Robert Knight of the far-right American Civil Rights Union appeared yesterday on VCY America’s Crosstalk to discuss so-called voter fraud problems, where he accused people who oppose restrictions on voting rights such as voter ID laws of being “racist.”
Knight: To suggest that showing a Photo ID like everybody else is supposed to show is a way to suppress the minority vote to me is a rather racist thing to say, because it implies that these people are just incapable of operating by the same rules everybody else is. It’s that soft liberal racism that pops up over and over.
As detailed in the Right Wing Watch: In Focus, The Right to Vote Under Attack, research overwhelmingly dispels claims of widespread voter fraud and found that the proposed laws set out to solve this invented problem have a lopsided impact on African American voters. And according to a NAACP report [pdf], such laws are “threatening to disfranchise millions of people, a disproportionate number of whom are people of color.”
“Voter registration is the gateway to participating in our democracy, but these antiquated, paper-based systems are plagued with errors and inefficiencies,” said David Becker, director of Election Initiatives at the Pew Center on the States. “These problems waste taxpayer dollars, undermine voter confidence, and fuel partisan disputes over the integrity of our elections.”
Mr. Becker makes an important point: our problems are found in a system that hasn’t kept up with the times. The solution is to modernize that system, not cause further harm by prioritizing politics over participation.
Last fall’s The Right to Vote under Attack: The Campaign to Keep Millions of Americans from the Ballot Box, a Right Wing Watch: In Focus report by PFAW Foundation, details just how harmful the politics can be.
“This report reveals just how the far the Right Wing is willing to go to win elections,” continued Keegan. “Eroding the achievements of the Civil Rights movement by disenfranchising voters is abhorrent. All Americans have a fundamental right to vote, and we need to be vigilant to make sure that ever eligible voter is ready and able to vote on Election Day."
The Brennan Center for Justice continues:
“Last year, a slew of states passed new laws making it harder to vote. Notably, none of those laws addressed the concerns highlighted in this study. Rather than erecting barriers between eligible American citizens and their right to vote, we should be opening pathways to a modern voting system. Voter registration modernization is a common sense reform that would cost less, register many more voters, and curb any possibility of fraud. It should be put in place without delay.”
There is no question that we have a lot of work to do to ensure that eligible Americans can exercise their right to vote. But the goal should be fair and honest enfranchisement, not the politics of distraction.