Sunday, January 01, 2012

Papers, Please

It was fairly predictable at Watching America yesterday. There were lots of articles on the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and lots of articles on the Iowa caucus and the sorry state of the GOP's candidates. Meh. One article landed outside those two and turned out to be quite interesting. It was an essay on vote suppression written by Amy Goodman for the "Comment Is Free" section of the UK's The Guardian. She examines the real story behind the elections coming up this year.

All eyes are on Iowa this week, as the hodgepodge field of Republican contenders gallivants across that farm state seeking a win, or at least "momentum," in the campaign for the party's presidential nomination. But behind the scenes, a battle is being waged by Republicans – not against each other, but against American voters. Across the country, state legislatures and governors are pushing laws that seek to restrict access to the voting booth, laws that will disproportionately harm people of color, low-income people, and young and elderly voters. ...

By some estimates, the overall population who may be disenfranchised by this wave of legislation is upward of 5 million voters, most of whom would be expected to vote with the Democratic party. The efforts to quash voter participation are not genuine, grassroots movements. Rather, they rely on funding from people like the Koch brothers, David and Charles. That is why thousands of people, led by the NAACP, marched on the New York headquarters of Koch Industries two weeks ago en route to a rally for voting rights at the United Nations.

Despite the media attention showered on the Iowa caucuses, the real election outcomes in 2012 will likely hinge more on the contest between billionaire political funders like the Kochs and the thousands of people in the streets, demanding one person, one vote.
[Emphasis added]

Contrary to the publicity handouts faxed by the GOP minions, voter fraud is really not much of a problem in this country. It's minuscule, hovering at less than 1%. The Republicans, however, know they have a problem given their current candidates for the presidency, and that means they will have a problem in terms of the down-ballot candidates for the House and Senate and for state offices. What better way to ensure victory than to shut out those people who would vote for Democratic candidates. Five million is a lot of voters.

Now that the various state laws are on the books, there's only eleven months to do something about them. The Department of Justice recently successfully defeated portions of a South Carolina law, prompting Newt Gingrich (in a shot right out of Karl Rove's handbook on projecting one's own weakness on the opposition) to accuse Attorney General Eric Holder of attempting to steal the election.

I think we can expect appeals on that holding, all the way up to the Supreme Court which may or may not get around to hearing the case before the election, if it hears it at all. And that case involved just one state, one which falls under closer federal review because of its past voters' rights violations. States like Wisconsin don't fit into that category and I haven't seen any push by the DOJ towards examining that state's recent law on the issue.

It's going to be a rough nine months for democracy in this country.

Happy New Year.

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