Here on Man with the Muckrake, we are concerned with the American voting process. Specifically, we wonder how informed the voter is when he/she enters the polling station. Some, of course, are single-party voters; others are single-issue voters. The comments that we make here in subsequent weeks will have scant affect on this type of voter. The two major political parties depend on these two types which are considered the base of their parties. The only concern about these two groups is whether they will show up at the polls on election day.
Elections, especially presidential, are often won or lost through the so-called independent voter- a voter not necessarily connected to a singular party nor to a singular issue. Interestingly, or sadly, this group makes up only 10-20 percent of the voting public. It is therefore the task of a candidate or of a political party to convince this group of independents to swing their way on election day while, at the same time, encouraging their base to show up as well. If both the base and the independents vote for Candidate A, he/she will most certainly be victorious.
Voter suppression, however, continues to haunt the American electoral process. Voter suppression has strong roots here in the U.S. and was interestingly a Constitutional mandate at the inception of this nation. As we all learned in our American history classes in high school, the original pool of voters, the very first duly authorized American electorate, consisted exclusively of white, land-owning males. The electoral pool very slowly and begrudgingly expanded to include all types of people, regardless of race, gender or financial situation. Ironically, in this Land of the Free and Home of the Brave, there have been many attempts to limit who gets to vote. After black Americans won the right to vote, many Southern states began voter suppression tactics which included the institution of poll taxes and literacy tests, aimed at suppressing the votes of both African Americans as well as the lower-class white voters. Although these tactics are now illegal, blacks, Hispanics and other minority and economically challenged whites are often eliminated from the voting rolls through other dirty tricks.
The Republican Party is often accused of voter suppression through a series of specious [and illegal] tactics. Some of the most egregious include impediments to the registration of voters, voter ID laws, purging of voter rolls, disinformation about voting dates and times, and the use of so-called caging lists. Each of these tactics is meant to decrease the base of the Democratic Party, thus giving the GOP candidates a clear advantage. Details of these tactics can be found at: votersuppression.net
Here in Ohio, the Republican Party was able to shut down early voting this year, on the Friday before the Tuesday election. Because all branches of the Ohio state government are currently run by the Republican Party, early voting ended before the weekend when, in 2008, the black vote turned out in droves after Sunday services in black churches all across the state. The GOP had no ‘explanation’ why that was necessary. Of course, the high information voter knew exactly why.
Earlier this year, there was an effort in the GOP-controlled Ohio Legislature to require photo ID’s for the election last week. The reason was obviously to restrict both black and young voters- the base which turned out for Obama in 2008. Fortunately in late June, the Ohio Senate pulled the restrictive bill. That doesn’t mean, however, that it will not be raised again, especially in the 2012 presidential race. After all, as Ohio goes, so goes the nation. Therefore, we will be alert to and report any and all evidence of voter suppression in Ohio in the next 360 days.
By presenting information like this, Man with the Muckrake aims to help the Low Information Voter gain more insight into the practices and tactics that are used during our elections process. There will be more topics raised in subsequent posts.