OPINION

Perry says: Voter suppression

Perry Lundon
Local Columnist

Voter suppression efforts across the country are well reported and becoming more restrictive every year. There are forces, usually funded by the richest of the rich to maintain their financial stranglehold on our political process and using well-funded lobbyist, to promote a form of legalized bribery, control much of state and federal government. I remember hearing the story where a lobbyist visited a newly elected member of Congress to ask this representative of the people to do something beneficial to those paying for this lobbying services. The lobbyist simply stated that by doing this favor for his/her benefactors a million dollars would be made available for his next campaign but not doing the favor would mean that million dollars would be available to someone else to campaign against the politician when seeking re-election. It important to understand how much time and how hard it is to raise a million dollars for a political campaign so simply doing the favor is the most logical action that most often taken.

As difficult as voting is becoming in many states, voter suppression efforts cannot guarantee the desired outcome. Voters do not like for their vote to be taken away from them and turn out to vote regardless of the efforts to block their efforts to vote. Living in a sparely populated rural state we have great difficulty relating to standing in line to vote for hours. However, in many places where intentional voter suppression efforts occur, and subtle but strategic actions are taken to make certain individuals stand for many hours just to exercise their right to vote, voting is very difficult and time consuming. Gone are the days of the more overt Jim Crow voter suppression efforts, counting the jellybeans in a jar or figuring out, on the spot, a complex math equation, now more subtle yet subversive efforts are used. Often, they use the ridiculous cover of protecting the vote against voter fraud, a largely non-existent problem, to hide the real intent of their efforts. The Jim Crow efforts were not used universally but only on certain voters selected by those overseeing the election. Their ridiculous smoke screen of protecting voter integrity against something that has never been proven to be a significant problem. It is a felony to illegally vote. Their actions and efforts are undemocratic, irresponsible, and principally politically motivated.

As a citizen of the United States, and yes you must be a citizen not an undocumented person, your vote is guaranteed. Every effort should be made to have as many people as possible exercise their right to vote. Voter turnout in the US is lower than most developed countries and undertaking largely partisan efforts to further restrict voting does not befit a country that was once seen as the pre-eminent democracy on the planet. We are no longer seen, throughout the world, as a thriving democracy that developing countries should emulate. Often the prominent attitude toward the US is a powerful military power that uses our military might unwisely and indiscriminately throughout the world. We remain an economic juggernaut that is probably in decline and in a few decades will likely be usurped by China and perhaps also India as the preeminent economic power on the planet. Our ability to project solid, trustworthy, and capable governance and world leadership has long passed and now pity, bemusement, shock, and concern are the overriding views of the US by many countries throughout the world.

To top off being seen as the declining pinnacle of democracy on the planet there are truly undemocratic efforts underway in many states. These efforts would allow a partisan entity whether that be the state legislature, a partisan judge or some other partisan individual or group to simple overturn an election if those partisan individuals or groups decide they simply do not like the election outcome. Basically, if the people vote and select someone that does not meet the favor of the ruling party in some states, they want to put into place a legislated way to simply overrule the election. This is how some third world country would run an election. That is exactly what the US called out as being wrong when the US promoted democracy throughout the world.

Voter suppression efforts may be what get the media headlines, however, election subversion that all but eliminate the prospects for free and fair elections in many states. Democracy, government by and for the people, was seen as more perilous by the founding fathers than many of us thought. But actions being orchestrated in many states clearly are intended to subvert the prospect of government by and for the people that ultimately leads to the formation of a more perfect Union. One person one vote has been the foundation by which, given all the struggles (women’s right to vote, civil rights) to get to that point, democracy is envisioned. The country is at a clear tipping point when we fulfill the vision of forming a more perfect Union or gravely harming our image as greatest democracy in the history of mankind. Only time will tell which way we go with grand experiment in self-governance.