This week, conservative-leaning, African-American columnist Juan Williams wrote an op-ed in The Hill defending the right to vote against states that are now imposing restrictive laws such as identification requirements. Citing the Brennan Center for Justice report that up to five million citizens could be denied voting privileges in 2012 due to new state rules, Williams wrote of the GOP:
“They are turning back the clock on voting rights in America. … It is no secret that 10 percent of all Americans don’t have government-issued identification and that this includes nearly 20 percent of young voters and 25 percent of black voters.”
Someone should ask GOP candidate Herman Cain how he feels about that. After all, his state of Georgia is one of eight states that have passed photo voter ID laws, and is one of five that also requires proof of citizenship to vote. Such laws impact minorities, students and the elderly disproportionately. With the exception of Kansas, each of the states with both voter ID and proof of citizenship laws have significant African-American populations: Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee.
You might remember Tennessee as the place where 96-year-old, African-American Dorothy Cooper was denied a photo ID for voting. Close to 126,000 people in Tennessee are registered to cast ballots but have no photo on their driver’s license. Another 47,000 people in the state are registered to vote, but don’t have a driver’s license. That’s almost 173,000 people who will have to jump through extra hoops to exercise their constitutional right next year.
In 2008, Obama lost Tennessee to Sen. John McCain but grabbed 50,960 more votes than Democrat presidential candidate John Kerry did in 2004. Obama, in fact, picked up more votes than Bill Clinton did when he won the state in 1992 and 1996 (though population increases should be factored into those). So how did Tennessee go from Obama picking up record votes in 2008 to the state passing voting restrictions in 2011?
Read the timeline that explains exactly how Tennessee made this happen on Loop21.com.