Roger Carlton writes about a subject on the minds of all of us at this time. He is columnist for the Graham Star Newspaper in Robbinsville, NC
The right to vote is so important that it appears in Article 1 of the Constitution. Responsibility for keeping the voting process fair was granted to the legislatures in 1787. The goal of suppressing votes began in earnest nearly immediately.
African American men were not granted the right to vote until 1870. The southern Jim Crow laws, poll taxes and literacy requirements, took that right away.
Women were not granted the right to vote until 1920. Young people 18-20 could not vote until 1971. Prior to the amendments to the Constitution that removed these impediments to voting, millions of folks were kept from the polls due to race, gender or youth.
The effort by the Postmaster General to make the Post Office more "efficient" is putting lipstick on the pig of voter suppression especially given the inevitable disruptions impacting timely delivery of millions of additional mail-in/absentee ballots caused by COVID 19 fears. In the 2016 election, 20,000 military ballots were rejected mostly due to late delivery. There were more than 550,000 ballots rejected in the 2016 primaries for a variety of reasons.
Mass purges of "inactive" voters are a form of voter suppression. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, 16 million voters were purged from 2014-16. That's a lot of purging given that 137 million voted in the 2016 election. In the recent close Governor election in Georgia, 70 percent of the purged voters were Black. Suppose you show up at the polls and are told you have been purged. States have removed the "same day" ability to register to suppress the purged voters from regaining their right to vote.
Requiring voters to vote at their home poll is a form of voter suppression. It is tough for hourly workers to leave their jobs early to vote so they should be able to vote at a poll near their work site. Reducing the number of days of early voting, eliminating polling places and not removing physical barriers to access are methods to suppress voters.
The White House has been casting unfounded aspersions for months on the security of the upcoming election. The remedy proposed a few days ago was to place police and sheriff deputies at the polling places to ensure security. What a smart way to keep people of color away from the polls. Even worse, police presence at the polls is a first sign of a totalitarian state.
To ensure that the feared problem of millions of absentee ballots clogging the Post Office is minimized, our local Elections Board should make a loud and clear statement that their staff will do everything legally possible to mail ballots early and go to the Post Office frequently as deadlines approach to pick up ballots. The Elections Board should hold its canvassing (validating and rejecting ballots process) open to the media and public in a large, open and socially distanced room. Shedding some light on the criteria adopted by the State Elections Board for rejecting ballots would be informative to any doubters of their fairness.
To close, blaming foreign intervention, creating fear of vaporous threats, failed efforts to limit the capabilities of the Post Office and a plethora of voter suppression techniques will not keep Americans from protecting their right to vote by the simple act of voting. The real threat is lethargy and procrastination.
Request your absentee ballot early and submit it with plenty of time to be delivered. Saving our right to vote in a fair and honestly managed election is our own responsibility and there is no excuse for failure.