At least 180 restrictive bills were introduced since the beginning of 2011 in 41 states. There are approximately 47 bills currently pending in 12 states. Since the beginning of last year 24 laws and 2 executive actions in 19 states have been enacted.
Additionally 16 states have passed restrictive voting laws that have the potential to impact the 2012 election. These states account for 214 electoral votes, or nearly 79 percent of the total needed to win the presidency. Of these, 13 laws and executive actions are currently in effect in 9 states.
How did this happen? How could 180 bills get introduced without anyone clamoring about it? No media coverage, no press coverage, no nothing. Now that we’re in a presidential election year voter suppression is the hot topic and the focus of everyone’s attention. Sounds like closing the barn door after the horse has left. Now we’re scrambling to fix what we shouldn’t have let happen.
How? The lack of participation in the 2010 mid-term elections is how. We dropped the ball. Local elections, especially mid-term elections, are critical to any incumbent wishing to affect change.
For the most part states are allowed to govern themselves in any manner they see fit. The state assemblies are the ones that push through legislation like “Stand Your Ground” and Voter I.D laws. When the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act (ACA) last month, it also ruled that states couldn’t be forced to expand Medicaid; it’s a choice states can make for themselves. Let’s not forget that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is made up of state representatives.
In Congress we allowed the Republican Party to gain control of the House and gain seats in the Senate. Knowing what we know about the current state of Washington politics and the Republican obsession with derailing President Obama we shouldn’t have allowed this to happen.
So now we’re in a dogfight. It is what it is however it’s not all doom and gloom. Our eyes are wide open now, we know about ALEC, we know the depths that some people will go to skew the outcome of the election. We see the picture more clearly.
We also know what we need to do, REGISTER and VOTE.
Ernest R. Heyward is the Founder and President of the Marketplace for Social Awareness and Social Responsibility Inc.