A War on Voting…

by Elisabeth MacNamara

In 1920, a major effort to register newly enfranchised voters and educate them in the political process was prominent on the agenda of the just formed League of Women Voters. A few years later, state Leagues were challenged to increase voter turnout by 25 percent, leading the Alabama League to note: “…it is a very difficult matter to qualify for the vote in Alabama…”

Today, states are taking steps that will profoundly affect the number of qualified voters in the 2012 Presidential Election. This year, voter ID requirements, limits on third-party voter registration drives, eliminating Election Day registration and curtailing early voting are all measures that have been proposed or passed in a disturbing number of states. Coupled with dramatic budget cuts that are closing driver’s license offices, democracy is growing increasingly unsafe for the nation.

Recently, I was a guest on the National Public Radio show, “On Point,” featuring a program on voter suppression, “A War on Voting.” A number of callers noted the disproportionate impact of the new laws on underserved communities. One elections official in rural Tennessee said that she would be required to turn away voters with whom she is personally acquainted, if they lacked the requisite government issued ID.

Cash-strapped agencies can make seemingly innocuous decisions that have an impact on voting rights. For instance, the U.S. Postal Service is proposing to close offices across the country, including the reservation in South Dakota where Wounded Knee is located. That post office is a lifeline to the community, including vital voter services such as voter registration and requesting and returning absentee ballots. No one can accuse the USPS of deliberately impinging on voting rights, but regardless of intent, the result is the same – a voter not served.

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By the time legal challenges cold be made, it would be too late. This is something people need to take to the streets about! And on Election Day 2012, the disenfranchised should turn out en masse.Organizers xould be "individuals" rathe than "outside groups".

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Is there a place that we can find some suggestions for good legislation on voting access. It seems that some of these proposals are based on trying to be sure that that person voting is a resident of the voting district. It does not seem to be enough to just oppose the proposed legislation but would be better to have legislations that protects the "sancity" of the polls (as some of this restirctions are termed) and the right to vote without undue harassment. Thank you

democracy evaporating???

I am observing what you are observing. At first, I thought maybe I was paranoid. The little citizen keeps taking the blow on the chin. Reduction of mail delivery. Closing of post offices. Checking drivers licenses constantly. Nibbling away at entitlements. Home values imploding. Loans difficult to get. Jobs disappearing. Belt tightening for the middle and lower classes. What a relief to know, at least all the banks that AIG owed got repaid for their greedy investments that went south to the tune of 100 %. The New York Fed and Timothy Geithner testified that they needed to act quickly, proving that time is money. Money that the citizens of the US have to pay out in the future as our debt continues to climb. (lest I say, that I make this last comment bitterly/sardonically).

As far as democracy evaporating, Eugene Isenberg will receive $100 million to step down as chief executive of Nabors Industries (NYT, Nov 1, 2011). I hate to think what pitiful amount he will be taxed. Somehow enough of my fellow citizens are convinced to vote for representatives and senators who won't raise taxes on the super wealthy. Hate to pick on poor Eugene who I have never heard of until I read about him in the paper, but I don't hang out with the upper .1 per cent, so I can't drop too many names except the Koch brothers. But you get the idea.



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