Commentary: Is the GOP Trying to Stop You From Voting?

Commentary: Is the GOP Trying to Stop You From Voting?

Behind the Republican effort to undermine the Democratic voting base.

Published September 21, 2011

Since the Presidency of Ronald Reagan, I have been observing the Republican Party with a keen eye. And I have come to the conclusion that there are some rogue elements in the upper echelon of the Grand Ole Party that have absolutely no respect for the concept of democracy, especially when it comes to getting their candidates elected to public office. They seem to be willing to do anything and everything to gain, maintain and enhance their power, including denying people the right to vote. 

 

A few months back, I wrote a commentary on how Republicans in Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Florida are engaging in a strategic plan to erode the traditional Democratic voting base in order to affect the 2012 election in their state. To some, my sounding the proverbial alarm seemed a bit too “grassy knollish,” the paranoid ranting of a die-hard progressive stuck in the Watergate Era.   

 

Well apparently I’m not the only one who is concerned about the Republicans’ recent scheme to erode the Democratic voting base. Rolling Stone printed an article detailing the GOP’s state-by-state effort at voter registration reform as part of a nationwide effort to significantly reduce the traditional Democratic voting base (i.e. Blacks, Latinos, college students, ex-felons and first time voters) just in time for the 2012 election. For example, Kansas and Alabama require that all voters show proof of citizenship before being allowed to vote. Alabama, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin require people to have an unexpired government-issued photo ID in order to register and vote. According to the League of Women Voters’ website, over 10 percent of the U.S. population  that’s over twenty million citizens  lack such identification. And for African-Americans and low-income people (who traditionally vote for Democrats), the percentages are even higher. Twenty-five percent of African-Americans and 15 percent of low-income voters don’t have a recent government-issued photo ID. In addition, the organization reports that six million citizens over the age of 65 lack such identification. This requirement has come under such scrutiny that U.S. Senator Dick Durbin has called a Senate hearing to look into the GOP’s efforts to enact laws requiring IDs for potential voters.

 

In addition, right wing Republicans in some states have made it difficult, if not impossible, for organizations such as the League of Women Voters and ACORN to register voters. Backed by ultra-rich right wing activists like David and Charles Koch, this well-orchestrated campaign has succeeded in passing legislation that can potentially disenfranchise thousands of potential voters in 38 states.     

 

Historically, African-Americans have been systematically denied the right to vote via things like poll tax. It is an ugly chapter in our nation’s history that the right wing Republicans, Tea Partiers and their ilk seem to be determined to repeat. It cost us years of struggle, rivers of blood and many deaths to gain the right to vote. As the 2012 election draws closer we owe it to ourselves to continue to fight those tyrannical forces that would have people of color living in a pre-cvil rights America. 

 

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

(Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Written by Charlie Braxton

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