The simple truth about voter suppression

The simple truth about voter suppression

- in Fitzsimon File


In some ways, it would be easier to take the Republicans latest assault on democracy in the voter suppression bill they are ramming through the House and Senate if they would just be honest about their intentions.

They want to make it harder for people who disagree with them to vote. It is that simple. They might as well admit their real motives. They are transparent to anyone watching the debate.

Enough already about the alleged voter fraud that they can never produce any evidence to support. And please stop talking about the need to restore the public’s faith in the election process. Most voters are happy with the way elections are conducted in North Carolina.

The ones who are worried are folks who have been listening to the false claims about fraud from the politicians trying to create a problem they can solve with measures that will help them stay in power.

It’s startling that in 2013, a major political party can have as part of its agenda making it more difficult to vote.

More people are voting in North Carolina than ever before. That used to be a source of pride. Now it’s apparently a problem.

The North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research reports that the state has moved from a ranking of 48th in voter turnout in 1988 to 11th in 2012.

The folks at the Center say their 22 years of research shows that improvement that we used to celebrate comes from changes to election laws like same day registration and early voting.

The voter suppression bill ends same day registration at early voting sites and reduces the early voting period by seven days.

It also makes it harder for college students to vote and makes it easier for aggressive partisan election “observers” to challenge and intimidate minorities and first time voters at the polls.

Then there is the onerous government-issued photo ID requirement. Conservative estimates show that more 300,000 people do not have a valid photo ID, many of them seniors, people with disability, and people of color, all of whom are historically more likely to vote for Democratic candidates.

College students tend to vote Democratic too, hence the provision not to allow college ID cards to meet the photo identification requirement.

When Senator Josh Stein cited statistics during the Senate debate showing the effect of the voter suppression bill on certain demographics groups, Senator Bob Rucho dismissed the compelling numbers by complaining that Stein was “rambling on with his charts.”

Never mind the numbers or the facts or even the old-fashioned notion that democracy works best when more people participate in it.

This unprecedented attack on voters’ rights isn’t about any of that. It is about raw political power and the obsession with keeping it.

It’s about the shameful re-disenfranchising of people who struggled for generations for the opportunity to exercise their constitutional right to participate in their own government.

It is about making it more difficult for people who disagree with the current radical direction of North Carolina to do something about it.

It is about politicians want to rig elections so they do not have to be accountable to all the voters, only the ones more likely to agree with them.

It is a blatant, partisan power grab. Do us all a favor and at least admit it. The rhetorical charade is becoming embarrassing.