While the nightly news focuses on GOP presidential debates, Wall Street protests and gridlock in Congress, a real revolution is taking place just under the radar that threatens to prevent millions of voters from casting ballots in next year’s presidential election.
A new study by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law examined 19 laws and two executive orders issued in 14 states last year that could make it “significantly harder” for more than five million voters to cast ballots next year.
The unprecedented assault on voting rights is part of a centrally coordinated campaign planned and funded by GOP operatives who are determined to drive potential voters, mostly Democratic, away from the polls. Republican leaders claim the new laws are necessary to prevent voter fraud, but no evidence exists to support the claim of widespread voter fraud. Of the 300 million votes in the U.S. cast between 2002 and 2007, federal officials convicted only 86 people for voter fraud.
“It is more likely that an individual will be struck by lightening than that he will impersonate another voter at the polls,” concluded the Brennan Center.
The new state laws include requirements for would-be voters to provide proof of citizenship, place limits on voter registration drives, repeal Election Day voter registration and impose sharp new restrictions on early voting. According to Michael Waldman, executive director of the Brennan Center, the measures represent, “the most significant rollback in voting rights in decades.”
Among the cheerleaders for the voter suppression campaign are conservative activist Paul Weyrich and Karl Rove, who falsely described illegal voting as “an enormous and growing problem.” Model legislation for the states that have introduced voter suppression legislation is provided by the American Legislative Exchange Council, which is funded in part by the billionaire Koch brothers.