Saturday, October 15, 2011

It Would Be Funny If It Weren't Actually Happening

I know Huckabee was probably joking when he said this, but I want to flag the quote anyway.
Make a list... Call them and ask them, 'Are you going to vote on Issue 2 and are you going to vote for it?' If they say no, well, you just make sure that they don't go vote. Let the air out of their tires on election day. Tell them the election has been moved to a different date. That's up to you how you creatively get the job done.
So Republicans aren't going door to door locking doors from the outside and sabotaging pro-union voter's cars, yet. That said, Republicans ar systematically rolling back voter access wherever they can, namely the states where they have the trifecta in the statehouse.

Lets first look at the state where Mike made his unfortunate comments, Ohio. In the sacred name of voter fraud prevention and fiscal responsibility, statehouse Republicans, with the support of newly elected Asshole Governor Kasich, significantly reduced the early voting period. With the massive reduction in early voting, Ohio voters no longer enjoy the "Golden Week" of same-day voter registration that came about as a result of early voting happening before the end of the voter registration.

This same bill ended early voting on Sunday, a critically important day in early voting for African-Americans because of a pews to polls pipeline that exists within many predominantly black communities. And for those that wanted to cast an early ballot anyway, Kasich delivered one more kick in the nuts by forbidding county election boards from mailing out paid return absentee ballot applications, thus reducing the availability of absentee voting for the poor. They might not have changed the day of the election, but for some, they made sure access to the polls would be a difficult, overly time-intensive process when it need not be.

As another example of Republican voter suppression, we can examine Scott Walker worker's paradise in Wisconsin. Here Walker backed a voter ID designed to "combat voter fraud" by preventing poor and minority voters their franchise. Walker though took it a step further and decided that student IDs also wouldn't be valid. Republicans had to change the law a little in the face of ensuing uproar, but only a little. Now certain student IDs are valid, but IDs from the University of Wisconsin system don't meet the specifications, which means lots and lots of liberal students in places like Madison will be blocked from voting in this battleground.

The list of legislative trickery goes on and on. Maine ended same day voter registration, costing the state millions because of the motor-voter act, unless the voters enact "the People's Veto" to block the law. Florida enacted voter registration drive regulations so restrictive that many voter registration organizations  have discontinued their activities. Texas passed an voter ID law that considers a concealed carry permit valid, but a state university issued student ID invalid.

This isn't ganging up with clubs in front of the polls to prevent blacks from voting. It isn't scheduling exams for students all day on election day. It's not advertising the wrong day as election day (though they have done it in the past). But what they are doing it is a systematic disenfranchisement of core Democratic groups, minority voters, students, and the poor.

Huckabee's comments might have been said in jest. But the comments betray a key Republican attitude about our electoral system. They are willing to undermine access to the polls in order to stay in office. The will of the voters only matters if it's the will of voters that vote for them. People that disagree with them shouldn't be included. If we insist on being included, they will fight tooth and nail to win despite us. But if they can't win, they change the rules.

To learn more about the ongoing effort to roll back voter access, check out the Brennan Center's report Voting Law Changes in 2012.

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