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Legendary Journalist Addresses Voter Suppression

Mainstream media is starting to pay attention and the dialogue surrounding voter suppression is increasing.

Bill Moyers, host of Moyers & Company, examined the epidemic of voter ID laws and voter suppression efforts emerging throughout the country with the Brennan Center for Justice’s Keesha Gaskins and Michael Waldman.

The message was clear. Restrictive voter ID is part of an intricate patchwork of voter suppression measures disproportionately affecting minority, poor, elderly, and otherwise marginalized populations—creating real barriers and real obstacles for real people—“Coincidentally,” those populations showed increased participation in 2008.

“When these votes come under attack by this level of partisan gamesmanship, it's completely inappropriate and antithetical to our history,” Gaskins tells Bill. “This is a very real political issue, but beyond that, this is a real issue of real Americans being able to access and be self-determinative in how we're governed.”

Instead of helping to sustain higher participation states are erecting barriers. Since the 2010 midterm elections, there have been new election laws passed by conservative legislatures in 14 states, limiting voter registration and requiring strict photo identification in order to vote.

Unfortunately, registration is down across the country compared to the same time in the 2008 election according to Census data. Black registration is down by seven percent and Hispanic registration is down by five percent. In Florida, where a District Court Judge recently issued a preliminary injunction on the state’s voter registration laws, only 10 percent of Hispanics are registered.

Lack of access to photo identification and increasing costs may limit those already registered on Election Day. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, there is an estimated 11 percent of eligible voters who lack the required photo ID and nearly 10 million eligible voters live more than 10 miles from the nearest state ID-issuing office open more than two days a week—limiting access and jeopardizing the livelihoods of those unable to take off from work.