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Republicans Focus On Rigging Elections

One of the topics that we covered while covering Republican lies, sorry “Myths”, was voter fraud [GOP Myths - #6 - Voter Fraud]. If you listen to Fox News and other right wing propaganda organizations you might think that voter fraud is rife. It isn’t. The overwhelming expert opinion is that voter fraud isn’t a real issue. It’s a bullying tactic on the part of the GOP and their hired guns to try to keep people who would almost certainly vote against them from being able to exercise their constitutionally guaranteed right to vote.

A recent analysis of registered voters showed a very close split between Democrats (41%) and Republicans (39%) with 20% registered as Independent. So, you have to focus on keeping the base happy, winning as many Independents as you can and preventing the opposition from growing their base. In other words, stop them from voting. That’s exactly what the Republicans are trying to do in a co-ordinated nationwide spate of new election legislation, primarily in states with Republican governors.

Ohio Governor replaces one vote prevention law with another
The latest example is occurring in Ohio. In October 2010 we wrote – “Earlier this month, Republicans in Ohio lost their lawsuit challenging a state rule that allows voters to register and vote early on the same day. GOP officials demanded records from all 88 county boards of election identifying every person who took advantage of same-day registration and voting. In one county, the Republican district attorney even opened a grand jury investigation. ‘He’s investigating people who the law says are allowed to vote,’ said Ohio ACLU lawyer Carrie Davis. After it was revealed that the district attorney was also the local chairman of the McCain campaign, he was forced to appoint a special prosecutor to handle the case. This case exemplifies the kinds of attacks on new voters that are going on across the country.”

The Governor of Ohio isn’t giving up. State Sen. Nina Turner (D) pointed out in 2010 that, “Voting in the wrong precinct led over 14,000 registered voters statewide to lose their vote in 2008.” Rating the statement “true,” Politifact reported that “The second most common reason the ballot was not counted was because, while the person was properly registered to vote in Ohio, they cast the ballot in the wrong county or precinct. In all, 14,335 such ballots were not counted for this reason, according to the Brunner report.” The Cleveland Plain Dealer pointed out that mixing up precincts “most often occurs” in “urban and impoverished areas of the state,” leading Turner to sarcastically suggest of Republicans, “I guess the loss of votes for some doesn’t matter.” She’s wrong. It does matter and they want it to happen more.

So, what is the Governor doing to fix the problem? This week he will sign new legislation that removes a highly restrictive voter ID provision but replaces it with new language that doesn’t require a poll worker to direct a voter to the place where they are eligible to vote. It even comments that “it is the duty of the individual casting the ballot to ensure that the individual is casting that ballot in the correct precinct.” So, if you don’t know where to vote, don’t ask a poll worker. They might even direct you to another place you can’t vote. Whatever happened to the notion that government is there to help you, not hinder you?

Part of a pattern
If you think this kind of legislation is unusual, think again. South Carolina passed a bill in 1895 calling for: a two-year residency requirement; a poll tax of one dollar; the ability to read and write the Constitution; or to own property worth three hundred dollars; and the disqualification of convicts. In 1889, Florida required voters to deposit separate ballots in each of the different boxes marked for different candidates, making it virtually impossible for the illiterate to navigate the balloting process.

In the 1960′s the promise of the 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution was kept with the passing of the Voting Rights Act. The poll tax and the literacy test – devices that were used to keep poor people and blacks from registering – were abolished. The Vietnam War lead to the voting age being lowered to eighteen. By the end of the 20th century people could register permanently rather than annually and some States even allowed voters to register when they renewed their driver’s license or vehicle registration. All of that was bad news for Republicans, so they had to find new ways to stop those people from voting.

Here are just a few of the ways that Republicans in almost forty states are trying to stop people who might not be their supporters from actually getting to exercise their legal right to vote:

  • Voter ID Cards: Republicans claim that thousands of people repeat vote using false identity, even though there’s no evidence of such crime in any state since before the Great Depression. Their strongest push is for Voter ID bills that would require a voter to produce a picture id card (college cards not allowed) when voting. About 2/3 to 3/4 of urban residents don’t have one. Some Tea Party Republicans want a woman who marries after registering to change her registration surname to the married name and produce a marriage certificate when she goes to vote, even if she has a previous driver’s license or other ID. It might be a good idea to have a national identity card just for this reason alone.
  • Exclude Students: Some states want to bar young people from voting from their college dorm even if they are going to spend four years in that area, even to the extent of restricting their voting for a President or federal officials.
  • Prove Citizenship: Another law would require every new registrant to show proof of citizenship. Do you have your’s handy? What if you’d just lost your birth certificate in a natural disaster? With today’s databases and computers it is no great problem for the county boards of elections to check on birth and citizenship status, as they’ve done for decades, even without computers.
  • Eliminating Same Day Voter Registration: A lot of states made it convenient to be able to turn up on polling day, prove that you were eligible to vote, register there and then and vote. It’s a small thing to lose, but what if you moved into a new residence the day before a Presidential election? Would you have to travel back across the country to cast your vote?
  • Re-punishing convicted felons: If a person has been found guilty of a crime, been sentenced and has then served their time (or paid fines or recompensed their victim) they have every right to vote. Unless a Republican Governor has passed a law that stops them from doing so.
  • Voter Intimidation: Self-appointed “Poll Protection” vigilantes illegally ask for proof of voter registration, citizenship etc. in order to scare people away from polls, sometimes even being allowed to work inside of polling stations!
  • Bring Back “Poll Taxes”: A recent spokesman at a Tea Party rally advocated restoring property [land] holding as a requisite for voting, arguing that “Only people with a stake in society” should have the right to vote.

Don’t assume that being registered will allow you to vote and be counted properly
Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin once said – “It doesn’t matter who votes what matters is who counts the votes” . Republicans don’t want to take any chances on the counting, even with a biased Supreme Court on their side in the case of the 2004 Presidential election. They want to prevent opponents from voting, so it doesn’t matter who controls the count.

The moral of the story is that you must make sure that you know what the requirements are to vote in your State, County and City. They may be changing, right up to the day you want to vote. Warn your friends and family too.

If you are denied the right to vote or strongly suspect a counting problem, file a protest with the appropriate election administration official and go public in the local and national press, or online. If your state administrator is in on the ruse your only hope is to bring national attention to the problem.

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