Déjà Vu in Texas Voter-ID Fight

The Lone Star state is among several places where new legislation will hit blacks hard at the polls.

Black voters at polls in Selma, Ala. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Black voters at polls in Selma, Ala. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The same fab five right-wing activist justices on the Supreme Court who ruled that corporations are people also gave Indiana’s ID law a nod. Like dominoes falling, Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania have followed with restrictive laws requiring voters to show up with photo IDs in hand — even though in 2007, five years after the George W. Bush administration launched a crackdown on voter fraud, the Justice Department found virtually no evidence of organized efforts to influence federal elections with ineligible voters.

A study by New York’s Brennan Center for Justice last week reported that 1.2 million eligible black voters and 500,000 eligible Hispanic voters in the nation live more than 10 miles from their nearest ID-issuing office open more than two days a week. It also reported that “these voters may be particularly affected by the significant costs of the documentation required to obtain a photo ID. Birth certificates can cost between $8 and $25 … By comparison, the notorious poll tax — outlawed during the civil rights era — cost $10.64 in current dollars.”

Just why would Republicans want to make minority voters, who don’t have and don’t need photo IDs in their day-to-day lives, cough up extra cash or go far out of their way in order to exercise their civic duty?

And why, oh, why are the Republicans hand-wringing over non-existent voter fraud? Let’s see. As polls have consistently shown, President Barack Obama and presidential hopeful Mitt Romney are locked in a dead heat. Depending on who’s counting, there are 10 to 12 swing states that will determine the outcome of November’s election. Among those battleground states, Florida, Colorado, Nevada and North Carolina are heavily populated with either Hispanic or black voters who could make a difference. But that’s only if they show up and are allowed to cast their ballots.

And, as we all know, stuff happens. Let’s just make sure it doesn’t happen to us.

Cyber columnist Monroe Anderson is a veteran Chicago journalist who has written signed op-ed-page columns for both the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times and executive-produced and hosted his own local CBS TV show. He was also the editor of Savoy Magazine. Follow him on Twitter.