How To Keep People From Voting? Let Me Count The Ways!

Ed Raymond

The Absolute Horror Of Voter Fraud In Texas And Wisconsin!

In the last ten years over 20 million votes have been cast in Texas state elections. Only two cases of voter fraud in that span of time have been prosecuted to conviction. Because of a lawsuit in Wisconsin a district judge and aides prepared a 90-page study on 2004 voter fraud in Wisconsin and determined that there were only seven invalid votes made by individuals. Those ballots represented 0.0002 percent of the total votes cast in the state, and all of the seven were cast by people with felony convictions. They didn’t realize they were ineligible to vote under state law. Oh, the horror of voter fraud in this democracy! I thought I would construct a little parody on voting from Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “43rd Sonnets from the Portuguese” written to her husband:  “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach, when feeling out of sight for the ends of being and ideal Grace…..”  Well, you get the picture. There have been some interesting ways of “counting the ways of loving” made by others in voyeuristic to pornographic parodies. I will limit mine to the laws and ways of voting.
In 2013 in a 5-4 vote the five justices on the Supreme Court appointed by Republican presidents suddenly decided that we no longer had any racial discrimination or voting problems in this country, so they determined that certain parts of the country, particularly the states of the Old Confederacy, no longer needed to get approval under the Voting Rights Law if they made changes in their voting laws. Chief Justice John Roberts said the law was “outdated.” Soon a tsunami of voting changes in state laws came in huge waves from state legislatures. So here’s my parody: “How do I love to keep Democratic voters from voting? Let me count the ways./ I love to eliminate early voting and same day registration legislation to the depth and breadth and height my laws can reach-- for my goal is to screw up voting./ I love to eliminate and change polling places to confuse and humiliate voters./ I love complex Voter IDs and the requirement of proof of citizenship./ I love concealed-carry permits and hate state-issued student IDs./ I love to park police cars in front of minority polling places to intimidate and humiliate voters./ I love challenging voters inside polling places./ I love old scanners, computers, and other obsolete voting hardware which requires heavy maintenance./ I love creating long lines around minority polling places to discourage voting./ I love to prohibit felons from voting for many years after their release./  I love to put more polling places and machines in wealthy white ZIP codes./ I love opening certain polling places late and closing them early./ I love to redistrict states to squeeze minority voters into certain districts./ I shall love keeping my opponents from voting—even better after death.”
Now, that’s real love of political power.

“The Strategic Ferocity” Of The Republican Attempt To employ Voting Restrictions

We have been forewarned by Michael Waldman’s book “The Fight To Vote,” which outlines what is most likely to happen in the 2016 elections because Republicans have “moved with strategic ferocity” to pass voting laws around the country to make it harder to vote for Democrats and minorities.  Everyone knows the days of the white majority are numbered in this country. The Republicans are making desperate attempts to extend power. Practically all of the voting outrages listed in my parody were used to restrict the vote in Phoenix, Arizona during the Arizona primaries. Polling places were cut from 200 in 2012 (one polling place for every 20,000 residents) to 60 in 2016 (one for every 108,000 residents) in the city of four million, forcing many to wait for as long as five hours to vote. With that ratio Fargo would have two polling places. Greg Stanton, the Democratic mayor of Phoenix, has asked the Justice Department to investigate the voting disaster which was Phoenix. White areas had many more polling places than black or Latino sections. White people generally have more flexible hours than minorities. Poor people have no flexibility in voting at all because they may lose working hours. The mayor said, “tens of thousands of people were deprived of the right to vote.”  (Arizona is one of 16 states which would have had to have approval of the Justice Department to change voting laws under the Voting Rights Act—until the Supremes changed the law in 2013.)
Fernanda Santos of The New York Times summarized the Phoenix fiasco in one long beautiful sentence: “All day, lines meandered along church courtyards, zigzagged along school parking lots and snaked around shadeless blocks as tens of thousands of voters waited to cast their ballots, including many independents who did not know that only those registered to a party could participate in the state’s closed presidential primaries.”  It would seem that a country that could land people on the moon and is preparing to land someone on Mars, could land voters safely and on time in polling places on earth—if it wanted to.

A Kansas Resident Who Owns A Home In Kansas, Pays Taxes In Kansas, Registers Vehicles In Kansas, Is Registered At A Kansas VA Hospital, Is A U.S. Citizen Born In New York--- Can’t Vote In Kansas!

Ralph Ortiz was born in New York, is the father of four children, served in the Air Force for 13 years on bases in the Middle East and in Kansas, and decided to live in Kansas when he left the military in 2015. He registered to vote at the same time he registered his vehicles at the Kansas Department of Motor Vehicles. No one asked him to prove his citizenship. After a legislative session he received a letter saying his voter registration was “in suspense” (like 32,700 other Kansans) because he had not shown proof of citizenship documents, a new state requirement. His name was removed from the voting rolls---most likely because of his last name. Ortiz, to put it bluntly, is really pissed: “I was shocked. I defended my country for 13 years. I own a home here in Kansas. I pay taxes in Kansas. I register my vehicles in Kansas. I’m a veteran who’s registered with the VA. There were many different avenues for them to figure out that I was a U.S. citizen. It was insulting.” The American Civil Liberties Union is now suing the state over the proof of documents provision requiring a passport or birth certificate to register. Several states such as Texas and North Carolina have passed legislation requiring Voter IDs and proof of citizenship in an attempt to suppress votes and disenfranchise minority voters.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris W. Kobach is a graduate of Harvard, England’s Oxford College, and Yale Law School, but has revealed he learned nothing about the 99 Percent at these elite colleges while bragging about his extreme right-wing voting polices. He was behind the passage of the “proof of citizenship” section of the Kansas voting laws. In claiming that finding birth certificates and other documents was “a burden so small” on the poor and the elderly “as to be virtually non-existent,” he told them: “The only burden is finding your birth certificate in your desk or wherever you keep it and taking a picture of it with your smart phone or making a copy and sending it to the county or taking it in yourself.”  Of course, we all know that everyone has a birth certificate, everyone has a smart phone, everyone has a computer and copier, and everyone has a vehicle to drive the copy to the nearest registration office. Voting is absolutely no burden for Kobach, the former chairman of the Kansas Republican Party. He completely disagrees with election-law experts who say there is no evidence of wide-spread voting fraud in the United States. Aliens, you know, can swing elections.

Why Should The World’s Oldest Democracy—Which Elects The Most Powerful Leader Of The Western World---Have The Worst Elections Among Democracies?

The University of Sydney (Australia) and Harvard University have combined researchers to study 180 national parliamentary and presidential elections held in 139 countries between 1 July, 2012 and 31 December, 2015. Among the elections were 54 national elections held in 2015. Forty experts studied each election by answering 49 questions on a 100-point Perceptions of Electoral Integrity (PEI) questionnaire. We rank 23rd, or worst, among all Western democracies. Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden top the list, with Denmark and Finland tied at 86 points out of 100. We are last with 62 points. For the 2012 presidential elections held in many countries the U.S. ranked 60th out of 180 elections—right next to Bulgaria, Mexico, and Argentina. In 2014 U.S. congressional elections ranked 65th out of 180. New democracies tend to do much better than old. Lithuania ranked 4th, Costa Rica 6th, and Slovenia 8th in 2014 elections. Gerrymandering of electoral districts is one of our worst sins according to the study. Campaign finance is another.
   Pippa Norris, a lecturer at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, states in her book “Why Elections Fail,” that the blame for the poor election performances in the U.S. rests with decentralization and partisanship in the administration of elections in this country. There is little federal control over how states and localities administer elections. Gerrymandering, as an example, is done by politicians to feather their own impregnable nest, not by more impartial judicial bodies. And the Supreme Court decision on campaign funds based on Citizens United has blown up any idea of one man-one vote. Now it is dollars equals votes.

If You Have Done Your Time, Why Shouldn’t You Be Able To Get In The Voting Line?

   In some civilizations prisoners are allowed to vote from their cells. In most a prisoner is eligible to vote again upon release from prison. In some a prisoner can vote after completing probationary periods. But in most states in the U.S., particularly in the Old Confederacy, felons are disenfranchised. In Maine and Vermont some prisoners are allowed to vote from their cells. In Florida, one in four black adults is disenfranchised. In fact, if you commit any felony in Florida you lose your vote for life unless your petition is approved by a clemency board. Over 1.6 million Floridians, or 9% of the population, cannot vote, hold office or serve on a jury. After a felon is released from prison and probation he must wait for five or seven years, depending on his crime, to petition to restore voting rights. Florida’s records indicate it may take as long as nine years after filing the petition to gain approval or rejection. One might think Florida does not want blacks to vote. Over the last four years only 1,534 nonviolent felons have had their voting rights restored. More than 11,000 applicants are still waiting for an answer.
   Voting rights vary so much from state to state in the U.S. one has to maintain a chart. In Florida, Iowa, and Kentucky all felons must petition for voting rights. In ten states, only some felons can apply, depending upon state laws. In the rest of the states voting laws resemble a crazy-quilt. If you have served your sentence and completed parole and probation, should you still be punished for the rest of your life? Over six million U.S. citizens are prevented from voting by state laws. Evidently the debt to society can never be paid, even if one is rehabilitated.