Some updates from the front lines in the war on voting. None of it very good.
Wisconsin: As I write this, way too late on Tuesday in Seattle, the state Senate has gone into the early morning hours of Wednesday in Madison to consider Assembly Bill 7, which imposes a new and costly requirement that all voters show an official photo ID at the polls. It is expected to pass. No big deal, right? Well, 36% of young people, including over 70% of African-Americans under the age of 25, do not have a Wisconsin driver’s license. Kind of a big deal if you think people should be able to vote.
The lone bright spot: Wisconsin students fought hard to make sure student IDs were on the list of acceptable identification. While the bill isn’t perfect on that front – it requires an expiration data and a signature on student IDs, which isn’t a feature of most student IDs currently – it is an improvement over the original proposal that did not allow student IDs. We must work now to make sure colleges and universities make their student IDs compliant with this law, which, of course, is an awesome use of their scarce resources.
Governor Scott Walker (R) is expected to sign the bill into law very quickly, so we turn now to making sure those who would be disenfranchised by this law get the ID they need . . . courtesy of the Wisconsin taxpayer who will be footing the multi-million dollar price tag that comes with providing “free” IDs to anyone who doesn’t have one. We need your help to get people to the DMV this summer. Sign up to help on the ground. Or make a donation today. Or both.
Florida: Governor Rick Scott (R) is expected to sign into law legislation that puts onerous restrictions on voter registration drives run by organizations like Rock the Vote, cuts down the early voting period from 13 days to eight days, and eliminates the ability of voters to update their voter registration information at the polls. We wrote about it here. The law will be reviewed by the U.S. Department of Justice and, failing that, will be challenged in court. They are trying to put groups like Rock the Vote out of business in Florida and make it harder for you to vote, but we’re not going to let it happen. I’ll keep you posted.
South Carolina: On Wednesday, Governor Nikki Haley (R) will sign into law a new state-issued photo ID requirement for her state’s voters, joining the exclusive club of “States with the Most Restrictive Voting Laws in the Country.”
Texas: On Monday, the Texas Legislature passed their version of photo ID legislation. Governor Rick Perry (R) is expected to sign it into law very soon and likely will be hazed by Governor Haley of South Carolina during his initiation into the “States with the Most Restrictive Voting Laws in the Country” club.
Rhode Island: Did I mention that the Democratic majority in state Senate in Rhode Island passed a photo ID law last week, proving that any group of misguided politicians, regardless of party, is capable of taking away voting rights? We are trying to stop the bill in the House. Wish us luck.
New Hampshire: I’m going to end with this gem. Today, there was a special election to replace a New Hampshire state legislator. New Hampshire has been considering a bunch of legislation that will make it harder for people to vote, including a photo ID bill. None of the bills have been signed into law yet.
That doesn’t matter to some. There were signs posted outside one of the five polling places set up for this special election that read: “Per pending legislation you will be required to produce a photo ID in order to receive a ballot.” (You can check out a picture here.)
Per pending legislation?! Civics education really has taken a hit in the country.
Back in the day, Schoolhouse Rock taught us all a lesson on how a bill becomes a law. Feel free to revisit:
I need a drink.
UPDATE: While I went to my fridge to grab a beer, I remembered two really good things. First, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer (D), on the heels of his epic veto of a bill to end Election Day Registration, vetoed the photo ID legislation last week. Second, the California legislature is considering two bills that would make registering and voting easier to do: Same Day Registration (which allows people to register to vote and cast their ballot during the early voting period) and Online Voter Registration (which does just what it sounds like). Imagine that.