After electing its first African American president—thanks in part to a surge of new voters—the US is in danger of seeing “a subtle return of Jim Crow voting laws,” writes EJ Dionne Jr. in the Washington Post. New laws being passed here, supposedly to prevent voter fraud, would be condemned as “election-rigging” in an emerging democracy—but here in the US no one is saying a word. Voter fraud is not a real problem, Dionne alleges, it’s an imaginary problem serving as an excuse for the GOP to wage war on the right to vote.
The greatest impact of the new statues “will be to reduce turnout among African Americans, Latinos and the young,” the groups that helped to elect Obama in 2008. Meanwhile, the new laws—which include voter identification measures and limitations on early voting and same-day registration—will serve to benefit the Republican Party. In one particularly telling example, a Texas law allows concealed handgun licenses to be used as ID—but does not allow student IDs. "This," Dionne declares, "is the civil rights issue of our moment. The poor, the young, and people of color should get their IDs, flock to the polls and insist on their right to vote in 2012."