Red Tape at the Ballot Box: Voter Suppression in America

By Sarcasmo Jones

On a September day in 1787, a bunch of white boys managed to hammer out a document that this country has used every day since it was created: The US Constitution.  This is not a perfect document, but rather a living document, and has been amended several times since its inception.  The current amendment tabulation index sits at twenty-seven, four of those amendments deal with removing voter restrictions.

Amendment 15- Race no Bar to Vote.

1.  The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race,color, or previous condition of servitude.

2.  The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

The act of voter suppression is closely tied to prejudice, in this case racial prejudice.  This amendment was made in February 1870, which gives it the dubious distinction of having the longest history of both enforcement and violation of the four voting rights amendments.  A 2010 FDL article about voter suppression in Houston, Texas indicates that this law is still being violated today.  “The group “True the Vote,” made up of tea partiers, operates as a voter suppression brigade, recruiting poll watchers in Harris County over fears of “voter fraud,” the same tactic used every year by the right to minimize votes from core Democratic constituencies.  All of the reports being investigated by the (Department of Justice) took place in early voting sites in predominantly African-American and Hispanic areas.”

Amendment 19-Women’s Suffrage

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.  

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

In August of 1920 America gave women the right to vote, just a scant 50 years after the same right was given to former slave men.  Senator JB Sanford  wrote in 1911, “Suffrage is not a right.  It is a privilege that may or may not be granted.  Politics is no place for a woman, consequently the privilege should not be granted to her.”

The 50-year gap in equal rights to vote could indicate that misogyny is stronger than racism, but the suppression of women voting is just not as prevalent today, unless that woman is black or Hispanic.  One more crazy Sanford quote and I’ll move on.

“The mother’s influence is needed in the home.  She can do little good by gadding the streets and neglecting her children.  Let her teach her daughters that modesty, patience, and gentleness are the charms of a woman.  Let her teach her sons that an honest conscience is every man’s first political law; that no splendor can rob him nor no force justify the surrender of the simplest right of a free and independent citizen.”

Amendment 24-Poll Tax Barred

1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.

2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Before January of 1964 some folks were subject to a poll tax before they could vote.  I guess they had a sign outside of the polling place stating “You must have this much money to vote.  ” This law can be interpreted as everyone gets a vote regardless of how much money you have or don’t have.  Voting is not a privilege reserved for those who can afford it but a right, and responsibility, of every citizen of the United States.

Some folks still have the notion that the wealthier a person is the better that person is…I will refer to this as economic prejudice.  This particularly vile type of voter suppression is still being attempted today, in several states. States like Texas, Maine, Wisconsin, and several others are making it harder for the poorest of residents to make it to the ballot box by restricting acceptable forms of identifications and early voting.  In Ohio “an estimated 25 percent of African Americans and 18 percent of seniors wouldn’t have the right kind of photo ID under HB 159.”  Restrictions in Maine would disenfranchise 11% of the population.

Amendment 26-Voting Age Set to 18

1. The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.

2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

This law states that any citizen who is at least 18 has the right to vote.  Race, sex, religion, or financial status is not mentioned because EVERYBODY 18 and older can vote…except in Ohio where a college student ID may soon be an unacceptable form of ID at the polls.

All of the recent voter suppression legislation has been initiated by Republicans.  Why would they want to prevent poor folks and students from exercising their constitutionally protected right to vote?  Why does the Tea Party hire folks to menace minorities at the polls in Houston?  Why the sudden surge by the right to keep folks from voting?

“Award-winning investigative reporter” and toga party attendee Matthew Vadum brilliantly explains Republican opposition to poor people voting…they     might vote in their own self-interest.  In his blog Vadum explains his position: “Registering them to vote is like handing out burglary tools to criminals.  It is profoundly antisocial and un-American to empower the nonproductive segments of the population to destroy the country — which is precisely why Barack Obama zealously supports registering welfare recipients to vote. “

Is it really un-American for poor folks to vote?  Are poor people criminals waiting to be handed burglary tools?  Vadum’s real problem with poor people is that their vote counts exactly the same as a vote from a privileged, white toga partier.   He’s upset that his vote will be canceled out by a homeless crack head with a valid driver’s license…tough shit, hombre.  Money or not…you only get one vote and we have four constitutional amendments that protect that right to vote, be it in our own self-interest or not.  This is America, son!  In America the blackest big-titted college student has the same right to vote as a pasty white boy with a blog in The American Thinker (misnomer?) and a decadent right-wing lifestyle.  Party on!

The truth is that Republicans are afraid that the masses they have worked so hard to drive into the dirt are going to rise up and check the box that doesn’t have an “R” next to it.  Their obvious pandering to the smallest minority demographic in the US, the richest 1%, has left the remaining 99% some very good reasons to vote for the other guy.  Even if you ignore the obstructionist tactics to impede any kind of legislative progress, the disdain for the environment, their endless agenda to end Medicare and Social Security(there are literally hundreds of reasons to vote any direction but Republican)…this one issue of voter suppression should tell you that something is very wrong with the GOP.

Fascism: any movement, ideology, or attitude that favors dictatorial government, centralized control of private enterprise, repression of all opposition, and extreme nationalism. Encarta Dictionary

Additional sources:

1.  The Raw Story reports about Matthew Vadum’s appearance on Fox news. Vadum works for the Capital Research Center and believes that allowing poor people to vote is Un-American. The CRC has been reported to have an agenda to de-fund the left and is critical of conservation and environmental groups and their efforts.

2.  Website for the Capital Research Center.

3.  Just for kicks – Mad Midget 2:  Matthew Vadum Yaps with a Vengeance, by Mark Ames

Matthew “Flounder” Vadum bringing sexy back…

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1 Comment

  1. I’m amazed, I have to admit. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s both equally educative and
    interesting, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head.
    The issue is an issue that not enough men and women are speaking intelligently about.
    I am very happy I came across this in my hunt for something
    regarding this.


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