Posts Tagged ‘Vote Suppression’

The continuing battle over the vote

January 16, 2013

voter-id-stats-300x224

The Republican voting coalition since Richard Nixon’s administration has been based on polarization of middle-class and working-class white people against troublesome racial minorities, welfare recipients, elitist intellectuals and what George Wallace called “the exotics”—feminists, gays and hippies.

This polarization distracted attention from the fact that wages were stagnant, many workers were falling behind and a tiny fraction of the population held a huge and growing share of national income and wealth.

But in the past 40 years, the makeup of the country has changed and the Nixon-era division now favors Democrats.  Many of the Republican leaders, rather than try to broaden their party’s base, seek to narrow the franchise through voter ID laws and other means and to change the ways the votes are counted, to the advantage of the Republican Party.

Emily Scultheis of Politico noted that eight states—New York, North Carolina, Missouri, Virginia, West Virginia, Arkansas and Alaska—are considering legislation to enact or strengthen voter ID legislation.  Getting Voter ID can be a problem if you don’t have a car, can’t get time off from work or don’t have money to pay fees.

Another group of states—Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Ohio—are considering legislation to have electoral votes counted by congressional district (each state has electoral votes equal to the number of its Senators and members of the House of Representatives).  Steve Benen of The Maddow Blog pointed out that if this system had been in effect in the past Presidential election, Mitt Romney would have been elected, even though Barack Obama got a majority of the votes.

American voters historically have divided along lines of race, religion, ethnicity and geography rather than economic class.  This makes it easy to ignore the fact that both parties are beholden to Wall Street fianciers and Fortune 500 executives, and neither one has a program for achieving a high-wage, full-employment economy.  A party whose leaders brought about peace and prosperity would win the votes of whites and blacks, Anglos and Hispanics, old and young, heads of households and single women.

(more…)