The GOP war on voter registration
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
“Registering the poor to vote is un-American … like handing out burglary tools to criminals. It is profoundly antisocial and un-American to empower the nonproductive segments of the population.” – Matthew Vadum, right-wing commentator in the Oct. 10, 2011, issue of the online magazine American Thinker
Well, there you have it. Real class warfare. Of course, the corpocratic plutocracy and its well-paid apologists do not think it’s un-American for the rich to buy politicians and reward themselves with all sorts of tax loopholes and other benefits, along with legislation benefiting their every interest at the expense of the planet and the rest of us.
But God forbid that the poor and “nonproductive” should have any influence with the government. This in the face of the fact that over 16 percent of us are now unemployed and thus “nonproductive.” (Add part-time workers wanting full-time jobs and the longer-term unemployed to government statistics yields 16 percent unemployed, and the self-employed with little or no work are not counted either.)
That a majority of Republicans agree with Mr. Vadum is shown by the fact that they have been pushing hard to restrict voting in state legislatures all over the country. And they have succeeded where Republicans control governorships as well as legislatures.
Already, they have succeeded in making it difficult for more than 5 million students and other young people, poor people, minorities, disabled, elderly persons, and nonviolent ex-felons to vote. Undoubtedly the great majority of these people would vote Democratic and that is their real sin, their real un-Americanness and nonproductiveness.
More than a dozen Republican-controlled states have passed these laws requiring government-issued photo IDs at polls, cutting way back on early voting periods, imposing restrictions on voter registration drives and/or disenfranchising nonviolent ex-felons.
The politicians talked about preventing voter fraud, but it is well known that voter fraud is so rare, even right-wing state officials can claim only a handful of actual cases.
So what is the fuss about? Many city people, especially the young, poor, disabled and elderly, do not have driver’s licenses or other government-issued ID, and are often unaware where to get such a thing. States now requiring them are making no effort to get this information out.
On the contrary, a Wisconsin state official actually wrote a memo to all staffers of the motor vehicle department, the department responsible for issuing free photo IDs. The memo directed the staffers to “refrain from offering” them to people who do not specifically ask for them.
Only after the memo was unveiled by a Democratic state senator, and a major media outcry ensued, did the state provide DMV offices with signs stating that free photo IDs are available for voting purposes.
Of course, few of us read all the signs on the walls of DMV offices. Not to mention the fact that if you don’t have a car, you are unlikely to be in a DMV office to see the sign in the first place.
And of course DMV offices around the country are notorious for being short-staffed and forcing people to wait for hours. This certainly hinders the elderly, the disabled, or anyone relying on someone else to get them there, etc.
Quite a few analysts have observed that the measures already passed could effectively disenfranchise more than 5 million voters, mostly Democratic voters, and 5 million is more than the margin of victory in the last two elections.
Meanwhile the systematic campaign to restrict voting continues unabated under the auspices most particularly of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, as it is commonly known. This outfit is funded by the likes of David and Charles Koch, the billionaire brothers who bankrolled the Tea Party.
ALEC has even been providing state legislatures with complete drafts of the voter restriction laws they would like passed. And 38 states introduced bills this year.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, one of a number of organizations trying to stop this war on voting, has published online a “Map of Shame” that gives details on the situation in every state. (www.lawyerscommittee.org)
I guess the big corpocratic plan is to outsource more and more jobs so that more and more of us become poor and “nonproductive.” Then they can find excuses to cut us from the voting rolls. As if the government pays us any attention even when we do vote.
What I don’t understand is what kind of a world they envision creating this way. All I can see happening if they continue having their way is a very hellish future, with not just protests but with total bankruptcy, revolution and violence.
– “What Do We Really Want?” appears on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month. Mary Boland is a retired teacher and journalist, a proud grandmother, and a longtime resident of Carbondale. Follow her on twitter@grannyboland.
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