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Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Crimea River

Salon takes on the toughened voting laws around the country:

Eva Steele has a son in the military who is supposed to be fighting for freedom in Iraq, but sitting in a wheelchair in her room in a Mesa, Ariz., assisted-living facility, she wonders why it's so hard for her to realize a basic freedom back here in America: the right to vote.

Arriving in Arizona in January from Kansas City, weakened by four heart attacks and degenerative disk disease, Steele, 57, discovered that without a birth certificate she can't register to vote. Under a draconian new Arizona law that supposedly targets illegal immigrants, she needs proof of citizenship and a state-issued driver's license or photo I.D. to register. But her van and purse were stolen in the first few weeks after she moved to Mesa, and with her disability checks going to rent and medicine, she can't afford the $15 needed to get her birth certificate from Missouri. Her wheelchair makes it hard for her to navigate the bus routes or the bureaucratic maze required to argue with state bureaucrats. She's unable to overcome the hurdles thrown in her way -- and in the way of as many as 500,000 other Arizona residents -- by the state's Republican politicians.

I'm thinking of a dozen ways for Steele to get that $15 to get her birth certificate, starting with giving her the money. Democrat Jim Pederson is a multimillionaire shopping center developer who's running a quixotic campaign against Jon Kyl; surely he'll pay to make sure that Mrs Steele's rights aren't abrogated?

I always love Draconian laws; they conjure up an image of Christopher Lee in mid-bite. But what is complaining about? Folks who don't have a driver's license? How much would Missouri charge to reissue her driver's license? How many people will get trapped who should vote, versus those who will get caught who shouldn't? Salon's not interested.

Across the country, they will have to contend with Republican-sponsored schemes to limit voting. In a series of laws passed since the 2004 elections, Republican legislators and officials have come up with measures to suppress the turnout of traditional Democratic voting blocs. This fall the favored GOP techniques are new photo I.D. laws, the criminalizing of voter registration drives, and database purges that have disqualified up to 40 percent of newly registered voters from voting in such jurisdictions as Los Angeles County.

Okay, we get the idea, we're supposed to boo and hiss when the stage announcer indentifies somebody as a "Republican".

Oh, boo-hoo-hoo for the photo ID laws. Uh, the criminalizations of voter registration drives? What is he talking about?

And the article just gets worse. One woman recounts her effort to get a driver's license in Indiana:

An Indiana resident for 15 years, she'd never had a driver's license when she moved to the state to live near her son. So when she learned that the state required a state-issued photo I.D. to vote, her husband drove her down to the delay-plagued Bureau of Motor Vehicles to get a photo I.D. On her first visit, she brought her Social Security card, her voter registration card, two bills and a credit card, but that wasn't good enough. She had to return three more times, with BMV drones telling her successively she needed a copy of her birth certificate, then a $28 state-certified birth certificate from Massachusetts, and finally a marriage certificate because her birth certificate listed only her maiden name -- although all her various I.D.s carried the married name she has used for 53 years. "I was so angry, it worsened my blood pressure," she recalls.

That's just state bureaucracy. Somehow they've got pretty tight procedures for a driver's license. Good for them, but Salon is of course appalled.

They go through six states, with very optimistic appraisals of the likely Democratic prospects. For example, they claim that the Jon Kyl's Senate seat is competitive. No, it's not. They show two Republican congressional districts up for grabs; really only the former district of Jon Kolbe is open and even that is not a certain Democratic pickup.
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