In the 1950′s, three governors stood on the steps of Southern public educational institutions in their states, attempting to block African American students from attending. Flash forward 50 years or so and it’s Florida Gov. Rick Scott standing between Floridians and their polling places to stop them from exercising another guaranteed right of citizenship – the vote.
Our most basic freedom – the right to cast a ballot to determine our choice of government – has been under attack this year by Republican legislatures and Republican governors as never before. It’s been totally a Republican Party drive.
And before one of my elephant-loving friends rises in defense of these elected law breakers, he/she better be holding in his/her hand an concrete example of a Democrat-sponsored effort to participate in this despicable enterprise. Go ahead. I’ll wait. ‘Cause it won’t happen.
Republicans in at least seven states have undertaken various approaches to denying Americans their rightful place at the ballot box. When the efforts were taken to the courts, all were stopped but one. And that one – upheld by a Republican-appointed judge in Pennsylvania – was reversed on appeal. These were just the ones that got through the legislative process. In more than half-a-dozen other states, the Republican-backed treachery was stopped before getting out of the chambers.
In Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio, Republican Secretaries of State have also tried to separate voters from the franchise. One fired Democrats on Ohio’s voting commission when they opposed his illegal restrictions. All three made drastic cuts in early voting hours, days and polling places. All have sponsored official web sites with wrong voting data about polling places, dates of the election, hours of operation and “official” telephone numbers for voting information that were either unanswered or led to automated messages containing similar bogus data.
In two states, billboards were placed along highways that contained phony information – such as photo identification being required to vote- even after courts had struck down the illegal requirement. Official mailings were sent out in three states with dates to vote listed that were two days after the election. In one case, the voting information was only wrong – in Spanish.
Is this a full Republican Party press to violate constitutional rights of citizens? No. Thank God, no. In Florida and Ohio, several Republican county officials refused to comply with state orders to cut days, hours or otherwise impede voters. They were threatened but held their ground.
But what we’re seeing played out here is – in my view – a symptom of the internecine battle to come within the Republican Party following this week’s election. There are Republicans – God love ‘em – many Republicans who’re just as disgusted and embarrassed about this destructiveness as the rest of us. They are seeing the rotten fruits of the labors of zealots and ideologues who control the Party from precinct level to national offices. (more…)