2011 maybe remembered for the mean-spirited and extremely undemocratic GOP assault upon the voting rights of Americans. Over the history of our great nation there always has been positive momentum to expand the voting franchise.
The original tea partiers pointed to the lack of voting rights with their motto, “No taxation without representation.” Eventually the limitation of voting rights to property owners slowly ended state by state. After the Civil War three important constitutional amendments were passed to ensure the rights of newly freed, former slaves, including the right to vote. The original voting franchise in America had empowered only white men to vote, and in many instances only white men who owned property.
It was only as recently as 1920 that the voting franchise was expanded to include women, thanks to Susan B. Anthony. In more recent years voting rights have been extended by the elimination of poll taxes, literacy tests and by innovations, such as early voting and vote by mail.
However this year, 19 new state laws and two gubernatorial executive orders, all in states where Republicans control the legislatures and the governor’s office are having a chilling effect upon your right to vote. Early voting is being limited. Voter registration is now encumbered by rules that serve no useful purpose except to make it harder to register new voters. Perhaps the most tangible threat to voting rights is the new voter ID laws that require difficult-to-obtain and sometimes-costly voter IDs.