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December 24, 2011 08:14 PM UTC

Voting Rights

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  • by: Konola

It has been interesting to watch the Middle East, and now Russia, protesting rigged votes and/or lack of access to the polls or the ability to vote for someone to truly represent the interests of the people. While that is going on in the rest of the world, Americans can’t seem to find any passion about voting, as evidenced by their failure to vote. Since 1960 in non-presidential election years, slightly less than 40% of registered voters actually vote. The result is slightly higher in presidential election years with a little more than 50% of registered voters turn out.

Given that background, it is probably no surprise that most of America is blissfully unaware of the frontal attack on voting rights that has been waged in 2011 by ALEC, GOP controlled state legislators and GOP governors. A couple of weeks ago, Erich Holder finally decided to lead a counter attack. It is interesting that his opening attack occurred in Austin, Texas-a state noted for playing fast and loose with voting rights.

It is fitting that the speech announcing Holder’s game plan was delivered at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum, since Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law. Holder asked American citizens to support him in three initiatives:

The first initiative is to curb deceptive election practices, which Holder describes as “dishonest efforts to prevent certain voters from casting their ballots.” In his speech he noted attempts to confuse voters by giving them the wrong election day, launching robo-calls telling voters that they don’t have to go to the polls because their candidate has already won.

In support of this first initiative, Senators Schumer and Cardin have introduced the Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act of 2011.

The second initiative is to reform redistricting efforts to make them more neutral. Holder did not lay out any new legislation to ensure that there are no “vindictive” Democratic Supreme Courts. Maybe Newt will actually win election and arrest some of those pesky judges.

The third initiative is really radical. It will be interesting to see if this initiative gets any traction, but it deserves a close look. Holder wants to use modern technology to make sure that everyone is automatically registered to vote on their 18th birthday. Holder said, “it should be the government’s responsibility to automatically register citizens to vote.” He also said that registration should be automatically portable.  

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