Saturday, August 11, 2012

Do Republicans Believe In Democracy? It Seems Not

It's starting to get sorta obvious that the Republican Party doesn't really believe in the principle that democracy is strengthened when voter participation is increased. In fact, they really are trying really, really hard to make it as hard as possible for minority voters in urban settings to vote, using the presumable non-partisan machinery of the state to enact this vision of a lily-white electorate.

The Nation magazine has a great article describing some of the shenanigans that are going on now to make sure that Ohio delivers it's all-important electoral college votes for the Republican nominee:
The real story from Ohio is how cutbacks to early voting will disproportionately disenfranchise African-American voters in Ohio’s most populous counties. African-Americans, who supported Obama over McCain by 95 points in Ohio, comprise 28 percent of the population of Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County but accounted for 56 percent of early voters in 2008, according to research done by Norman Robbins of the Northeast Ohio Voter Advocates and Mark Salling of Cleveland State University. In Columbus’s Franklin County, African-Americans comprise 20 percent of the population but made up 34 percent of early voters.
Now, in heavily Democratic cities like Cleveland, Columbus, Akron and Toledo, early voting hours will be limited to 8 am until 5 pm on weekdays beginning on October 1, with no voting at night or during the weekend, when it’s most convenient for working people to vote. Republican election commissioners have blocked Democratic efforts to expand early voting hours in these counties, where the board of elections are split equally between Democratic and Republican members. Ohio Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted has broken the tie by intervening on behalf of his fellow Republicans. (According to the Board of Elections, 82% of early voters in Franklin County voted early on nights or weekends, which Republicans have curtailed. The number who voted on nights or weekends was nearly 50% in Cuyahoga County.)
"I cannot create unequal access from one county board to another, and I must also keep in mind resources available to each county,” Husted said in explaining his decision to deny expanded early voting hours in heavily Democratic counties. Yet in solidly Republican counties like Warren and Butler, GOP election commissioners have approved expanded early voting hours on nights and weekends. Noted the Cincinnati Enquirer: “The counties where Husted has joined other Republicans to deny expanded early voting strongly backed then-candidate Barack Obama in 2008, while most of those where the extra hours will stand heavily supported GOP nominee John McCain.” Moreover, budget constraints have not stopped Republican legislators from passing costly voter ID laws across the map since 2010.
Read that excerpt again. They are expanding early voting hours in Republican-leaning counties while simultaneously denying similar efforts in Democrat-leaning counties! This is why the identity (and political affiliation) of the Secretary of State is so important. I hope that this story becomes more widely known and that people take measures now to combat this craziness and make sure to exercise their right to vote regardless of how difficult the GOP makes it, in every state of the Union.

I also hope that the Department of Justice takes a serious look at these practices and uses every tool it has to  try to enforce basic levels of equal access to the polls throughout Ohio and other states like North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida and Colorado where concerted efforts are being engaged in to reduce the votes of Black and Latino voters, primarily Black voters. Republicans know that for every Black vote they can prevent from being cast, there's a close to 95% probability they have reduced Barack Obama's presidential vote total.

What's so astonishing here is that I'm sure that GOP operatives just consider this as "politics as usual" while one would think that there are some principles that would supersede partisanship and the desire to win at all cost, and that is the notion that Democracy (and democratic principles) are at stake here.

hat/tip to Maddow Blog.

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