Restricting Voters in Mississippi

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary

by Daniel Nardini

It seems almost like a conspiracy. First, with the U.S. Congress not renewing the Voter Rights Act, the State of Mississippi votes to require all residents to show a state-issued identification card to be able to vote. The reason given is because it is to prevent “voter fraud.” Never mind the fact that voter fraud is almost non-existent, and really not an issue. Then, the state closes 31 of the state’s 67 Department of Motor Vehicles facilities where people can obtain driver’s licenses and state-issued identification cards. The state claiming that is an effort to “save money..” What makes these closings especially suspicious is that they are primarily in counties with large numbers of poor, African American and Latino residents. Since many of these residents are known to vote Democrat (or certainly not Republican), the driver’s facilities in these areas were closed.

Now we have a Catch-22 situation. The state of Mississippi now requires that all residents need a state-issued form of identification in order to vote. But in order for them to vote, they need to get these state-issued ID cards, and if the driver’s facilities in their counties are closed then they have to go to other counties where such facilities exist. This can involve many miles and a lot of wasted gas. It also means taking time off from work, and lost time. And all for Mississippi residents to vote! For many people who do not have automobiles to travel in, or may be disabled, this is truly discrimination against them. More than that, it means that they are being denied a fundamental right under the U.S. Constitution. I think however that is the general idea—deny them a fundamental right in order to keep certain people in power and disenfranchise those voters who might make a difference. Another thing is that if a person cannot go and get a driver’s license or a state-issued identification card, then they cannot be registered to vote. Under motor-voter laws, this is one of the ways people can become registered voters. Take away a motor vehicle facility, and you take away the means for them to register to vote.

From my perspective, this is a way for some people in power to make sure that certain groups cannot register to vote in not just either local and state elections but also in the upcoming presidential election. This restriction of voter rights MUST be fought—in the courts and by civil disobedience if necessary. No American should be denied the right to vote.

Comments are closed.