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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Election Day 2014: Poll Taxes and Educational Suppression

The Center for American Progress released two reports on higher education recently.  One explored the dramatic state disinvestment in higher education that accompanied the Great Recession.  The other demonstrated the particularly intense effects of this disinvestment on community colleges. You can see the numbers for your state in this interactive display.

In most ways, these reports will not surprise anyone who has been following higher education news. As they make clear, the long term reduction in state funding to public higher education institutions has intensified since 2008. Tuition has gone up, the percentage of students taking on debt has increased, and between 2008-2012 the size of the annual individual debt grew about 25%. (1)  In the aggregate none of this will strike anyone as new.

But what is crucial in these reports is the focus on the impact of these changes on lower-income students.  And here the reports are telling.  For one thing, for decades the rate of lower-income college attendance grew, but that has now been reversed and in the last several years the rate has dropped nearly 10% (Note that Figure 1 below describes attendance rather than completion rates, which are far lower--compare Tom Mortenson's graphic in Chris's post on Free UC as a cure for low-income student debt.)


If we note that the community colleges have borne the greatest brunt of the cuts, we can give the lie to those arguments that claim that high tuition/high financial aid systems are enough to ensure that higher education is open to all and that it retains its role as a crucial site for delivering mass capability, social and intellectual mobility, and the democratization of knowledge.

That these reports came out during election season is not surprising, but that they came out during this election season is notable.  After all, this is an election year in which GOP controlled legislatures have taken repeated steps to suppress the voting rates of people of color, the poor, the elderly, and students, not primarily through outright repression (although sometimes that does occur) but through raising the costs of voting.  Indeed one recent study has argued that the costs imposed by the new voter identification rules are actually greater than the poll taxes struck down in the 1960s.  If we add that to the efforts to shorten or eliminate early voting, the reduction in the numbers of voting places, the threatening mailers, etc. we can see a concerted effort to raise the costs--economic and social--of voting to the end of discouraging participation.

Now, while the efforts to suppress voting is being done overwhelmingly in Republican controlled states, the process of higher education disinvestment is a bi-partisan endeavor (as shown over and over and over and over again by Governor Brown).  I don't think that the effort to shift costs onto students and discourage poor students from attending 2 and 4 year institutions is a conscious effort to decrease their education.  At least I don't think that yet.

But unpleasant parallels are there.  They point to a political and economic elite that is willing to use market or market-like mechanisms not to increase "choice" as they often claim but to increase burdens.  The results overlap: we have been seeing higher costs for accessing both the political and the educational systems. We have also been seeing a relentless growth of economic inequality, which is in effect a way of pushing more of the burden of a declining economy onto a larger and larger portion of our society. From this perspective, the entrenched sclerosis of our political institutions ushers higher education towards its new role of lesser mobility for the overcharged majority.

High tuition, state disinvestment, voter ID laws, reduced voting times--these are linked.  They are the common currency of politics and higher education policy from Sacramento through Oakland onto Tallahassee.  It is a linkage that must be broken.


8 comments:

Anonymous said...

No one is suppressing anyone's vote and to say that they are is simply untrue.The cry of voter suppression is nothing more than Munchhausen by proxy. Racism exists and it is driven by a superiority complex that tells minorities that they are incapable of performing the same tasks as others. To argue that the effort to insure election integrity is akin to a poll tax is simply ridiculous. Most, if not all states only require one form of ID and you have six to choose from.If you do not have one of the six acceptable forms of photo ID states offer a FREE Voter Identification Card. An identification card can be issued at any county registrar's office or Department of Driver Services Office FREE of charge. If you need a ride one will be provided.Taking a voter suppression narrative that is simply false and using it as a quantum leap accelerator for more public funding for higher education is pure hutzpa..because the majority of Americans.over 70% favor voter ID. The only linkage that needs to be broken are on the chains that bind pity to envy , thus making it impossible to differentiate between rights and responsibilities.I thank you for letting me comment and for allowing me to exercise my first amendment right of free speech.

Anonymous said...

In California identification cards are not free unless you're a senior citizen. The current fee is $28 according to the DMV website. A reduced fee card is available for $8 if you meet certain qualifications, and requires more documentation from the non profit or government program the applicant is working through. There is no such thing as a Voter ID card in California.

Chris Newfield said...

on the non-problem of voter fraud. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/08/06/a-comprehensive-investigation-of-voter-impersonation-finds-31-credible-incidents-out-of-one-billion-ballots-cast/

on Republicans' demographic disadvantage: http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2014/07/20/southern-democrats-meet-your-future-more-republican-lite/0QCGp3SSv7YhNrsnTMVy6L/story.html

Democrat calculations of percentage of voters affected by Republican sponsored voter fraud legislation in 35 states http://www.democrats.org/the-real-cost-of-photo-id-laws

on demographically skewed effects of voter ID requirements: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2014/10/09/report-voter-id-laws-reduce-turnout-more-among-african-american-and-younger-voters/

Conservative activist Phyllis Schafly on countering Democratic surge with voter ID http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2014/10/09/report-voter-id-laws-reduce-turnout-more-among-african-american-and-younger-voters/

apparent non-correlation between Republican victories and reduced turnout http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/11/05/a-low-turnout-election-didnt-benefit-republicans-everywhere/

Michael Meranze said...

You might also take a look at Richard Posner's (a principled conservative judge) take on the issue which can be found at https://s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/documents/1312285/posner.pdf

Posner had originally voted to uphold voter identification laws in an Indiana case but returning to the issue based on more evidence of their real intent and effect he changed his position and thinks his original position was wrong.

Anonymous said...

Chris Newfield Michael Meranze and Anonymous. You guys are amazing, Your blog is about voter suppression not voter fraud.Using your pinball machine logic to tie voter fraud to a poll tax to public funding for higher education is stunning enough. Then,when your theories are proven false you change the subject to voter fraud, forcing me to defend statistics based on your new narrative. I love the way in which you use a "principled conservative judge" to bolster your positions thinking that somehow codifies your arguments. You can be wrong a hundred times and I only have to be wrong once.That's how easy it is to be you. Oh how I envy you. I will play your game, even though you've handed me a fixed deck. Since it is harder prove fraud, ( that is why they call it fraud) I don't have the luxury of simply copying and pasting articles. I am forced use examples to prove my points are valid.The New York City Department of Investigation ("DOI") is one of the oldest law-enforcement agencies in the country and an international leader in the effort to combat corruption in public institutions. It serves the Mayor and the people of New York City as an independent and nonpartisan watchdog for the City government. New York City’s watchdog Department of Investigations provided evidence of how easy it is to commit voter fraud that is almost undetectable. Undetectable ! DOI undercover agents showed up at 63 polling places last fall and pretended to be voters who should have been turned away by election officials; the agents assumed the names of individuals who had died or moved out of town, or who were sitting in jail. In 61 instances, or 97 percent of the time, the testers were allowed to vote. Those who did vote cast only a write-in vote for a “John Test” so as to not affect the outcome of any contest. DOI published its findings and in a searing 70-page report accusing the city’s Board of Elections of incompetence, waste, nepotism, and lax procedures. What did the Board of Elections do ? In classic leftest bureaucratic thuggery they prosecuted the DOI.Young undercover agents were able to vote using the names of people three times their age, people who in fact were dead and The Board of Elections shot the messenger.That is not enough you say ? A recent survey by Old Dominion University indicates that there are more than a million registered voters who are not citizens, and who therefore are not legally entitled to vote. Old Dominion University professors, based on survey data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, found that 6.4% of all noncitizens voted illegally in the 2008 presidential election, and 2.2% voted in the 2010 midterms. Since 80% of noncitizens vote Democratic it is reasonable to conclude that is enough votes to swing any close election. See Al Franken's 312-vote win. Not enough ? J. Christian Adams was a Justice Department attorney, who has detailed with inside knowledge that voter fraud was known to the Justice Department and ignored by the Attorney General. The fraud involved sending out absentee ballots to people who had never asked for them. Then a political operator would show up, uninvited, the day the ballots arrived and “help” the voter to fill them out. Sometimes the intruders simply took the ballots, filled them out, and forged the signatures.In conclusion, reasonable people can disagree because reasonable people do not fabricate or exaggerate problems of those who they have,somehow, placed in their care. Reasonable people demand the quality of high-mindedness,driven by the fairness of incorruptibility.Unreasonable people use their natural instincts derived from created circumstances and put the burden of proof on the reasonable.

Michael Meranze said...

@Anonymous
Anonymous, it isn't shifting the topic from voter suppression to voter fraud since the argument for the new efforts by republican controlled states to impose new rules for voting and limit voting times and hours is that there is allegedly large amounts of voter fraud. I don't know why you say that the fact that it is fraud means it can't be proven since people are convicted of fraud all the time. But are they convicted of voter fraud all the time? No they are not.

The DOI investigation you mention concerned the DOI using their resources to identify people who should have been removed from the rolls and then sending agents who knew the people wouldn't show up to pretend to be them. Since they were already on the rolls they got through. But do you honestly "as a reasonable person" think that there are a lot of people who figure out who has died or are convicted felons in states with felon disenfranchisement who then go and do that? There is little evidence of that while there is evidence that there are large numbers of people incorrectly removed from polling lists due to these vote suppression efforts. Does that not bother you?

The Old Dominion study that you mention appears to have been based on a lot of extrapolation and a very limited data base. Although not surprisingly media outlets that already are convinced of voter fraud trumpet the findings as you are doing here the study and its conclusions are not exactly accepted by everyone who studies elections and even the authors admit that there was a lot of supposition involved. See their comments at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2014/10/24/could-non-citizens-decide-the-november-election/

You spoke in your original comment about "election integrity." But which does more to damage election integrity a very small number of proven fraud cases or lots of demonstrated evidence that these rules help discourage or prevent eligible voters from voting.

I'm surprised you are so dismissive of Posner. I pointed to his change of mind because he originally believed that there was insufficient evidence of voter suppression but having studied the issue realized he was wrong. His conservative credentials should entitle him to not being dismissed by him as you do Chris and I since you seem to dismiss everything we say.

Frankly I don't see why speaking up against efforts to diminish voting among eligible voters is some sign of "pity and envy" in your original comment. Instead it is a desire that every eligible voter have an equal right to vote. Given that Republicans are deliberately trying to make it harder to vote (how does cutting down voting hours even address issues of fraud?) you might want to rethink your notion of "incorruptibility."

Anonymous said...

Michael, please forgive me, but I feel as if I have fallen down some cosmic bunny hole and after reading what you wrote and I should think nothing of falling down stairs.What in the name of the October revolution are you talking about ? I cannot address all of your concerns in the amount of time I have but I will address some. The declarative statement that "I am convinced of fraud all the time" is the same as saying it doesn't always rain so why carry an umbrella. You are turning probability on its ear and demanding proof of something that may or may not occur and you are using a 129 million people sample to do it ! And stunningly, you are demanding "proven fraud cases" as a litmus test for fraud prevention. You say."The Old Dominion study that you mention appears to have been based on a lot of extrapolation and a very limited data base yet you don't address study. The DOI investigation uses their resources to prove that there are holes in the system and the agents voted illegally because they were already on the rolls and as a reasonable person" bothers me a lot. I don't understand the "corruptibility" of the logic that states that I should dismiss or accept anyone because of their credentials. Since I don't have the luxury of time I ask the court for an extension. So I can address your counter arguments in more detail. Thank you for allowing me to comment.

Anonymous said...

Michael Meranze Your first paragraph is unclear and inexact. You are denying me a choice between alternatives, but I will try to address it without losing what is left of my mind. No one is suppressing anyone's vote. States have rules for voting and we have to follow those rules. All of us ! Regardless of race. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures In 33 states and the District of Columbia, any qualified voter may cast a ballot in person during a designated period prior to Election Day. No excuse or justification is required. Not happy with that ? How about Absentee Voting? 27 states and the District of Columbia permit any qualified voter to vote absentee without offering an excuse. That is for everybody ! Once a voter asks to be added to the list, they will automatically receive an absentee ballot for all future elections. In 20 states an excuse is required. For Everybody ! No good ? How about Mail Voting: A ballot is automatically mailed to every eligible voter (no request or application is necessary), and the state does not use traditional precinct poll sites that offer in-person voting on Election Day. Three states use mail voting.Lets move to Ohio since that seems to be the latest perpetual aggrievement. Its called Election day for a reason but many states offer early voting. The State of Ohio has recently changed early voting from 35 to 28 days.Oh the horror ! The lower court also had ordered the state to restore some evening and Sunday voting that the Legislature had eliminated. For everybody, regardless of race class or gender. Not enough hours you say ? Poling places in almost every state are open for at least 12 hours with some open 14 hours.The only state that I could find with less than 10 hour availability was the state of Vermont. And once again That is for everyone, regardless of race,class or gender. "as a reasonable person" I have trust in my fellow Americans. Not every proposition needs to be demonstrated with complete certainty. Oh but when it comes to the progressive movement and the Democrat party,,,I don't suspend my judgement, but man, the scope and range of my doubts go off the charts. You guys turn the search for truth into a vain endeavor, because you impulsively blur the lines between rights and responsibilities.

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