Voting is supposed to be the cornerstone of democracies, where all peoples who are eligible to vote should be able to exercise their right to choose who leads them and in which direction… vox populi.
In democracies, people should be able to vote free and fair and free from fear. In some so-called ‘democracies’ this is not so. People ‘vote’ for state determined candidates, who often get 105% of the vote. Voting, which used to have this almost sacrilegious aura, has certainly fallen from grace… and one of the reasons is because its standards have fallen in the United States of America, the country many people used to look towards for guidance in their quest for democracy.
Yet this fall has been around longer and deeper than we think. For example, there are people who think that the people should vote for the presidency by a popular vote rather than winning based on electoral votes. As the system stands, the people don’t really vote for the president, they are only led to believe that. They vote for someone else who votes for the president.
Because of the party system, the party usually delivers the votes it gets for its candidate to that candidate. But it is conceivable that that vote can cross the line and determine a candidate that the people never meant it for. Just because it hasn’t, doesn’t mean that it can’t happen.
Then there is the process of gerrymandering, where the parties create strange looking boundaries aimed at creating advantageous results for them, or disadvantageous results for the opposition
But for the 2012 elections, the real threat is the suppression of votes. Voter suppression is not really new in the American voting tradition, but for this election, it is pervasively blatant, and is a real threat to the future of this country.
And lets be clear first that while the republican party is currently the villain, eventually two can play the game.
For the 2012 election, we hear all manner of republican state leaderships claiming that they will deliver the election for their party by cleansing the voting roll. Election fraud the republicans say, is widespread and a real problem. Yet evidence doesn’t support that. In fact there is less than 1/10 of one per cent of fraudulent votes in elections. That is, for every 1,000,000 votes, less than 1000 of them are fraudulent.
Many republican-led states (Michigan, New Mexico, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Alaska, Tennessee, Ohio, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Texas, Washington, Colorado) are embarking on this massive campaign to ‘lessen’ voter fraud but it is nothing but a cover for suppressing votes. In truth what is happening is that republicans are in fact making it more difficult for legitimate voters to exercise this right. And what makes it clearly repugnant is that they are targeting minorities. Florida is one of these republican-led states
There are several ways of suppressing or extinguishing these votes and the republicans are using every one of them.
During his term as Florida’s governor, Jeb Bush disenfranchised thousands of ex-felons though they had paid their debt to society. The following governor, republican Charlie Crist returned the rights to those Americans… but one of the first acts by current republican governor Rick Scott was to overturn Crist.
Scott also resorted to other measures including purging the voters lists. When the court vetoed his purge, Scott appealed and continued the purge, knowing full well that by time the court rules against him again, the voting rights of thousands will already be lost to this election.
Other methods include creating address issues and complications for college students, restricting the types of identifications that can be used targeting minorities and naturalized immigrants, reduced days for early voting, no early sunday voting (which discriminates against the old and infirm).
The votes of over 21 million Americans nationwide are threatened by photo ID measures. By restricting what can be used as identification, many Americans will find that they might not be able to vote in November. Thankfully, due to the work of many like the Advancement Project (www.advancementproject.org), courts have halted several republican measures to suppress the vote. In Florida, Scott is simply carrying on the measures despite the judges ruling.
Free and fair voting is crucial to democracies and the republicans aren’t playing fair. So be it… it is to be expected. Still it is incumbent on each of us to ensure that if we are eligible to vote, that we must be sure we are registered, and do the same for our families and friends for which doubts may exist.
If you want to check on your or your families status, you can check with your local office of elections. If you find issues with your name, bring it to the office’s attention. For some people who may have to re-register, you can do so by October 9.
If you want to know more about how the republican party is trying to change the will of the people, go to www.myvotefl.org