Does the last letter of GOP stand for purge? I understand the electoral strategy behind removing certain voters from the rolls, but I fail to comprehend the morality of it. Moreover, I wonder why nominal members of the Republican Party who are not making these decisions still stand behind them. It is unconscionable, to me, that public servants would hope to make it harder for Americans to exercise their Constitutional right to vote. Especially, mind you, from the party that touts that document often, if not seriously.
Since this is PoliticsNC, let’s start at home. In 2017, the Supreme Court refused to hear a case where a lower court had overturned the North Carolina voter ID law. That lower court determined that our voter ID bill — and I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase before — targeted “African-Americans with almost surgical precision.” African-Americans, if you didn’t know, skew heavily toward Democratic candidates when they cast their ballots in November. Apparently, the GOP wised up to this scheme, and devised a method to curtail their effectiveness: the voter ID law. Voter ID as a concept, absent partisanship, is not a bad idea. Our friends abroad, in Western Europe, use national ID systems that act as an identifier for almost anything you’d want to do while interacting with government services. Our Social Security number, after all, was never meant to be a unique identifier for everything in life — it just sort of happened. But what about other identifiers? “The law rejected the forms of identification used disproportionately by blacks, including IDs issued to government employees, students and people receiving public assistance,” the Times wrote last year. Spare me the sanctimonious preaching about voter fraud, as even the President’s Commission on Voter Fraud was disbanded because, “In fact, no state has uncovered significant evidence to support the president’s claim, and election officials, including many Republicans, have strongly rejected it.” Be wary, then, when on the ballot this November an amendment for Voter ID appears, but absent any information on how it might look.
The GOP would never go for national ID because it actually makes it easier for eligible citizens to vote. Instead of limiting the number of possible voters, national ID along with automatic registration would empower thousands of people to vote, should they choose to do so. And the GOP insists that you choose to do so, because if you don’t, well, they’re going to take your name off the voter rolls. The New York Times writes: “Ohio is more aggressive than any other state in purging its voter rolls. After skipping a single federal election cycle, voters are sent a notice. If they fail to respond and do not vote in the next four years, their names are purged from the rolls.” By no fault of your own, the Ohio State Government can rip your name off the voter registry and, if you do decide to vote, you may just be out of luck on election day. Dig deeper into who is affected, as Reuters did, and wouldn’t you know it, African-Americans once again were purged from the rolls at an inordinate rate: “Voters have been struck from the rolls in Democratic-leaning neighborhoods at roughly twice the rate as in Republican neighborhoods,” the study found. “Neighborhoods that have a high proportion of poor, African-American residents are hit the hardest.”
Though many may decry this as some sort of effort to bolster fraudulent voting (which, statistically, occurs via absentee ballot, where the NC voter ID law didn’t apply), I wholeheartedly accept that a national ID would be a great leap forward for elections. We should also register teenagers automatically, so that they can vote immediately once they turn eighteen. Through all the partisan vitriol and the questionable narratives surrounding voter ID laws that will arise over the next few months, the past few years have indicated to me this: one side of the argument wants to enable everyone who can vote to do so, and the other seems to erect barriers every step of the way. Why is that?