In a segment this morning on CNN, commentator Roland Martin managed to cut through the double-talk and smokescreens that many conservatives try to send up when they are challenged about why they trying to make it harder for American citizens to vote.
Martin was responding to comments made by Florida Governor Rick Scott about why he had taken felons off voter registration rolls and outlawed voting on Sunday before a Tuesday election. When the host, Christine Romans, came back to Martin, he responded by saying, “That was pure foolishness– he signed one of the most restrictive voter suppression laws in the country.”
“They would not have passed those ridiculous laws if they were serious about people voting,” he added.
The exchange highlighted an issue that will be raised again and again in the months leading up to the election: Why are Republicans intent on making it harder for Americans to vote in a country where barely half the electorate actually exercises its right to vote—even in elections as well-covered as the 2008 presidential election? For most observers, the answer is simple: Because Republicans are trying to make voting harder for blacks and Latinos, considered the most vulnerable (read: easily discouraged) voting population, so that Mitt Romney has a chance to beat the president.
But conservative panelist Margaret Hoover didn’t like the implications of Martin’s point.
“The problem with your rebuttal is that it suggests these guys are malevolent, evil people trying to suppress minority voters,” she said.
According to a recent story on kansascity.com, at least 15 states have passed laws that could make voting more difficult for blacks and up to 38 states are weighing legislation that would require people to show government-approved photo identification or provide proof of citizenship before registering or casting ballots. Laws have also enacted or are being considered that would make it harder for third-party groups such as the League of Women Voters and the NAACP to register voters.
New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice released a study last year that said the new laws “may sharply tilt the political terrain for the 2012 election” by restricting voting access for up to 5 million people, mostly people of color, the poor and the elderly.
States that have adopted such laws account for 171 electoral votes this year, 63 percent of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency, according to the Brennan Center.