Election 2012:Tough new election laws blocked or delayed
A Democrat, Gov. Beverly Perdue of North Carolina, also vetoed a voter photo ID bill, as did fellow New Hampshire Democratic Gov. John Lynch. But New Hampshire’s Legislature overrode the veto and the law was cleared by the U.S. Justice Department as not a threat to disenfranchise minorities.
The debate over these issues has a sharply partisan tone, with Democrats claiming they’re being orchestrated by Republicans nationwide to suppress minorities and others who tend to vote for Democrats. Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat who fought for black voting rights in the civil rights era, put it in personal terms in a recent congressional fundraising email ominously titled “They don’t want you to vote.”
“We’re seeing a deliberate and systematic effort on the part of Republican officials to prevent minorities, seniors, the young and the poor from casting their ballots,” Lewis wrote.
Republicans and their allies, however, say polls show broad support for such anti-fraud measures as a photo ID for voters and blame Democrats for turning such laws into divisive political controversies aimed at rallying their own supporters.
“It’s just common sense that you require that somebody actually is who they claim to be,” said Pennsylvania state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, sponsor of his state’s photo ID law. “It did turn into a partisan battle that probably shouldn’t be partisan.”
Indeed, Gihan Perera, of the Florida New Majority group, said the opposition of his and other organizations to attempts in Florida to purge voter rolls using questionable lists of non-citizens proved to be a key mobilization point for efforts to register tens of thousands of new voters.
“I would say the chill is gone,” Perera said. “Despite the challenges that we had, we are making tremendous inroads.”