Obama won, and voter suppression lost

Photo: AP/Seth Perlman
Photo: AP/Seth Perlman
Seth Perlman

The right-wing worked hard to suppress the vote in Tuesday’s election, with an effort that began months ago, when conservatives took control of many state houses. Ultimately, thanks in part to the courts, and in part to the determination of voters, America proved that voting rights cannot be stolen.

Pennsylvania’s House Majority Leader Mike Turzai infamously said this year, “Voter ID, which is going to allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania: done.”

Turzai’s plan failed. Thanks to court rulings, photo ID was not required to vote in Pennsylvania, and while some voter faced confusion at the polls over the requirement, that was no match for the strong turnout of voters - many of whom may have been galvanized by the threat of suppression.

The courts protected voters in Ohio and Wisconsin too, restoring key early voting and stopping a voter ID requirement

Long lines posed one of the biggest threats. In Florida, where early voting had been reduced by nearly 50% from 2008, voters who showed up on Election Day were still waiting to cast their ballots hours after the polls had closed. The determination of each and every one will have an impact on the state that’s still too close to call.

One of the biggest victories against voter suppression Tuesday night came straight from the people, as Minnesota became the first state to reject a proposed voter ID amendment. It’s a huge victory for voting rights activists, especially considering the measure was poised to win approval by a 12 point margin just a little over a week ago.

But the fight won’t end in Minnesota, proponents of the law will now plan to push it through the statehouse instead. Voting rights opponents face an uphill battle in North Carolina as well, where the voter-ID-vetoing Democratic Gov. Bev Purdue has been replaced with Republican Pat McCrory.

The battle for voting rights may not be over, but we learned last night that the people can prevail, as long as they are willing to fight for their rights.