Stealing Elections the New Old Fashioned Way

Voter registration and voting is not automatic or required.  Even four years ago in the excitement over the election of the first minority to the Presidency, voter turn-out was only 63%.  And this was in the wake of increased access to early voting, extended hours and access to absentee ballots.

Yet rather than focusing on further removing barriers to voting which can be particularly intimidating for new voters, college students and low wage workers who can’t get off from work to vote, Conservatives are gaming an already dysfunctional system.   A new report, Laws Against Voting: State Statutes that Restrict Participation in 2012, by Project Vote outlines all the laws that are making it even harder to register or stay registered to vote or to cast a ballot on election day.   Ridiculous new laws have passed particularly in the states expected to play critical roles in the upcoming presidential and congressional elections.  This is being played out in dozens of states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia and Florida with heinous voter ID and other restrictive new laws.

America’s voter registration outreach and get out the vote efforts are largely funded by the candidates and their parties and loyal stakeholders.   They do not have any incentive to register and turn out new voters who are not guaranteed to vote for them.  For growing electorates, like the Asian American community, this system particularly does not work.

The growth of the Asian American population has been largely fueled by immigration.  A growing number of Asian immigrants have been in the country for the requisite years to qualify for citizenship if they can speak sufficient English and pass the civics exam.  Older immigrants who have been in the country for a long time also can qualify for citizenship without having to pass the English test.  As a result, a growing number of Asian American voters in the last elections are relatively newly naturalized voters.

These first time voters don’t have an established track record as individual voters, and the Asian American community itself is not strongly identified with either party.  Consequently, very few dollars are invested by candidates and their parties in advertising in Asian ethnic media or in staffing necessary to educate and assist Asian Americans to register and get to the polls, unless the candidate is Asian American.

In the face of this reality, Republican state legislators across the country, have decided the enemy of democracy is not low voter turnout but instead, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, their enemy is too much voting. Their bogey man? Laughingly, illegal immigrants.  Latino and Asian American communities are struggling to get their citizens to vote, and these legislators think illegal immigrants are sneaking into polling places.

Some of these laws are being challenged in Court, but not all successfully.  So help make sure your election isn’t stolen and that voters in your community get registered, get to the polls, and get their votes counted.  Check out the Project Vote report.