I am a progressive liberal, but I respect conservative values, and I like certain conservative thinkers and even a few politicians. I concede that the Democratic party has its vices and excesses (for instance: no real appetite for taking on earmarks and campaign finance), but I don’t know of any policy initiative endorsed and enacted by Democrats across the nation that I find morally repugnant. There is, however, one policy initiative that Republicans have pushed across the country which has no moral or policy justification, and is a black mark on the Republican party: voter suppression.
Republicans claim that voter fraud is widespread, but there are only 633 proven examples of actual fraud in which someone illegally casts a over the last thirteen years. That’s through three presidential elections, three midterm elections, and all of the primaries and odd-number-year elections. That means that fewer than one in half a million votes were fraudulent. The loud allegations about fraud have been repeatedly disproven.
It doesn’t take much digging to find the real reason behind these laws. Here’s Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai giving his one sentence description of the state’s new voter ID law:
“Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”
Want a more detailed statement? Try this one from Jim Greer, the former GOP Chairman in Florida:
“The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates. “It’s done for one reason and one reason only,” said Greer, recalling conversations with staffers and consultants: “‘We’ve got to cut down on early voting because early voting is not good for us.’ They never came in to see me and tell me we had a [voter] fraud issue. It’s all a marketing ploy.”
Let’s complete the big swing state trifecta in Ohio with an even more blunt quote from Doug Preisse, Franklin County Chair of the Republican Party, on the push to cut early voting days in the crucial presidential election state:
“I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban—read African-American—voter-turnout machine.”
The rationale is simple: increased voter turnout generally helps Democrats, and turnout among minorities really helps Democrats. Instead of trying to win over African Americans and Latinos, Republicans have found it easier to just make it harder for them to vote. This goes against the most basic principles our country was founded on. Put your party affiliation a side for the moment—is that not a moral outrage?
Take North Carolina’s new election law. It eliminates 7 out of 17 early voting days, ends pre-registration for 16 and 17 year-olds (which allowed them to be registered to vote the moment they turned 18), and eliminates same-day registration. The justification for this is to stop voter fraud (a whopping 15 cases in the last 13 years in North Carolina) and to save the state money. The Obama campaign pushed early voting hard in North Carolina, and 70% of African Americans in the state voted early in 2012. Young people, another Democratic stronghold, will be less likely to vote without pre-registration. Do either of these measures make elections safer? Is anyone even trying to make that case?
If you believe in Republican principles, fine, but you can’t possibly believe in voter suppression. If you can’t convince 51% of the public to believe in your ideas and your candidates, then I’m sorry, and I sympathize, but that’s how democracy works. The Republican push for voter suppression is a moral outrage, and anyone proud to be an American should be disgusted.