Civil Discourse Now

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Republican efforts to suppress voter turnout and 40,000, "lost" registrations in Georgia.

  In Georgia, a State that appears to be “purple”—to use the popular parlance of color to describe party affiliation as a spectrum between one extreme of red (pure Republican) and blue (pure Democratic), and the shades of magenta, violet, and purple between—a voter registration drive was held this year. Ninety thousand (90,000) voters were registered. Shortly after the deadline for registration passed, the office of the Secretary of State somehow “lost” 40,000 of those registrations. New Georgia—the group that conducted the registration drive—the NAACP, and Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, sought a court order to force the office of the Secretary of State to process the registrations—they later were “found”—but their action was denied by a state trial court judge.
   The 40,000 voters in question still can cast provisional ballots and, within three days, must present themselves to the appropriate office with required documents.
   I have not read any allegations the drive was conducted in an improper manner.
   The Secretary of State, in many States, is the elected public official responsible for oversight of the election process. Georgia’s Secretary of State is a Republican. The judge who denied relief to New Georgia, the NAACP, and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is a Republican.
   I have read no argument that the loss of the registrations was an effort to curb supposed electoral abuses. This was a glitch—if one is charitable to the Georgia Secretary of State—and not some “check” on the system.
   The people who were registered in the drive largely were Africa-American, Latino, or young. These are demographics that trend to the Democratic Party. The United States Senate race in Georgia is very tight. Forty thousand votes could have a significant impact.
   One argument I am confident will be posted is: They still can vote, they need only do the thing within three days, etc. The inference, if a voter does not do that, is that the voter somehow is lazy.
   The people in the demographics described, one reasonably may infer, include a lot of people who are poor or who work in jobs with low pay. These folks cannot afford to miss work. Some probably have difficulty with transportation. The more barriers raised to their exercise of the franchise, the less likely they are to vote.
   The Republican Party has tried to limit the vote whenever and wherever it can. The Voter ID argument has been shown to be as fraudulent as the sham votes its adherents seek to stem.
   No such argument, however, can be posed to efforts to restrict early voting or to make polling sites more accessible.
   Ohio’s candidate for Secretary of State said yesterday that there is no such thing as a “mid-term” election. All elections are important. However, a lot rides on the line in 2014.
   People should vote. The Republican Party, through various spokes people, seeks to re-brand itself. This denigrates the intelligence of the American voter as it reduces the voter’s intelligence to one of a consumer of TV ads. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), in the past two days, compared the Republican Party’s appeal to African-American voters to Domino’s Pizza’s CEO’s concession a few years back that the company’s pizzas were bad. Somehow, Republicans, from Senator Paul’s view, need to determine how best to get their message across to African-American, female, young and Latino voters.
   What message would Senator Paul believe should be better communicated to these people? “Vote for Republicans because we shall do everything we can to discourage you from the exercise of your right to vote”?

   These matters are not subject to arguments raised in good faith. Judge Richard Posner, of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Judicial Circuit, in Chicago, wrote the majority opinion in Crawford v. Marion County, the case in which Indiana’s voter ID law was upheld. Today, Judge Posner says these recent laws promulgated by the Republican Party, supplied with texts by ALEC, the legislative work group of large corporations, serve only to suppress votes on a partisan basis.
   One only hopes people are as outraged by this effort at voter suppression as they were in 2012 and will show up in spite of Republicans’ efforts. Next Tuesday evening, as the election returns roll in, I might even order out a Domino’s Pizza. I think those pizzas still suck, but if Senator Paul thinks something is bad, I am tempted to try it.

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