Alex Witt | November 17, 2013
>>> turning now to a report on voter suppression you'll see for the first time exclusively right here on msnbc. it's an in-depth look into how young voters of color in particular are having problems at the polls, major problems. one key finding, a lack of required identification kept young blacks from voting at nearly four times the rate of white youth and latino youth were disenfranchised at nearly twice the rate of whites. joining me, matthew see gal, president of our time, that's matthew , and judith brown , co-director of the advancement project . thanks for your time. your organizations collaborated on this study. matthew , i want to start with you. the report concluded that the millennial generation in young voters of color face a, quote, time tax at the polls. can you explain that?
>> we've talked a lot in the past about long lines at the polls, a lot about voter i.d., but what we haven't necessarily considered is that there is a disproportionate burden on people's time in order to acquire the right form of i.d. or in order to endure a five, six, seven-hour line to vote. and that of course takes people away from their job obligations, their class commitments, extracurriculars and so forth. that has economic implications in a big way.
>> judith , i wanted to ask you to touch on something matthew just said, the time required to get an i.d. there are people on the other side of this debate that say, well, what's the big deal , why can't people just go out and get the i.d. they need? what's the answer to that question?
>> well, i mean, the big deal is that, first of all, it's important to understand that these laws were put in place to manipulate the rules around voting to disenfranchise particular groups, such as young people . so, for example, in the state of wisconsin, 78% of young black men between this 18 and 29 do not have voter i.d. so they have to go and get their birth certificate and pay for those underlying documents and go get that particular kind of identification to then go get the i.d. but, you know, at the end of the day , what we are doing is that we are making it harder for people to vote. we're making it harder for young people , for people of color , and we should especially be concerned that as we see the changing demographics of america, you know, there are 50,000 american latinos that turn 18 every month. we should be making it easier for them. we should be having free, fair, and accessible elections, not making it harder for them to vote.
>> and, matt, back to this report, what are some of the other key findings?
>> well, the other key findings really focus on the fact that this is part of a larger comprehensive problem. you step back, you realize not only are we introducing in light of the voting rights act being dismantled essentially this summer, are we introducing more regressive laws that are doing away with same-day voter registrati registration, doing away with early voting , making the types of i.d. you can show more and more restrictive and less accessible to people. they're not allocating enough machines to districts that have high minority and student populations so that there's longer waits. but if you even step back from there, this is in context with citizens united . when money has been flooded into the system in an unprecedented way, where transparency is being dismantled, where money is now akin to speech so that only the rich people can be heard in our country. i think if you put this in conjunction with money and politics and with regressive laws being introduced that make it harder for people to vote, what we have found is that the next generation is going to have a harder time expressing their voice in a democracy, and that makes them opt out of the political process because they don't view it as an effective vehicle for change, and that is extremely damaging and dangerous.
>> judith , why is it that minority voters are so disproportionately affected as we reported at the top of the segment?
>> well, i mean, part of it is that -- we looked at virginia and florida, for example, where the longest wait times were. often we find that machines are not allocated in equal ways. we also know that so many of these laws that were passed recently like north carolina , for example, these laws were strategically and surgically crafted in order to disenfranchise particular groups.
>> i don't mean to cut you off, but in terms of the reasons why, i mean, we reported that blacks -- young black are kept from voting nearly four times the rate of whites. what are the reasons for those racial discrepancies?
>> well, i mean, a lot of it is about the actual structural barriers that are put in place. it is the fact that in particular places you may not have an allocation of machines that are adequate, you know, and we find that across the country the kinds of laws -- i mean, it really is about the structures that we're putting in place to make it for particular groups harder to vote. so, for example, in north carolina , where they pass that kind of kitchen sink of regress regressive law, what they also did was that they took away preregistration of 16- and 17-year-olds. they also moved, after they passed the law, they moved polling places off of college campuses in particular counties so that those folks would have to, you know, go two miles away , they'd have to walk to polling places where there's no sidewalks, for example, making it harder for those groups to vote. and so we see this as actual -- it's not just isolated incidents, but we're making it harder for young people to vote. we know that we have a more racially diverse young elect rat, and unfortunately state legislators are seeing it in their best interests for partisan gain to pass these laws to make it harder for them.
>> judith and matt, thank you for your time. thanks for bringing this report to us first.