They Willingly Comply: Why the democrats oppose voting rights


Despite all their rhetoric, it’s easy to tell that the US democratic party leadership are uninterested in protecting the voting rights of citizens who are poor and not white.

The US has federal elections every two years.  And every two years, just before the elections, the republicans engage in tactics designed to prevent, deny and harass large numbers of US voters from participating.  And every two years, the democrats do nothing about it until the last minute instead of taking pre-emptive measures to protect voters.

The republicans want “voter ID”?  Then spend money getting people ID.  Help people obtain driver’s licenses or anything else that will suffice as legal ID for voter registration.  (Most Canadian provinces offer provincial ID cards.  The US ought to have something similar.)

The republicans try to enact “voter ID rules and laws” WEEKS before an election?  Then enact your own legislation A YEAR before an election.  Do it now, make ID easily available a year in advance of the next election cycle.  (They should have started in January, but better now than Fall 2018.)

The republicans make it difficult for people in isolated places to register? Then GO TO THEIR HOMES and get them registered, i.e. the “mountain and mohammed”. Elections Canada (a non-partisan agency) visits the home of every citizen not on the voters list.  If the US doesn’t have one, the democrats should start one.  MTV did, with their “rock the vote”.

Raise and spend money to get these people on the voting lists.  It worked before with the “50 state strategy”.  It’s laziness, indifference, ignorance and even stupidity that the democrats aren’t preparing for 2018 now.

Or just as likely, it’s complicity.

 

Comments

  1. besomyka says

    FWIW the Democratic party, along with various other progressive groups in Texas are doing just what you say: registering people, helping to transport people, etc. We have a few challenges to getting that done.

    The states that have been passing voter ID laws have GOP majorities so we can’t just pass a law to get ID into people’s hands. If we had that power, we would have stopped the ID law in the first place.

    Additionally, every time we take action, the GOP takes steps to thwart us. For example, in Texas they passed a law making it illegal to register voters that reside in a particular county unless you are deputized by that county’s voter registrar. You may find it entirely unsurprising that in many counties with a GOP affiliated VR, that training sessions are difficult to come by as are obtaining the forms themselves.

    In Travis county, our VR has been supportive and we got our overall registration percent to over 90%! We recently also swing the election for the VR in Harris county (Houston), to someone that is also supportive, so … more work to be done there. That said, we can’t just go to a nearby country to register voters. Even in Travis, I have to ask everyone where they live to make sure I don’t accidentally handle the form of a non-resident. There are legal penalties for doing so.

    A second issue we face is logistical, and this one a multifaceted. In Travis our VR does provide information on addresses in which there are no recorded registered voters. This data is useful, but not perfect. For example, it may be that only 1 of 4 eligible voters is registered at the address. In the data, those three people would be hidden. It’s also filled with false positive: addresses that contain small businesses and no residents, for example.

    We usually don’t have the manpower needed. It’s difficult to get volunteers to do the work. You have to go to training, accept the legal responsibility, and then you have to be willing to spend hours going door to door talking to people in the heat of the Texas sun. Talking to strangers isn’t something most people want to do, even if it’s to try and get them registered. This makes it a slow process, and drives organizations to find other ways to make use of the limited volunteer hours. For example, attending local festivals and canvasing the crowd.

    A lot of the eligible unregistered voters are 1) ex-felons that either were not aware that once they were off paper that their voting rights were restored, or are fearful of accidentally breaking the law again and find the process just too risky to bother, 2) Spanish or other non-English speaking households which we don’t always know about in advance and for which we have an incredibly few number of people that can help. I often am talking to a child as a translator, or 3) anti-voting people. Seriously, sometimes I talk to people and they just say, “I don’t vote. I don’t believe in it.” I’ve never convinced them otherwise.

    Regarding voter ID, while the cost amounts to a poll tax, it’s almost never just that fee that’s prohibitive. It’s collecting the paperwork required by law to get the IDs. A lot of older black people may not even have a birth certificate to get. Yes, we help pay, and we drive people around, and do what we can, but there isn’t an easy fix. Everyone ends up with a different problem. The conclusion generally has been to help where we can, but ultimately fight the laws themselves so that we don’t have to.

    I certainly can’t speak for most places in the US, but the places I am familiar with here in Texas, there’s a lot of work being done on multiple fronts to make sure that people are able to exercise their constitutional rights despite the absurd hurdles the GOP puts up.

  2. jrkrideau says

    The USA has nothing like Elections Canada and from my reading on other blogs situations such as besomyka @ 1 describes are pretty much the norm. As far as I can tell it is totally up to the voter to get themself on the list. There does not appear to be any proactive effort on the part the authorities to register voters.

    There is no equivalent of the former Chief Electoral Officer, Jean-Pierre Kingsley, organizing teams and procedures to track down the homeless and register them or setting up polling stations in prisons and correctional centres.

Leave a Reply