Thursday, September 1, 2011

The War On Voting

There’s an article by Ari Berman in Rolling Stone that looks at the effort on the part of the Republicans and the right wing to restrict voting.

As the nation gears up for the 2012 presidential election, Republican officials have launched an unprecedented, centrally coordinated campaign to suppress the elements of the Democratic vote that elected Barack Obama in 2008. Just as Dixiecrats once used poll taxes and literacy tests to bar black Southerners from voting, a new crop of GOP governors and state legislators has passed a series of seemingly disconnected measures that could prevent millions of students, minorities, immigrants, ex-convicts and the elderly from casting ballots. “What has happened this year is the most significant setback to voting rights in this country in a century,” says Judith Browne-Dianis, who monitors barriers to voting as co-director of the Advancement Project, a civil rights organization based in Washington, D.C.

The simple fact is that the more people who vote, the more the Republicans lose. They know this. They have known this for decades. In fact, as the article points out, that’s why they’re making this effort in the state legislatures to pass laws to make it harder to vote.

Republicans have long tried to drive Democratic voters away from the polls. “I don’t want everybody to vote,” the influential conservative activist Paul Weyrich told a gathering of evangelical leaders in 1980. “As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.” But since the 2010 election, thanks to a conservative advocacy group founded by Weyrich, the GOP’s effort to disrupt voting rights has been more widespread and effective than ever.

What makes anyone think that they will stop at that? As Digby notes, in the last twelve years the Republicans impeached a Democratic president and basically stole an election. They view the Voting Rights Act as an affront to the white man’s manifest destiny, and they have boldly gone into the state legislatures, including Florida, to change the laws under the masquerade of stopping the rampant but non-existent voter fraud that isn’t overwhelming the polling stations.

The best part is that they do it in the name of “democracy,” which means that everybody gets to vote as long as they’re the right people.