No Voter Intimidation: Know and Protect Your Voting Rights
Intimidation, redistricting, voter ID laws and changes in voting rules may turn some people off from voting in November. Arm yourself with knowledge so that you can safely participate in democracy.
It seems so clear – if you want to win an election, keep the opponent’s supporters from voting. Duh. It’s just so obvious, right? Problem is, you can only get away with the obvious for so long before the masses begin take notice.
There has been a strong and persistent effort to disenfranchise groups of our population who typically tend to vote Democrat. I have little doubt that this has been a GOP fantasy for quite some time. And low and behold the Tea Party flew in on their rebel flag bumper stickered broomsticks and made their dreams come true.
From passing photo voter ID laws to redistricting to changing registration rules – the Tea Party-infused GOP is making voting more challenging across the nation for a considerable percentage of voters. These new voting laws popping up across the country have identified their targets and are hitting hard.
Seniors, veterans, first time voters, African Americans, Latinos, people with disabilities and college students are the nation’s most disenfranchised voters - partially because they are twice as likely to lack a photo ID. And these groups typically tend to trend Democrat.
A non-partisan study has shown that 11% of eligible voters do not have a government issued photo ID. In the past 12 years, cases of voter impersonation (the only voter fraud which would be solved by the voter ID laws) have averaged about 1 in 15 million votes. That is compared to the 21 million who do not have a photo ID.
During a five-year period of the Bush presidency, it was estimated that there was only 86 cases of convicted voter fraud and that was out of 196 million votes. According to a New York Times analysis in 2007, there had been only 120 cases filed in regards to election fraud. Of these 120 cases, many stemmed from simple errors or mistakes. Again, only 86 convictions resulted.
No state in the country required a photo ID until 2006. However, laws were enacted to combat this phenomenal abundance of election fraud.
Professor and election law specialist Rick Hasen, was quoted as stating, “When you do see election fraud, it invariably involves election officials taking steps to change election results or it involves absentee ballots which voter ID laws can’t prevent.”
Many people in rural areas have had to deal with the closing of DMV agencies resulting in them having to travel a long way to obtain a photo ID. And then, even if the IDs are free, can end up costing voters if they need to purchase copies of their birth certificates or jump through other hoops to procure the necessary documents – which can basically be considered a poll tax.
Many voting myths are being spread in hopes to intimidate and keep Democratic voters from the polls. From telling people that voters will be ineligible if they owe child support, have ever been in jail, have a home in foreclosure and even “informing” voters that ballots can be cast the day after the election to keep lines shorter. All of the above is untrue.
Conservative organizations are also betting on the power of confusion to help them gain a wider margin. With new laws and redistricting, many voters are bound to be confused. And confusion can sometimes be enough of a reason to stay home on election day.
Voter ID has been struck down and the law will NOT be in play on November 6th. Many people may be unsure about these proposed laws and how it will effect this election. Voters do NOT need a photo ID to cast their ballot during this coming election UNLESS you will be registering that same day. If you use same day registration you will need a state ID or Social Security card AND a proof of residence (utility bills or bank statements are best).
The redistricting around the state has also been met with this conservative desired confusion. Many people have no idea which candidates are now in their districts and with the elimination of straight ticket voting, some people are sure to be left wondering at the polls. This is why being educated about the candidates is more important than ever.
Tea Party backed group True the Vote says that their intent is to stop rampant voter fraud. And while doing so, they make clear attempts to intimidate citizens trying to cast their ballots. True the Vote targets areas where there is a considerably higher percentage of minority voters. This group claims to have 1 million people trained to observe at polling locations on November 6th.
There is indeed many people out there who would love for some of you to stay home on election day. And there are organizations who will stop at little to ensure just that. Know your rights, be prepared, arm yourself with knowledge and do not be intimidated.
It is sad that in 2012 we still need to protect the right to vote. But that is exactly why it is so important that you DO vote.
- November 6th 2012 is election day for President, US Congress, Senate and Assembly offices
- You can begin voting early on October 22nd 2012 – call your municipality for days and hours
- Voters can register at the polls – check the status of your registration at www.vpa.wi.gov
- If you or someone you know needs a free ride to the polls call (262) 635-9532 or visit www.turnupthevote.org
- At the polls, you can expect to see poll observers – they may be from partisan and non-partisan organizations - they cannot stop you from you legal right to vote, do not be intimidated
- Voters must have lived in their current residence for 28 days or more in order to register at a new polling location
- ALL citizens have the right to vote for President on Election Day. Voters who have proof of residence but have lived at their current residence in Wisconsin LESS than 28 days may ask for a Presidential ballot
- Many local polling locations will have voter protection helpers on the premises - do not be afraid to ask for help
- Wisconsin Voter Hotline for any issues/concerns/problems is 866.VOTE.WIS or visit www.bringit.wi.gov