By Bob Cesca:
This probably won't go over very well in the southern states where the whiny, pouty threat of secession has been revived yet again, but the federal government needs to take over the regulation and process of voting -- and specifically in the states where Republicans have conspired to suppress and disenfranchise minority voters.
Dennis Miller (when he used to be reasonable) once said, "States can't pave fucking roads." In other words, if they can't handle the simple task of applying new macadam over cracks and potholes, then why are the states still running our most sacred civic event? The Republican-controlled states have especially abused the privilege by rolling back early voting and adding nonsensical voter ID laws. This year, they've proved themselves entirely incapable of conducting themselves on the level and have, instead, opted to turn voting laws into self-serving weapons in service of the Republican Party, rather than making sure everyone regardless of ethnic background can conveniently cast a vote with the same ease of use as a fast food drive-thru.
How do we know they've been nefarious about voting? Jim Greer, the former chairman of the Republican Party in Florida, said so.
“The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates,” Greer told the Post. “It’s done for one reason and one reason only...‘We’ve got to cut down on early voting because early voting is not good for us.’"
Greer went on to refer to the claims of voter fraud as a "marketing ploy." Of course it is. In Iowa, Matt Schultz, the secretary of state, is on a crusade to enact similar voter ID laws in the wake of the 2012 election. As evidence of voter fraud, Schultz has smoked out exactly... eight cases. Most of them appear have been benign -- cases where residents, such as convicted felons and immigrants, didn't realize they were ineligible to vote but did so anyway.
By the way, there were 1.5 million votes cast in Iowa in this month's election, which means the rate of alleged voter fraud was 0.00053 percent. Can you imagine undergoing compulsory radiation and chemotherapy if your doctor told you there was only a 0.00053 percent chance you'd die from cancer? Worse, as of this writing there hasn't been a single conviction. So, really, the rate of convicted voter fraud in Iowa is zero percent.
As we've written and discussed over and over: there's no there there. Which leaves only one explanation. The laws are racially-motivated.
Greer also acknowledged that the effort to restrict early voting would directly affect turnout among Florida's African Americans, a demographic that consistently supports Democrats.
“The sad thing about that is yes, there is prejudice and racism in the party but the real prevailing thought is that they don’t think minorities will ever vote Republican,” Greer told the Post.
Consequently, it doesn't matter to Republicans if minorities are able to vote. The fewer the better. This is precisely why the Voting Rights Acts is more important than ever. Not since the Jim Crow era have white conservative southern politicians engaged in such a concerted effort to prevent minorities from exercising their right to vote.
Therefore it's critical that the federal government intercede on behalf of those voters and take over the process, not unlike the Reconstruction era when it was clear that the post-secession south was incapable of conducting fair and open elections. If they want to act like secession-fetishists who are actively preventing minority Americans from voting, then they ought to be treated accordingly.
The top-line changes:
1) Enact universal voter registration. When citizens turn 18 or attain citizenship status, they should be automatically registered to vote.
2) Ballots and voting machines should be standardized nationwide and only contracted to fully nonpartisan organizations without any political ties, agendas or connections to political parties or candidates. Software should be open source and routinely audited, and ballot-counting should be conducted by non-political government workers.
3) Government preclearance should be expanded and enforced. Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act mandates that states where Jim Crow laws were prevalent are required to receive approval from either the Justice Department or federal judges before enacting new voting laws. Clearly this isn't working. In Florida, the Republican law that restricted early voting -- the law Greer and others have criticized -- was only reversed in five of 67 counties when it clearly should've been struck down throughout the entire state.
4) Early voting should be permanently expanded to a full month nationwide, culminating with the traditional first Tuesday of November.
5) Or, quite simply, there should be a constitutional amendment turning over the election process to the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) or another regulatory body, thus beefing up the 15th, 19th, 24th and 26th Amendments.
The notion of voter fraud is precisely what Jim Greer called it: a ploy. In fact, the real and rampant fraud is being perpetrated by the Republican establishment to the detriment of constitutional rights and the integrity of our electoral process, not to mention a considerable cross-section of Americans who've already endured far too many years of disenfranchisement and suppression. So enough. No more Republican grabassery. If they can't behave like adults, then the real adults need to step in and take their newest toys away. And if this is another catalyst for them to further amplify their secession threats, then have at it. It won't work and will only really serve to vindicate the notion that they have no place in serious corridors of leadership.