Tell Attorney General Holder: Protect Every Citizen's Right to VoteIf you share our concern about the new restrictions on voting rights in Wisconsin, including the requirement to show photo ID in the 2012 elections, here's an action you can take right now.
Tell AG Holder to review how these restrictions in Wisconsin and across the country violate the Voting Rights Act.
More than four decades ago, the Voting Rights Act put an end to the widespread discrimination that robbed people of color of their voice at the ballot box. This year, in state capitals across the country, we are again seeing a pernicious attack on one of the American people's most cherished and fundamental rights: the right to vote.
Tell the federal Department of Justice to fully enforce the Voting Rights Act by aggressively scrutinizing new voting restrictions for discriminatory impact, refusing to pre-clear laws that have a discriminatory purpose or effect, and bringing cases in other states where necessary to challenge regressive voter laws. Don't let America turn back the clock on the fundamental right to vote.
ACLU of Wisconsin Resources on Voting Rights Are Available On-line
With special and recall elections scheduled in various parts of Wisconsin in July and August and the recent passage of a "voter id" law, many people have questions about voting procedures. The FAQ below may answer most of voters’ common questions. Perhaps most important, voters should know that the photo identification requirement does not go into effect until 2012. Voters will be asked for identification, but they are not required to provide it at elections in 2011 and will be able to vote if they do not have an id. However, there are some changes to registration and voting procedures that will be in effect for the July and August elections. The Government Accountability Board, which oversees elections in Wisconsin, has more information on the Voter ID law and other aspects of voting.
Fact Sheet: Wisconsin Voting: Know Your Rights; Voting Rights FAQ (detail)
More on the Why the Voting Rights Act Protects our Democracy
Today, 30 states have passed laws requiring voters to present identification to vote, and in 15 of those states, voters must present a government-issued photo ID. These laws will result in untold numbers of legal voters being turned away from the polls because over 21 million Americans do not have government-issued photo identification. Obtaining a photo ID presents a substantial — and unnecessary — barrier for many of our nation's citizens. There is no credible evidence that in-person impersonation voter fraud — the only type of fraud that photo IDs could prevent — is even a minor problem in our country.
The attacks are not just limited to voter ID. Some states are engaging in other voter suppression tactics like restricting voter registration drives and reducing the amount of time for early voting. All these laws disfranchise eligible voters — especially racial and ethnic minorities, the elderly, low-income individuals, students, and voters with disabilities.
The Voting Rights Act vests significant authority in the Department of Justice to ensure laws are not implemented in a discriminatory manner. Because of some states' troubling history of voter suppression, any changes in their elections laws are subject to approval — or "pre-clearance" — by the Justice Department under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. In jurisdictions not covered by Section 5, the Department must ensure that these laws are implemented in a way that does not discriminate against protected groups in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.