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With voter suppression, vote my way or the highway
Jan. 30, 2023 6:00 am
I have a message for conservative legislators around the country. I think they are all Republicans, but my Republican friends don’t approve of them any more than I do. They think voter suppression is a secular sin and will take you to hell as swiftly as a spiritual one. I speak up as a public service, not as a partisan, of course, and I speak now because I know the legislators want to hear from me.
Here’s the message: King George III, who later went mad, lost the war. Democracy beat monarchy. We won. Get it? Efforts to suppress voting, the current conservative hobby/compulsion in many states, is not democracy. It isn’t monarchy either. You label it. I can’t use those words in a family newspaper.
A dozen or more legislatures with conservative majorities are at work to suppress voting. More than 70 percent of voter prosecutions conducted by the Texas attorney general’s Election Integrity Unit targeted Black and Latino voters, according to the Texas ACLU. Texas, of course, is not alone.
Here is how one report has highlighted what is going on in Ohio as an example of what is going on in other states., “It puts it among states with the strictest voter ID rules and will make it harder for elderly people, the disabled and the poor to vote.” There are other techniques being used to keep Black people, brown people, anyone who is a likely Democratic vote away from their polling places. King George would approve, and so would Marie Antoinette who said when told the people had no bread, “Let them eat cake.” She was later beheaded, but, out of decency and kindness, I don’t urge that for the legislators. They have already lost their heads in pursuing “widespread fraud,” finding, but not admitting, not a bit of evidence.
The rhetoric and resulting laws have real and personal consequences. In Texas, 33-year-old Crystal Mason, mother of three young kids, was sentenced to five years in prison. Her crime? She didn’t know that she, having recently come out of prison, but still under supervised release, could not vote. She did. The responsible agency told the court that it did not explain voting limits to their supervised “clients.” A higher court has intervened, hopefully preventing her trip back to the slammer.
The legislators do more damage to the integrity of our system than she. If she deserves five, they deserve life sentences. Short of that, some way must be found to stop legislatures across the country, including Iowa, from seeking to disenfranchise our citizens.
In some states, the legislature is moving to eliminate neighborhood elementary schools from being voting places, as they have often been for years. They claim their only interest is in keeping children safe from an intruder. Intruders don’t wait for Election Day.
A recent tally found that already 162 voting bills have been submitted in state legislatures. George is smiling in his grave.
Norman Sherman of Coralville has worked extensively in politics, including as Vice President Hubert Humphrey’s press secretary.
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