permits are allowed to use their permits to vote. The justification for this seemingly arbitrary rule, according to one state Representative, is that “Texas [is], you know, a big handgun state so everybody has almost got a concealed handgun license over 21.”
  • In Maine, the state is attempting to intimidate student voters – 200 of whom were already falsely accused and then cleared of voter fraud charges – by insisting that they either register their vehicles in the state or vote in the state where they resided prior to college. Threatening these students with felony convictions and possible fines or jail time for something that the Supreme Court deemed legal in 1979 is a blatant attempt to prevent them from voting in the state.
  • In South Carolina, Debbie Freelon, who lives on disability checks and whose first name does not appear on her birth certificate, will not be able to vote in the next election unless she can scrape together upward of $700 dollars to legally update her name on that document. Even if she had the extra money, it could take up to two years for a court to approve the change.
  • Also in Texas, new rules about voter ID prevent military veterans from using their Veteran Administration cards to vote. On the new rule, Charlie Jones of the Texas Democratic Veterans has said that, “[w]e have a lot of vets who are homeless. The only way they interchange with the community is through the [Veteran’s Administration]. They already don’t trust the system. And now they’re being told they can’t vote.”

These stories are just a handful of the estimated 5 million + citizens who will have their right to vote effectively taken away from them in 2012 by these unfair voter ID laws. 

To combat this reality and educate citizens of their rights, we are pleased to launch our new Interactive Map of Shame. The Map of Shame shows the status of existing voter ID and other laws that have the effect of suppressing the turnout of eligible voters on Election Day. In addition, the Map offers state-specific information on new requirements for registering to vote and voting. For states with the strictest laws, the Map of Shame provides voter ID toolkits with detailed information on every step of the process for obtaining a qualifying photo ID. The Map also has links through which you can share your story of how voter ID laws have affected you or those around you and an online petition you can sign to protest these disenfranchising laws.

These restrictive voter ID bills are a solution in search of a problem and will only serve to disenfranchise eligible voters.  Our right to vote is too important for us to allow these assaults to continue! Join us in resolutely denouncing these dangerous attacks on our most fundamental right.

Thank you,

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

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