In the 2012 elections, we saw a glimpse of a more robust and inclusive democracy. Hispanic and youth voters turned out in record numbers, and African Americans may have voted at a higher rate than whites for the first time in U.S. history. But this turnout happened in spite of the most widespread assault on voting rights that we’ve seen since the Reconstruction era. Thankfully, courts blocked many of the recent state laws that make it harder to vote. Nonetheless, hundreds of thousands of citizens — disproportionately African Americans and Latinos — had to wait in outrageously long lines and many were improperly forced to cast provisional ballots. While the resolve of voters who stood in line for up to eight hours was inspiring, it showed that election reform is needed. As President Obama said on election night, “We have to fix that.”
The war on voting continues as new legislative proposals emerge to further limit accepted forms of voter identification, require proof of citizenship to register to vote, cut opportunities for early voting, and restrict voter registration drives. For example, this month lawmakers in North Carolina introduced a wave of voter-suppression bills that would roll back nearly every advance that North Carolina has won over the past decade. Virginia recently signed several new repressive voting bills into law implementing restrictive voter ID and voter registration requirements, and lawmakers in Arkansas recently overrode a gubernatorial veto of a restrictive photo ID law.
Several states are pushing error-ridden efforts to kick registered voters off the rolls, all while the Supreme Court considers the continuation a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. But we have another choice. We can stand on the side of lawmakers who want to expand democracy. This is a critical time for efforts to reform voting systems and to enshrine a fundamental right to vote in law.
Full Article: Penda D. Hair: We Can Fix That.