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Robert Greenwald

Robert Greenwald is a producer, director, political activist, and Brave New Films founder and president.

November 8th, 2011 11:59 AM

Are the Koch brothers denying your vote? (VIDEO)

Co-written by Robert Greenwald, President and founder of Brave New Foundation, and Judith Browne Dianis, co-Director of the Advancement Project.

If you live in one of 38 states, billionaire political operatives Charles and David Koch are trying to influence your and your neighbors' constitutional right to vote. The Koch brothers and their allies have already succeeded in shepherding voter suppression bills through seven states, which amount to about one third of the 270 electoral votes to win the White House.

Through their web of think tanks, nonprofit organizations, family foundations and political donations, the Koch brothers have bought access to democracy's lifeblood: elections. They've used their $42 billion in wealth to support state laws and legislators that erect barriers to the voting booth.

The Kochs' victims are young people, senior citizens, disabled individuals and people of color-- precisely the 99 percent of us who are opposed to the Koch brothers' political agenda.

In 34 states, the Kochs have supported legislation that makes a photo ID a prerequisite to voting. It's a Jim Crow poll tax of a different name, and the voter fraud it engenders the Kochs to silence whole communities. These Koch-supported voter suppression laws have the intended effect of transforming constitutional and civic obligations into an endless challenge for the elderly, disabled and young voters alike.

The Kochs enhanced their influence on state capitals through the American Legislative Exchange Council, a 30-year-old organization that brings lawmakers and corporations together to, literally, write model legislation together. The Koch Brothers even provided ALEC with a loan to help the organization start up. ALEC is an exclusive corporate-legislative hybrid that costs members membership dues in order participate in their secretive meetings. It is estimated that the Kochs have paid over $1 million to the organization and have been board members for years.

ALEC has institutionalized and codified the interests of the top 1 percent into laws at city halls, county boards of supervisors and state capitals. For their investment in ALEC, the Kochs have funded efforts to thwart 21 million Americans from voting.

Koch dollars helped write and propose voting suppression bills in Texas, Florida, California, Wisconsin and 34 other states. At the same time the brothers' Tea Party group, Americans for Prosperity, intents to spend $200 million on local political races with patently false advertisements.

The most decisive and unifying opportunity to deny the Kochs' power grab at the ballot box is appealing directly to Attorney General Eric Holder. Under the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act, Holder can deny states like Florida, South Carolina and others from imposing new voter restrictions. Their history of Jim Crow sets them apart from other states' voting rights. It's the responsibility of the Department of Justice to live up to its name and enforce the law, which calls for one person, one vote, not two billionaires and no votes for 21 million American students, seniors, people of color and disabled citizens who could be electorally blacklisted. These are citizens who could fall through the cracks in our system-- cracks exploited by the Koch brothers for their benefit.

Rather than supporting politicians who ensure every vote is counted fairly, the Koch brothers have paid more than $245,550 directly to elected officials who support voter suppression laws. A prime example is Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, whose largest out of state donors were the Koch brothers. In May, he signed a bill that requires voters present a photo ID before casting a ballot. Imposing restrictions on access does not build a more perfect union nor ensure the sanctity of everyone's vote.

We can stop this by giving Attorney General Holder the support he needs to act. Stand up for democracy and tell him to protect one person, one vote.

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