Voter Suppression

Since last November, and especially since January 2017, I have asked myself almost daily, ‘what kind of bizzaro world have I woken up to?’ Did I eat the wrong side of the mushroom? Did I get a bad one? Then I remembered that I don’t eat shrooms or fungi of any kind except for Portobellos, so no, this is all scarily real. We have an egomaniacal, self-absorbed, racist, sexist, homophobic reality TV personality scam-artist as president. HOW the hell did that happen?! This was a candidate who was losing to Joe Biden. He was losing to someone who wasn’t even running for president.

As I reread the articles of all of the dirty deeds that rained down upon the American voters last year, they all seemed to point to the same heading; voter suppression. We have a system that currently excludes 40% of voters in most states just by virtue of party preference. If they don’t belong to one of the two established country clubs of parties, they are not allowed to vote unless they switch. So much for one person, one vote. This restriction is tantamount to giving the republican or democratic parties a monopoly on financing and delegates and takes freedom of choice away from the voters. We the voter are now stuck with whatever party winner that’s presented, no matter how lame they may be. It’s like having only two eligible bachelors in your entire town and they’re both sleazy. There are two antidotes to this that would keep candidates more honest; more parties for more choices or no parties.

No parties would be my preference. Everyone is standing on their own with no colors or parties to hide behind. Voters and delegates would have to look to the credentials, accomplishments and plans of each candidate. They would have to earn our vote on their own merit. How amazing would that be? I know, it’s wishful thinking, but what are we without our dreams?  Choice number two would be to have more parties. As in business, when consumers have more options for the same good or service, it compels the provider to be more fair in price and present a better product. Both work out in the favor of the consumer. The same goes for voting. If we have more choices in parties, then no party has the monopoly in this country and they will, like the first option, have to look to earning our vote.

Breaking up the party monopolies would also prevent any one party from cheating the voter out of their opportunity to vote. Between the Colorado GOP deciding at the last minute to forgo their caucus without allowing the people to vote on it to the DNC shutting down polls just days before the scheduled vote in some states and dispersing wrong or erroneous ballots in others, it’s a wonder anyone still desires to come out and vote. In the state of Washington, with the exception of the caucus, we get our ballots mailed to us. No long lines, no missed work, no candidate’s husband holding up the line for hours while he pitches his wife to people waiting to vote. It works out rather well for us. I would go a step further and say that blank ballots should be made available at the DMV, post office or library for those who are without a permanent residence or perhaps didn’t get their ballot due to a recent move. That’s how the IRS does it, at least here they do. Filing forms and corresponding instruction books are available at the post office and library, so why not a ballot?

The other tactic that played a big hand in voter suppression was the purging of voters from the system. I can understand if someone is deceased, but to purge someone because someone else didn’t feel they voted enough is wrong. Even the DMV sends out notices for renewal. Our right to vote is guaranteed in our constitution, so why do states have the authority to purge us? The supreme court is deciding on that very thing right now; to purge or not to purge. They seem to be leaning toward purging which would leave millions of voters the same way it did last year, finding out that they are no longer registered at the time they go to vote. That’s the veritable definition of voter suppression otherwise why not notify the person that they need to vote or renew their registration? The answer; because they really don’t want everyone to vote, just the “right” people. Elitism at it’s finest. Mass incarceration and for-profit prisons have also played a hand in this. Millions of people in jails and prisons when they shouldn’t be and having crimes on their records which in times past would have been at a lower level are prevent from voting at the discretion of state’s laws.

So between party rules, purging registration, closed polls, mercurial regulations on voting and caucuses designed to favor the preferred party, the voice of the people is muted more and more by those who are supposed to protect our rights. The last major stone in the voter suppression wall are the delegates and super-delegates, especially the super-delegates. Many super-delegates are held by former politicians and business owners, wealthy business owners. People not beholden to the American people and often ignore the voice of the people in their area. A nod back to the free-man era when the United States was but a wee baby nation. The general public could vote on such things as garden gnomes and trash pickup day, but unless you had the status of free-man, you could not vote for higher offices such as congress, senators and presidents. Men, mainly white men, were granted the free-man status by the powers that be when they hit the preferred economic level.

Our country has never been about one person, one vote. That is something that we must change or a large portion of voters will remain out in the cold come election time. That, to me, is deeply unacceptable. If we are to keep our electoral college and the super-delegate system, then state laws must be changed to make it so they vote the will of the people. They cannot take our voice, our vote, our power, without our permission and they don’t have mine. So how can we make our voice stronger? By getting involved and staying involved. By having higher standards for our elected officials. Our taxes pay their salaries, we hire them. We need to be good bosses and make sure that they are doing their jobs and terminating them if they don’t. If they ignore the voice of the public, then vote them OUT of office. If they don’t look after the people as they should, then vote them OUT of office.

Term limits on congresspeople and senators would help with that as well. The only argument against that is that someone like Bernie Sanders would not be able to do the good that he’s done if we had imposed mandatory limits. So then if falls back to the people of this great country to make better choices for who we elect, to make sure they do their job and keep their commitments and take action if they don’t. It’s good to have high standards and expectations of our elected officials. We’re worth it. In addition to all of that, we must fight for the changes that give our voices the most power and protect our right to vote. If super-delegates are to remain a part of our system, then they should be limited to those currently in office and beholden to the American people. Independent, democrat, republican, green party, the name makes no difference. On this one thing we must be united as a people and that is to make sure that our voice, our vote, is deafening.

 

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