This email sent out by Sen. Tim Kaine is an insult to every Virginian. The long and short of it is, he thinks you’re a racist.
The Voting Rights Act was instituted in 1965 to ensure the end of literacy tests, grandfather clauses, poll taxes, and other methods that were used to systematically disenfranchise African-Americans in the South.
Now that law is under attack. The Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments challenging the law, and some are erroneously claiming that critical parts of this landmark legislation are outdated and unnecessary. Justice Antonin Scalia even remarked that the Voting Rights Act amounts to “perpetuation of racial entitlement.”
As a long-time civil rights lawyer, I know that the right to vote is sacred, and we have a lot more work to do to protect it. In fact, this case comes to the Court at the very same time that we’ve seen the most aggressive push in decades to limit the franchise – voter ID laws, egregious lines at polling places, and limits on early voting that make it more difficult for people to exercise their Constitutional right.
Will you join me and voice your support for the Voting Rights Act by adding your name?
This shouldn’t be a partisan issue. In fact, Republican President George W. Bush worked side by side with Democrats to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act in 2006.
People gave their lives to secure the right to vote in this country. And every American – regardless of race, religion or creed – has a right to exercise this core component of our democracy.
Please join me and stand in support of the Voting Rights Act.
Thanks for your help,
Paid for by Kaine For Virginia
As a long-time election lawyer, I agree with him that lines were too long on Election Day in many places, but that had nothing to do with the Voting Rights Act. That was a matter of technology, resources, scheduling, planning, an excited electorate, and human imperfection. This all happened even with the VRA in place. Better (and more) voting machines, better (and more) trained poll workers, and better logistics is the way to solve the problem of long lines. Sen. Kaine’s meaningless petition will not address this and is nothing more than blatant political theater that has as its sole purpose growing his list of email addresses to which he can send political material.
I do disagree with him about the notion of early voting and voter ID, though. Early voting basically abolishes “Election Day” and creates “Election Month.” Under his preferred scheme, voters would be voting without having been exposed to the full debate of issues and vetting of candidates. That allows for unscrupulous campaigns (on either side) to dupe voters into voting for their guy early in order to bank enough votes so that even if their candidate implodes, he can still win. That does a real disservice to the voters and democracy.
I have no problem with people casting an absentee ballot if they will be away from home or else cannot make it to the polls during the hours they are open. (On that note, let’s keep the polls open until 8 or 9 p.m. and maybe open them at 5 a.m. That alone will at least help to alleviate the problem.)
On the issue of voter ID, if we need an ID to buy alcohol or cigarettes, go to the movies, get a job, cash a check, open a bank account, rent an apartment, receive public benefits, etc., then why is it such a big deal to show an ID in order to vote? Most people already have some form of government-issued photo ID and the voter ID laws in place or that have been proposed actually make accomodation for those who do not posses one because they are financially unable to acquire one.
I served as an international elections observer in Mexico overseeing their 1997 federal elections. I was assigned to the State of Yucatán and visited polling places throughout the day from the modern capital city of Merida to the poorest of villages near the Mayan ruins. (Cancun is in another state, so there was no beachtime, only work.) That was the first time in over 70 years that their nation’s ruling party lost their majority in the Mexican legislature. Ever.
Every single voter not only had an ID (which was state of the art even by today’s post-9/11 standards incorporating not only photographs, but magnetic strips, holograms, and over a dozen more security measures), but each of them was PROUD to posses it because it said to them that they counted, that they had the right to vote. If they could do this in Mexico 15 years ago with a much poorer population, there is no reason why we cannot make sure that everyone who is eligible to vote in the U.S. has some form of ID.
There are only two real reasons why people oppose voter ID — first, so people like Kaine have an issue to demagogue and second, so people can commit vote fraud. Just a week and a half ago, an Ohio woman — a poll worker of all people — was indicted on charges of vote fraud. She voted SIX TIMES in the 2012 election and is also charged with vote fraud for similar acts in 2011 and 2008. In the city of my birth, Troy, NY (home to Sam Wilson a.k.a. THE “Uncle Sam”), several people have gone to jail for a wide-ranging vote fraud scheme.
The Ohio woman said, “Yes, I voted twice” and claimed she was worried her vote would not count. Even if I believed her, which I don’t given that she was a poll worker, it really says something to me that mid-1990s Mexicans had more confidence in their electoral system than today’s Americans do.