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The truth about Voter ID and Redistricting

22 May 2012 No Comment

Voter suppression is an old tactic, used by the majority population to prevent minorities from gaining fair representation. Both the new redistricting plan and voter ID would have a profoundly negative impact on immigrants, African Americans and ironically, many white voters. Last November, news stories abounded about voters in states with voter ID laws losing their voting rights. 

Redistricting, while necessary and constitutionally required, is often used to punish those who do not walk lock-step with the majority party in the legislature. By re-drawing the districts along racial lines or illegally packing voters of color into fewer districts, eliminating districts that elect moderates or progressives, current lawmakers can create districts that reduce the influence of these voters.

Getting ID requires ID!

Voter ID would require registered voters to obtain a valid state issued “photo” identification card in order to continue voting. Although the new law has the state issuing the required photo IDs at no cost, the legislature did not provide funds to cover the cost of creating new IDs. There’s also a major hitch: obtaining the new ID means voters must present a valid birth certificate which, if they don’t have one, costs money (a de-facto poll tax), or may be impossible. 

Long-time voters will be barred from voting! Because many older African-Americans (and elderly people in general) were born at home and delivered by midwives, they may not have the proper documentation to get a state-issued birth certificate. This will make them ineligible to get the voter ID, even though they may have been active voters for decades, and have been able to work, raise families and generally participate as full citizens in all areas of their lives without one!

For immigrants, the barriers can be much higher! Many naturalized US citizens have birth certificates issued in their native language with diverse name and date conventions. MIRA Legal Project can document many instances where their eligible clients have been refused drivers’ licenses because the same clerks who will be issuing the new Photo ID’s can’t make verify their documents. This will undoubtedly lead to thousands of Mississippi voters being denied the right to vote.

We need your help in overturning both of these unjust laws. Please click here to download a copy of our statement to the Department of Justice – you can just print it out, sign it, and send it in.

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