Saturday, September 3, 2016

CITIZEN TONY: VOTER SUPPRESSION

The logical and morally correct aim of our electoral process should be to get as many citizens voting in our elections as possible. Yet this aim has been subverted systematically by Republican governors and legislatures. The evidence of this is so overwhelming I don’t have to write about it at length. It’s there, it’s obvious and it has been confirmed by giddy (if not particularly circumspect) GOP governors and office-holders on numerous occasions. Their tactics include:

Enacting restrictive voter ID laws, cherry-picking which forms of identification will suffice with an aim toward suppressing voters not likely to vote Republican. There are states where a student ID is not considered to be sufficient proof of one’s identity, but a gun permit is.

Purging citizens from voter eligibility based on the most flimsy of reasons. An undelivered notice sent to an address that may or may not be a voter’s actual current address can be often enough to deny that citizen the right to vote. Yes, voters should make sure they are eligible to vote, especially in the light of these GOP tactics, but those voters should not be on the defensive in the first place. Decent Americans want more of their fellow Americans casting votes, not less of them.

Restricting voting hours to make it more difficult for our poorer citizens, those theoretically less likely to vote for candidates who place the avaricious desires of the wealthy above the needs of the rest of us, to get to the polls during their limited hours of operation. In my state of Ohio, the Republicans try to limit voting opportunities every year. Lawsuits have thwarted the Republicans on many, but not all occasions.

Reducing the number of polling places to create additional burdens on the less affluent. No one is closing polling places in affluent communities and neighborhoods. It’s a different case if you live in a community or neighborhood that isn’t affluent or whose citizens are black or Hispanic.

Taking away a citizen’s right to vote if they are incarcerated for a crime and making it difficult for them to regain their right to vote after they have served their time. I’m going to take an extreme position on this.

I don’t think convicts should lose their right to vote at all. Even if they are in prison, they are still citizens with a stake in our country. Certainly they should lose some rights while in prison and perhaps afterwards. The right to bear arms leaps to mind. But the right to vote is one of our most important rights and, as I see it, it is immoral to deny it to a prisoner. Especially given a justice system that is stacked against minorities and the poor. Once again, the evidence of this is so overwhelming that I don’t need to write about it here.

Voter intimidation. “Voter fraud” is one of the biggest false flags of the right. Study after study has shown it occurs so infrequently as to be statistically irrelevant. Once again, the evidence is so overwhelmingly as to require no further explanation. Despite this, Republicans embrace a credo of “better massive disenfranchisement  of tens of thousands of voters than one false vote cast.” So they use the various voter suppression tactics I’ve outlined to keep the “wrong” type of citizens from voting.

Billboards threatening harsh penalties for “voter fraud” have been raised in several cities and always in minority or poorer areas of those cities. You won’t see those signs in largely white suburbs.You’ll see them in communities whose residents well know they will be policed more stringently than affluent suburbans. As the right fosters and exasperates fear of “the other,” so it tries to scare those “others” into not exercising their rights.

Unarmed black men gathering outside a polling place, as is a right of citizens, is said to be intimidating. Armed open carry advocates who are marching through minority communities and who are largely, overwhelmingly white, are considered an exercise of one’s first and second amendment rights.

More than smaller government, unfettered business, tax breaks for the rich and the desire to make Christianity the law of the land, it is fear that is the guiding principle of the Republican Party as it exists in our time. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin summed this up in brilliantly succinct fashion in Rob Reiner’s The American President  (1995) when, during the film’s climatic speech, President Andrew Shepherd says this of his Republican opponent:

“And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you, Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things and two things only: making you afraid of it and telling you who's to blame for it.”

Voting should be uniform across our country and not subject to the agendas of local and state lawmakers. The federal government should oversee it with the aim of making voting accessible and convenient to the largest number of citizens possible. If that involves some or even a lot of additional expense, the federal government should pick up the tab. Our tax dollars would be well-spent to insure the participation of as many citizens as possible. Because that is the very essence of a free nation.

Those who would subvert this goal should face criminal charges. I suspect you would find more cases of these crimes than you would of “voter fraud.”

My name is Tony Isabella and I am an American citizen.    

© 2016 Tony Isabella

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't agree with you more, Tony.
    I'm both disgusted and alarmed at this conspiracy, and that's what it is, to hi-jack the election process and effectively disenfranchise American voters.
    If they can't fairly, they change the rules.
    M.P.

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