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Michael Moore: ‘This is a liberal country’
DENVER — There is only one reason right-wing politicians around the country are introducing bills and otherwise taking steps to reduce the number of people who vote, filmmaker Michael Moore told a crowd at the University of Colorado at Denver Thursday: “This is a liberal country.”“If these people thought this was a conservative country, they would want to put voting booths in every Walmart,” he said. “They would want more people to vote.”
The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law released a report (PDF) last month that detailed legislation that has appeared throughout the nation in hopes of tightening restrictions on voting. The document serves as the first full accounting an analysis of the year’s voting cutbacks, detailing proposals and passed legislation.
The new restrictions, the authors note, “fall most heavily on the young, minority and low-income voters, as well as on voters with disabilities.”
The Center analyzed 19 laws and two executive actions that passed in 14 states. From their analysis, the authors determined:
- The new laws could make it significantly harder for more than five million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012.
- The states that have already cut back on voting rights will provide 171 electoral votes in 2012 — 63 percent of the 270 needed to win the presidency.
- Of the 12 likely battleground states, as assessed by an August Los Angeles Times analysis of Gallop polling, five have already cut back on voting rights (and may pass additional restrictive legislation), and two more are currently considering new restrictions.
One of the most prevalent bills that has been passed throughout the country — and one that was hotly debated and ultimately stalled by the Democratic majority in the Iowa Senate earlier this year — is requiring voters to produce photo identification.
At least 34 states introduced legislation that would require voters to show photo identification in order to vote. Photo ID bills were signed into law in seven states: Alabama, Kansas, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin. By contrast, before the 2011 legislative session, only two states had ever imposed strict photo ID requirements. The number of states with laws requiring voters to show government-issued photo identification has quadrupled in 2011. To put this into context, 11 percent of American citizens do not possess a government-issued photo ID; that is over 21 million citizens.
The report authors add that the prevalence and ultimate success of the move toward photo identification requirements at the polls could be traced to involvement by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), “a powerful conservative group that brings together state legislators and private interests to develop and support state legislation and policy.” As the New York Times reported, many of the 2011 voter ID bills were inspired by ALEC, which circulated such proposals throughout state capitols. It was also ALEC that first began to push voter ID laws as a way of preventing election fraud, which many believe to be a manufactured problem for the sole purpose of further restricting voting rights.
In Iowa, the State Association of County Auditors — individuals charged with administering and overseeing elections — opposed the voter ID proposal. The group’s independent study on the impact of a similar measure in Indiana found that the legislation came at too high a cost and burden for local officials. Essentially, the organization believed it to be an “unfunded mandate” on counties.
But beyond the additional and proposed restrictions on voting, Moore said people can can tell this is a liberal country because Rush Limbaugh and most of the talking heads at Fox are angry. If this was a conservative country, he noted, they would host nice, happy shows.
“They know the country has left them behind,” he said.
As evidence of the country’s liberalness, he said a majority of Americans think same-sex marriage should be liberal, 72 percent want taxes on the wealthiest Americans raised and 60 percent want the war in Afghanistan to end now.
(Lynda Waddington contributed to this report.)