By Anonymous (not verified) on July 18, 2011

Democracy in America is under attack. Politicians in dozens of states are turning back the clock by denying the vote to their own citizens.

Photo ID requirements, shortened early voting periods, limits on poll worker assistance, proof of citizenship requirements, restrictions on same day registration and disenfranchisement of former felons — all disproportionately deny voting rights to people of color, people with disabilities, students, low-income workers and seniors.

Proponents of voter ID laws claim that voter fraud is commonplace, yet multiple studies have shown that the problem is essentially nonexistent. And anecdotal evidence held up by these politicians is consistently debunked as myth.

Voter identification is a convenient euphemism for voter suppression. A full 11 percent of voters currently do not have ID. Most of them are seniors, people of color, people with disabilities, the poor and students. In fact, about one out of five nonwhite citizens and citizens over age 64 do not have government-issued ID. This is not about reducing fraud but part of a coordinated campaign of subtle intimidation intended to suppress the political will and empowerment of millions of Americans.

Election reform is desperately needed, but instead of restricting the right to vote, we should be expanding it by implementing a modern and accessible system for holding elections.

There are more than 30 million Americans with disabilities of voting age, yet the Federal Election Commission reports that there are more than 20,000 inaccessible polling places. Some are located in basements or buildings without ramps, and others only offer machines that are outdated and unworkable for a person who is blind, deaf, or physically impaired. Too many citizens with disabilities can only cast their vote curbside, or are denied the right to a secret ballot when they have to speak their vote out loud for someone else to mark down. If impediments were removed and people with disabilities began voting in the same proportion as other Americans, fully 3.2 million more people would be casting ballots.

It is the duty of our policymakers to remove the barriers to participation for all citizens, including those with disabilities. Modernizing the system with automated registration, online access to records, and accessible voting machines would allow more than 65 million eligible Americans to participate. Investing in a uniform, simplified process for voters would eliminate unnecessary bureaucratic processes, save states money and save election officials time. Right now, state legislators are instead committed to doing the opposite.

Requiring photo ID and imposing other restrictions on the right to vote will not strengthen our democracy. It will only serve to exclude many American from participating in the important decisions that face us all as we work to create an America that is as good as its ideals.

Wade Henderson is the president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. Mark Perriello is the president of the American Association of People with Disabilities. They can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

You can read more pieces from The Progressive Media Project by clicking here.

Add new comment

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

More

By Ruth Conniff

Wisconsin workers face a lousy jobs picture this Labor Day, according to...

Here, for Labor Day, are the top ten working class hero movies of all time.

At a swank club in Madison, Walker supporters get an earful.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

Public School Shakedown

Progressive Media Project

Newsletter

Get Breaking News and Alerts!