Our Constitution Under Assault
DEFINE THEIR ACTIONS
An assault on the right to vote is an assault on the Constitution.
Values: In a nation founded on the principle that we're all created equal, voting is the one time when we are all equal and have the same say.
Define: From its founding principles to the Voting Rights Amendments, our Constitution guarantees our right to vote -- whether man or woman, young or old, rich or poor.
Contrast: But instead of defending the Constitution, some Republican politicians are trying to dismantle our constitutional guarantee to have a voice in our democracy.
Expose: They accuse others of disrespecting the Constitution, but nothing is more disrespectful than trying to take away the fundamental freedom at the heart of it.
Bottom line: An assault on the right to vote is an assault on the Constitution.
This is America -- it should be voters choosing our leaders, not politicians choosing voters.
Define: In just the last few years, Republican politicians across the states have been manipulating our election laws to make it harder for millions of eligible citizens to vote -- including seniors and veterans.
Illustrate: They are requiring voters to show types of ID that politicians know many people don't have and didn't need before, removing options for working parents to vote early or on weekends, and taking away opportunities from new voters, seniors, and veterans to get help with their voter registration paperwork.
Discredit: People who aren't who they claim to be shouldn't vote, but politicians trying to hold onto their jobs shouldn't exclude millions of eligible Americans from participating equally in our democracy either.
Expose: If these politicians can't count on your vote, they want to keep you from being counted at all. They're rigging the vote so the system stays rigged in their favor.
Aspire: As the world's leading democracy, America should have a voting system that is free, fair, and equally accessible to everyone. No true American leader would seek to silence the voice of the people.
Words to use: Free, fair, and equally accessible to all;
Fundamental freedom; American right;
Making it harder to vote; Law-abiding citizens
Words to avoid: Disenfranchisement; Discrimination
To illustrate the impact of these new anti-voting laws, use personal stories and specific examples. Here's a few:
- In Florida, the Republican governor recently created a list of tens of thousands of voters to kick them off the voter rolls, but almost all of the targeted people turned out to be eligible voters -- including seniors like Bill Internicola, a 91-year old WWII veteran.
- In Tennessee, Dorothy Cooper, a 96 year old lifelong voter, felt so strongly about meeting her responsibility to vote that she repeatedly went back to a government agency with numerous other IDs to meet the state's new voter ID requirement.
- Some states are now starting to impose heavy fines on non-profit organizations, like the League of Women Voters, if they cannot turn in voter registration forms within 48 hours, regardless of the reason. These rules are shutting down many voter registration drives completely.
ATTACKS AND RESPONSES
- We all agree that protecting the integrity of our elections is vitally important -- that's why we already have strict laws and protections in place.
- We should also all be able to agree that it's wrong for politicians to take away the voting rights of millions of eligible Americans -- especially seniors and veterans who've been lifelong voters -- to stop the very rare instances of ineligible people trying to vote.
- The Republican politicians pushing the new anti-voting restrictions even admit there's no evidence to back up their scaremongering and that they're deliberately trying to keep the people whose vote they can't count on from voting at all.
- If they're really trying to protect our elections, why are they and their right wing allies pushing restrictions that just make it harder, costly, and less convenient to register and vote and to make us feel like voting is "like driving and seeing the police following you"?
- There's no question we should stop the rare cases of ineligible people casting a ballot -- protecting the integrity of our elections is vitally important. That's why we have strict laws and protections already on the books.
- As it turns out, these cases were just simple data mistakes. But Republican politicians are still using them to drum up support for their anti-voting laws -- so they can prevent eligible voters they don't like from voting against them.
- Whether it's easy or hard, we should make sure every American has the same opportunity to register and vote. That is exactly what nonprofit organizations like the League of Women Voters and the Voter Participation Center do.
- In the world's leading democracy, our own voting system should be free, fair, and equally accessible to all, and our leaders should be working to make sure every eligible citizen can vote.
- Voting is a fundamental freedom guaranteed by more Constitutional amendments than any other right we have. Getting on an airplane and buying cold medicine aren't enshrined in our Constitution.
- People who aren't who they claim to be shouldn't vote, but strict, one-size-fits-all laws that require one specific type of ID -- which politicians know more than twenty million American voters don't have -- will only deny millions of law-abiding Americans their right to vote.
- Republican politicians are trying to rig our voting system for one purpose alone: to keep Americans they don't like from being counted at all by imposing requirements they can't meet.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
- September 17 is the 225th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution. Since its creation by the Founders and ratification by the American people, the Constitution has been amended 27 times - including by the six Voting Rights Amendments.
- In fact, until just a few years ago, the arc of our nation's progress on voting rights has been towards extending them to those Americans previously excluded and guaranteeing our freedom to choose our leaders - progress that's now under threat from Republican politicians.
- Since President Obama was elected, many Republican-governed states have enacted new laws and restrictions that make it harder for people to register and vote, such as --
- Purges of voters off the voter registration rolls in Florida even though almost all of the people turned out to be eligible voters -- including some World War II and Vietnam veterans.
- Catch-22 laws that require a photo ID in order to get a photo ID or the birth certificate you need to get a photo ID;
- Laws ending or reducing highly popular early voting, absentee voting, and Election Day and same day voter registration opportunities; and
- Heavy fines on non-profit organizations, like the League of Women Voters, if they cannot turn in voter registration forms within 48 hours, regardless of the reason. These rules are shutting down many of their voter registration drives completely.
- The new Republican anti-voting efforts could undermine the voting rights of as many as 5 million American citizens in the 2012 election -- the margin of victory in two of the last three presidential elections.
- Over 20 million American citizens do not have government-issued photo identification, including an even greater percentage of seniors and families hit hardest by the recession. (They could be, for instance, people who let their driver's license expire after they lost their car or retired veterans who get by fine with their VA ID.)
- In a study of 10 states with anti-voting ID laws, more than 10 million eligible voters -- including 500,000 without a car -- live more than 10 miles from their nearest state ID-issuing office open more than two days a week.
We develop messaging by aggregating, analyzing and distilling polling, tested messaging, and expert recommendations, and monitoring the media to identify what is and isn't working. See here for some of the experts and organizations we draw on.
Posted in - Voting Rights - 2012 Elections - Judiciary