Groups Most Affected by Voting Restrictions
Why Is the U.S. Electorate So White? PDF Print E-mail


Because Our Voting System Is Broken. Here's How to Fix It.


By Stephen Wolf, The New Republic, December 24, 2014


"Elections lack democratic legitimacy when they do not reflect the wishes of the citizenry. In the case of the United States, we're carrying a legacy of an electoral system that was designed and built to favor white voters. That it still works that way isn't a shock. What's shocking is that we know how to fix it, and still haven't done so."  Read the article.





Minorities Disproportionately Affected by Photo ID Voting Requirement PDF Print E-mail

The following chart shows in black the percent of people in various categories in Wisconsin who don't have a driver's license and would have difficulty exercising their right to vote.  The Republican campaign to restrict voting to people who have a photo ID would prevent tens of thousands of people from voting in Minnesota, and millions throughout the country.

The Driver's License Status of
Voting Age Population in Wisconsin
(Black = No DL)

drivers license - status of groups in wisconsin

John Pawasarat, Employment and Training Institute
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

In a 2009 study in Indiana, Professors Matt Barreto, Stephen Nuño, and Gabriel Sanchez found that election restrictions like voter ID laws have the greatest impact on the elderly, racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants, those with less educational attainment and lower incomes.  Of the citizen adult population, 81.4% of all white eligible adults had access to a driver’s license, whereas only 55.2% of black eligible adults had the same access. 

The 2007 study, "Voter ID Requirements and the Disenfranchisement of Latino, Black, and Asian Voters," found that minority voters in California, New Mexico, and Washington State are less likely than whites to be able to present photo identification.

John Lewis, Democratic Congressman from Georgia, wrote that "the Republican-backed wave of voting restrictions demonstrates that the fundamental right to vote is still subject to partisan manipulation."  In addition to laws requiring a photo ID, several states have passed laws restricting voting before election day.  Though these laws apply to all voters, they will affect African Americans and other minorities disproportionately.  Read Lewis' article in the New York Times:  "A Poll Tax by Another Name."


MN's Disproportionate Number of Disenfranchised Blacks PDF Print E-mail

In Dorm Room Dealers: Drugs and the Privileges of Race and Class, A. Rafik Mohamed and Erik D. Fritsvold point out that the rate of illicit drug and substance use is lower among young black adults than among young white adults, 34% versus 39%.  This means there are there are about 5 million white 18-to-25 year olds who are regular illicit drug users compared to about 1 million black users.  Yet half the people in state prisons for drug use are black.  Dorm-room dealing is low-risk because white, middle-class youth are "anti-targets" in the "war on drugs." The authors explain that white dorm room dealers are invisible to law enforcement because they do not fit the image of a drug dealer, or their drug dealing is ignored by the college's authorities.  Young black men are much more subject to searches and consequently much more frequently arrested for possession of drugs.


Currently almost 1 out of 10 voting-age African American

Minnesotans are disenfranchised compared to

only 1 of 100 voting-age white Minnesotans


mn black and whites disenfranchised


The Strange Career of Voter Suppression PDF Print E-mail

Alexander Keyssar, a professor of history and social policy at Harvard, writes that a survey of world events over the last 20 or 100 years shows that democracies are fragile and democratic institutions can be undermined from within.  He points out that the wave to restrict voting, including strict photo ID requirements, over the last few years is part of a much longer history of both parties rejecting democratic values in favor of partisan advantage.  He asks us to be profoundly skeptical of laws that impede the exercise of what Lyndon B. Johnson called "the basic right, without which all others are meaningless."  See his New York Times article giving a brief history of trends to both restrict and expand the vote:  The Strange Career of Voter Suppression.

Listen to Professor Keyssar's interview
with Dan Malizy at Radio Bosten on the fight for every last vote.




MN's Leading Election System

With Secretary of State Steve Simon


steve simon


Listen to Secretary of State Steve Simon's excellent presentation on MN's outstanding election system emulated by many other states at the Think Again Brooklyns forum January 19, 2016.  Secretary Simon includes ways in which it can be improved, and he explains why it is important to vote.  He concludes with a quote from a tee shirt:  "Failure to vote is not an act of rebellion.  It is an act of surrender."

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How Oregon Became the Easiest Place to Vote in the US

By Lornet Turnbull
YES! Magazine
October 8, 2016


In January, Oregon became the first state in the country to begin automatically registering eligible citizens to vote when they obtain or renew their driver's licenses or state IDs, completely shifting the burden of voter registration from the individual to the government. 

Read the Article

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