There are a number of national issues that I find disturbing, but most of them I keep to myself, and I don’t use MillersTime to rail against them.
Global warming, and the unwillingness to face it, is one. Money in politics, and what that is doing to our democratic system, is another. Then there’s Congress’s inability to function when we have issues that need to be addressed. I could add the hatred and dishonesty spewed on talk radio, some of the cable TV outlets, and in other public places. I could go on but will spare you.
But there is one issue that for some reason rises to the top of my list and provokes me to action. It is the reason I went to Ohio this past year for a week to canvas in the 2012 elections and to help get out the vote.
The more I followed various states’ actions at limiting voter’s ability to go to the polls last year, the angrier I got. I followed this issue closely, and it seemed to me that rather than protecting the integrity of our voting system, these actions were meant to discourage or to inhibit voters from going to the polls. (In Pennsylvania, officials admitted to/bragged about using voting rights restrictions to make it easier for Mitt Romney to win in their state.)
For me, the cornerstone of our democratic system starts with the freedom to vote. When that is inhibited, whether by instituting a poll tax, disallowing certain classes to vote, or putting barriers in the way of voters, I think we head down a dangerous path.
Yesterday, the governor of North Carolina, Pat McCrory, quietly signed into law a voting ‘rights’ bill which, among other things, did the following:
- Require voter photo ID at polling places.
- Reduce the early voting period from 17 days to 10 days.
- Prohibit counties from extending poll hours by one hour on Election Day even in extraordinary circumstances, such as in response to long lines. (Those in line at closing time would still be allowed to vote.)
- Eliminate pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, who currently can register to vote before they turn 18.
- Outlaw paid voter registration drives.
- Eliminate straight-ticket voting.
- Eliminate provisional voting if someone shows up at the wrong precinct.
- Allow any registered voter of a county to challenge the eligibility of a voter rather than just a voter of the precinct in which the suspect voter is registered.
North Carolina’s new voting bill is just one of the many new laws that are working their way through state legislatures following the recent Supreme Court decision that declared Section 5 of the 1965/2006 Voting Rights Act unnecessary (unconsititutional?), saying there was little evidence of continuing racial discrimination in the states that were required to get preclearance before changing their voting laws.
If you think the Citizens United decision about money in the campaign system opened a floodgate, watch what is about to happen now as states begin to institute new voting rights restrictions under the guise of “protecting the integrity of our voting system.”