By George Smith
Partisan politics, in any year, in any era, is a given: Labor/business, liberal/conservative, pro-choice/pro-life, Libertarian/Tea Party, evangelical Christians/non-evangelical believers/agnostics and atheists, white supremacist/Black Lives Matter … all forces and factions are in play in the 2020 election. Listen! You can already hear the gnashing of teeth and muttered curses in the social media brouhaha.
It is a sorry state of affairs when you stop and realize in today’s political environment, fear, distrust and hate comes into play in everyday political discussions and maneuvers.
Several states (notably Arizona, Tennessee and Texas) are being openly blatant about setting up laws that will suppress voting of certain citizens, as reported by the Public Broadcasting System (PBS):
‘After Democrats Surged In 2018,
Republican-Run States Eye New Curbs On Voting’
The fact the Republican Party in these states (with more to follow) are worked up about making sure potential Democratic voters are either frightened away from the polls intentionally or by innuendo and rumor shows the widening divide between the two parties.
In Texas, PBS stated, “… state lawmakers are considering adding criminal penalties for people who improperly fill out voter registration forms; Arizona Republicans are proposing new voting rules that could make it more complicated to cast an early ballot; in Tennessee, GOP lawmakers are considering a bill that would fine groups involved in voter registration drives that submit incomplete forms.”
The proposed laws, as yet, do not include any provisions for natural human error.
For generations, Democrats have conducted widespread voter registration drives, while Republicans seem to rely on donations to support their candidates of choice. The voter registrati0n drives across the country in 2017 and 2018 pushed a record-breaking number of seat reversals in the House of Representatives, creating a flashpoint for Republicans resulting in the current attempts to curtail future activity that could their party.
The reasons given for the present attention to voter registration, according to GOP lawmakers, is that new legislation needed to maintain the integrity of voter rolls and prevent fraud. Shutthefrontdoor! The rule changes are aimed directly at putting a damper on turnout of the poor, young and nonwhite voters, who normally would vote with the platform of the Democratic Party.
Texas Republicans are shaking in their Naconas and curled-brim Stetson Double-X beavers because demographic and political trends are on the move to change the “Lone Star State” to “Estado de la Estrella Solitaria”. As Beto O’Roarke made clear with his close race with GOP sometimes-darling Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas is now, once again, competitive on the national level for the first time in decades.
The Texas Senate passed Senate Bill 9, which would make it a felony, punishable by jail time, for anyone who provides false information on a voter registration form or casts a ballot when they are ineligible, even if it’s by mistake! For example, if someone writes in a wrong ZIP code or is allowed to vote in a different precinct, that would be grounds for jail time.
It is apparent the Republicans who consider themselves deal-makers throughout the United States are scared shiftless, not knowing which way to shift their traditional battle plan, but knowing their leader is dividing the country and dividing the party. Throwing up roadblocks to curtail voting of any citizen, regardless of perception of allegiance, is just wrongheaded, and, legal experts have opined, is unconstitutional.
We are Americans all and should rejoice in unity in the freedoms we possess through the vision, intelligence and, yes, blood, that built this country. To deny any eligible person the right to vote on a technicality is as un-American as calling soccer “football.”
Instead of working on keeping people from voting we should be expanding access for people to vote. Adopting or expanding early and absentee voting, adopting automatic voter registration and campaigning for younger voters to get involved is the sign of a true democracy, not a nation run by whim, spite or gutless naysayers and exclusionists.
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