The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a landmark piece of legislation in the United States that outlawed major forms of discrimination against African Americans and women, including racial segregation. It ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and by facilities that served the general public ("public accommodations").
Hmmmm. It ended unequal application of voter registration requirements…..This sounds familiar. Very familiar to the voter suppression laws that are being passed all over the country, state by state. In this country, voter suppression laws are potentially limiting the ability of low income, college students, elderly and persons of color, disenfranchised people, the right to vote. Fortunately, Nevada is not one of these states, but the effects of the other states that do have laws are far reaching, and the trend is growing rapidly.
People who do not drive typically do not have a drivers’ license and may not have a state I.D.….many elderly people who no longer drive fall into this category. In looking at the Nevada DMV website, there is a charge of $12 for a new id card if you are between the ages of 18 and 64, and $7 for over 65. In addition, there are several forms of ID acceptable in order to get the I.D., however the majority of them must be certified and issued in the United States. And, if you don’t have them, you have to contact the appropriate vital records office. This sounds fairly easy right? Well, if you don’t have a certified copy of your birth certificate, you can go on line and get one for around $18 or you can write to the department of Vital Statistics in your county. Still sounds pretty easy right? An elderly person, or a person who may be on a very tight budget, or a student has had to spend at least $25 for the right to vote.
Is that a poll tax, or just an incidental fee you have to pay to vote? These voter suppression laws will have negative impact on 5 million people in this country and that is just among the states that have already passed the laws.
In many of the states that have passed laws, there is also a requirement to limit the number of days for early voting. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, huh? When you consider that more and more people are working two and three jobs in order make ends meet, have to deal with daycare issues, are on public transportation and can simply not take time off on one given assigned day to go vote, without serious ramifications, their ability to get out and vote will be severely limited. This will have a major effect on rural areas of the country where people actually have to come into town to vote. Offering more than one day affords them the opportunity to have their vote counted.
What these lawmakers are doing, is in essence, repealing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and making it extremely difficult for certain populations to exercise their voting rights. While these tactics are not as horrific as chasing down people with dogs, jailing and beating them so they can’t vote, they simply take a different form— a current form, a political form, but an institutionalized form none the less, and with the same outcome: to stop people from voting.
Voting rights are just that…a right, and not a privilege. Join the ACLU as it continues to press forward and be the voice of the people whose civil rights are being threatened. Your rights.