Republican-led legislatures across the country have imposed voting restrictions that are being criticized as blatantly designed to suppress the black, minority and elderly voting blocs — in other words, groups expected to be key to President Obama's bid for re-election in 2012.
Even Attorney General Eric Holder has spoken out against these changes, urging political parties "to resist the temptation to suppress certain votes in the hope of attaining electoral success." Democratic officials have called "a full-scale assault" on minority voters. Special-interest groups, including the NAACP and labor unions, have held rallies and filed lawsuits against them.
Some of the new laws require government-issued identification to vote. Others limit third-party voter-registration drives, making it harder for groups to help others prepare to head to the polls.
In particular, voting laws passed in Florida last year limiting early voting, including on the Sunday before Election Day, are being criticized this week for their potential impact on black and Latino voters.
Ciarra Torres-Spelliscy, an assistant professor of law at Stetson University College of Law, told the Huffington Post yesterday, "We think that this is going to have an impact on minority voters in particular, because Hispanic voters and more black voters voted on that Sunday proportionately than their white counterparts. It could be because they are more religious, or because [blacks and Latinos] are more working-class and it is more difficult to vote on Tuesdays because of work."
"Preachers would preach a great sermon and then march to the polls with their congregations," said Hilary Shelton, senior vice president for advocacy and policy at the NAACP, describing a "Souls to the Polls" campaign coordinated during the last presidential election. That won't be happening again. And we're going to go out on a limb and say Republicans are thrilled.
It's fun to watch the fanfare surrounding the GOP candidates battling it in the primaries. But when it comes to the actual outcome of the next election, we should consider shifting some of our attention from their attacks on each other to their party's multifaceted, creative and sinister "full-scale assault" on voters' rights.
Read more at the Huffington Post.