Tuesday, December 6, 2011

"Stay in Your Place" Model Legislation - by ALEC

I have struggled for months now with the fact that I believe that the legislation the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) produces – is discriminatory in its underlying tone and in many cases overtly disciminatory in nature.
The Voter ID bill which ALEC is not even trying to distance itself from has been written about profusely and how it will disenfranchise millions of people from voting, many  of those people being people of color.
When you consider SB1070 in Arizona and the Alabama immigration bill – again both attributed to ALEC.  Again you find discrimination against a group of people based on color.
If you do any reading at all about the ALEC/CCR privatization of prisons, the use of prisoners as cheap labor and consider the percentage of prisoners who are being exploited by the private prison industry – again you are talking about almost entirely people of color.
I really could go on and on about the discriminatory nature of ALEC legislation based on race, gender, socioeconomic and other factors.  I pretty much think at some level - most every piece of model legislation that ALEC produced  - is a "stay in your place" type of legislation and that some of the ALEC legislation is designed to punish you while you "stay in your place".

But what brought me to this post is a report that the NAACP has released about the Voter ID bills being introduced and enacted across the United States.  The report was noted in this article >>Click here<<  that I strongly recommend you read before you read the report.
(It’s a multipage PDF and takes awhile to completely download)
The report is stunning in the breadth of data that it reports and it points the finger right at ALEC – which is appropriate.

In reaction to that report right wing politicians are making statements like these reported today in Politico: 

Maine State Rep. Richard Cebra, who introduced a photo ID bill last year that he hopes will become law in 2012, said NAACP’s claim of disenfranchisement is way off base.
“That’s just their smoke-and-mirrors argument. In a state like Maine, we don’t have any large minority groups that would even be disenfranchised,” said Cebra. “The progressive left, they try to they play that same string over and over again: Disenfranchisement, disenfranchisement, disenfranchisement.”
He added, “They try to throw that Jim Crow nonsense at me here in Maine, and not only is it insulting, it’s just so not even on topic. It’s absolutely insulting nonsense — a cheap ploy. … None of this has anything to do with race
None of this has anything to do with race – are you listening to yourself?  How dumb do you think the general public is?  But then again – this guy probably thinks the Tea Partiers are reading the article.
The left plays the disenfranchisement card too much?  Well maybe that’s because WE CARE about people in our society.  A basic compassion that I do NOT see coming from the right wing in our country.

Florida Republican State Rep. Dennis Baxley
“This is the only legislature that can protect the election process from mischief, and there’s nothing in this election law that’s going to limit anybody’s participation,” Baxley told POLITICO.
Baxley, a representative from Ocala whose bill reduced early voting days and limited where and when people can register to vote, added, “I’m particularly offended that they attack other people’s motives. Maybe I didn’t put the right ingredients into the law, but to accuse people of ulterior and evil motives is over the top and I resent that.”
Really – Mr. Baxley – you are offended?  Interesting.  I find your blathering, offending.  Don’t come back to the general public and try to claim “Maybe I didn’t put the right ingredients into the law” – you knew exactly what you were doing – your statement is bullshit – and as a college educated white man, I resent the fact that you would play the victim card as an excuse for your legislative ineptitude.

“Given the history of Mississippi’s voting rights with the Jim Crow laws, obviously I get where groups like NAACP might be coming form when they are legitimately suspicious any time we go about changing the way we vote. It goes back to ways in the past that no one’s proud of,” State Sen. Joey Fillingane told POLITICO.
“But they are making an ostrich argument, where you stick your head in the sand and say because of problems of the past, we won’t acknowledge any current day problems and dangers. Initiative 27 isn’t a panacea, but sure will go a long way into ensuring dead people won’t be voting anymore.”
Dead people are voting?  REALLY?  Come right out of the graveyard, do they???  The ones that got lynched in the 1800’s, maybe?  Your choice of voting fraud examples must have come from the local rod and gun club. 

OR is this the type of voter fraud you mean?

And let me make this very clear – “current day problems and dangers” are something that every citizen has to be aware of every minute of every day to ensure that bad laws are not enacted.  We WILL NOT let history repeat itself.

In the NAACP report - in the foreward this statement is made:

Since the ratification of the 15th Amendment and, later, the Voting Rights Act, we have been summoned to fight to protect the power and potential of the African-American vote from attempts to undermine the promise of democracy. Not surprisingly, the states with the highest voter turnout among people of color in the 2008 elections and population growth among voters of color are the states pushing the most restrictive voting laws in the past year.
Based on that statement and the subsequent overwhelming research that they provide to support this claim - I think the gentlemen from Mississippi, Florida and Maine are dismissed and can leave the chamber - now please! And we yield the floor to the gentlemen and women from the NAACP.

And the NAACP does not stand alone on the issue of Voter ID laws.
These voting law changes are radical and completely unnecessary. They especially hurt those who have been historically locked out of our electoral system, like minorities, poor people, and students. Often they seem precisely targeted to exclude certain voters,” said Wendy. R. Weiser, report co-author and Director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center. “After the Florida election fiasco in 2000, it became clear that the rules of election administration could affect outcomes. This time, those rules are being altered in a way that will likely hurt millions.”

In November 2006, the Brennan Center for Justice published Citizens Without Proof, a report documenting the findings of a survey conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation, a prominent independent research firm, about the extent to which American citizens possess government-issued photo ID and documentary proof of citizenship.[1]  The report detailed the study’s methodology, its principal findings, and the associated margins of error.  Most prominently, the study found that 11% of voting-age American citizens—and an even greater percentage of African American, low-income, and older citizens—do not have current and valid government-issued photo IDs.

But then those white guys (‘cause the “majority” of them ARE white guys) – just wish the rest of us would shut our damn mouths and let them run the world they want to  –  just like it was in the 1800’s.

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