Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Voter Suppression

You could say that Voter ID laws are a solution in search of a problem given the paucity of evidence that any kind of wide-spread in person voting fraud exists, but of course they are a solution to a problem identified by the proponents of these laws:

Too many poor people are voting.

Underneath all the pious bleating about 'protecting the process' and 'fighting fraud' the underlying concern is nakedly partisan and tactical. The more people who vote - particularly among the lower socioeconomic spectrum, the more people who vote for leftists.

This was what was the most offensive about Harper's attacks on Mayrand, demanding that he do the Conservative's partisan dirty work for them. The changes that were demanded of Mayrand would have opened the door for a requirement for photo-id at the voting booth without it ever having to be debated by our elected representatives, and photo-id requirements are about weeding out the kind of people who don't have photo-id from voting at all.

And the kind of people who don't have photo-id aren't the kind of people voting Conservative.

In the US these kind of laws are of a piece with the mysterious and official looking signs that appear on telephone poles and walls in poorer neighborhoods just before election day warning that if you have traffic tickets you'll be arrested at the polling station, or that election day has been rescheduled and your new polling station is somewhere else altogether.

It's the more subtle end of the spectrum from armed racists demanding proof of citizenship from Latinos who show up to vote or the 'literacy tests' that used to be required in the South - that always seemed to have more stringent requirements the darker a prospective voters skin was.

The issue of requiring photo ids to vote in the US is now going to the Supreme Court, a Supreme Court carefully stacked with right wing Republicans, but one that has shown a certain independence from partisanship on at least some issues. It will be interesting to see how they rule.

Here in Canada progressives should start thinking about government ID drives similar to the registration drives the American system requires to get the vote out, but which have been hitherto unnecessary here. There are concerted efforts afoot to drive down the number of voters with specific partisan goals. This is a fight that needs to be won, but back-up plans predicated on losing it should be in place as well.

1 comment:

Mike said...

Friendly Fascists.

Smiling authoritarians.

Do we really need to wait until they start locking people up before we do something about these undemocratic bastards?

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