The Lone Star state’s voter ID law is part of a nationwide effort to suppress the vote, nurtured by the right’s desire to hold onto power, as demographic changes are altering the electoral landscape. In the last four years, close to half the states in the US have passed laws restricting the right to vote, the most fundamental principle of democracy.
Shelby County v. Holder, last year’s Supreme Court decision revoking an essential provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, upped the ante and has encouraged many states to try to impose restrictive voter ID laws, as well as gerrymander congressional districts and limit registration and voting hours.
The argument made in favor of this vast disenfranchisement is rampant voter fraud — but in state after state there is rarely proof of anyone showing up at a polling place and trying to illegally cast a ballot.
This week, Bill talks with an attorney and journalist about the ongoing vote suppression controversy. Sherrilyn Ifill is president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, a noted civil rights litigator whose work has included landmark voting rights cases. She tells Bill, “The right to vote was sacrosanct because it was the thing that came with your citizenship. It was the great equalizer. And we’re seeing a different philosophy about the meaning of that exercise of citizenship.”
Ari Berman is a contributing writer for The Nation magazine and author of the upcoming book, Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America. He says, “We have a Supreme Court that wants to make it easier for millionaires to buy an election, but harder for everyday people to vote in one. And that’s a very, very disturbing reality right now.”
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