The Republican War on Voting
If you are planning on voting this year, there is something you should know. Republicans would prefer it if you could prove that you can actually vote, before you vote. The reasoning behind this is that voter fraud is a rising threat to the sanctity of the American Democracy and should be stopped at all costs, or something bad will happen. In the entire country, there were 87 cases of voter fraud. Worried much? Republicans don't want you to be, for there is hope; voter id laws that would make it necessary to present a photo id when registering to vote. There. That should crack down on illegal voting, shouldn't it?
Don't be fooled. Republicans are trying to pass laws all over the United States that would require voters to have photo id's to vote. They cite a rising tide of voter fraud that has yet to be verified by any credible resource as a reason for the new laws. I'm not saying that we should be soft on voter fraud. I'm saying that voter fraud barely exists, and not in a meaningful way. So why all the argy-bargy? It just so happens that the following demographics are less likely than other groups to have access to government issued photo id's; blacks, Latinos, poor people, young voters and voters with disabilities. What do each of these groups have in common? They vote Democratic in higher numbers than they vote Republican. That is not a coincidence.
The Republican war on voting goes back as far as the 1980's. In 1980, Paul Weyrich told a meeting of evangelical leaders that "I don't want everybody to vote. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down." In his term in office, George W. Bush sent the Justice Department investigating in Texas for five years to unearth cases of voter fraud. How many such actual cases did they report finding? 0. Zero. The round number. And then came Barack Obama. His landslide election (he won 52% of the popular vote) was a wake up call for Republican state legislatures across the country. As many as 30 states, and most Southern states, have passed some form of voter id laws. Many have passed more subtle forms of voter disenfranchisement. Here is one example from http://www.motherjones.com; "Next year, early voting will be cut from 14 to eight days in Florida and from 35 to 11 days in Ohio, with limited hours on weekends. In addition, both states banned voting on the Sunday before the election — a day when black churches historically mobilize their constituents".
Conservatives love to talk about "illegal" voting, implying that voting is a privilege, granted by the state, and is therefore subject to rules and regulations that would prevent wrongdoing at the polls. (It's ironic that all of a sudden, Republicans are in favor of any level of government intervention, while Democrats are opposed to it). They like to talk about how drivers need a drivers license and air travelers need an id. But here's the thing; these are privileges, not rights. States can take away someone's legal permission to drive if they are proven to be an unsafe driver and hazardous to everyone else on the road. If you are found to be a potential danger on an airplane, or are trafficking anything illegal, you can be taken off of that plane. But voting is a right, defined as such in the constitution. By that very definition, states have no legal authority to take right away.
Some Republicans aren't even pretending anymore. A quote from Wisconsin Senator Glenn Grothmann (Republican, naturally), “Insofar as there are inappropriate things, people who vote inappropriately are more likely to vote Democrat”. He continued, upon questioning, "Right. I think if people cheat, we believe the people who cheat are more likely to vote against us." And Mike Turzai, who, untill a few days ago, was completely unknown to me, had this to say, " Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania? Done".
This kind of blatant and unashamed sleazeyness should outrage all Americans, regardless of political affiliation. And its not as if the Republican Party as a whole wishes to tread on the right of some 5 million Americans to vote. But as things stand right now, political extremists have a very real chance to cheat Democracy by denying some of us the right to vote.
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