Saturday, December 01, 2012

Shameful strategies to deter voting -- in America?

Elizabeth Drew’s account [New York Review 12/20/12] of the tactics used by the Republican Party to restrict the Democratic vote – narrowing the windows of time in which pre-voting can take place, demanding IDs that would be difficult for poor and minorities to obtain, changing the rules for proper registration multiple times ( as Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husten did), even on the Friday evening before election day – these strategies of restricting voting opportunities leaves me wondering if the Republican Party really believes in the democratic process.
“By the time of the election, more than thirty states had passed laws requiring voters to present some form of identification, often a government-issued photo ID that they didn’t possess and couldn’t obtain easily, in many cases not at all. The point was to make it more difficult for constituent groups of the Democratic Party—blacks, Hispanics, low-income elderly, and students—to exercise their constitutionally guaranteed right to vote.” 
“… In some parts of the country, confusion was sown deliberately: intimidating billboards suggesting that photo IDs would be required appeared in predominantly black and Hispanic areas.  // This was no sneak attack but a national, coordinated enterprise ….”
The result was long lines where voters waited in some instances as long as eight hours to vote.  It seems that many of those situations were not due to mis-management but to deliberate attempts to make voting difficult and unattractive.
“[T]he lines were deliberately caused by limits imposed by Republican officials on the amount of time allowed for voting before election day. In 2008, blacks and Hispanics voted at higher rates than others on weekends in Ohio and Florida, and Obama carried both states. In theory, early voting is supposed to provide voters opportunities to avoid long election-day lines and cast their votes before election day, but the limits on the number of early voting days assured that early voters ended up in long lines on early voting days.” 
“Florida, for its part, created a mess by drastically restricting early voting. …[T] the Republican state legislature cut the number of days for early voting from fourteen to eight and prohibited it altogether on the last Sunday before the election. Sunday had been a special day for blacks, many of whom were transported from church by bus to the polling stations. On the Saturday of the final weekend, … some people waited for as long as eight hours, till past midnight….  Yet on Sunday, polling places in populous Miami-Dade County were still unprepared for the onslaught of people wanting to vote. One place unprepared for such a crowd shut down for two hours and then reopened as would-be voters banged on the doors demanding that they be allowed to vote. … On election night some Florida voters were still standing in line to vote when President Obama gave his victory speech. The last vote was cast at 1:08 AM.”
It’s hard to grasp that Republicans, who pride themselves on their bona fides as "true Americans" [who said that?], would have stooped to such transparently un-American behavior.  Have they no shame?

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