The Voter Suppression Chronicles

The American Prospect,  June 21, 2019

"North Carolina voters approved a constitutional amendment requiring a photo ID to vote, replacing a struck-down provision of the monster law. Typically, nobody knew what exactly that would mean—the Republican legislature would get to decide what kinds of IDs to allow and disallow. …

After passing a law, soon after the Shelby decision, that required a photo ID to vote, [Alabama] announced the closure of 31 driver’s license offices, almost all in predominantly black parts of the state. “The rationale was saving taxpayer money,” University of Alabama law professor Jenny Carroll testified. But it didn’t save much—between $200,000 and $300,000, in a state where annual budgetary shortfalls typically range from $100 million to $200 million. The main effect was forcing tens of thousands of citizens to drive hours to get the newly required ID. After a court challenge, the state agreed to reopen the disputed offices—one day a month. “But good luck finding them, or figuring out their hours,” Carroll said, since the state doesn’t post them. …

[North Dakota]’s Republican legislature responded by imposing a photo-ID requirement, knowing that most Natives lacked them—because many don’t drive, don’t have traditional street addresses, and because, as Walker said, “IDs cost money that people simply do not have. Our family poverty rate is 35.9 percent. The nearest driver’s license site is 40 miles away.”

Like most of the other tribes, the Standing Rock Sioux figured out a way to make voters eligible for Heitkamp’s re-election attempt last November—by spending money it couldn’t afford to map new street addresses and print IDs for free. Alysia LaCounte, a lawyer from the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, broke down as she described the economic suffering on her 19,000-person reservation, and the Herculean effort and expense required to make longtime voters eligible again. “Our unemployment rate is 69.75 percent,” she said, not wishing to round it up. “In the past we’ve made IDs, but they cost $15. Fifteen dollars is milk and bread for a week for a poor family.” The Chippewa decided to make the IDs free, but on the first day of printing them, the machine melted down. So they sought donations for a new one. Staff worked endless overtime hours to make 2,400 new IDs to satisfy the legislature."



By Bob Moser

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Hannah Piercey