John Oliver: How to Stop American Democracy from Being Such a Cruel Joke
February 15, 2016Human Rights
Voting is the cornerstone of American democracy. And recently, three states have made voting easier. Colorado, Washington and Oregon now hold their elections almost entirely by mail and 30 states plus DC now allow citizens to register to vote online.
Sadly though, other states have gone in the opposite direction. Some state residents may face new obstacles to voting this November thanks to the Supreme Court decision to weaken the Voting Rights Act. Since 2011, seven states have curtailed early voting and 13 have added requirements that voters show some sort of ID at the polls. How many people will this impact? A lot. An estimated half a million registered voters in Texas do not have the ID necessary to vote, while in North Carolina and Wisconsin 300,000 people have neither a drivers license nor a state ID.
It can be very difficult to get an ID just to vote. A 68-year-old Pennsylvaia woman was recently turned down three times applying for her voter ID card. Every time, she said the state wanted another document, such as another birth certificate, original Social Security card, then her husband's death certificate, when the clerk demanded proof of her married name. "You feel like, why am I going through all these things? I'm not bin Laden's wife," she joked.
"That's a strange way to frame it, yet none of these difficulties tend to trouble legislatures like Wisconsin's Joel Kleefisc," John Oliver concluded. The representative from Wisconsin used requirements to buy over-the-counter drugs to defend voter ID difficulty.
In some parts of the country, including Wisconsin, Alabama and Mississippi, the offices that issue IDs are hardly ever open. These requirements disproportionately impact black and Latino voters. In Texas, blacks are almost twice as likely to lack mandated ID forms, and Latinos, almost two and a half times as likely, according to a June 2014 study. Voter IDs, like Oscar nominations, are just something white people are more likely to have.
Watch the full segment below: