Crossing the Line: Welcome Back, Jim Crow

New laws in dozens of states could take out Barack Obama this fall.

On the other side of the nation, however, Florida has moved to the top of the class when it comes to discrimination. Federal courts are considering the Republican leadership's attempts to not only outlaw Sunday voting but also severely limit voter registration.

The laws being challenged, for instance, require anyone who helps voters sign up with the state to submit all registration documents within 48 hours. Last week, a federal judge in Tallahassee blocked some parts of the law, but let others — like the prohibition on Sunday voting — stand. To date, the registration requirements have proven so difficult to meet that even groups such as the Boy Scouts of America have given up on registering voters this year.

Among the victims of the Florida law: Jill Cicciarelli, a New Smyrna Beach high school teacher who last year tried to register several of her students. She had been out on maternity leave, ran afoul of the new law and was threatened with thousands of dollars in fines. "I just wanted the kids to be participating in our democracy," she says.

More significant, these laws have had a direct impact on minorities. The number of Latinos registered to vote in Florida, for instance, has fallen by ten percent since 2008. (Nationally, there are two million fewer minority voters now than in 2008.) Florida, says Howard Simon, executive director of the state's ACLU, is attempting to "gut the Voting Rights Act."

Is all of this enough to propel Mitt Romney to victory over Barack Obama? Well, the president received 96 percent of black votes in 2008 and more than two-thirds of the Latino vote. And Florida is the nation's largest swing state. Many of the measures, like those in Arizona, Texas and Minnesota, are under review by courts or face public votes in the future. "The fate of these laws," says the NAACP's Jealous, "will determine that of our country for years to come."

Chuck Strouse is editor in chief of Miami New Times.

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3 comments
whatajoke
whatajoke

Its as simple as show your ID and vote. For decades we have lived by these laws. Now because the blacks and hispanics dont want to live by the same rules we change them. My grandmother was an AMERICAN INDIAN and I dont go out wanting back what the government took from them. That was american history. There is racial attitude in all groups. Theres blacks that dont like whites and hispanics. Theres hispanics that dont like blacks. Grow up and act civilized and quit marching around with gang members like the panthers. This is so childish. You look like children that dont get there way. Hay im going to rob a house at 15 years old and then call Q- tip to get me off. This is what is wrong with our children looking for someone to get them off.

Joshwebster
Joshwebster

So ridiculous. To say, "felons can't vote," is not racism. To say, "that's aimed at black men, many of whom are felons," now THAT is racist. Same thing with IDs for Hispanics. IDs are free and easy to obtain. Just get one and get on board with the rest of us. There is no good reason not to have a photo ID.

TOLDYA
TOLDYA

I've always been required to show an ID before voting; I sure wish I'd had the jumper cable rental booth.at that motorcade.

 
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