I had an occasion to go into the local recorder’s office recently and as the clerks were very efficiently serving me, my eyes were drawn to a collection of posters on the wall. These posters were reminiscent of the old posters you used to see in the post office, city hall, government offices and even up in shop windows. They celebrated our privilege to vote and encouraged all citizens to register. Uncle Sam pointed out that it was our patriotic duty as citizens to vote. Both political parties were joined in their belief that all Americans should participate in this great ideal of democracy.
Unfortunately this no longer seems to be the case in many Republican states. Rather than supporting and encouraging voter registration drives, some states have made it so difficult to conduct them that many organizations have just given up and no longer have them. And they have added many more requirements for registering that were never required before. And these requirements disproportionately affect the elderly, the poor and minorities.
The justification for these restrictions is stated as a means to stop voter fraud. However, every investigation into voter fraud has determined that this is an unfounded concern — the actual number of fraudulent voters is miniscule, certainly much less than the number of qualified voters that are blocked from voting because of these restrictions.
And just in case too many of these voters have jumped through the required hoops and will likely show up to vote, then those states strive to make that as difficult as possible. They have cut back on early voting, weekend voting and often assure that areas that serve poor, rural or minority neighborhoods have fewer voting places, resulting in long lines that often mean that it can take all day to vote.
It is no longer enough to pervert our elections by gerrymandering the electoral districts to favor one’s political party, they must also corrupt the voting process itself.
I was raised in Alabama during the 1950s and ’60s and I can recognize an effort to make sure that only people that are likely to vote as the state wants them to are able to easily cast their vote.
Uncle Sam must be so proud.