Elections: Endangered right to vote

It’s ironic that while many people act as if their vote couldn’t possibly make a difference, some seem to fear that others are voting twice.

When voters in nine Canyon County precincts voted on school issues on Aug. 26, more than 80% of the registered voters didn’t show up.  That was even worse than the 76% who didn’t vote in the March primaries.  In November 2012, with presidential candidates on the ballot, only 20% stayed home; this November, it’s expected to be closer to 40%.

Of course, only about 60% the adults in Canyon County are registered voters.  In Caldwell’s legislative district 10, it’s more like 50%.

Democrats worry about such things.  We’d like to see all citizens informed and voting.

Apparently, the Idaho Republican party feels differently. They don’t seem bothered that the majority of the voters had no say in the election of every Canyon County official from commissioner to coroner.

And the most recent Idaho Republican platform calls for doing away with direct election of U.S. Senators.  You would think the Republican leadership would be happy with the likes of Senators Crapo and Risch, who can be counted on to vote against everything the Koch brothers don’t approve.  But no, they want senators who are beholden to the 80 Republican legislators.  (Hmm, just what would happen to the millions of dollars currently spent on Senate campaigns?)

The Republican platform also recommends doing away with the bipartisan redistricting commission so the legislators could draw legislative districts to benefit themselves.  Apparently, they aren’t satisfied with a veto-proof majority in the legislature either.

And Republicans led the charge for Idaho to join twenty other states in requiring voter ID.  They were not motivated by evidence of voter fraud.  (One study indicated that happened in 0.000002 percent of the votes; another found 10 cases in the country over a 12-year period.)  I suspect legislators were more interested in impressing ALEC, a group sponsored by the Koch brothers and their billionaire friends who are known to donate campaign funds.

Idaho’s Republicans had sense enough to add a clause providing that voters without ID may sign an affidavit and providing state IDs for free.  States without these provisions are facing challenges in Federal courts.

Georgia Republicans passed a law requiring IDs that nearly 900,000 of its citizens did not have, set charges for state-issued ID, and provided few places to apply.  After a court challenge the state made the ID available free and increased the application sites.  Still, less than 32,000 persons have applied.

Republicans in other states are carrying voter suppression even further.

North Carolina Republicans have ended same-day registration, closed precincts near colleges and universities, and blocked students from running for office.  They’ve also limited registration drives.

Florida, infamous for blocking at least 2,430 legally registered voters from voting in 2000, made a similar effort in 2012.   Close to 25% of those blocked–one of them a World War II veteran—have now proven their citizenship.  Many of the others may just not have bothered.

In spite of voters already waiting in line five and six hours, Florida has closed several polling places AND CLOSED RESTROOMS in Dade County sites where voters are expected to stand in line six to eight hours.

And Wisconsin now allows challengers to stand within three feet of persons registering to vote on Election Day.  Registering there is not for the timid.

Idaho could lose our same-day registration, adequate number of polling places, easy access to absentee ballots, and trained election personnel.  We do not want a person with a history of strong partisanship replacing Ben Ysursa in the office of Secretary of State.


Published by Judy Ferro

Judy Ferro is communication director for the 2C Dems and a columnist for the Idaho Press.

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