Jim Crow's Alive and Well in 2012

Jim Crow's Alive and Well in 2012
Justin Renteria

In just the past eighteen months, thirteen states have passed laws that require voters to show ID. In several of those locales, the governor vetoed the bills, but most of the others will likely take effect before this fall's election.

In Missouri the legislature passed another voter ID bill last year that was slated for the ballot this November. But earlier this spring a Cole County judge determined the ballot language was insufficient, and state lawmakers could not come up with new wording prior to the end of the legislative session.

In Texas, which is under federal scrutiny because of past attempts to dupe minorities, the U.S. Department of Justice blocked the measure. Twenty percent of that state's voters are Latino — and are far more likely to lack photo IDs, the feds found. The law, says Camila Gallardo, national spokesperson for the Latino rights organization La Raza, was "an affront to everyone. They are attacking the core of our democracy, which is open participation."

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The U.S. Supreme Court will rule this month on legislation that forces police to scrutinize Latinos, both immigrants and citizens. President Barack Obama has deported 1.5 million people. And 41 states are attempting to limit the voting rights of young people and minorities. In this week's special feature, "Crossing the Line," Village Voice Media offers a selection of viewpoints and artwork to honor the passing of the American dream.

Days of Rage: Phoenix-based Village Voice Media columnist Stephen Lemons suggest that civil disobedience might provide the answer to the immigration debate.

Bordering on Revolution: Village Voice Media executive editor Michael Lacey writes that the Supreme Court's upcoming ruling threatens to divide our nation.

Love the Beans, Hate the Beaner: "Ask a Mexican" columnist Gustavo Arellano notes that Americans' love of south-of-the-border cuisine is at odds with our politics.

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Gallardo was born in Santa Clara, California, to a Cuban American family. She points out that her grandmother, who emigrated from the island long ago, never needed a driver's license or bothered with a passport, but has been allowed to vote in that state because she is a citizen. California is one of the few states that has stayed clear of the great anti-minority backlash.

On the other side of the nation, however, Florida has moved to the top of the class when it comes to discrimination. Federal courts in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C., are considering the Republican leadership's attempts to not only outlaw Sunday voting but also severely limit voter registration.

The laws being challenged, for instance, require anyone who helps voters sign up with the state to submit all registration documents within 48 hours. It has proven so difficult to meet those requirements that even groups such as the Boy Scouts of America and the League of Women Voters have given up on registering voters this year.

Among the victims of the Florida law: Jill Cicciarelli, a New Smyrna Beach high school teacher who last year tried to register several of her students. She had been out on maternity leave, ran afoul of the new law and was threatened with thousands of dollars in fines. "I just wanted the kids to be participating in our democracy," she says.

More significant, these laws have had a direct impact on minorities. The number of Latinos registered to vote in Florida, for instance, has fallen by 10 percent since 2008. (Nationally, there are 2 million fewer minority voters now than in 2008.) Florida, says Howard Simon, executive director of the state's ACLU, is attempting to "gut the Voting Rights Act."

Is all of this enough to propel Mitt Romney to victory over Barack Obama? Well, the president received 96 percent of black votes in 2008 and more than two-thirds of the Latino vote. And Florida is the nation's largest swing state. Many of the measures, like those in Arizona, Texas and Minnesota, are under review by courts or face public votes in the future. "The fate of these laws," says the NAACP's Jealous, "will determine that of our country for years to come."

More from "Crossing the Line":

Days of Rage: Phoenix-based Village Voice Media columnist Stephen Lemons suggest that civil disobedience might provide the answer to the immigration debate.

Bordering on Revolution: Village Voice Media executive editor Michael Lacey writes that the Supreme Court's upcoming ruling threatens to divide our nation.

Love the Beans, Hate the Beaner: "Ask a Mexican" columnist Gustavo Arellano notes that Americans' love of south-of-the-border cuisine is at odds with our politics.

 
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9 comments
Randolph Powell
Randolph Powell

What a lier...it only costs several dollars to obtain a state ID. Regardless, one is needed for employment, to open a bank account, to get a driver's license.... just about everything... hint: they can't get welfare checks without one.

Randolph Powell
Randolph Powell

If everyone has to show ID to prevent voter fraud, how is this racist? (answer: "it's not")

James Hodges
James Hodges

Save the crocodile tears… you’re wasting your time with your melodrama… "A driver's license is often required as legal identification. Missouri residents who do not wish to drive have the option of receiving non-driver photo identification cards." What’s a DMV Driver License or Identification card cost… $10.00 and $11.00 respectively? That’s in no way a financial burden for those minorities who spend much more than that on cigarettes, beer and drugs and are driving on our streets… on a daily basis. What’s interesting is that the Democrats are the only people who don’t want to do something about voter fraud… and goes out of their way to demonize anyone who does. The reason for that is simple… Democrats are the only people who profit by voter fraud. For your reference: http://www.dmv.org/mo-missouri/id-cards.php#Applying-for-an-ID-Card

James Hodges
James Hodges

The law, says Camila Gallardo, national spokesperson for the Latino rights organization La Raza, was "an affront to everyone. They are attacking the core of our democracy, which is open participation." I don't think so... for a start La Raza is a Racist organization just like the Ku Klux Klan. Second, the law is not an affront to everyone... people who belong here and are legal voters don't have a problem with it. And, third... It's not an attack on "our democracy..." it ensures it... in that it keep people who are not a part of "our democracy" from illegaly voting and thereby exercising undo influence on it.

Teampanetti
Teampanetti

It is most disturbing that so many states are passing these laws, which are clearly aimed at preventing minorities from voting. Of course, most of us "middle class" types have driver's licenses and passports. But obtaining those documents can be both expensive and time-consuming and possibly impossible for people with low incomes....thus is discrimination of the worst sort. Also....essentially no evidence of wide spread voter fraud.

william helm
william helm

whats the jim crow act got to do with requiring some one who is supposed to be a legal resident to have some form id to vote ? heck you need some form of id to do just about any kind of transaction now a days . the old excuse that the poor have no id is bull since in takes some kinda id to get wefare or most public assistance .

Randolph Powell
Randolph Powell

This article is BS. Requiring EVERYONE to supply ID at the polls cannot possibly be discriminatory and also reduces voter fraud. The only people complaining about it are those who wish to vote fraudulently to push the odds into their favor....

Arthur Wiederhold
Arthur Wiederhold

The Latinos are afraid that if they show up to get state IDs (required in Missouri by the way), they'll be found out to be illegals and deported. This bullshit excuse of being against poor people and minorities is another Democrat ploy to keep themselves in power. I carry a State ID. So does everyone else in my family. Why can't the Latinos do likewise--unless they're hiding something. By the way, since most of them drive, you would think they'd have drivers licenses or insurance cards, wouldn't you? You'd be wrong! And most of the blacks here don't have insurance either.

 
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