There have been a slew of voter suppression laws in many GOP held states since the last election. While on the surface many of these laws seem to be innocuous enough, the devil is always in the details. Behind this attempt at disenfranchisement is the myth that millions of illegals are somehow managing to vote, and they all vote Democratic. Oh well. Sigh.
The reforms sound reasonable enough. Take Kansas, for example. The new law (in force since 2013) says that in order to vote you must have proof of citizenship. A photo ID. But that does cost money. And the list of acceptable documents needed to obtain the proper ID all cost money. The state website says that you can apply for a FREE birth certificate…uh…except it costs $15 to apply for the FREE birth certificate. Tantamount to a poll tax. If you want to vote, you pay. And lost in the details (remember that is where the “devil” resides) is an interesting clause.
In Kansas folks who have voted in the past do NOT need new ID. Nor do they need to prove US citizenship ! What ? Yes. The Kansas law seems to apply ONLY to new voters. Those registered before January 1, 2013 do not have to comply. But…if there has been wide scale voter fraud in Kansas (the purpose for the law) doesn’t that mean that voters “in the past” have been illegal ? Let the ILLEGAL voters continue to vote ? Defies logic. But it makes sense if your goal is to suppress a certain segment of the population from voting. Young voters. New voters. Poor voters. Groups which tend to lean Democratic. Reminiscent of the very effective “grandfather clause” of the old south.
Other states, like Ohio, have changed their voting laws to make it more difficult for working people to vote. Actually, Ohio has pretty good laws. They allow early voting. And voting on weekends right before the election. Very popular. Especially with working folks. And voting in the evenings the weeks before the election. This allows working folks a chance to get to the polls. Well, it did. But they discovered that African-American voters (largely Democratic) voted early and on Sunday. And since the working poor had jobs, the evening voting was attractive to them. Not good for the GOP. This year the Ohio GOP government changed those voting times. Too many working people being able to make it to the polls has never been good for the GOP.
And Florida has made registering new voters much more difficult by ,for the first time, establishing very strict time restrictions on the process.
Just three examples, there are more.
All the while, these GOP controlled state governments insist that they want citizens to have the right to vote. They WANT citizens to vote. They want all citizens to be part of the process.
OK. Let’s call their bluff. Let’s see if the GOP would join us in the following solutions.
First. Every person should be given a free national ID voter/citizenship card at the age of 18. Can’t do it? Of course we can. Every male in the US is obligated to register for Selective Service upon reaching the age of 18. Each one is sent proof of registration. They are put in the system. They are identified. A similar system could be used to register every male and female as voters. You get a card. Like a Social Security card. It proves you have the right to vote. You present the card at your polling place. Only citizens get these cards. End of problem.
Second. Mandate that any other forms of ID required to vote must be free. No application fees. Free. If any state requires ID beyond the Voter registration card the state must provide those forms of ID for nothing.
Third. Voter week. Every state will open voting for one full week , ending on Tuesday, election day. And each state will provide polls to be open until 9 PM each day of the voting week. This will make it easier for citizens to vote. Make it easier for the working class to vote. Something the GOP SAYS it wants to do.
Fourth. Any illegal immigrant attempting to vote will face immediate deportation.
Fifth. The voter tax rebate. Every citizen who votes in the national election will be given a tax rebate of $100. Just send it in with your next year’s tax return. A reward for good citizenship.
I am sure there are other, better ideas for encouraging voting. Maybe a national voter registration week ? Or making Election Day itself a national holiday?
If the GOP is serious about citizens voting there are plenty of ways to encourage that. Of course, if EVERYBODY votes, the GOP has real political problems. And they know it.
So, despite the posturing about “citizens” and “waving the flag” and “honoring America”, don’t expect any action soon from the GOP. Do expect voter suppression laws to continue to become more focused and more restrictive. Otherwise it would look too much like they were encouraging democracy. And we all know where that will lead.