Get Out the Vote: For some, the real goal is voter suppression

This entry is part 8 of 10 in the series Get Out the Vote
2000 Florida presidential election ballot and box

The 2000 Florida presidential election is now so infamous that this voting stand, ballot and ballot box from that election is now an exhibit in the state’s museum in Tallahassee.

NOTE FROM DR. WAYNE BAKER—Columnist Terry Gallagher has been exploring Americans’ voter apathy and challenges to raising the level of participation.

While many observers bemoan low voting turnout, not everybody sees it as a problem.

In fact, some political types embrace “voter suppression” as the key to electoral victory.

Their goal is not to persuade more people to support their candidate or position, but instead to discourage their opponents from voting at all.

“The tactics of voter suppression can range from minor ‘dirty tricks’ that make voting inconvenient, up to blatantly illegal activities that physically intimidate prospective voters to prevent them from casting ballots,” according to Wikipedia. “Voter suppression could be particularly effective if a significant amount of voters are intimidated individually because the voter might not consider his or her single vote important.”

Voter suppression is far more than minor dirty tricks, though. In Florida in 2000, which proved decisive for George W. Bush’s election as president, the United States Commission on Civil Rights said that “statistical data, reinforced by credible anecdotal evidence, point to the widespread denial of voting rights. . . . . The disenfranchisement of Florida’s voters fell most harshly on the shoulders of black voters.”

One of the seemingly innocuous ways to suppress voting is to require potential voters to show photo identification to cast a ballot.

So what? Not a big deal for most of us.

Turns out that studies have shown that 18 percent of all seniors and 25 percent of African-Americans don’t have picture IDs.

Do too many people vote?
Why would we make it more difficult?

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