A.F.L.-C.I.O. officials on Wednesday denounced the voter identification laws enacted in a dozen states and vowed to mount their biggest voter registration and protection efforts ever to counter these laws, which they said could disenfranchise millions of voters. Union leaders, gathered here for their annual winter meeting, held a news conference to attack the laws, saying that Republican governors and Republican-dominated legislatures had enacted them to make voting harder for numerous Democratic-leaning groups, including students, minorities, elderly and the poor. “Although they’re called voter ID laws, they are in fact voter suppression laws,” said Arlene Holt Baker, the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s executive vice president. “If you are able to suppress the voice and vote of these groups of people, you have in fact been able to destroy democracy.”
At a news conference Wednesday, the A.F.L.-C.I.O., a federation of 57 unions, announced its “2012 Voter Protection Program,” a far-reaching effort that would include educating voters about their rights, filing lawsuits against some of these laws and training poll monitors. The federation’s leaders said they would work closely with other groups, including the N.A.A.C.P. and National Council of La Raza, to maximize voter turnout and provide whatever help is needed to enable elderly, disabled and poor Americans to get voter ID’s. Union leaders talked about the difficulties that Dorothy Cooper, a 96-year-old Chattanooga woman who has voted in virtually every election since the 1940s, suddenly faced in getting a voter ID.
After Republicans captured the governor’s mansions and legislatures in Ohio, Wisconsin and several other states, many enacted voter ID laws and related measures to combat what Republican leaders said was widespread voter fraud. But union leaders here vigorously denied that a serious fraud problem exists, arguing that Republicans had greatly exaggerated as an excuse to disenfranchise Democratic voters. Julie Greene, the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s deputy political director, pointed to a study by the Justice Department under President George W. Bush that uncovered just 86 cases of voter fraud nationwide.
Full Article: A.F.L.-C.I.O. Takes On Voter ID Laws – NYTimes.com.