Politics Be Damned! Voter Suppression Is Immoral

If you still believe there is not a systematic attempt to suppress voter turnout, read what Paul Weyrich, one of the leaders of the modern day conservative movement had to say in 1980:

I don't want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people they never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage (the conservative cause) in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.

Beyond Weyrich's reference to the implicit understanding that voting was originally the exclusive right of white male landowners, he is alluding to a strand of conservatism that believes suppressing the vote was in their political self-interest.

At one time in our history, it was Southern Democrats that led the voter suppression tactics ranging from poll taxes to violence against blacks. Today, with the nation's demographics changing, it is now Republicans, who may be wary of expanding their base to remain competitive, that champion this unpatriotic maneuver.

Though this practice has been part of the Republican playbook for some 30 years, it wasn't until the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision in Shelby County v. Holder, revoking Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, that Weyrich's outlandish assertion gained tangible traction.

Section 5 froze election practices or procedures in certain states until the new procedures have been subjected to review, either after an administrative review by the United States Attorney General, or after a lawsuit before the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

Nowhere in the majority's decision did the Court find that Section 5 was in violation of the 15th Amendment. But Chief Justice John Roberts writing for the majority opined:

In assessing the "current need" for a preclearance system that treats States differently from one another today, that history cannot be ignored. During that time, largely because of the Voting Rights Act, voting tests were abolished, disparities in voter registration and turnout due to race were erased, and African-Americans attained political office in record numbers.

Almost immediately following Roberts' sociological analysis, many of the states that were under the jurisdiction of Section 5 began working on laws that would suppress voting.

The North Carolina case of NAACP vs. McCory, which was heard earlier this summer in the Middle District Federal Court in Winston-Salem and awaits the judge's decision, underscores that these recently enacted laws are solutions in desperate search of problem. The North Carolina law curbs early voting, voting by college students and Sunday voting, it ends same-day registration, the use of out-of-precinct ballots and eliminates pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds.

The evidence of widespread voter fraud has yet to surface, which the architects offer "there are plenty of instances" of voter fraud and that there is "concrete evidence... of massive voter fraud." But according to a 2014 study by Loyola University law professor Justin Levitt, the in-person voter fraud is still nearly non-existent.

Levitt's study "tracked any specific, credible allegation that someone may have pretended to be someone else at the polls, in any way that an ID law could fix." With more than a billion votes cast between 2000 and 2014, the study found just 31 instances of this potential voter fraud.

According to Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina, the North Carolina law would potentially disenfranchise 400,000 eligible voters.

What we know about voter suppression from the history, it is always targeted toward the group least likely to the support the artisans of these draconian laws. How can anyone in a democratic republic form of government support policies that restrict when, how, and where voters can cast their ballots?

In the 19th century the Supreme Court stated, "Voting was a fundamental political right because it is preservative of all rights."

If that was true in the 19th century when the nation was still struggling with notion of "We the People," it must certainly hold true for a more enlightened 21st century.

No American, regardless of their political orthodoxy, should favor laws where the outcome threatens Americans "fundamental political right," whether intended or not.

While voting irregularities have been shown as minuscule, the number of individuals could be disenfranchised by these laws is potentially tragic. It is reflective of a party unable to compete unless it rigs the game.

Politics be damned, voter suppression is not the path toward a more perfect union.