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Mar 31 2014

Voter suppression efforts by Republicans still ongoing

(4 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

It’s happening so often it’s like we’re getting used to it. A voter ID law here, reduced voting hours there. Ho-hum, “nothing to see here” says Mainstream Cable News.

A New York Times article highlights ongoing efforts by swing states with GOP-controlled legislatures to make it more difficult for people to vote.

In my state, Ohio, one of the biggest changes will be in early voting. For 2014, people will no longer be allowed to vote the Sunday before election day. This may sound like small change, but it’s a big deal. Some churches have done “souls to the polls” efforts to transport their members to the polls, and they do it on the Sunday before election day. The Sunday vote is important to low-wage workers forced to work 6-day weeks to make ends meet. Sunday may be the only day they have to vote. In 2012, I voted the Sunday before Election Day, and waited 2 and a half hours for the privilege.

Republicans, of course, know this. “They know when they are taking away early voting exactly who it’s affecting,”, says Democratic candidate for Governor, Ed Fitzgerald. It affects black voters, low-income voters, urban voters, groups that trend Democratic.

Recently, a group of officials in the Cincinnati area took part in a 90-minute bus ride and walk to a proposed early voting site as a protest over how long the trip took from one inner-city neighborhood.

Another dirty trick is to require documents that are harder to obtain.

Other states are considering mandating proof of citizenship, like a birth certificate or a passport,

Low income voters are more likely to lack the time and money to obatin these documents. But that’s the point isn’t it?

Of course, in a classic mainstream media fair-and-balanced moment, the NYT article infers that by fighting against voter suppression, Democrats are somehow the badguys too.

Richard L. Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California, Irvine, said Democrats had their own partisan agendas for doing so since an expanded electorate would benefit mostly Democrats.

“It’s not just out of the goodness of their own hearts they are doing this,” he said….

…”The case has not been made that these things so far have had a huge effect on turnout,”

But it has had an effect. Anecdotally, I didn’t wait in line at all in 2000 and 2004, but in 2012 I waited 2 and a half hours. My wife was forced to vote provisionally because her name was purged from the voter rolls, something mainstream media and blogs say isn’t happening. But it is. I used to just be able to show up, state my name, and exercise my right to vote. Now I need an ID and to make sure beforehand my name is still registered.

Even if mainstream polls and studies say there’s no decrease in turnout, voting is more difficult than it once was. Fact. It’s simple logic that if something is more difficult, people are less likely to do it. Waits are longer. There’s more hoops to jump through.

OK, so fighting against voter suppression does help Democrats, but it is also the right thing to do. For all their talk about being “pro-American” or whatever, Republicans have made it a priority to make it more difficult for Americans to vote. Their assault on voting rights is an assault on one of the most American of values: that everyone gets to vote, everyone has a say.

Voter suppression has been talked about before, but it’s not “old news”. It’s happening now. Republicans are getting away with it. It’s a dirty trick. By not talking about voter suppression, or even discouraging talk about voter suppression, we are enabling it. Not  only does it hurt Democrats’ chances in November, it’s fundamentally wrong.

Some of us in Ohio get annoyed at the Election Day circus that envelops us every four years. It seems like national politicians only care about us every four years, then return to Washington forgetting the people who helped them get there. We’re not stupid. We know it’s getting harder to vote, and if Democrats halfheartedly oppose voter suppression or wait until 2016 to care about it, we will remember. There needs to be a sustained, long-term pushback against the Republican agenda to Block the Vote.

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