Friday, October 26, 2012

UK: Discouraging voting is bad for democracy

PJ: Voter suppression is nothing new. It has been used throughout history around the world to either maintain the power of the few or to take away the power of many. In the US it was used to prevent the poor from voting, like most other countries men used it to prevent women from having a voice in government and whites used it to prevent people of color from participating in the government that would make the laws under which they must live.

More frighteningly, voter suppression has been used to persecute groups of people that might stand in the way of one political party taking more control over government. Examples in history abound but none more dramitic than the extreme treatment of Jewish citizens in Germany Pre-World War II. When Jews lost the vote and therefore a voice in government it was a huge step toward one group of people losing their rights and a huge jump toward the unravelly of democratic rule. (Which brings to mind the shocking realization that many Israelis now want to take away the vote of Israeli Arab citizens now:

Many in the Republican party are promoting voter suppression under the false premise that voter fraud, which is not a problem, has run rampant. Caught on tape, some in the GOP have voiced their delight that if they can suppress the vote then their candidate will win. It is sad that prominent voices in the Republican party, such as Mitt Romney, have not publically challenged their party's desires to this end. But with Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and the other loud voices that conservatives follow propagandizing daily about their false claims of voter fraud, it is really no wonder that they don't.

The Economist

Access to the polls

Counting voters, counting votes

Discouraging citizens from voting is not good for democracy

Loose-lipped Republicans have done their side no favours. Mike Turzai, a Republican in Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives, boasted that his state’s voter-ID law “is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.” A Republican official in Franklin County, Ohio, writing of his state’s decision to limit early-voting, said: “We shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban [ie, heavily black] voter-turnout machine.” The national elections co-ordinator of True the Vote, a group that trains poll workers and believes that “fraud and law-breaking has [sic] become all too common in our electoral system”, says he wants voters to feel “that they are driving and seeing the police following” them.

More candid Republicans might admit that these laws are all just part of the turnout game that both sides play. They help Republicans, just as generous absentee- and early-voting laws help Democrats. But a qualitative difference exists between laws that encourage citizens to take part in choosing their rulers and laws that discourage them from doing so.

Read it at The Economist:

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