During the 2012 election, the realities of voter suppression have become the new horse race. Where campaign coverage previously relished the focus on who was raising the most money, this year, cable news has been delivering the updates from Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, as various voting restrictions are shot down by courts. The legal battles over voter registration, redistricting, ID requirements, and early voting have all been roundly called out for their disproportionate impacts on voters who tend to vote Democratic -- African-Americans, seniors, students, working class, disabled, single parent families.
More strikingly, the pretense has been dropped that these efforts are anything but desperate attempts to prevent a popular vote that Republican lawmakers don't want. From Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted's eagerness to stop weekend voting despite federal court order, to prosecutors in the Pennsylvania voter ID law trial acknowledging they had no proof whatsoever of voter fraud or this law's efficacy, to voter challenges against immigrants that purge far more legally registered voters in Florida and Colorado -- any provable threat is never identified in these preemptive barriers to voting.
There is historical precedent for this. In previous eras of reform, when African-Americans advanced in our democracy after the Civil War or after the Civil Rights Act, voter suppression and racist backlash thrived. It is cyclical that the first black president would prompt another turning point in our country, when we are forced to ask ourselves if we really believe that all Americans should be able to vote.
This new video from the updated release of my documentary FREE FOR ALL! dispels some of the many misleading arguments advanced against voter access. One of the most inspiring things about this country is that it is a work in progress. Let's keep it up.
Special thanks to John Nichols at The Nation, Brad Friedman at BradBlog, Van Jones at Rebuild the Dream, Lori Minnite at Barnard College, Wendy Weiser at Brennan Center, Greg Palast and "Billionaires & Ballot Bandits," Color of Change, Video the Vote, Center for Media and Democracy.
Follow John Wellington Ennis on Twitter: www.twitter.com/johnennis