Rev. Al Sharpton's Weekly Blog
Cheaters Never Win—
When a poor sport realizes they may be losing, what do they do? More often than not, they figure out a way to cheat. In politics, things are no different. Facing the reality of an ever-diversifying electorate, and their own party's failure to broaden its horizons, some Republican lawmakers have resorted to implementing tricks and roadblocks in the voting process. Strict voter ID laws have taken effect in states across the country with the potential to disenfranchise millions of eligible voters in key battleground states. Before we find ourselves in a repeat of Bush v. Gore, we must educate, empower, organize and combat these systematic efforts to suppress our vote. Advocates of new ID legislation may think they have the public fooled; tell them to think again.
Today I am in the all-important state of Florida as part of my Voter Engagement Tour. Notorious for contested elections, the sunshine state is unfortunately on course for purging an outrageous number of citizens from voting, and systematically excluding countless others with new voter ID requirements. Out of 37 million votes cast in Florida, only 178 allegations of voter fraud emerged -- that's .0005% for those who are trying to calculate. And out of the hundreds of thousands of voters on the purge list, 87% are minority voters. Former Florida Republican Party chairman Jim Greer even admitted in a deposition that he "was upset because political consultants and staff were talking about voter suppression and keeping Blacks from voting," according to the Tampa Bay Times.
In the state of Pennsylvania, a legal challenge to voter ID laws is in the courts as we speak, with a ruling expected early next week. Gov. Tom Corbett refers to new requirements as a "law of prevention," and claims that 99% of eligible voters have the appropriate ID under these new regulations. The reality is that about 9.2% of Pennsylvania voters (758,000) do not possess the kind of ID needed under these tough new laws. And if we ever had any doubt as to the motive of the individuals pushing and advocating such rules, State House Republican leader Mike Turzai summarized it best himself when he openly said voter ID laws will "allow" Mitt Romney to win the state in Nov.
Folks, I've said it before, and I'll say it again, voter ID laws are a solution looking for a problem. When there are 13 cases of voter fraud out of 31 million votes cast in the state of Pennsylvania -- .0004% -- and the response is creating mechanisms to keep hundreds of thousands excluded from voting, we have a serious dilemma. And it isn't only in states like Florida and Pennsylvania; this is happening right now all across this nation and unfortunately expanding. That's precisely why I will be heading to California later this week. Currently without these new voter ID laws, California (like everywhere else) will still be impacted by what takes place in states that do have the harsh requirements in place because their results will have very real consequences in both the popular and electoral count. And California's residents understand the potential of these laws also eventually reaching them because the fact remains that it's Florida today and it could be your state tomorrow.
The 2012 election is fast approaching. If we do not empower voters, they may be in for a surprise this November. After somehow failing to enact such voter ID laws during their own primaries, GOP leaders now feel there must be immediate legislation that enforces ID requirements prior to the upcoming Presidential election. But we will not be fooled; nor will we passively sit and watch as our fundamental rights are trampled upon. Instead of creating methods of appealing to minority groups in this country and recruiting more to their Party, Republicans have resorted to tactical strategies of covertly blocking the vote. Perhaps these poor sports should remember that in the end, cheaters just never win