TERRY GROSS, HOST:
This is FRESH AIR. I’m Terry Gross. You competence remember President Trump’s twitter that he won a renouned opinion if we concede a millions of people who voted illegally. There is no justification to support his explain that there were millions of fake votes. Last week, President Trump released an executive sequence substantiating an Election Integrity Commission. One of a goals is to forestall voter fraud. The elect is headed by Vice President Pence, a former administrator of Indiana, and Kris Kobach, a Kansas secretary of state.
A New York Times editorial pronounced yesterday, quote, “those dual states have put in place voter termination techniques that competence finish adult being models for a commission,” unquote. We’re going to speak about this new commission, voter rascal and voter termination with Ari Berman, a comparison contributing author for The Nation repository and author of a book “Give Us The Ballot: The Modern Struggle For Voting Rights In America.” The pretension is a anxiety to Martin Luther King’s now famous “Give Us The Ballot” speech.
Today is a 60th anniversary of that discuss in that King implored Congress and a boss to finish what he described as a conniving methods still being used to forestall negroes from apropos purebred adults and from voting. Let’s start with an mention of that speech.
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MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: Give us a list and we will no longer have to worry a sovereign supervision about a simple rights. Give us a list and we will no longer defence to a sovereign supervision for thoroughfare of an anti-lynching law. We will, by a energy of a vote, write a law on a supervision books of a South and pierce an finish to a dishonourable acts of a hooded perpetrators of violence. Give us a list and we will renovate a distinct misdeeds of blood-thirsty mobs into a distributed good deeds of nurse citizens.
Give us a list and we will fill a legislative halls with organisation of good will and send to a dedicated halls of Congress organisation who will not pointer a Southern Manifesto given of their friendship to a declaration of justice. Give us a ballot.
GROSS: That was Martin Luther King available 60 years ago today. Here’s my speak with Ari Berman about voting rights today.
Ari Berman, acquire to FRESH AIR.
ARI BERMAN: Thank you, Terry.
GROSS: What is a settled purpose of President Trump’s Election Integrity Commission?
BERMAN: The initial is to demeanour during policies and voting manners that presumably raise or diminution open certainty in elections. And a second is to demeanour during allegations of crude voting and crude voter registration, that a elect calls fake voting or fake voter registration. And we consider that is a genuine vicious purpose of given this elect was set up.
GROSS: Do we consider it’s connected to a twitter that he sent saying, we won a renouned opinion if we concede a millions of people who voted illegally?
BERMAN: Absolutely. If President Trump hadn’t tweeted regularly that millions of people voted illegally, there would be no presidential elect on choosing integrity. we consider this occurred and this occurred when it occurred for 3 conflicting reasons. The initial was that President Trump wanted to distract, in however a tiny way, from a banishment of Jim Comey from a FBI, that happened dual days before he announced this Election Integrity Commission.
The second thing was that we consider President Trump has a painful ego given he mislaid a renouned vote. And we consider a third reason is that by gripping alive this suspicion of widespread voter fraud, that millions of people voted illegally or that a choosing was somehow sinister by bootleg voting, Republicans can afterwards build support for putting in place policies that make it harder for certain people to vote. So we consider gripping alive this suspicion of voter rascal in many ways is a stratagem for a genuine agenda, that is putting in place policies that shorten entrance to a ballot.
GROSS: So President Trump chose Vice President Pence to conduct this new choosing firmness commission. And he chose as a clamp chair Kris Kobach, who’s a secretary of state of Kansas. And Kobach is widely seen as a many assertive disciple of voting restrictions to extent voter fraud. As secretary of state of Kansas, what has he been obliged for there?
BERMAN: we unequivocally consider this is Kris Kobach’s commission. Even nonetheless he’s a clamp chair of a commission, we consider he’ll be a pushing force behind it. He became secretary of state of Kansas after a 2010 election. And Kansas put in place one of a toughest voting laws, if not a toughest voting law in a country. It not customarily compulsory despotic voter ID, nonetheless it compulsory explanation of citizenship to register to vote. So if we try to register to opinion in Kansas, we need to yield your passport, your birth certificate or your naturalization papers.
Now, about 7 percent of Americans don’t have entrance to those documents, according to a Brennan Center for Justice, nonetheless a many incomparable elect don’t lift their pass or their birth certificate or their naturalization papers around when they’re going to register to vote. So what we’ve seen in Kansas is that 1 in 7 people who attempted to register to opinion after this law went into outcome in 2013 had their registrations hold in what was called in torment by a state of Kansas. They were not means to register to vote.
So that one routine had a unequivocally disruptive outcome on voter registration in Kansas. And Kobach has been observant that voter fraud, and in particular, voter rascal by what he calls bootleg aliens is widespread. And a second thing is that we need to put policies in place like explanation of citizenship for voter registration that will negate a bootleg voting that he claims is going on.
GROSS: Well, there’s a plea to this law right now. What is that challenge?
BERMAN: The ACLU has challenged a explanation of citizenship law in a series of conflicting ways. And they’ve indeed won 4 cases conflicting Kobach given 2013. The courts ruled that people who register to opinion during a DMV do not have to uncover explanation of citizenship. They also ruled that Kobach can't forestall people who do not uncover explanation of citizenship from voting in state elections, that is one thing he attempted to do.
He attempted to set adult a two-tier registration complement so that if we didn’t uncover explanation of citizenship during a DMV, for example, we afterwards couldn’t opinion in state elections in Kansas, that was unequivocally treacherous for a lot of people. So he’s been regularly taken to justice by groups, by a ACLU and has not had a whole lot of success in justice to date.
GROSS: So does anyone who registers in Kansas have to uncover explanation of citizenship or is it customarily if we have an accent and are suspected of being somebody who has recently arrived and we have to infer that we have citizenship?
BERMAN: Now, everybody has to uncover explanation of citizenship in Kansas to register to vote, nonetheless it customarily relates to people who try to register or refurbish their registrations after a law went into outcome in 2013. So everybody who purebred before 2013 is grandfathered in. But everybody who registers after 2013 when a law went into outcome has to uncover explanation of citizenship. And that’s given a ACLU has indeed compared a law to a grandfather proviso of a kind that we saw underneath Jim Crow ’cause it customarily relates to certain forms of voters.
In a same approach that grandfather clauses exempted white adults nonetheless practical to African-American voters, a ACLU is observant that Kansas’s law customarily relates to new adults or people who try to register after 2013. And if we demeanour during that dangling voter list in Kansas, that during some points in time has had over 35,000 adults on it, over half of a adults are underneath 35 and scarcely all are first-time registrants ’cause, as we said, it customarily relates to people who are perplexing to register after 2013. So these are many some-more expected to be younger people and many some-more expected to be new registrants.
GROSS: So given do critics of this law know it to have a built in domestic bias?
BERMAN: Well, if we demeanour during what a law is doing is it’s fundamentally frozen a existent adults in place by creation it harder for new registrants to be means to register to vote. So frozen a adults in place in a state like Kansas advantages Republicans ’cause Republicans were already in control there. Younger adults in Kansas who are many some-more expected to be impacted by this law are some-more expected to be Democratic voters, they’re some-more expected to be independent-leaning or eccentric voters.
They’re reduction expected to be core Republican adults who competence expel a list for someone like Kris Kobach.
GROSS: So how has this law influenced groups like a League of Women Voters and Rock a Vote in their ability to register people in Kansas?
BERMAN: The law finished it roughly unfit for groups like a League of Women Voters to register adults in Kansas. After a proof-of-citizenship law went into outcome in 2013, roughly all a internal chapters of a League of Women Voters had to postpone their operation because, as we pronounced earlier, people were not carrying around birth certificates or passports or naturalization papers with them when a League of Women Voters was perplexing to do registration drives outward a farmer’s market.
And moreover, a League of Women Voters didn’t wish to have to hoop this rarely understanding information. So for example, a Wichita section of a League of Women Voters purebred 4,000 adults in 2012. But after a proof-of-citizenship law went into effect, they customarily purebred 400 adults in 2014. And that was customarily one instance of a kind of impact this law had.
GROSS: So in 2014, Kris Kobach became a customarily secretary of state in a nation with a energy to prosecute voter rascal cases. How did he get that power, and how did he use it?
BERMAN: This was unequivocally thespian given no other secretary of state had a energy to prosecute voter rascal cases given this is something that customarily a profession ubiquitous of a state has a management to do – not a secretary of state, who’s ostensible to run elections, not record cases. But Kobach told a Legislature in Kansas, that was heavily Republican, that voter fraud, utterly voter rascal by noncitizens, was widespread. And so in 2014, he became a customarily secretary of state in a nation with a energy to privately prosecute voter rascal cases.
GROSS: What’s his lane record?
BERMAN: Well, if we speak to his critics, they will contend that his lane record has not been good. He’s customarily successfully prosecuted 9 people given 2014 out of 1.8 million purebred adults in Kansas. Despite observant that voting by noncitizens was widespread, he’s customarily convicted one noncitizen of bootleg voting. So a Kansas City Star recently ran a flattering curse editorial where they called Kobach a Javert of voter fraud, comparing him to a knave of “Les Mis.” And so these prosecutions have been unequivocally controversial, not customarily in Kansas nonetheless nationally as well.
GROSS: So 35,000 people had their registrations suspended. But a sum of 9 people in Kansas were successfully prosecuted for voter registration rascal of one arrange or another.
BERMAN: Well, and a engaging thing is that many of a people who were prosecuted by Kobach for voter rascal were prosecuted for double voting. They were customarily aged adults who owned property, let’s say, in Kansas and Colorado, and competence have voted for a internal choosing in Colorado and afterwards a internal choosing in Kansas and didn’t comprehend they were incompetent to opinion in both places given they owned skill in dual states.
So many of a people prosecuted by Kobach have been aged voters, have been Republican adults and have been double adults who have been confused about a law. So it indeed had zero to do with bootleg voter registration or voting by noncitizens. But what a sovereign courts have pronounced regularly is that a series of people who could be disenfranchised by Kobach is much, much, many incomparable than a series of voter rascal cases he’s presented.
GROSS: Well, let’s take a brief mangle here, and afterwards we’ll speak some-more about voting rights and voting restrictions. My guest is Ari Berman. He’s a comparison contributing author for The Nation and a associate during The Nation Institute. He’s a author of a book “Give Us The Ballot: The Modern Struggle For Voting Rights In America.” We’ll be right back. This is FRESH AIR.
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GROSS: This is FRESH AIR, and if you’re customarily fasten us, my guest is Ari Berman. This is a 60th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “Give Us The Ballot” speech, that was his initial critical discuss on voting rights. We’re articulate about President Trump’s new Election Integrity Commission. And a clamp chair of that is Kris Kobach, a secretary of state of Kansas, who’s seen as one of a heading advocates of voting restrictions.
So we’re articulate about a pierce toward voting restrictions in a U.S. So we’ve been articulate about Kris Kobach who’s a clamp chair of President Trump’s Election Integrity Commission. Vice President Pence is a chair of a commission. He’s a former administrator of Indiana. What was his record on voting rights and voting restrictions when he was a governor?
BERMAN: Well, initial off, we consider it’s vicious to note that Indiana was a initial state to pass a despotic voter ID law behind in 2005. So Indiana, where Pence is from, unequivocally led off this whole transformation to shorten voting rights in a contemporary era. Secondly, when Pence was both administrator of Indiana and Donald Trump’s regulating partner in 2016, a Indiana State Police raided a bureau of a voter registration organisation that was focused on induction low-income and African-American voters. There were about 10 voter registration field that were noticed as – to be presumably fraudulent.
But a fact that state military raided a bureau of this organisation meant that 45,000 people who were purebred by this classification could’ve had their voter registration applications discarded. So we don’t totally know a sum here. We don’t know how many voter registration applications were discarded. And we also don’t know if anyone’s been charged with fraud. But a fact that state military were used to raid a voter registration organisation we consider was noticed by voting rights advocates in Indiana as carrying a chilling effect, utterly on black voter appearance there.
GROSS: Why would it have a chilling outcome on black voter participation?
BERMAN: Because we consider it sent a summary that if we were perplexing to register black adults in a state like Indiana, a state military competence be display adult during your office. That was during slightest how it was noticed by voting rights advocates on a belligerent in Indiana.
GROSS: So what impact do we consider a new President Trump Election Integrity Commission competence have on voting?
BERMAN: The initial thing is to once again keep alive this suspicion that voter rascal is widespread and prevalent and a vicious hazard to American elections when all a studies uncover utterly a opposite. So initial off, it’s gripping alive this suspicion that voter rascal is something that we urgently need to address. The second thing it’s going to do is suggest tangible routine changes given if we trust that voter rascal is widespread, afterwards you’re going to support despotic voter ID laws.
You’re going to support explanation of citizenship for voter registration. You’re going to support cleansing a voting rolls. And let’s customarily contend if they suggest to Congress a inhabitant voter ID law or a national-proof-of-citizenship law, that could be very, unequivocally disruptive to many, many adults if these kind of routine changes were adopted by a Congress.
GROSS: But voting laws are state laws, right? They’re not sovereign laws.
BERMAN: Well, they’re both. So Congress could pass a sovereign voter ID law. Congress could pass a sovereign proof-of-citizenship law that relates to voting in sovereign elections. And afterwards states could pass their possess versions of these things that request to state elections. So we trust that a president’s Commission on Election Integrity is going to make recommendations both on a sovereign turn and during a state level. And with Republicans in control of a Congress and in control of so many states, this is an event for them to make voting even some-more limiting than it already is.
GROSS: Let me step behind a second. If a law says that we have to uncover a print ID or explanation of citizenship or a birth certificate to register or to vote, given is that deliberate by many people to be an extreme burden?
BERMAN: So first, on a voter ID front, a investigate by a Brennan Center for Justice found that about 11 percent of Americans do not have government-issued ID. So that’s a lot of people in this country. And not customarily that, nonetheless there is a jagged impact on African-American voters, on Latino voters, on younger voters, on poorer voters, on aged voters. So some people are some-more impacted by these laws than others.
When it comes to explanation of citizenship, a Brennan Center for Justice has found that 7 percent of adults do not have prepared entrance to their citizenship papers. What we saw in Kansas when they implemented this kind explanation of citizenship law – over 35,000 voters, 1 in 7 new registrants, finished adult on a state’s dangling voter lists. These were some-more expected to be younger voters. They were some-more expected to be Democratic voters. They were some-more expected to be eccentric voters. So both voter ID and explanation of citizenship figure an adults that is some-more accessible to Republican candidates.
GROSS: You wrote an essay final month, and I’ll examination a headline. It’s a familiar headline. The pretension was “Iowa’s New Voter ID Law Would Have Disenfranchised My Grandmother.” And we write about your grandmother, who changed from Brooklyn to Iowa when she was 89 and had difficulty voting. Like, what happened to her?
BERMAN: we always consider it’s vicious to tell stories of tangible adults who could be impacted by these laws given we consider it helps pierce over some of a partisanship and tongue about a discuss over voting in America. And so when Iowa due a despotic voter ID law, we immediately suspicion of my grandmother, who was utterly a character. She was someone who fled a Holocaust in Poland and changed to Brooklyn.
And afterwards when she was 89 years old, she changed to Iowa, where my family lived, and lived with us for 10 years until she upheld divided during 99. And my grandmother didn’t have a driver’s assent given she never drove. She took open travel in New York, and when she changed to Iowa, she walked everywhere. She would travel dual miles to Walmart if she wanted to buy something. She didn’t have a birth certificate given she transitory a Holocaust in Poland and was not innate in a U.S. She did not have a stream pass given she’d customarily been out of a nation once, to Israel, and no longer trafficked abroad.
And so we asked my mom, what did my grandmother use for her identification? And she used her Medicare card, that is not an excusable voter ID in a state of Iowa. So even nonetheless she was 89 years aged when she changed to Iowa, even nonetheless she voted for 10 years when she lived in Iowa until she upheld divided during 99, she did not possess any of a forms of government-issued ID that Iowa is now requiring to vote.
GROSS: My guest is Ari Berman, a comparison contributing author to The Nation repository and author of a book “Give Us The Ballot.” After a break, we’ll speak about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ lane record on voting issues. And Ken Tucker will examination Angaleena Presley’s new album. I’m Terry Gross, and this is FRESH AIR.
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GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. I’m Terry Gross, behind with Ari Berman, who writes about voting rights for The Nation repository and is author of a book “Give Us The Ballot.” We’re articulate about voting rights and voting restrictions. Last week, President Trump released an executive sequence formulating a new choosing firmness commission. The boss has claimed, with no evidence, that millions of fake votes were obliged for him losing a renouned vote. The new elect is led by Vice President Pence and Kris Kobach, a Kansas secretary of state, who is an disciple of despotic voter ID laws to forestall voter fraud. Critics of these laws contend there are unequivocally few fake votes, nonetheless these limiting laws make it some-more formidable for people of color, comparison people and immature people to vote. When we left off, we were articulate about a obstacles these laws present.
You wrote about one chairman who had to go to, like, we forget how many conflicting agencies and dual states after he changed from one state to another, in sequence to get a papers he indispensable to vote.
BERMAN: we wrote a story about a male by a name of Eddie Lee Holloway Jr. He was a 58-year-old African-American male who changed from Chicago to Wisconsin. And Wisconsin was one of those states that compulsory despotic voter ID to expel a list in 2016. So Eddie Lee Holloway went to a DMV in Milwaukee, and he brought his Illinois print ID, that was not accepted; his birth certificate and his amicable confidence card.
But he was not released ID in Wisconsin for voting given a name on his birth certificate pronounced Eddie Jr. Holloway instead of Eddie Lee Holloway Jr. given of a ecclesiastic blunder when it was issued. So they pronounced he had to go down to Vital Records in Milwaukee and rectify his birth certificate. When he went to Vital Records in Milwaukee and pronounced – how many will it cost to rectify my birth certificate? – they told him between $400 and $600. They pronounced he had to go behind to Illinois where he was from and rectify his birth certificate there. So he went behind to Illinois. He paid for a train – went to Springfield, a state capitol. And he said, we wish to rectify my birth certificate. In Springfield, Ill., Vital Records told him he indispensable to presumably pierce his high propagandize or his vaccination records.
He went from Springfield to Decatur, his hometown in Illinois; got his high propagandize records; went behind to Vital Records in Springfield, Ill.; and pronounced can we now rectify my birth certificate? They said, no, we need to see your full Social Security statement. So he went behind to Wisconsin, got all his papers in order, emailed critical annals in Illinois and said, can we fax or email we my information? And they said, no, we have to come behind to Illinois and do it in person.
And during this point, this one voter, Eddie Lee Holloway Jr., gave up. He finished 7 trips in dual conflicting states, spent over $200 of his possess income and still wasn’t means to get a voter ID in Wisconsin. And he became a plaintiff in one of a lawsuits severe Wisconsin’s voter ID law. And many of this information came from a deposition he gave underneath oath. And a few days before a election, we called his counsel from a ACLU. And we said, did Eddie Lee Holloway ever get a ID he indispensable to opinion in Wisconsin? And his counsel told me, he was so troubled by a whole routine that he changed behind to Illinois.
So this is customarily one story, nonetheless we can tell you, Terry, we know dozens of stories and I’ve reported dozens of stories that are unfortunately customarily like this.
GROSS: How many people have a time or income to do what he did in sequence to try and vote? And even he unsuccessful during (laughing)…
BERMAN: How many people…
GROSS: …At vital in his new state and being means to opinion there.
BERMAN: The doubt that we ask myself is – how many people, when they’re incited divided from a polls once, are going to go by all of a bid to do it two, three, four, five, 6 or, in Eddie Holloway Jr.’s case, 7 times? And we consider it’s really, unequivocally comfortless that in a year 2016, we’re doing this to adults – that people who have voted all of their lives though any arrange of problems are now being disenfranchised.
And there’s no reason given there’s no justification of voter impersonation in Wisconsin or anywhere else that a kind of voter ID law they upheld would stop. In Wisconsin, we had 300,000 purebred voters, according to a sovereign courts, that did not possess despotic forms of voter ID. But Wisconsin didn’t benefaction a singular box of voter impersonation in justice that their voter ID law would have stopped.
GROSS: What are some of a ways that we haven’t nonetheless discussed that voting rights activists contend distinguish conflicting people of color, a immature and a elderly?
BERMAN: There are despotic voter ID laws given younger people, people of tone are reduction expected to possess these kind of IDs. There are cuts to early voting given African-American voters, for example, are some-more expected to opinion early in states like Florida that have early voting. There are restrictions on voter registration drives that impact first-time adults and younger adults disproportionately. There are purges of a voting rolls, that mostly inform people of tone some-more expected than white voters. There are laws that disenfranchise ex-offenders in states like Florida where, even after you’ve served your time, we still can’t vote. Nationally, about 6 million Americans can’t opinion given a law-breaker disenfranchisement laws.
So there’s lots of conflicting ways a right to opinion is being restricted. It’s not customarily voter ID laws, that get all a attention. But it’s all of these other things, too – slicing behind early voting, creation it harder to register to vote, cleansing a voting rolls, disenfranchising ex-felons. These are all things that can minister to restrictions on voting rights and voter participation.
GROSS: So we’ve been articulate about a Voting Integrity Commission. Let’s take a demeanour during Jeff Sessions, President Trump’s profession general. What is his repute when it comes to voting rights and voting restrictions?
BERMAN: Jeff Sessions is someone who was noticed by voting rights advocates as unequivocally antagonistic to voting rights. And this dates all a approach behind to his time as a U.S. profession in Alabama. One of a things Jeff Sessions did in a 1980s as U.S. profession for Alabama is he prosecuted polite rights activists for voter fraud. He prosecuted 3 people who were very, unequivocally successful voting rights advocates in Alabama, people who indeed marched on Bloody Sunday on Mar 7, 1965, and were brutally beaten by Alabama state troopers.
And what Jeff Sessions pronounced was that these polite rights activists in a 1980s were illegally assisting African-American adults expel absentee ballots. And these people, 3 people – dual were Albert Turner and his mother Evelyn and another was an romantic by a name of Spencer Hogue. Jeff Sessions prosecuted them for voter fraud, and a hearing indeed took place in Selma, Ala., that was a birthplace, in many ways, of a complicated voting rights struggle. And these prosecutions got a lot of courtesy in a 1980s. The fact that a white U.S. attorney, Jeff Sessions, was prosecuting African-American polite rights activists for voter rascal was unequivocally controversial, and these defendants were eventually acquitted.
But this case, that became famous as a Marion Three ’cause they were from Marion, Ala., unequivocally helped conclude Jeff Sessions’ career when it came to polite rights. And indeed, 30 years later, when he was nominated as profession general, these voter rascal cases was one of a things that many Democrats asked him about.
GROSS: So what has Jeff Sessions finished so distant in his purpose as profession ubiquitous that’s associated to voting laws?
BERMAN: Well, a initial thing that we consider it’s vicious to know is that Jeff Sessions was understanding of a Supreme Court’s preference that gutted a pivotal partial of a Voting Rights Act. When a Supreme Court ruled that states with a prolonged story of taste no longer had to approve their voting changes with a sovereign government, Sessions pronounced that it was good news for a South. Now as profession general, one of a initial things that Jeff Sessions did was retreat a Obama administration’s position that Texas’ voter ID law was intentionally discriminatory.
Texas has one of a strictest voter ID laws in a country. You can vote, for example, with a gun assent nonetheless not a tyro ID. And a Obama administration took a position that a sovereign courts also endorsed that Texas’ law was intentionally discriminatory, that it was upheld precisely to try to disenfranchise approved and Latino voters. So a sovereign justice indeed ruled in Apr that Texas’s law was intentionally discriminatory, that was a improved both for a state of Texas and for a Trump Justice Department and Jeff Sessions.
GROSS: Why are voting rights and voting restrictions seen as a narrow-minded issue?
BERMAN: we consider this is unequivocally an hapless thing given for many years, voting rights was noticed as some-more of a informal emanate than a narrow-minded issue. Both Southern Democrats and Southern Republicans were noticed as antagonistic to voting rights. But a lot of Northern Republicans were very, unequivocally understanding of voting rights. But we consider what’s happened some-more recently is, series one, a fact that broadly it’s been loyal in new elections that Democrats do improved when there’s aloft voter turnout.
But Republicans are customarily excellent when there’s reduce voter turnout. So Republicans did unequivocally good in a 2010 and a 2014 midterm elections when there was many reduce turnout. Democrats did a whole lot improved in 2008 and 2012 when there was aloft voter turnout. At a same time, a changing demographics of a nation are bearing Democratic candidates. So in 2008, for example, there were 5 million new adults that expel a ballot.
And those 5 million new adults voted 75 percent for President Obama. And we consider that set off alarm bells within a Republican Party. And we consider they saw that if there was high voter audience and if that high voter audience translated towards Democratic candidates, they were going to be in difficulty for a prolonged time. So they began to consider about new ways to try to shorten voting among a country’s flourishing and changing demographics.
GROSS: All right, let’s take a brief mangle here and afterwards we’ll speak some-more about voting rights and voting restrictions. My guest, Ari Berman, is a comparison contributing author for The Nation and a associate during a Nation Institute. He’s a author of a book “Give Us The Ballot: The Modern Struggle For Voting Rights In America.” Today is a 60th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “Give Us The Ballot” speech, that is his initial critical discuss on voting rights. We’ll be right back. This is FRESH AIR.
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GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. If you’re customarily fasten us, we’re articulate with Ari Berman. He’s a comparison contributing author for The Nation and a author of a book “Give Us The Ballot: The Modern Struggle For Voting Rights In America.” President Trump customarily set adult a new Election Integrity Commission. And a dual heads of a commission, Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, are seen as advocates of voting restrictions.
So a emanate of voting rights and voting restrictions is unequivocally many in a news right now. Do we have any tough justification of how limiting voting laws that were upheld after a gutting of a Voting Rights Act influenced a outcome of a 2016 presidential election?
BERMAN: Some justification is emerging. we wrote about a investigate recently that was finished for Priorities USA, that is a on-going advocacy organisation and Democratic super PAC. So we will customarily supplement that caveat. But this investigate found that 200,000 votes could have been suppressed in Wisconsin given of that state’s despotic voter ID law. What this investigate found was that states that did not make voting changes, did not adopt despotic voter ID laws in 2016, audience indeed increasing by 1.3 percent.
But in Wisconsin, audience decreased by 3.3 percent. And obviously, audience can diminution for a lot of conflicting reasons. But this investigate pronounced that a voter ID law could be one of a reasons given 200,000 fewer people could have been prevented from voting in Wisconsin. And remember, Donald Trump customarily won a state by about 23,000 votes. So we do wish to supplement a premonition that there are lots of conflicting reasons given audience could be down. This could have zero to do with a voter ID law in Wisconsin. But we know both from my possess personal knowledge that there were lots of adults who did have problems casting a list in states like Wisconsin.
Also in Milwaukee where audience was down by 40,000 votes, a conduct of elections there pronounced that he believes that a voter ID law decreased audience by during slightest a few thousand votes in Milwaukee, that is a heavily Democratic, heavily African-American city. And he believes that a voter ID law, in particular, reduced voting among people who are some-more expected to be African-American voters, some-more expected to be poorer voters, some-more expected to be some-more transitory adults and people who would have been some-more expected to opinion for Hillary Clinton.
So we don’t consider we’re ever going to know how many people were prevented from voting or competence have voted if these restrictions were not in effect. But we do consider there is some justification rising that voter ID laws and identical restrictions during slightest had some suppressive outcome on a outcome of a election.
GROSS: So what voting rights cases do we have your eye on now?
BERMAN: So there are cases that are operative their approach by a courts, like Texas’ voter ID law, that has regularly been struck down by a sovereign courts nonetheless could make a approach to a Supreme Court. So I’m gripping my eye on cases that could make their approach to a Supreme Court from Texas or other states. I’m also profitable courtesy to what’s function during a state level, that isn’t removing probably any courtesy now in a epoch of Trump.
But in 2017 alone, 87 new voting restrictions have been introduced in 29 states. States like Iowa, Arkansas have adopted despotic voter ID laws already this year. So there is things function during a state level, there is things function during a courts. There is now things function during a sovereign turn as good with President Trump’s new Election Integrity Commission. So there’s a lot going on when it comes to voting rights in America during this impulse in time.
GROSS: So currently is a 60th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s initial critical discuss on voting rights. What was a significance of that speech, Ari?
BERMAN: It was an impossibly vicious speech. Martin Luther King was unequivocally immature when he gave it. He was customarily 28 years aged when he gave his “Give Us The Ballot” speech. The entertainment was called a Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom. It took place during a Lincoln Memorial. And in many ways, it was a predecessor to a Mar on Washington that took place 6 years later. And a reason for this discuss that King gave called “Give Us The Ballot” was that it was a third anniversary of a Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision, that was ostensible to desegregate open schools. But 3 years after a Brown decision, roughly no schools in a South had desegregated.
And King was seeking a question, why? And what King pronounced was that no schools in a South had desegregated, and no swell had been finished on polite rights given a South was still tranquil by white segregationists who were not going to give adult energy or not going to do anything on polite rights as prolonged as so many black adults were disenfranchised. So King patrician this discuss “Give Us The Ballot” given he believed that a list was a pivotal for African-Americans and others to turn full citizens, to grasp full rights – that if they wanted to be means to go to an integrated propagandize or eat where they wanted or marry who they wanted and have equal domestic energy and be treated as full citizens, they had to have a right to vote. That was a right from that all other rights flowed.
So we found it to be an impossibly absolute speech, an impossibly prophetic speech, and that was one reason given we motionless to use it as a pretension for my book. But we consider customarily in a incomparable chronological context, it’s a discuss by King that mostly gets lost. And we would titillate many people to listen to it given it is so absolute to simulate on today.
GROSS: Ari Berman, conclude we so many for entrance behind to FRESH AIR.
BERMAN: Thank we so much, Terry. we unequivocally conclude it.
GROSS: Ari Berman is a comparison contributing author to The Nation repository and author of a book “Give Us The Ballot: The Modern Struggle For Voting Rights In America.” After we take a brief break, Ken Tucker will examination a new nation manuscript by Angaleena Presley. This is FRESH AIR.
(SOUNDBITE OF BILL FRISELL’S “MESSIN’ WITH THE KID”)
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