Welcome to the 2012 election. In states across the country, Republican controlled legislatures are passing bills that would restrict the ability of homeless and low income Americans to vote. Rejecting an amendment to allow homeless persons to vote with an affidavit of identity from a service provider, Wisconsin will now require voters to provide ID in order to vote. And Florida’s new law will require anyone who has moved to update their address before going to the polls; if they seek to do so on election day they will be forced to vote by provisional ballot – a ballot unlikely to be counted.
Proponents of these laws assert that they will prevent voter fraud. However, they can hardly point to any actual examples. So why is this being done? Isn’t it obvious? No demographic group votes in a monolithic bloc. But we can make some generalizations – poor people tend to support candidates who promise to preserve the social safety net, who care about low wage workers, and who work to make sure that all Americans have safe, decent, affordable housing. The legislators passing these bills are not those candidates. We cannot allow these laws to stand or new laws to be passed. As we move closer to next year’s election, the Law Center will review and analyze these restrictions. We will challenge them when we can, and make policy arguments in opposition where that provides our best chance for success. And when new laws are enacted, we will make sure that homeless persons and service providers understand their rights.
Voting rights are fundamental civil and human rights – rights that people in this country died for not too many years ago. They should be continuously expanded, not eroded.
-Jeremy Rosen, Policy Director