Think You Have the Right to Vote? Think Again.

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President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in a ceremony in the President's Room near the Senate chambers in Washington, D.C. August 1965. (AP Photo)
President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in a ceremony in Washington, D.C., Aug. 6, 1965. (AP Photo)

When President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, I was there. To this day I remember the electricity in the room — the thrill that everyone at the ceremony shared as the descendants of slaves finally gained the political agency that should have been their birthright. The Act said simply that states could no longer “deny or abridge the right of any citizens of the United States to vote on account of race or color.” Now they would have power at the ballot box. All these years later I am saddened and sickened at the efforts to deny anyone the right to vote. Yet it happens, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 still requires vigilance to fulfill in the face of calculated political efforts made during every election year to suppress voter turnout.

I just came across an encouraging tool for combatting those efforts.

Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist, has produced a new infographic on his CraigConnects website that details how voter suppression is happening across the U.S. as restrictive voting laws are being both introduced and passed — approximately 164 laws to restrict U.S. citizens from voting in the 2012 election. Check it out — and note the list of organizations you can join to fight back.

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  • Anonymous

     Nine out of ten people who change their minds are wrong the second time too.

  • Faye Anderson

    The Cost of Freedom Project is included on Craig’s list of anti-voter suppression organizations and initiatives. We will launch the text-based Cost of Freedom App next week. For more information, please visit us at

  • Dlaw77

    Why stop at 2007? Oh, yeah!  Ton’s of voter fraud on behalf of the Democratic party that election cycle…

  • JonesHello

    Oh yeah.  I’m sure that’s it.  We do not have a voter fraud problem.  And what’s worse, you know it and spread the lie anyway.  

  • R-F-Fisher

     All the Red Neck Hillbillies out there think Voter Fraud means;  Any Time a ‘Black Person’ get’s to Vote!
    That’s what driving them crazy about Obama,,, just the fact he’s Black!
    Republicans are doing everything they can to suppress the Black Vote in America,, period.

  • Jon

    What voter fraud? Please provide significant evidence to substantiate the claim of “tons.” Statistical evidence from objective sources, not accusatory claims from subjective op-eds.

  • Larry Thrall

    I thought we should use paper ballots counted by hand  and every one just like they did in Iran.  They counted 46,000,000  ballots in under two hours.  Considering there were only four family members counting and the women weren’t permitted to use any kind of a machine.

  • Anonymous

    The voting rights act was drawn too narrowly, to suggest that only ‘race and people of color’ could possibly be the targets of voter suppression. I guess free, white people back in ’65 never dreamed of how perverted politics would one day become. The law should be amended to read, states can no longer “deny or abridge any citizens of the United States the right to vote.”

  • Paul Kruger

    Actually this sort of falls in the category of “What do we need this?”   Why should any person who is a citizen even need a separate law to permit them to enjoy a constitutional right? Why should someone who is gay need a law to give them a right everyone else has just by virtue of citizenship?

    Why did we need to pass amendments to grant voting rights to blacks and women at all…if they are citizens don’t they have that right under the constitution already?

    There is something deeply flawed in our law and Constitution which would “suggest” a constititional right has to be “verified” for certain citizens by way of a new law or amendment.

    Perhaps it is time for one more amendment that states:

    “No  right under the US Constitution or any law of any state shall be denied to any citizen based on any status other than being a citizen. Thou shalt not deny any right based on race, color, height, weight, hair length, shoe size, ID, Facebook status, number of teeth, financial status, or any other attribute other than citizenship, and being an actual living human person.”

    That done, we tell corporations they can’t finance campaigns because they are not “actual living persons with citizenship”

    I hope the editors of this page don’t mind my spreading the word on my own blog.

  • Maribeth Topalanchik

    I never take my freedom as a single female in this country for granted. we’re not perfect, still, there’s no place else i’d rather be.

  • John Cepelak

    And where’s your proof other than Hannity and the rest of the crew at the Fox News Propaganda Department telling you so over and ocer?

  • Elizabeth Montville

    Yes, what voter fraud? Where did you get the impression that there were any valid fraud cases? It really fries my liver when people repeat stupid misinformation that has been spread purposely to misinform people. Gulible people.

  • Sandra Hamilton

    it is funny Republicans were pointing at the Democrats as Socialist having 4 fingers pointing back at them…what are they doing…trying to Dictate voter rights, women’s rights, limiting peoples incomes by passing laws to denying people the right to join unions. I will take the Socialism over Dictatorship who seems to want to limit our constitutional rights.

  • Stephen

    I have always believed that the most powerful “right” and obligation I have as a citizen of the United States is my enfranchisement. I have had my enfranchisement taken away in local elections because proper papers were not filed. Why? Someone was running that the powers did not want to win. How tenuous this enfranchisement really is is as simple as that.
    The interesting thing is that apparently state law makers understand it too- and have acted to further undermine an already fragile issue.

    If we really cared about the right and obligation of everyone to exercise their vote for self-representation, we would be educating and pushing forward on what it means, how it works, and how no vote is ever wasted, no matter who “wins”.

    Anything less is gaming the system. The historic constitutional majority recognized a long time ago that the “game” as it was being played was inevitably changing, and not in their favor. Why else do we have all these attacks on people who are not white old landowners with money? Isn’t it about retaining control and power within this frightened, shrinking, ideological sector?

  • Anonymous

    Oddly we never see 6 hour waits to vote in rich, predominately white precincts.

  • D. Paul Galloway

    9 instances of voter impersonation…. that’s laughable… I personally know of at least one person in my small circle of friends that voted someone’s absentee ballot… I’m thinking that one could extrapolate this anecdotal evidence into 100s of thousands of incidences. Not prosecuted… but real none the less.

  • Anonymous

    …and you reported them to the authorities, right? So that makes 10…

  • Pat Elgee

    Traditionally the democrats represent the working man and individual rights.
    Traditionally the republicans represent business interests.
    However, today the republicans only represent the ultra rich who line their pockets.
    So what puzzles me is if they only represent the top 1%, how are they even getting 47% of the vote! Sooner or later that 46% will wake up and stop living in the past. When they target voters, republicans are going after the poor who they figure are democrats. Happily their last attempt at voter suppression resulted in a backlash that brought more voters to the polls defending their rights. And so it should have.

  • Barb Minas

    Why indeed do we need a law for the right to vote. It shouldn’t be a problem, ever. Also, everyone voter should be given time off from work to go and vote. Duh?

  • mark.saylor

    Exactly the reason fox is not permitted to broadcast in Canada! The government there found that well over 50% of their ‘news’ was not factual.

  • Desiree Marcel

    You are bad at math, and worse at statistics.