How do these bills limit democratic participation?
These bills limit the democratic influence of average Americans in favor of corporations by:
- Disenfranchising disabled, low-income, elderly, people-of-color, and student voters who move more frequently or do not drive, by requiring all voters show a state ID at the polls -- even though counties have traditionally accepted other proofs of residence without any significant problems.
- Opposing public financing of elections designed to reduce the influence of moneyed interests, and justifying their position with the plainly untrue assertion that "campaign contributions have no effect upon legislative behavior."
- Anticipating unlimited secret spending in the 2010 midterm elections and releasing a resolution opposing the disclosure of donors, before many others recognized how corporations, CEOs, and corporate front groups would hide behind non-disclosure rules and funnel hundreds of millions of dollars into the 2010 elections, with more to come in 2012.
- Opposing the use of statistical sampling to get an accurate count of urban people of color and immigrants in the U.S. Census, although many modern countries use such cost-effective and accurate tools to conduct their census. Some politicians have expressed concern that this would increase the number of electoral votes and districts to favor Democrats.
- Opposing "false statement" laws passed by states designed to ensure that campaign ads do not mislead voters with false statements.
To see a full list of these bills, click here
John Nichols on ALEC & Democracy
| Watch John Nichols, writer for The Nation magazine, discuss ALEC and the corporate efforts to undermine democracy.
Watch other ALEC Exposed experts here.
Read John Nichols' article in The Nation here.
READ the "Model Bills" HERE
ALEC Inspired Voter Suppression Measures Take Off
After Barack Obama swept into office in November of 2008 with the energized support of youth and African Americans, suddenly "voter fraud" became a deep concern for many in the Republican party -- despite no evidence fraud occurred in any statistically significant way. When Republicans emerged from the November 2010 elections with new majorities in statehouses across the country, a total of [ 37 states saw strict voter ID laws introduced in 2011 and 2012. Many of those proposals contained elements of the ALEC "model" voter ID act, which imposes new burdens on the right to vote by requiring voters show state-issued ID cards that approximately 11 percent of voting-age American citizens do not possess. That number is even higher for students, African Americans, low-income, and older citizens. Though the ALEC "model" provides for free ID cards, the Brennan Center for Justice has found that the process of obtaining an ID presents significant difficulties, with voters lacking access to transportation, living dozens of miles from the nearest ID-issuing office (many of which have irregular and limited hours), and facing costs and headaches in obtaining supporting documentation like birth certificates. Additionally, the in-person voter fraud these laws might prevent happens at an infinitesimally small rate -- meaning that on balance, the purported benefits of the law (stopping voter fraud) do not outweigh the costs of disenfranchising as many as 21 million American citizens.
Photo voter ID bills were signed into law in eight states — Alabama, Kansas, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania — and passed by referendum in Mississippi. Additionally, Minnesota's legislature approved a ballot measure to amend the state constitution to require ID at the polls.
Though the number of states with strict voter ID laws quadrupled in 2011, there has been some pushback. Under Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, several states with a history of racially motivated voting rights discrimination require federal pre-approval for changes to voting procedures and practices, and the U.S. Department of Justice has refused to approve voter ID laws passed by South Carolina and Texas. In Wisconsin, two state judges have found the law violates the state constitution's express protections for voting rights. A Pennsylvania court upheld that state's law but it is being appealed to the state's supreme court. Other challenges to the laws are pending.
This information is available for download as a one-page fact sheet here.
More Helpful Resources
Additional resources on ALEC's corporate agenda:
- ALEC Funding, PRWatch (2011)
- American Legislative Exchange Council and other related articles, SourceWatch (2011)
- Ghostwriting the Law for Corporate America, American Association for Justice (2010)
- Climate Denial Report on ALEC and Exxon Funding for ALEC, Greenpeace (2011)
- Governing the Nation from the Statehouses, Progressive States Network (2006)
- Wolves in Sheep's Clothing, Common Cause (2006)
- Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law, NPR (2010)
- Exposing ALEC, blogging group, Daily KOS (2011)
- ALEC: The Voice of Corporate Special Interests In State Legislatures, People for the American Way (2011)
- Corporate America's Trojan Horse in the States, Defenders of Wildlife and the Natural Resources Defense Council (2002)
- The Attack on Trial Lawyers and Tort Law, Commonwealth Institute (2003)
- Wisconsin's Cronon Affair: The Power of a Simple Fact, The Nation Magazine (2011)
- Ghostwriting the Law, Mother Jones (2002)
- ALEC Behind Voter Disenfranchisement Efforts, Center for American Progress (2011)
- ALEC Report, Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice (2011)
- ALEC Exposed: Business Domination Inc., The Nation Magazine (2011)
Learn MORE about the "Model Bills" ALEC Corporations Are Backing to Rewrite YOUR Rights
The Center for Media and Democracy analyzed the bills ALEC politicians and corporations voted for. More analysis is available below and also at ALEC Exposed's sister sites, PRWatch and SourceWatch.