Growing up our textbooks taught us that America was Democracy in action.
Especially when it came to our cherished right to vote.
“Americans are proud of what they have built,” the young reader is told in “The New Ways in the New World” a 1960 vintage school textbook. “And nothing means more to them than the freedoms they have won and written into the constitution.”
“And no freedom,” we are informed firmly, “is more precious than the right to vote. Americans have the right to vote as they choose.”
“The picture of the people shown above, are voting.” the book explains as if we are unsure. “The man in front of the desk is proving his right to vote. When he has done this he will take a ballot into one of the curtain booths and vote.”
Note that he was not asked for a Photo ID.
Yet today a wave of restrictive voting laws are spreading from sea to shining sea.
Over the past 2 years, more than 30 states have introduced legislation or enacted laws that would curb voters access to voting, requiring citizens to show photo ID and/or proof of citizenship to register to vote.
Some states have shortened early voting opportunities including the weekend before Election Day, a time many minorities choose to vote. Voter ID laws disproportionately affect both the poor and communities of color. In Texas the states controversial photo ID law may make it harder for women to vote due to name changes that are a result of marriage or divorce, causing problems at the polls.
Truly new ways in the new world.
In the 2014 elections, not all voting opportunities are created equal.