Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Another Election Year, Another GOP Effort to Smash Your Vote


Ever wonder why so few people in this country vote? If you do, you haven't been paying enough attention to your Republican lawmakers. As always, the best winning strategy the GOP can come up with is to keep 'we the people' away from the polls.

If ever a country was in need of a little election day monitoring by the United Nations, it's the good old USA. Or perhaps we could simply banish lawmakers from the entire process and put the people at American Idol in charge of the vote.

Today's New York Times editorial reveals the latest in the continuing saga of the GOP's sick and twisted efforts to stop your vote.

Prepare to be sickened.

Block the Vote (snippets):

In a country that spends so much time extolling the glories of democracy, it's amazing how many elected officials go out of their way to discourage voting.

Florida recently reached a new low when it actually bullied the League of Women Voters into stopping its voter registration efforts in the state. The Legislature did this by adopting a law that seems intended to scare away anyone who wants to run a voter registration drive. Since registration drives are particularly important for bringing poor people, minority groups and less educated voters into the process, the law appears to be designed to keep such people from voting.

It imposes fines of $250 for every voter registration form that a group files more than 10 days after it is collected, and $5,000 for every form that is not submitted — even if it is because of events beyond anyone's control, like a hurricane. The Florida League of Women Voters, which is suing to block the new rules, has decided it cannot afford to keep registering new voters in the state as it has done for 67 years. If a volunteer lost just 16 forms in a flood, or handed in a stack of forms a day late, the group's entire annual budget could be put at risk.

In Washington, a new law prevents people from voting if the secretary of state fails to match the information on their registration form with government databases. There are many reasons that names, Social Security numbers and other data may not match, including typing mistakes.

Congress is considering a terrible voter ID requirement as part of the immigration reform bill. Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, introduced an amendment to require all voters to present a federally mandated photo ID. Even people who have been voting for years would need to get a new ID to vote in 2008. Millions of people without drivers' licenses, including many elderly people and city residents, might fail to do so, and be ineligible to vote. The amendment has been blocked so far, but voting-rights advocates worry that it could reappear.

Protecting the integrity of voting is important, but many of these rules seem motivated by a partisan desire to suppress the vote, and particular kinds of voters, rather than to make sure that those who are entitled to vote — and only those who are entitled — do so. The right to vote is fundamental, and Congress and state legislatures should not pass laws that put an unnecessary burden on it. If they do, courts should strike them down.

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