Good News for Voting Rights

A three-judge panel blocked Texas's voter ID law today, stating the law would curb voter turnout and would foist “strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor.” The ruling, according to The New York Times, “came just two days after another three-judge panel in the same court found that the Texas Legislature had intentionally discriminated against minority voters in drawing up new political maps for Congressional and legislative districts, citing the same section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.”

The decision comes less than a day after a federal judge threw out changes in Florida election law that placed major hurdles on organizations involved in voter registration efforts. 

While this is encouraging news it doesn't discount the  wave of statewide measures enacted across the country intended to make voting more difficult and more onerous for nonwhites, seniors, and young people. it's all done, of course, in the name of combatting the nonexistent “voter fraud” epidemic. Take away that euphemism and it's actually an effort to silence particular voting blocs. 

Of course, actual cases of voter fraud are extremely rare. Nevertheless, the Republican National Committee adopted its official 2012 election platform which includes its undaunted support of voter ID laws:

We pledge to restore the proper balance we applaud legislation to require photo identification for voting and to prevent election fraud, particularly with regard to registration and absentee ballots. We support State laws that require proof of citizenship at the time of voter registration to protect our electoral system against a significant and growing form

of voter fraud.

In the upcoming issue of Shelterforce, we look at just some of the organizations doing the hard work and getting out the vote despite legislative challenges. Organizations like Rock the Vote, the League of Young Voters, MassVOTE, Voto Latino, the Bus Federation, and the Hip-Hop Caucus are doing incredible work in community engagement and getting out the vote.

Our coverage, however, won't stop there and we'll track grassroots efforts all the way through the election. Does your organization register voters or conduct get-out-the-vote work? Let us know in the comments section or write us at

Matthew Brian Hersh served as senior editor at Shelterforce from March 2008 to October 2012. He studied English at Rutgers University and has spent his professional career in journalism, policy, and politics.


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