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Vote – if you can

rainey

We’ve voted.

Couple of weeks ago. Mailed ballots. Except, we didn’t use the mail to return ‘em. Went to city hall polling place and dropped ‘em in the box. Just to be sure. Couple days later, receipt was acknowledged by Maricopa County. Done!

Filled out the ballots at home – when we had time – and after reading what we needed to from the voter information pamphlet. No rush. No fuss. No l-o-n-g lines. Absolutely secure. Done!

Why doesn’t every state do this?

Given what Republicans have done to suppress voting access across the country in the last few years, it’s easy to blame the whole party. Which would be wrong. In many states, the GOP has worked with Democrats to create secure voting and assured access. Democrats still think and act the same way.

But – this year, some state Republican parties have pulled out all the stops, actively working to limit access or outright steal completed ballots. California. Where the GOP put out ballot deposit boxes labeled “official.” They aren’t. Dems and some cities asked the GOP to remove ‘em. GOP said “NO.” Seems local authorities, the Dems or the state didn’t want to take legal action beyond the requests. So, the ballot-stealing boxes are still out there. Pilfering completed ballots.

We’ve seen lots of pictures of people in long lines, waiting to vote. Stories of folks waiting 10 hours – or longer – to gain access. Texas Governor ordered counties to remove all ballot collection boxes but one – one – per county! Texas has several cities of more than a million population. One with 4-million. Imagine the lines. But, worse, imagine how many people just didn’t vote because of the restriction. Again, access denied.

Other states – mostly in the Southeast – used all sorts of gimmicks to deny citizens the right to vote. Some required certain ID information many poor people don’t have for one reason or another. Two states wanted birth certificates or other proof of citizenship. Several, like Texas, reduced the number of polling places or shortened hours polls would be open. Especially in areas with a lot of Black residents. In Georgia and Florida, both Black and Hispanic communities hit hard by state restrictions. More roadblocks.

I’ve long believed – if you’ll pardon a personal opinion – that voting for the office of President should be run by the feds. One ballot used under a single process in all states.

All of us, at times, operate under one federal law. Nothing new about that. When I was a private pilot, my license was issued by the Federal Aviation Administration. My military driver’s license was federal. I’ve had several federally-backed home loans. My VA benefits operate under federal law. And, there are many, many other singularly federal laws we don’t even think about. Uniform. Everywhere.

Imagine. A single presidential ballot. Used in all states and territories. All using one federal law. The same “rules-of-the-game.” Everywhere. Down-ballot, each state could go it’s own way. But, on top, a national vote under uniform rules.

I know. I know. Such thinking is that of an old guy out in the desert sun too long. But, it makes sense, damn it!

Should Democrats prevail in sweeping the Presidency and both Houses of Congress – as seems likely – the first order of business should be restoring – or even rewriting – the federal voting rights act.

Couple of years ago, SCOTUS gutted the existing law, part of which put certain requirements on states known to restrict voter access. Even forcing offending states to submit to SCOTUS oversight if a voting law was to be changed. I can’t forget Chief Justice Robert’s comments at the time SCOTUS acted. He noted past violators of the Constitutional guarantee of voting “seem to have learned their lessons” and issues of abusing voters were “things of the past.” Yeah. Sure.

So, here we are. Several years down the road. And the “offending states” -absent that old oversight – are at it again. Same states. Same old tricks. With largely the GOP erecting hurdles between citizens and their ballot boxes. Congress must act.

A few days ago, I heard a well-respected Republican leader of the past say, if the Party took a national beating up and down the ballot, it could mean the GOP would be nearly non-existent for a decade or two.

Maybe that’s what’s driving this Republican effort to keep voter and ballot apart. If it is, then congressional action should be swift, replacing safeguards to bring these underhanded activities to an immediate halt.

Here in the desert, in our “55+” world, it’s worth noting how us old folks do things a bit differently. Politically speaking. As you drive through our senior neighborhoods of some 90,000+ retirees, you’ll usually see Trump signs placed close to the sidewalks for easy viewing. Biden signs, on the other hand, are mostly placed back, near the front door. That’s because Biden signs are stolen or defaced in much larger numbers. Seems Trumpers hereabouts outnumber the Biden-backers. At least publically.

Which is odd. We have a lot of retired military living here. A lot. Most have bumper stickers or back-window indications of such. You’d think – given our President’s comments regarding the military – alive or dead as “suckers” and “losers” – that anyone who’s lived a military life would not be a DJT supporter. But, many are! Seems odd to me to see a retired “gunny” in our neighborhood still backing Trump. But, he is. Lots of others, too.

In our world these days, we seem to be under attack from many things. COVID-19 has us hunkering down. At least some of us. Climate change – maybe the single largest “attack” we face – is all around us. In some states – too many states – local governments seem to be attacking voting rights and other civic privileges.

Then, there’s our President, who’s been conducting a four-year frontal attack to destroy agencies of federal government and our faith in long-standing institutions. He’s attacked our rule-of-law, our trust in many forms of governance. He’s subverted restrictions on the Presidency to enrich himself and many of his friends. His entire term seems to have been used to attack truth, civility, trust and responsibility. He’s worked to destroy just about everything he’s touched.

Now, facing a perilous future of many lawsuits, some serious federal and state charges and doing so without the protection of high political office he’s enjoyed and used for his own benefit, he’s attacking the voting process. The constitutionally-protected franchise guaranteed to all. Sadly, we’re not likely done with a major political party attempting to block citizens from exercising that franchise.

People we elect to high office in November have a huge job ahead of them to clean up the mess. To attract good and qualified people to serve. To restore confidence and faith of the people in their own government. To undo the damages of the last four years.

It’s a big job. But, it can be done. That’s why we vote.
 

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