Saturday, October 11, 2008

Volunteer to Suppress the Vote!

Another guest post from my son, Richie. This also appears on his blog, The View from the Seven-and-a-Halfth Floor

(Alternate Title: Shut Out the Vote!)

Back in 2002, when I was a college student in New Hampshire, there was a tight and contentious senate race between Jeanne Shaheen (Dem) and John Sununu (Rep) (interestingly enough, it is being re-waged as I write this). In the run up to election day, the Republican party initiated a campaign of lie-spreading and fear-mongering on state college campuses, telling students such falsehoods as: (1) that they could not vote in New Hampshire if their family lived in another state; (2) that they would lose some or all of their scholarship money if they voted in New Hampshire; (3) that they had missed a voter registration deadline, even though New Hampshire had same-day polling-place registration at the time (and may still do so, though Republicans in the state house were trying to eliminate it at the time). [Related: Here's an article from The Dartmouth about the incident, and here's a blog post from BlueHampshire from 2006, both of which echo what I have just written]. The Democrats, as well as the college, pushed back hard against these lies.

Then, on election day, the Republicans sent thugs to the polls (I think some of them may have been real-life attorneys, but mostly they were just assholes) to intimidate and interrogate students. Stretching voter registration laws to their extremes, and then often simply breaking them, the Republican Voter Suppression Team challenged the validity of many students' voter registrations, without cause, creating long lines and confusion at the polls. Their efforts may have scared some voters away from the polls. (Full disclosure: I voted absentee in New Jersey because of doubts about a scholarship I received, sown by the Republican scare machine. I decided it wasn't worth the anxiety of voting in New Hampshire, despite a complete lack of evidence that doing so would affect my scholarship eligibility.)

Well, now the McCain campaign is actively recruiting vote suppressors for the upcoming election, and it's not too late to sign up! Don't be fooled by language like "fair", "transparent", "integrity", "open" and "honest" in their recruiting materials (apparently someone in the McCain campaign can still type "integrity" with a clear conscience). DO, however, take notice of the glaring and purposeful omission of phrases like "get out the vote," "make sure all votes count," make it "easy" and "straightforward" to register and vote, etc). Let me make this clear: Republicans, and John McCain's campaign specifically, are completely disinterested in making it easy or straightforward for people to vote, and have demonstrated this fact repeatedly, year-after-year in state-after-state. Even this year, the McCain campaign continually cries "voter fraud" because a couple of idiots decided it would be funny to try and register "I.P. Freely" and his friends to vote; At the same time, the campaign is actively trying to undermine voter registration efforts, early and absentee voting, and distract from efforts to investigate actual, provable, ongoing voter suppression by janky Diebold machines, and state and local officials. In fact, they'd like to make it a whole lot harder for anyone who might not vote Republican to vote (poor people, black people, poor black people, old Jews, etc). But since they can't just go and rescind the Voting Rights Act, as well as the 15th and 19th Amendments to the US Constitution, they have to resort to intimidation tactics.

That's where you come in! If you're a lawyer or a law student who slept through that whole class about ethics, or if you're just an angry, bigoted McCain supporter who's been honing your intimidation skills at campaign rallies/hatefests, you can help violate the Constitutional rights of millions of Americans, and potentially manipulate the outcome of this election!

On the other hand, if you happen to be of the opinion that all Americans of at least 18 years of age, regardless of race or political persuasion, ought to have the opportunity to vote in the upcoming election, and you value the Constitution which grants us this right, consider the following alternative:

Election Protection

Election Protection is a non-partisan effort to ensure that every eligible US citizen has the opportunity to register and vote, and further to ensure that every vote is properly counted.

(Full disclosure: Robert has signed up to volunteer for Election Protection this year)

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