Anti-voter bills take aim at fair, and just elections

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Tom Kirvan
Legal News, Editor-in-Chief

There has been a lot of talk lately about “spines” or the lack thereof in certain political circles.

It may have reached a crescendo over the past week as Republican lawmakers across the nation have pushed – and in some cases passed – election “reform” measures designed to suppress the vote in the wake of last November’s results at the ballot box.

Democratic wins in the presidential, senate, and congressional races prompted the GOP blowback, as some 250 new laws have been proposed in 43 states to limit mail, early in-person, and Election Day voting. In Michigan alone, 39 election bills have been introduced in the State Legislature this year.

The League of Women Voters of Michigan, a nonpartisan political organization, has condemned efforts to make voting more difficult, labeling it as a threat to the future of our democracy.

“In 2018, Michigan voters overwhelmingly voted to make voting more convenient, not more restrictive,” said Christina Schlitt, president of the League of Women Voters of Michigan. “These anti-voter bills will lead to voter disenfranchisement and make it more difficult for voters to exercise their rights Michigan elections are fair and secure, there is no need for this legislation.”

Almost all of the bills expand ID requirements for voters before their ballots can be counted, according to Schlitt.

“These bills directly and negatively affect seniors, people with disabilities, people with limited incomes and young people, who all have difficulty obtaining the type of ID that is sometimes required to vote,” said Schlitt.
“Michigan has voter ID laws on the books, and our system for affidavit options has worked for decades. These new restrictions are unnecessary.”

The current batch of congressional and legislative Republicans, with very few exceptions, has repeatedly looked the other way when the time has come to take a stand against outrageous examples of political partisanship, preferring instead to feather their own nests at the expense of the electorate.

They have done much of this mischief thanks to the practice of “gerrymandering,” an obscure political term that most of us first became acquainted with in a junior high civics class.

While the subject of gerrymandering may have been boring then, its long-term political consequences have unceremoniously and repeatedly changed the face of the nation, seldom for the public good. After each census, it offers the political party in power an opportunity to exact 10 years of revenge, drawing district lines to suit their best interests while laying waste to such cherished principles as “one man, one vote.”

Leaders of the Republican Party have long recognized the importance of preserving the practice as a means of ensuring their rule, viewing it as a way to build a “voter-proof firewall” that will hold up for at least a decade.

Which is why a Michigan group now known as “Voters Not Politicians” was born in the Great Lakes State.

In less than a year, VNP secured more than 425,000 valid signatures through an all-volunteer petition drive to place a proposal on the fall 2018 ballot. The proposal, which was roundly endorsed at the polls by Michigan voters, withstood a series of pre- and post-election challenges in the courts by GOP supporters on dubious constitutional and procedural grounds.

Those shameful legal attempts to thwart the will of the people are now taking a different shape in legislatures across the nation with the aforementioned attempts to restrict the fundamental freedom to vote.

If successful, the voter suppression efforts would be reminiscent of a time at the end of the Reconstruction Era when southern states enacted laws designed to disenfranchise formerly enslaved Black men. In historical terms, today’s democracy deniers may prove to be just as disgraceful.




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