Mid-way through Election Day 2012, my thoughts turn to voter suppression. The obvious ways the democracy-haters employ have been on public display for several years, as Republican-controlled state legislatures rubber-stamped ALEC-conceived voting restriction laws (such as needing to present identification) and Republican secretaries of state delicately crafted voting schedules to provide likely Republican voters with disproportionate access—reducing early vote, reducing hours, reducing polling locations for voters likely to vote Democratic. Some of these overt methods have been successfully challenged in the courts, but on election day, voter suppression takes to the shadows and skulks around trying to avoid detection.
Here are some examples of the sneaky version of voter suppression:
- polling places with an inadequate number voting machines to accommodate the turn-out
- presiding judges and/or poll workers who misinform and/or mislead voters about requirements (asking for identification or specific forms of identification)
- poll watchers working for biased organizations whose intention is to dissuade or intimidate voters
- billboards announcing “Voter Fraud is a Felony” erected in likely-Democratic precincts
- electronic voting machines with uncertified patches rigged to misrecord or miscount the votes
- mobile “convenience” vans claiming to be collecting absentee ballots and delivering to the proper authorities (and trashing them instead)
- distributing misinformation about the voters’ polling location
- making it so time-consuming to vote, that people give up (they have jobs, or kids, or physical issues that make standing in line for 2 or more hours impossible)
And I could go on, but these are the first that come to mind, and incidents of all have crossed my desktop screen in the first six hours of voting today.
Which is not to bum anyone out (“Keep Calm and Trust Nate Silver,” dontcha know?) but rather to say stay alert and notice that virtually none of these efforts are being perpetrated by Democrats.
Remember what conservative ideologue Paul Weyrich, co-founder of the Heritage Foundation said in 1980:
“Now many of our Christians have what I call the ‘goo-goo syndrome.’ Good government. They want everybody to vote. I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now. As a matter of fact our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”
What we are seeing with widespread voter suppression across the nation is the implementation of a long-range strategy: Republicans know they cannot win an election by legitimate means on the merits of their policies. They can only buy it or steal it.
Who would have thought we’d be facing a time in this country that makes the Jim Crow years seem quaint?
But this is also a fact: Resistance to turnout is futile.
Stay in line, for democracy’s sake.