By Bob Cesca: For the last year or so, I'vebeentracking the Republican effort to suppress voting rights by passing various Jim Crow style "Voter ID" laws. The latest round of laws in Pennsylvania, Alabama, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin and so forth is a direct consequence of the 2010 tea party ascension to various state-level positions and practically every governor who was elected in that pivotal midterm campaign has in some way attempted to disenfranchise Democratic voters under the false flag excuse of "voter fraud."
No such fraud exists, of course, and various studies from the Bush Justice Department to conservative reviews of election law violations found that there were as many as 80 successful prosecutions of voter fraud cases out of hundreds of millions of votes cast since 2000, and as few as zero. This isn't news to us. If there's no voter fraud, why are the Republicans so feverishly attempting to pass laws that make it more difficult to vote? It has nothing to do with upholding the law and everything to do with making sure poor people, young people and a considerable portion of seniors can't vote.
Yesterday, there was chaos in Miami-Dade County, Florida where Governor Rick Scott suspended in-person absentee voting because too many people were waiting to vote. And that was only after early voting lines lasted upwards of six hours and were shut down at the designated 1 p.m. closing time. A six hour long line in the hot Miami sun just to cast a ballot. After social media exploded in protest, Scott allowed the in-person absentee vote to continue. But this only a cursory victory for voting rights because absentee ballots, unlike the early votes during normal polling hours, are too often rejected for errors.
And here's a shocker. The Miami Herald reported on Saturday that 187,000 more Democrats than Republicans had voted. If you're Rick Scott, there's a clear political motivation to block that progress.
In Ohio, secretary of state Jon Husted, who's been the most obsessive vote-suppressor of any Republican official in the nation, tossed another wrench in the works the other day by ordering the rejection of provisional ballots that do not correctly list the form of photo ID presented to poll workers. Prior to this new Husted rule, filling in the ID information was the job of the poll worker and now the risk of mistake increases exponentially. If the slightest error is made, the entire provisional ballot will be discarded. Potentially hundreds of thousands of provisional ballots could be rejected. This knife in the back of Ohio voters is only the latest attempt by Husted to disenfranchise voters, specifically Democratic voters, in the swingiest of the swing states -- the state that will absolutely decide who will win on Tuesday.
Suffice to say, Rick Scott and Jon Husted ought to be sanctioned by the Justice Department for civil rights violations under the Voting Rights Act.
In minority districts in Florida and elsewhere, why aren't there rows and rows of voting machines and an army of poll workers? I assure you, there aren't rich Republican voters waiting in long lines and being turned away after six hours. There's no rational reason why check-out lines at McDonald's are shorter than lines to exercise our most basic civic duty as participants in a representative democracy. The voting process should be quick, accessible and simple, but Republicans -- and only Republicans -- don't want that to happen. Ever. They can't allow it, otherwise their last remaining firewall will be torn down. Poor people, minorities and young people will reject the Republican Party en masse unless it can block them from doing so by any means at their disposal. From Rick Scott to Rick Perry, to Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett to South Carolina governor Nikki Haley to Jon Husted, their only goal is to preserve the white, wealthy, conservative power structure.
But this is only an extension of a core tenet of the Republican Party: it simply does not want people to vote. The more voters there are, the less likely Republicans will win. Especially now with a growing minority population. Here's the founder of the Heritage Foundation and the Moral Majority, Paul Weyrich, in 1980 laying it out in simple terms.
"I don't want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of the people. They never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."
It's difficult to know whether voter disenfranchisement will ultimately swing tomorrow's results, but dammit the Republicans are trying really, really hard to make it so. And yet the Republicans somehow continue to be treated with seriousness and respect in spite of their obviously nefarious means.