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Shouldn’t we be encouraging people to vote, including making the process much easier and accessible than it is now? After all, voting is a citizen’s most basic act of democratic participation, and we’re told by editorialists and school teachers that it’s our civic duty. Yet, Republican officials in many key states have been going all out to discourage voters from casting ballots.
This is un-American!
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Well that’s exactly the problem, cry GOP politicos, feverishly warning that hordes of non-Americans are swarming into our polling places to pervert our elections with their illegal votes. Thus, say Republican partisans, we must preserve the sacred integrity of the ballot by conducting sweeping purges of voter lists, especially in Democratic areas, and we must impose a new layer of authoritarian “show-me-your-papers” impediments on darker-skinned voters.
For example, the GOP secretary of state in Colorado excitedly asserted – Joe McCarthy style – that he had a list of 11,805 non-citizens who were on the state’s voter rolls. To prove it, he targeted 3,900 of them, directly challenging their citizenship.
The Colorado politico hoped to make a name for himself with this ugliness, but – oops – he only made a fool of himself. It turns out that only 141 of his targets had any questionable status, and only 35 of those had ever voted. Even more embarrassing, his hit list of 35 illegal voters included eight people in Denver, but an independent check there found that all eight are citizens.
Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, the Republican leader of the state house didn’t even pretend that his effort to ram a voter ID requirement into law had a more noble purpose than raw partisan politics. The law, he gloated, “is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.” So much for ballot integrity.
“Republicans look for voter fraud, find little,” www.rapidcityjournal.com, September 24, 2012.
“Turzai: Voter ID Law Means Romney Can Win PA,” www.politicspa.com , June 25, 2012.