Charges of voter suppression, especially through the use of draconian voter photo ID laws and other measures, have been rising in several states including Ohio, South Carolina, Florida, Wisconsin, Illinois. Recently members of the U.S. House of Representatives to spoke out against what many view as GOP efforts to suppress the votes of Democratic voters, including minorities, rural voters, seniors and others groups. This notion is not foreign to the people of Georgia who have struggled against the imposition of voter photo ID laws, unusual use of Social Security checks in the last election by the Georgia Secretary of State, and the convenient malfunctioning of voting machines in certain jurisdictions. In Maryland prosecutors are investigating whether robo-calls were used to suppress the black vote in the 2010 election. President Bill Clinton recently compared efforts to suppress the vote to Jim Crow in a speech given to young voters.
Rep. John Lewis made this statement on the House floor today to discuss these issues:
“Mr. Speaker, voting rights are under attack in America. There is a deliberate and systematic attempt to prevent millions of elderly voters, young voters, students, minorities, and low-income voters from exercising their constitutional right to engage in the democratic process. Voter ID laws are becoming all too common. But make no mistake, Voter ID laws are a poll tax. People who struggle to pay for basic necessities cannot afford a voter ID.
The right to vote is precious and almost sacred, and one of the most important blessings of our democracy. Today we must be vigilant in protecting that blessing. We should be making it easy, simple, and convenient to vote. Before the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, many people were jailed, beaten, and some were even killed for trying to register and vote. We must not step backward toward another dark time in our history.
The vote is the most powerful, non-violent tool we have in a democratic society. We must fight back. We must never go back. We will not stand idly by, while millions of Americans are denied their right to participate in the democratic process.”