Voter Suppression and Apathy

There’s a lot wrong with the voting process here in the U.S.  Low voter turnout, bad candidates, the difficulty and hassle of registering to vote every time you move.  Things have been worse though.  It wasn’t very long ago that women, blacks, native Americans and poor people couldn’t vote.  Since the Voting Rights Act of 1965, things have improved, but unfortunately, voter suppression techniques designed to keep minority voters and people from low income areas away from the polls are all too common.  Why, because they are more likely to vote for Democrats.  Yes, I am saying that Republicans are behind this.  You ask, is this really happening?  Sure it is.  Robo calls giving the wrong dates to would be voters, stricter ID requirements – for example, a student ID in Texas might not be enough, but a gun license would be fine as proof of identity along with another form of ID.  In Florida, a law passed that makes it harder to register to vote and restricts  early voting.  Maine no longer permits registration on the day of an election and places new restrictions on absentee voting.  And there was a reason a band of reactionary merry pranksters went after ACORN, and it wasn’t to expose fraud.  For a complete list and description of voter suppression legislation by state, see this ACLU Map.

Suppression is one problem, but not the only.  Even among registered voters who are not suppressed, voter turnout is embarrassingly low and even lower in local elections, in the country thought to be a model for democracy.     Voting is a civic responsibility, like jury duty, but so many U.S. citizens do not exercise their right to vote, something like 30-40% from the looks of the data, don’t bother to vote in Presidential elections.  For historic voting patterns, see the United States Elections Project.

Thinking of the 99% who believe that if all 99% would vote, there’d be real change,  I have news for you – that sort of turnout is unprecedented.  And I think the OWS movement has forgotten that a good many Republican voters are also in the 99%, who, were they to vote, would certainly not vote for a candidate sympathetic to OWS objectives.  It is a fact that a good number of Republicans do not vote for candidates who have their best interests in mind.  And forgive me for being cynical, but if history is any indication, a good chunk of the OWS crowd will not register to vote, or bother to go to the polls and vote the bastages out and the good ones in.  I hope I am wrong – I really do.

Will Students Get Out the Vote for President Obama?

This was one of the articles I saved from my New York Times news feed for comment:

Students Lose Enthusiasm to Fight For Obama Again

This may be true but only a problem if students don’t vote, but I think they will.  Many students and recent graduates are involved in the various Occupy Movements.  They may have lost their enthusiasm for the President, but who else would they vote for?  Certainly not any of the front running Republican candidates.  The corporate pizza guy, Herman Cain, said of the Occupy participants: “they are trying to destroy the greatest nation in the world.”  Gingrich declared them “destructive, hostile and anti-civilization”.  Mitt Romney argues that corporations are people, with rights, and presumably feelings too, a stance that will surely not garner many Occupy Movement votes.  I don’t think Ron Paul cares a thing in the world about income inequality, but he has gone on record as supporting the protesters if they are against “crony capitalism”.  While the Occupy Movement would like to dismantle practices that have led to the growing disparity of wealth in this country, Ron Paul would like to dismantle the government.  I don’t think this is what Occupy folk have in mind.

As Laura Flanders asserted on Up with Chris Hayes today, if the Occupy Movement is going to be as successful as the Tea Party, they need to start backing political candidates to take the fight to Congress.  And I assert that otherwise, all that youthful energy, the camping out, the sign making, the demonstrations, proclamations and organized chants, the arrests, the occupations, will have all been for naught.