Educating the Low Information Voter: Vol. 1 Voter Suppression

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.

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25 thoughts on “Educating the Low Information Voter: Vol. 1 Voter Suppression

  1. I am glad to see that you are finally slapping the “LIV” tag to people who vote Democrat OR Republican. It’s a nice change of pace for you Mud, and I would add, it’s a change I like seeing.
    In Illinois, we had to show I.D. since ’06. I used to think that it was to keep illegals from voting. But it may have been a few state house Republicans raising the whole “dead person voting” issue. I’m not quite sure. But how does needing an I.D. retrict the voting rights of blacks and young people in your state? Illinois didn’t seem to have a problem, and Obama still won by a landslide in ’08.

  2. I am glad to see that you are finally slapping the “LIV” tag to people who vote Democrat OR Republican.

    I never associated the term, LIV, with any specific political party. Perhaps that was an assumption on your part.

    1. Until this post, you “Only” associated Low Information Voters with the Republican voter. Your post a week ago was “The G.O.P. relies on the Low Information Voter”.

  3. So what is reasonable voter verification? What today would be a nationally
    recognition document for verification? Is it possible with our mobile society?
    Should voter registration be carte blanche, any one who shows up at the
    polling area votes and dips their finger in a dye? Should we even have
    absentee voting?

    It appears the Obama Administration will challenge the voter amendments in
    the Old Confederacy States under the Voting Rights Act. However, for all
    the other States there is no automatic review of these Amendments. These
    States were not included in the Voting Rights Act, so they are on their
    own. Some one or some organization would have to file a compliant in
    Federal Court, I believe, in those states.

  4. off the subject, but I can’t wait for the reactions to tonights next GOP debate…It would seem that the focus will be on foreign policy and the only place they can go now is perhaps to scream “ME NO KRAZEEE!” at each other at the top of their lungs.

    1. Very true, MD. I am sure we will hear a lot about Israel and Iran, maybe
      China and the rise of Russia. I have uncovered some stunning new
      developments in the case of Israel. This is within the context of an attack
      by Israel on Iran. The question that is looming is the Obama
      Administration leaning toward another type war, as the successful “war”
      in Libya. Israel is putting real pressure on the United States and
      Britain for an intervention. If you recall, Israel held new missle exercises
      in the eastern Mediterranean with the success of a new missle that can
      reach Iran. Moreover, Israel has asked Obama for and his received improved U.S. anti-missles. Moreover, NATO has shown the Israel
      Air Force all the lessons learned from the Libyan “war”. Finally,
      Israeli Defense Minister, Barak, has been in secret talks with the British
      Defense Ministry. Clearly, my friends, there is a movement here among
      these three nations on Iran. A real concern is Obama will be under
      increasing Israeli pressure to do something in our approaching 2012
      election. Tonight, I expect to hear the GOP attack Obama for weakening
      Israel and a weak policy toward Iran.

      1. Tonight, I expect to hear the GOP attack Obama for weakening
        Israel and a weak policy toward Iran.

        Bingo! What was that ditty that McCain sang? Bomb, bomb, bomb-bomb Iran! Now some of the GOP dolts are singing the same tune.

        Will Americans fall in line? Or have they seen enough of that shit?

        Of course, the hard core, right-wing base LOVES war, so these candidates have to appease them. Romney did it, but as a premier flip-flopper, he will do a 180 in the general.

        1. Romney has moved from ignorant to stupid, lol…His statement that if Obama
          is re-elected Iran will get the atom bomb, but if he is elected Iran will
          not..Romney says he will attack them to stop it. What a lack of international
          knowledge. Russia and China will stop him in his tracks Will the LIVs suck
          that bellicose statement up?
          Then there was Cain…What a sad joke he is…When asked his response was a feeble, I will ask my advisors. And, Newt and Perry want zero based
          foreign aid expenditures. Foreign aid expenditures amounts to 1/2 percent
          of the federal budget. Now, there is a cost savings! And, and, most of that
          aid is not in money but in manufactured and agricultural goods produced
          in the United States. Thank god for Obama that Huntsman is not a viable
          GOP candidate!

  5. The first question I get asked when this subject is brought up is how widespread is voter fraud. I can’t answer because I don’t know what is considered voter fraud to even begin searching for statistics..

    While talking with someone recently, I was surprised to learn that an I.D. was required for food stamps in Ohio. It seems that voting is the only personal activity that doesn’t require a photo I.D.; in Ohio voting does require some sort of I.D., just not photo. I am also aware that in the legislation proposed requiring a photo I.D., State Of Ohio photo I.D.’s would be offered to anyone free of charge.

    When you say early voting took place directly after church it sounds like you’re saying the civil responsibility of voting can be tied to attending church. Anything remotely tying church membership to government voting throws up some red flags. I would estimate (conservatively) over 50% of church leaders “encourage” their members to vote a certain way. I’m sure you know how I would feel about someone saying “I can make it to church, but not to vote.”

    My personal view is that early voting is unnecessary as the polls are open 13 hours election day, voting stations are spread around to be near the precinct residences and absentee voting is very easy. As an older person, I seem to recall that many, many democrats were elected before early voting was implemented. I will concede that getting to the voting station may have become more of an issue now that precinct voting locations have been combined; but wasn’t this done because travel to the voting locations has become so much easier than a century ago? Would the precinct voting locations be more spread out if early voting was abolished?

    Voter I.D.’s are a harder question issue to decide. It depends on what you consider voter fraud. What I consider voter fraud, you might just consider a fact of life.

    Seriously, you could provide free door to door taxi service (some places do) and you’d still get a low voter turnout. And I think some pieces of crap will always be elected due to the buying power of special interest groups. Don’t you think if a person cares enough to “really” learn about ballot issues, they’ll be smart enough and have enough drive to get to the polls? Once again, I may be giving today’s American voters too much credit.

  6. Is it voter suppression or voter non participation?

    Let’s look at voter participation in 2010: For Ohio and the surrounding States
    the percentages are OH-43.4%, MI-42.3, PA-40.2, IN-35.7, KY-40.7, and
    WV-36.8%. The National voting participation percentage was 40.9%.
    And, to be fair, MS was 35.8%. Moreover, that of TX was 27.1%
    In the Presidential Election of 2008 the voter average participation level was 61.6%.

    For the Election of 2006 the National voter participation was 37.1%.

    “Voter Suppression” seems to be the talk shows shibboleth of the time.
    Ed Schultz of “The Ed Show” is venting all the time on the GOP limiting
    the number of people elegible to vote. But, he has a show to run, and
    I take his venting with a grain of salt. I am not denying that each political
    party works the numbers and put forth initiatives to benefit their side. It’s
    done every 10 years on a grand scale with re-districting. Instead of
    venting about “voter suppression” Schultz would do much better by giving
    information on how States could reform the state electoral system. But, then
    that doesn’t drive the viewer numbers to maintain his “show”.

    The percentages above indicate to me there is a lot more to voters not
    participating in an election than there vote has been suppressed. People
    in the United States just do not take voting seriously. Just look at that
    Texas percentage in 2010, 27%. That is all that turned out to vote. There
    was no State law that suppressed the other 73%. Even Ohio could not
    turn out even 50% of its electorate. No wonder Ohio got a Republican
    Legislature and Governor and Senator. People stayed home; don’t blame
    it on “voter suppression”. That is not going to solve the structual problems.

    People are sick and tired of turning out and voting for the same hackneyed
    issuses and politicians term after term after term. Congresswoman Kaptur
    has been the only Democratic candidate in Toledo District for 12 times
    in a row. She has presided over and voted for the economic decline of the
    United States right along with her other House Members and the Senate.
    Behind the House curtain Kaptur and her colleagues enabled the wealthy
    to become incredibly richer while the middle class deteroriates and the lower
    classes fall deeper and deeper into poverty. D.C. is a nest of weasels
    occupying our House and Senate. When there is no alternative, why turn
    out and vote for the same individual and expect a different outcome?

  7. Good point, UTF.

    But if there is no real choice of candidate, then that also acts as suppression.

    As I said, I always think of what Jomo Kenyatta said about the one party system which was something along the lines of “is having a two party system twice as democratic as a one party system? What if we had three?”

    The point is if there is no real choice and difference which offers proper popular representation, then there is no real democracy.

    1. “But if there is no real choice of candidate, then that also acts as suppression.”

      I think that is an excellent observation that I’d never noticed before. After being active in party politics (both parties) for a short while, I learned that the “bosses” decide who will run. Recently here in Northwest Ohio, we had what you might refer to as “a changing of the guard” and it was bloody for both parties. I think the final volley was the replacement of The Lucas County Election Board by the new “guard” with their own people. The current mayor of Toledo is an independent and he’s pissing both parties off because neither one gets everything they want.

    2. “But if there is no real choice of candidate, then that also acts as suppression.”

      Right on, Laci!…And, that is the point that I have been trying to make
      with M_R, especially over the members of Congress, and specifically with
      his support of his Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur. Not only does our
      democracy depend on real choices, but also our primary elections need
      choices. In many instances, the general election is decided in one of
      the Parties primary election. Recent proof is the successful way the Tea Party ran candidates against incumbant Congress Reps and Sens. I am
      confused by M_R’s blindness toward Kaptur and his unwillingness to support
      people presenting an alternative to her in the Democratic Primary. One
      minute he is writing about our dysfunctional government and enlarging
      voter participation, and the next he is supporting the status quo. A
      muckraker out to be supporting the former and not the later.
      During Kaptur’s term of 24 years corporations and D.C. politicians
      have become intertwined because of the large sums of money given to
      politicans and their staffs by lobbyists. Kaptur doles out the “structural”
      special favors to the corporations and Wall Street and the military-
      industrial complex. How can we comment about the negative aspects of
      corporations, of Wall Street, of the military-industrial complex, and then
      support a Representative or Senator who votes for those interests, against
      the interests of the 99%? It’s one thing to look the other way in a general
      election, but where is the moral and scruples of the candidate/politician put
      in one’s evaluation? Sure, they say they support “the people.” But, what
      people? I gave two examples in a recent comment, Marcy Kaptur supporting
      large corporate construction companies who were not paying their tax
      obligations which is cost the Treasury $11.2BILLION from the taxes of “the
      people”, the 99%, and the second was Sen. Schumer’s bail out of the
      hedge fund managers huge incomes by limiting their taxes as not on income,
      but being treated as capital gains and subject to a 15% tax and not the earned income tax of 35%. Both votes are Democratic give aways to the
      1%. It is the votes like these two that have generated the largest income
      inequality in the history of the United States. Isn’t 24 years enough?

  8. If you look at the statistics regarding voter fraud, you will see that it is not really an issue. If you want statistics, then I will go and bring you real statistics, but I guarantee that the numbers in regard to the use of this tactic to suppress voting rights will shock you.
    This is, though, the most acute and the most powerful tactic the corporacracy is using to suppress real democracy in America. It has to fought on all levels.
    Voting rights suppression, computer voting…it’s all part of the same equation. Hack democracy….
    There are countries on this planet which make voting an inherent duty of citizenship. The Conservative/Libertarian line is to dis this as being an infringement of your free will. Live Free or Die….
    But you should interpret this to read, Live Free, Let us do what we what ever we want to take all of your money and go away somewhere and die quietly and, please, don’t make a scene……
    Vote, participate in your democracy. If you don’t it will die…

    1. Right on, MD….Voter fraud is a minuscal problem. Its 0.0 with about 4 more 0s behind the first, lol… If we are about being a democratic republic and voting is an essential right, then it seems to me there should be a national
      holiday for exercising the right to vote in national elections. And, if some
      one does not vote, a fine is administered with certain exemptions as in the
      case of illness and infirmity, with no exceptions for this or that fake reason.
      I can go with that. No absentee ballots. Secure electronic voting from our PCs should be acceptable.

      1. If voter fraud covers someone voting more than once, then I have heard (1st hand) of widespread and organized voter fraud in Northwest Ohio. And it’s not a bunch of zeros following a decimal point, but as high as double digits preceding a decimal point. Once again, for me, it comes down to what you consider voter fraud.

        In fact, if I had chosen to do that, I could have voted more than once. It may sound stupid to some, but I hold the American ballot box in extreme high esteem. I find the organized fraud especially troubling.

        (If you’re wondering why I’m being so vague, I know some people who read this blog that might use whatever I say in ways I have no control over. I’m going to set up some sort of private communication with Mud so he doesn’t think I’m nuts. Mud, if you can pick up an email address off this post, please send me an address. Thanks.)

        1. I am afraid that the reports I have, NON, discounts your belief of massive
          voter fraud. Here is a quote from the New York Times: “The New York Times yesterday underscored an important fact that so many legislators have willfully ignored: “There is almost no voter fraud in America.” Indeed, The Department of Justice investigated over 300 million votes cast between 2002 and 2007 and found no cases of voter impersonation fraud. In Texas, where Governor Rick Perry used a highly unusual procedural maneuver to accelerate passage of a bill requiring a government-issued photo ID to vote, the state Attorney General found no cases of voter impersonation fraud. Zero.”

          There is a large difference in what a person hears and what the facts are, NON. Maybe I can sell you my 40 acres of swamp land as a prime development location…

          1. I have firsthand knowledge, but am deathly afraid of what I write on blogs. And to show that I haven’t lost my mind and gone over to the dark side, I’ll offer this tidbit, although this case deals with suppressing votes, not voter fraud.

            Picture it, the year is 2004 and John Kerry is running against George Bush. Large groups of inner-city voters go to the polls in Cleveland only to find they are either closed or don’t have ballots. There are similar reports in other large Ohio cities. Did you know that there are eight states so populated that just the eight of them counted as 64% of all eligible votes for President in 2004? Ohio ranks as no. 7 and you might remember the networks calling it for Bush after Ohio went in the Bush column. I don’t remember the exact numbers from 2004, but I wonder how the election outcome might have been different if Kerry took Ohio. I do remember when Illinois went for Kennedy in 1960 it changed the outcome (think dead voters in Chicago). And if Ohio alone didn’t change the outcome, what if another state had similar problems also?

            Ken Blackwell, strikingly similar to Clarence Thomas, was Ohio Secretary of State in 2004. As Secretary of State, he was responsible for the election. He ruled there were no irregularities with the vote and refused to hold any investigation. Did I mention he was also the Chairman of the Bush Campaign in Ohio?

            Speaking of Ohio and re-electing George Bush, google Tom Noe. Noe is still in jail, but Bush still made it back into the Whitehouse. And I’m still trying to figure out why Dick Cheney isn’t behind bars. There is crap like that still going on all over the place but it is so outrageous that people won’t believe it.

          2. Um, I was debating whether to reply to your comment. As I abhor being rude on blogs, but because it’s you and I know how much you enjoy wrangling, here goes:

            There are glaring, blatant and obvious flaws in your quotes. Can you find them?

            (“There is a large difference in what a person hears and what the facts are, NON.” I heard some from a most reliable source and was there in person for some.)

  9. I am glad you have taken such a principled stand on this dastardly attempt by paranoid conservatives to disenfranchise those whom they believe will vote against them!

  10. Gentlemen: I have been enjoying the discussion here and hardly wish to break up hte rhythm. I am proud of the way the discussion moves along here in an adult manner. When I drift over to right-wing blogs, it is as if I went back to junior high school once again.

    Bravo!

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