Republican Voter Suppression Has Gone National

Republicans have long been fixated on some widespread imaginary campaign of voter fraud.

Republican voting suppression has reached new levels of cunning and deceit! No longer content to deny blacks, the young, and other traditional Democratic constituencies the vote in individual states, now Republicans-led states are pooling their resources to suppress the vote. Their party just has little faith in democracy and is authoritarian to its core!  Their latest purge would deny tens of thousands their right to vote based simply on possessing a common name.  Here’s how Rolling Stone breaks the scheme down:

“The latest tool: Election officials in more than two dozen states have compiled lists of citizens whom they allege could be registered in more than one state – thus potentially able to cast multiple ballots – and eligible to be purged from the voter rolls.”

The data is compiled by a system called the “Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program” and, unsurprisingly, almost all the twenty-eight participating states are controlled by Republicans.  Some of the biggest voting purges are underway in North Carolina and Ohio, two critically important swing states in this election. How it works is that the twenty-eight states share their voting lists and “Crosscheck supposedly matches first, middle and last name, plus birth date, and provides the last four digits of a Social Security number for additional verification,” according to the Rolling Stone article.

However, in practice it does not operate so diligently, according to Rolling Stone which was able to obtain lists from some of the states.  Given their investigation, the system has so many obvious flaws, one wonders why states participate at all besides the obvious reason of voter suppression.

”The Virginia list was a revelation. In all, 342,556 names were listed as apparently registered to vote in both Virginia and another state as of January 2014. Thirteen percent of the people on the Crosscheck list, already flagged as inactive voters, were almost immediately removed, meaning a stunning 41,637 names were “canceled” from voter rolls, most of them just before Election Day.” “We were able to obtain more lists – Georgia and Washington state, the total number of voters adding up to more than 1 million matches – and Crosscheck’s results seemed at best deeply flawed. We found that one-fourth of the names on the list actually lacked a middle-name match. “ “And those promised birth dates and Social Security numbers? The Crosscheck instruction manual says that “Social Security numbers are included for verification; the numbers might or might not match” – which leaves a crucial step in the identification process up to the states. Social Security numbers weren’t even included in the state lists we obtained.”

If a voter’s name is found on the list he receives a postcard replete with very small print. If he does not verify his name and address, then the process of being removed from the rolls begins. This process alone compounds the racial bias of  this system. The Rolling Stone article notes:  “According to the Census Bureau, white voters are 21 percent more likely than blacks or Hispanics to respond to their official requests; homeowners are 32 percent more likely to respond than renters; and the young are 74 percent less likely than the old to respond.”

Who is the mastermind behind this voter suppression on such a grand scale? None other than the same guy who wrote Arizona’s infamous “paper’s please” law which allowed law enforcement to profile driver’s primarily of Mexican descent and ask for proof of their legal status. He is also the man who is credited with convincing Donald Trump that Mexico should pay for the wall Trump proposed.  He is currently the Republican Secretary of State of Kansas and his name is Kris Kobach.   Obviously, he has substantial credentials as a bigot.  

Kansas, under Kobach, was the only state “enforcing a demand to show documentation such as a birth certificate, passport or naturalization papers instead of accepting signed and sworn affirmation of citizenship to register to vote in federal races,” according to the Washington Post.  This rule was struck down by a federal appeals court. Then Koback gamed the system again by saying that the votes of those who did not show identification when registering would be counted only in federal elections and not state and local ones.  This rule was also struck down in court by a county judge at least until September 21st when he said he would revisit the decision.  Obviously, Kobach goes to great lengths to keep Democratic party constituencies from voting and often the only thing protecting us from discriminatory laws and voting suppression is the judiciary.

The impact of this Republican scheme may potentially swing a state from blue to red and have an impact on down ballot races as well.   Again, according to Rolling Stone:

“In battleground-state Ohio, Republican Secretary of State John Husted’s Crosscheck has flagged close to half a million voters. In Dayton, we tracked down several of the suspects on our lists. Hot spots of “potential duplicate” voters, we couldn’t help but notice, were in neighborhoods where the streets are pocked with rundown houses and boarded storefronts. On Otterbein Avenue, I met Donald Webster, who, like most in his neighborhood, is African-American.” “Crosscheck lists him registered in Ohio as Donald Alexander Webster Jr., while registered a second time as Donald Eugene Webster (no “Jr.”) in Charlottesville, Virginia. Webster says he’s never been a “Eugene” and has never been to Charlottesville. I explained that both he and his Virginia doppelgänger were subject to losing their ability to vote.” “How low can they go?” he asked. “I mean, how can they do that?” “I put his question to Robert Fitrakis, a voting-rights attorney who examined our Crosscheck data. I showed him Donald Webster’s listing – and page after page of Ohio voters. Fitrakis says that the Ohio secretary of state’s enthusiasm for Crosscheck fits a pattern: “He doesn’t want to match middle names, because he doesn’t want real matches. They’re targeting people with clearly defined ethnic names that typically vote for the Democratic Party. He wants to win Ohio the only way he knows how – by taking away the rights of citizens to vote.””

Republicans have long been fixated on some widespread imaginary campaign of voter fraud taking place across the country. Virtually no evidence of such fraud exists. According to Rolling Stone: “In the mid-2000s, after the Florida-recount debacle, the Bush administration launched a five-year investigation into the allegedly rampant crime but found scant evidence of wrongdoing. Still, the GOP has perpetuated the myth in every national election since.” 

Imagine the lengths Republicans will go to suppress the vote.  To vote in two different states people would have to drive for hours to another state to vote again or fly there costing a good deal of money, all in anticipation of casting a single separate ballot.  Besides voting twice is a felony and carries potentially tens of thousands in fines and years in prison!  And yet “according to the Crosscheck system there are 7.2 million people suspected of voting fraud in these states,” as told by the Daily Kos.  This Crosscheck system is obviously blatantly discriminatory and that is likely the very reason why Republican officials embrace it so. They back a very unpopular agenda of privatizing social security, outlawing abortions, and tax cuts for the wealthy and are plagued by a changing demographic of the electorate, so their fall back position is to keep as many people named Jesus Garcia and other ethnic sounding  surnames like Washington or Kim from voting.  Shame on them once again!