Statement of California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton on GOP's Push to Re-Write Voting Laws Heading Into 2012 Elections

According to a recent New York Times article (May 29, 2011), Republicans in states across the country have been busy re-writing voting laws to shrink the electorate down to a size of their choosing, to favor their candidates on their terms. Make no mistake, while none of these new laws that have advanced in thirteen states in the past two months mention President Obama by name, they are intended to both disenfranchise voters in those states and give the GOP nominee a helping hand in the upcoming 2012 contest.

In Texas, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, among other states that are rich in electoral votes and hold a sizable portions of minority voters, the GOP is up to their time-honored and well-documented history of voter suppression and disenfranchisement – only this time they're doing it in broad daylight via GOP-dominated state legislatures instead of in the dead of night in minority precincts the night before the election.

New, restrictive laws are reducing the number of early voting days, tightening registration rules and requiring voters to present photo identification at the polls.

In South Carolina, Republican Governor Nikki Haley was quoted as "if you have to show a picture ID to buy Sudafed, if you have to show a picture ID to get on an airplane, you should show a picture ID when you vote." Laws requiring photo identification for the purchase of Sudafed are in place to curb it's use in making illegal drugs such as methamphetamine, boarding an airplane is a privilege and photo ID laws are in place to help guard against terrorism. Perhaps it is lost on Governor Haley and her Republican counterparts that unlike making methamphetamine or committing acts of terror, voting is legal and it’s a right that must be extended to all those eligible to vote.

These troubling developments underscore the need for Democrats to engage in extensive public education efforts prior to Election Day and mount vigorous and aggressive voter protection operations on Election Day itself. We applaud the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) Voter Protection Project and maintain that Democrats everywhere must stand guard and stand on the side of those who seek to extend, not restrict, the right to vote to all eligible voters.

Our own California Democratic Party's Promote and Protect the Vote (P2TV) effort will be in full swing in the 2012 cycle and we will be ready to assist voters and challenge any efforts by the GOP or their allies, to intimidate, harass or suppress voters in California.

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