A little over a week ago, I wrote a blog
about voting. Wisconsin had implemented a voter ID law, and then Governor Scott Walker was (is) closing down DMV offices in areas that tend to vote Democratic, so "he could extend hours in other offices" (in Republican districts). Voter suppression is an easier way to steal elections than hacking voting machines and is as old as the poll tax. It's also seems more rampant than ever.
Returning to Wisconsin, we also find that the Koch brothers - those Republican and Tea Party patrons - decided to get involved. Rather than encouraging people to vote for the Republican candidate, they decided instead to mail out absentee ballots
to voters in Democratic areas with a mail-in deadline date two days after the election:
As Politico reports, mailers have now turned up from Americans For Prosperity Wisconsin, addressed to voters in two of the Republican-held recall districts, where the elections will be held on August 9. The mailers ask recipients to fill out an absentee ballot application, and send it in -- by August 11, after Election Day for the majority of these races.
Furthermore, a close look at the mailer shows a continuation of irregularities that have already involved conservative groups and absentee ballots in the state.
The mailing address for the applications is listed as "Absentee Ballot Application Processing Center, P.O. Box 1327, Madison WI 53701-1327." A Google search shows that this address is not any sort of government office, but has been used by the conservative group Wisconsin Family Action.
AFP Wisconsin director Matt Seaholm told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the August 11 date in the mailer was a typo, and that the group is not trying to mislead voters.
As Colbert pointed out on his show last night, yes, it's easy to understand how one could type "11" instead of "9", because the keys are so close together.
How is this even legal? How can a private organization legally mail out incorrect official government voting documents (or what they purport to be at least). Isn't this fraud?... specifically voter fraud? If this is not illegal, it should be.
Of course - getting people to vote incorrectly is just one tool in the ol' voter suppression toolbox. Others include challenging a person's right to vote (voter ID), purging them from the registration roles, or disqualifying their voter registration. Here in VA, that latter action became a court case
Project Vote had sued the Norfolk and state voter registrars after a number of Norfolk State University students had their voter registrations rejected during the last presidential election. The Norfolk registrar denied the group access to the records, citing Virginia election law.
Smith ruled that federal law, which mandates openness of voter records, trumps Virginia's law, which restricts access to voter registration applications only to the local registrar and the individual voter.
Project Vote won that battle, but the judge stayed the ruling because it said that once the records were released, they could not be "unreleased" if an appeal prevails. So they must go to the next higher court for more resolution, and those voters continue to have their Constitutional right to have a voice in their representation denied.
Ever the stallwart defender of human rights, my former congressman John Lewis (D-GA) is holding a voting rights forum
The forum, entitled "Redistricting and the Continued Relevance of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act," will highlight the effects of present and upcoming proposals that impede fair access to the ballot box. It is 6 to 8 p.m. at Ebenezer Baptist Church, 407 Auburn Ave.
Questionable practices in Georgia include malfunctioning voting machines, disenfranchising identification laws, along with thousands of unreasonable and improper citizenship checks during the 2010 elections.
Questionable practices abound outside Georgia as well.
According to Lewis, legislators are currently introducing 37 bills in 15 other states to further impede the right to vote.
I urge anybody in the Atlanta area to attend. It will be this coming Monday at the location noted above.
I hope that voter suppression efforts get the wide attention they deserve. There is no "fair and balanced" aspect to this story. Claims that these actions are needed to prevent voter fraud are baseless allegations, steeped in fear that "foreigners" are influencing elections. There is never any evidence.
Everyone in America has a right to vote - even the homeless guy sleeping under a bridge. Any attempt to deny him his right to his voice in our democracy is an affront to the spirit of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. One voice - one vote. That is the heartbeat and soul of America.