As this episode posts, election 2014 results are rolling in. Across the country people are voting for candidates to determine the make-up of state houses, school boards and our Congress as well as potentially approving ballot measures that could expand, ensure or decimate Constitutional rights to privacy, healthcare and voting itself.
Who could have thought a decade ago that voting rights would need to appear on a ballot? I mean, isn’t democracy based on the romanticized notion of “one man, one vote?” Setting aside the intentional gender disparity and land ownership requirements that disenfranchised the poor and people of color in that original phrase, the foundation of our country has always been that of representative government.
Over the decades, access to the ballot box has EXPANDED, not contracted. People have risked imprisonment and even death to bring the right to vote to more and more of our citizenry. So why would anyone who claims to love this country do anything to roll back progress through voter suppression??
It turns out, the GOP — despite their LOOOOVE for democracy and America — has known for some time that they don’t do well when everyone votes. In a speech made somewhat famous through the Thom Hartmann Program, the founder of ALEC and co-founder of the far-right “think tank” The Heritage Foundation Paul Weyrich put it this way more than 30 years ago:
And so, state houses controlled by the GOP wasted no time following the Supreme Court decision gutting the Voting Rights Act two summers ago. Every imaginable type of voter suppression law has passed somewhere. Voter ID requirements, the systematic elimination of early and expanded hour voting days, threatening voter registration drive organizers with imprisonment and more. (If you really want to grasp the full horrific landscape of voter suppression laws, just read everything from Ari Berman at The Nation.
As in so many areas, it’s time we stopped only saying no to bad legislation and started pushing proactive measures. Enter “VRA for Today” — a project of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, backed by the Brennan Center. They’re demanding that this Congress — and certainly the next — pass the Voting Rights Amendment Act to "enact modern, nationwide protections against discrimination at the ballot box.”
Visit their website — VRAForToday.org and follow them on Twitter via #VRA4Today and @CivilRightsOrg. You can still sign their petition beyond today’s election and access resources like videos, news updates and reports of VRA violations.
You may be disillusioned with national politics. Here at Best of the Left, that’s certainly a sentiment that’s understood. But your ability to vote for ballot initiatives, school board members and state reps is affected by voter suppression efforts just as much as your ability to vote for the presidency and Congress. All our work, all our progress is invalidated if we lose the fundamental ability to have a say the first Tuesday of the moth of November. Visit VRAForToday.org and get involved before the next election cycle — or you may find yourself standing on the sidelines.
Join with the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights: VRA 4 Today
"New Voting Restrictions Could Swing the 2014 Election” by Ari Berman at The Nation
”SCOTUS Overturns Appeals Court, Allows NC To End Same-Day Registration, Couting ‘Out-Of-Precint’ Ballots This November: 'Nation's worst voter suppression law' disenfranchised hundreds in state primary; Will have full trial on merits next summer…” via The Brad Blog
Hear the segment in context:
Episode #873 "The other new Jim Crow (Voting rights)"
Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich