Who’s Got Their Eye on Your Right to Vote? [Reader Forum]

Readers discuss the dirt Brentin Mock and crew have dug up in their nationwide coverage of voting rights and voter suppression. Also, a note that our site comments will be offline for maintenance this week.

By Channing Kennedy Jul 16, 2012

Last week, the Colorlines.com community had a good laugh at Mitt Romney — and it was pretty much the only good thing out of him, considering he wasted no time in turning a weak showing at the NAACP into a racebaiting rallying cry to his conservative base.

In this week’s reader forum, let’s take a moment and remember that a Romney presidency isn’t laughably implausible, especially if conservative state legislatures and governors get their way. For the past several months, our intrepid reporters Brentin Mock and Aura Bogado (and our intrepid graphic designer Hatty Lee) have been reporting from the ground on the state of voters’ rights — telling us who’s working to suppress votes and how, and talking to both the lobbyists who’ll benefit and the people of color who stand to lose their rights. It’s the kind of in-depth investigative journalism that we’re proud to have at Colorlines. Get familiar, and find out what your state legislature has planned for your district.

And a programming note: we’re switching over to a new commenting system, and that means Colorlines.com site comments will be down for the next week, starting at midnight tonight. During that time, you’ll be able to comment on our posts on the Colorlines Facebook page and chat with us on Twitter just like always.

When comments go back up on Tuesday the 24th, everything should look pretty much the same, with a few exceptions. Your old comments will still be here. To log in to comment, you’ll use your Facebook or Twitter profile (Disqus login will not work). You can share your comment out on Facebook and/or Twitter. And you can follow replies to your comment. As community manager, I’m excited to see how our already-excellent community conversations get even better with these new features.

On to the discussion! On Hatty Lee’s infographic timeline detailing Texas’ many efforts to keep certain folks away from the polls, longtime reader gabeholderz points out that black people aren’t the border state’s only targets:

Clearly Black folks have historically faced a major level of voter disenfranchisement in Texas. And we should never forget this.

However, I think it’s important to link current voter suppression efforts to the history of Texas’s (and other state’s) attempts to suppress Latino voting as well. Throughout US history many Mexican Americans have faced disenfranchisement in Texas and elsewhere. Dr. Hector Garcia and others have fought very hard against this kind of discrimination.

"Discriminatory election practices to disenfranchise African-American and Latino voters, such as white primaries and poll taxes, remained commonplace in Texas into the mid-1900s." – Voting Rights In Texas, 1982-2006 by Nina Perales, Luis Figueroa, and Criselda Rivas.

On Aura Bogado’s breakdown of "Eric Holder’s New Role as Right Wing Boogeyman," Antonio314 says Holder’s voting-rights battles shouldn’t obfuscate his other work:

Ok Colorlines, I normally love your coverage but this is a stretch. No one — not Holder, conservatives, Pelosi, nor the media — can seem to get their heads around the idea that Mexican lives are valuable. So the real story here is not about US voting rights, nor about the political points conservatives score by shitting on Holder and Obama, nor about Holder’s race. It’s about the US government selling guns into a terrible, bloody conflict that no Americans can bring themselves to care about. As a result, conservatives are foaming at the mouth for an opportunity to hit Obama via Holder, and liberals are confused because Obama and Holder are supposed to be the good guys. Meanwhile, everyone ignores the Mexican drug war AND the fact that on Obama’s watch the feds sold guns to Mexican drug cartels that were then used to kill people. They did that. And instead of admitting it, we try to make spurious arguments about things like voting rights while ignoring the larger, more serious question that may force us to step out of our comfort zones to confront.

But, while Holder and the Obama adminstration certainly aren’t beyond criticism, reader Sarah Eisele-Dyrli points out that the Fast and Furious guns scandal seems made from whole cloth. Referring to a CNN report:

Even more interesting:

"Issa and others charge that the ATF intentionally allowed guns to walk as an operational tactic. But five law-enforcement agents directly involved in Fast and Furious tell Fortune that the ATF had no such tactic. They insist they never purposefully allowed guns to be illegally trafficked. Just the opposite: They say they seized weapons whenever they could but were hamstrung by prosecutors and weak laws, which stymied them at every turn. Indeed, a six-month Fortune investigation reveals that the public case alleging that Voth and his colleagues walked guns is replete with distortions, errors, partial truths, and even some outright lies."

And on the ongoing story about New Hampshire’s enthusiasm to pass an arbitrarily restrictive voter ID bill, reader bsh1707 wonders who’s watching out for voters:

Move to New Jersey where there is real democracy — you register to vote, and when you go to vote, all you do is sign your name in the book and on the paper voter ballot you give to the guy at the voting machine. Your signature is your proof — very easy, and not I nor anyone I know has ever been challenged. And the more you vote, the more signed signatures show up in the book, as proof of who you are. Been like that for the 40-odd years I have voted.

There is no real voter fraud, and the Repugs do this every presidential election because they can’t win fairly, so they have to cheat — and most of the voter suppression registrations are in states that have Republican governors and legislatures […]

Why do we have a "Voting Rights Act" if no one uses or protects it, and others ignore and trample on it?

Each week, we round up the best comments in our community. Join the conversation here on Colorlines.com, and on Facebook and Twitter.