Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Poll Tax By Any Other Name Still Stinks

Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm said it loud and clear: voter suppression is “treasonous”! 

Of course, you won’t hear Republican legislators calling these treasonous laws -- there are 150 of them in 37 states -- voter suppression. They’re about “election integrity” and “protecting” the election process from voter fraud. But the real fraud is these laws, and fraud stinks. “Election integrity” is a sham, a lie invented to cover up these laws’ real purpose – preventing certain Americans from exercising their right to vote.

You have to understand, these fraudulent laws don’t target just anybody. They’re highly selective, aimed at people that traditionally vote Democratic: the elderly, the young, and minorities. Red Robbin’ has replaced Jim Crow. Instead of a poll tax, these laws intimidate, discourage and block voters by requiring a government-issued photo ID, which can be difficult and costly to obtain. Other voter-extermination tactics include shortening the early voting period and making it difficult if not impossible for third-party organizations such as the League of Women Voters to register voters. Some states have even reduced the operating hours or closed offices where residents can obtain photo ID.

Once again, Florida is ground zero for fraudulently disenfranchising voters. The U.S. Justice Department is suing the state, charging that its voter purge program, which would disenfranchise up to 180,000 voters, violates the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Virginia’s in on the act, too. Republican Governor Bob McDonnell signed into law legislation that will make it harder for thousands of Virginians to exercise their right to cast a ballot for the candidate of their choice. Senator A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) called the act “an affront to Virginians and the Constitution.”

But who cares? Republican Senator Mitch McConnell set the stage for this antidemocratic drama: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president,” he said in an interview with the National Journal’s Major Garrett on October 29, 2010. Republicans have ruthlessly pursued that agenda since President Obama took office. Turning their backs on governing and the people who elected them, Republicans have blocked, stalled, obstructed and killed all the bills that President Obama initiated to create jobs and help the American people. Now, with voter suppression measures, they are out to kill American democracy. This is not only treasonous, it also amounts to what former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich calls a “quiet, slow-motion coup d’etat.” Voters are the only check on this coup. Bankrupt of ideas, candidates, and proposals to help anybody except millionaires and billionaires, Republicans are out to overthrow democracy itself. If they win, America will become a fascist, corporate country controlled by an extremely wealthy elite riding on the backs of the middle class and the poor. It would, as former President Bill Clinton said, be “calamitous for our country and the world.” It’s up to we the people to prevent the stink of a fraudulent election.

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