You may have seen my new adventure with conservative Christian, Aimee Whetstine, Finding (Un)Common Ground. We believe those from across the divide can engage in civil discourse. We’re doing a she said/she said. Here is my latest post. Come join the dialogue.
Look, I am not generally a conspiracy theorist. But, I’m always more than a little suspicious when legislation is roundly proposed by one party or another and even more suspicious when a single organization seems to be behind the lawmakers who sponsored said legislation. Let’s take the latest 62 voter id laws that have been proposed in 37 states in the last two years. In the vast majority of these laws, conservative Republicans have been leading the charge. And behind them? The Washington, D.C.-based American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
So just who or what is ALEC? It’s a tax-exempt organization established in 1973 by the late Paul Weyrich, the co-founder of the conservative think tank, the Heritage Foundation. While it claims to be a non-profit, ALEC has been drafting and disseminating “model bills” advocating free market economic ideas, such as eliminating capital gains taxes and weakening labor and consumer laws. Sure sounds like lobbying me.
In the past few years, ALEC has moved beyond purely economic initiatives to voter id and gun rights issues. Its model bill served as the basis for the “Stand Your Ground” law in Florida (you know, the one that allowed George Zimmerman to murder Trayvon Martin).
And voter id? Thanks to ALEC, voter id has become a major focus of this current election cycle. While lawmakers have been busy proposing these laws, lawyers have been busy fighting against them. The courts are now filled with challenges to voter id laws in most of the states where they exist. So, all of you who want smaller government, is that the best use of our tax payers dollars?
Perhaps, if it was a real problem. But the truth is, it isn’t. How much voter fraud has there really been? According to News21,a national investigative reporting project funded by the funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, since 2000 we have only experienced 2068 cases of actual voter fraud. Let me repeat that: 2068 cases. Think about all of the local, state, and national elections that have happened since 2000. That’s hundred of millions of votes by hundreds of millions of voters and only 2068 cases.
So why the Republican campaign to ensure there is no fraud in our voting process? Votes. Or rather, votes for their candidates. Turns out those most affected by voter id laws are young people, hispanics, the poor, and the elderly. In other words, those most likely to vote Democratic.
But here’s the rub. A recent report indicates those currently without documentation are less likely to vote anyway. So while our lawmakers and lawyers are duking it out in a frantic effort to keep voters from voting this November, our real focus should be getting those who aren’t registered to vote registered.
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, of the 225 million people who were 18 and older, 206 million were citizens, and 146 million were registered. In the 2008 November election, 131 million people voted. In other words, only 58% of eligible Americans excercized their right to vote in the last election, but 90% of registered voters did. So, how do we change elections. Get people registered because once they are registered, they’ll vote.
If you aren’t registered, what’s your excuse? Don’t know how? Click here.