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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 4, 2012
5:04 PM

CONTACT: Center for American Progress (CAP)

Laura Pereyra
Phone: 202.741.6258
Email: lpereyra@americanprogress.org

Release: New CAP Report Shows Latest Voter Suppression Efforts will Disenfranchise Millions

How Conservatives Are Conspiring to Disenfranchise Millions of Americans

WASHINGTON - April 4 - In today's CAP Action press call with Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), President and CEO of CAP Action Tom Perriello, and Director of Campus Progress Anne Johnson,  the Center for American Progress released a report analyzing the latest voter suppression efforts to disenfranchise Americans. Conservative legislators are introducing and passing legislation that creates new barriers for those registering to vote that shortens the early voting period and imposes new requirements for already-registered voters. But voter fraud is extremely rare and the real result is that many potential voters will be disenfranchised—among them groups like college students, low-income voters, seniors, and minorities.

"This is not a response to systematic fraud, despite the fact that they've made an effort to unveil fraud. This is a response to one thing and one thing only, which is that they don't want people to vote and reforms that Progressives put in place were working" said Tom Perriello in a CAP Action press call today. He went on to say that, "what scared conservatives was that Americans were voting and for some reason they don't want that. And you have to ask the question, why don't they want Americans to vote? Why don't they want seniors and working class families to vote? All of those things make it more difficult to institute a set of economic policies that protect the one-percent instead of providing the American Dream to the American middle class and working class. So, it is important to understand why groups like ALEC...support efforts to systematically disenfranchise."

Efforts to enact voter restriction laws have not been seen on this scale since the era of Jim Crow laws in the South that aimed to disenfranchise blacks after Reconstruction. And right now the effort to rapidly spread these proposals can be seen in states as different as Texas and Wisconsin, led by pro-1 Percent, pro-conservative groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. In 2011 more than 30 state legislatures considered legislation to make it harder for citizens to vote, with more than a dozen of those states succeeding in passing these bills. The effort to enact antivoting legislation has continued unabated so far in 2012.

Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) put it this way, "They are bringing actions against people who were out there working getting people out to the polls accusing them of fraud, and everyone knows that all it was is [they were] transporting people to vote, helping them to vote absentee...And they are unfair and as un-American as anything I have ever seen. This is the kind of thing that is going on today that we saw when things were happening in southern states to keep them from voting and intimidate them. Yes, I am very anxious about where we are today..."

What's more, is as more young and minority voters enter the voting age, conservatives have an increasing reason to strengthen voter ID laws as these voters are strongly progressive. In 2008 about 48 million millennial generation voters—born between 1978 and 2000—became old enough to vote. Two-thirds of these young voters and Hispanic voters delivered their votes to then-Sen. Barack Obama. By 2012 that will increase to 64 million, or 29 percent of all eligible voters. By 2020, 90 million will be eligible to vote, or 40 percent of all eligible voters.

Anne Johnson, Director of Campus Progress, said that "the millennial generation, as a whole, is a very engaged generation-- they volunteer in their communities, they get involved in local efforts to make their communities better places, they participate civically, they volunteer on campaigns. And the idea that people are trying to restrict the access of these young people to voting is unbelievable. These attacks, led by ALEC, other organizations, and conservative legislatures around the country, are really focused on keeping young people out of the electorate. They don't like the way young people are voting and so rather than trying to win on policy issues, they are just going to keep young people out of the electorate by making it harder for them to get registered and for them to vote."

See the following fast facts from the report:

  • More than 30 state legislatures considered legislation to make it harder for citizens to vote, with more than a dozen succeeding in passing these bills with the help of pro-1 Percent, pro-conservative groups such as ALEC.
  • The five worse states for voting rights are Florida, Texas, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Kansas.
  • 11 percent of American citizens do not possess a government-issued photo ID (that is over 21 million citizens).
  • Three of the photo ID bills to have passed—in South Carolina, Texas, and Tennessee—expressly do not allow students to use photo IDs issued by educational institutions to vote, and Wisconsin’s bill effectively excludes most student IDs as well.
  • Around 3 million Americans tried to vote in the 2008 election but could not, due to voter registration problems.
  • As many as 25 percent of African Americans do not possess a current and valid form of government issued ID, compared to 11 percent of all races.

Spreading Suppression: The proliferation of voter suppression laws in 2012

To click the full report, click here.

To listen to today’s CAP Action press call, click here.

To contact CAP experts on the issue, please email Laura Pereyra at lpereyra@americanprogress.org or call 202.203.8689.

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The Center for American Progress is a think tank dedicated to improving the lives of Americans through ideas and action. We combine bold policy ideas with a modern communications platform to help shape the national debate, expose the hollowness of conservative governing philosophy, and challenge the media to cover the issues that truly matter.


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