Nearly four years ago when the current President of the United States, Barack Obama was first elected, minority voters shocked the world by coming out in droves to elect the first non-white president in the history of the United States. Today, as we stand less than three weeks away from voting on whether or not Obama will take on a second term, Republican officials and special interest groups have been working OVERTIME to ensure that the minority turnout this year is nowhere near what it was four years ago.
For example, in 2010, Republican Pennsylvania Governor, Tom Corbett signed a law that only allowed people without ID to cast “provisional” ballots, which would be thrown out unless they returned with ID within six days. The Pennsyvlania legislature is one of several that, after Republicans took control passed legislation to make it harder, rather than easier, to vote. Opponents of the voter identification law had expressed fears that it could dissuade or prevent tens of thousands of mostly poor, elderly, young or infirm citizens from voting. According to the Huffington Post, this voter ID bill, like similar moves to restrict voter registration, eliminates early voting, purges voter rolls and sends pollwatchers into minority precincts where voter fraud isn’t even an issue. Recently, Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge Robert E. Simpson postponed the enforcement of the state’s new strict voter ID requirement until after the November presidential election. However, “postponed” doest not mean “stopped.” Minority voters will continue to face this type of resistance every time their presence threatens opposing forces.
A second effort by the GOP to stunt minority voting comes in the form of setting out to stop early voting in the state of Ohio. One of the greatest minority political successes thus far was the allowance of early voting in certain states. However, most Republicans were hell-bent on deterring this. Ohio Secretary of State, John Husted set out to prevent voters from casting their ballots the weekend before Election Day. Husted even went as far as to stall efforts by African-American churches to shuttle people to the polls after church on Sunday. In 2008, the weekend before Election Day was a prime voting period for minorities. Fortunately, this past Tuesday, the Supreme Court rejected a last-gasp appeal by Ohio Republicans and approved early voting for Ohio residents on the weekend before Election Day. However, soon after the Supreme Court released their decision, Husted issued a directive to election boards enforcing stricter and shorter voting hours for Election Day weekend.
Finally and slightly less overtly, minorities may be swindled or misled by false facts or information. This week, in Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio (known to be publicly anti-Latino) attached a document to voter registration cards that falsely claimed in Spanish that Election Day will take place on November 8, 2012. A correction was later released in English, and the county claims they caught the mistake early and only 50 people received the misinformation.
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