The margin of victory in November's Presidential race may be provided by a sort of backdoor Republican strategy. It began emerging last year when a Justice Department official testified about remarks he had made that had been caught on video. Restrictive voting laws that keep folks from voting actually help minorities, he said, because they tend to discriminate against the elderly, and everyone knows that black folks don't live very long. But the real effort, it turns out, is not specifically against black people or the elderly. The target is pretty much anyone who might not vote Republican.
Traditional efforts at intimidation are in force. Folks are told that anyone with parking tickets will be arrested if they try to vote. Directing voters to wrong locations across town has also discouraged some from casting ballots. Leaflets with wrong dates and times are distributed. All the old illegalities are still practiced, and laws against them are unenforced. But even more surprises abound when conservative creativity is at work. The law itself can sometimes be turned against voters. In Missouri we saw it close up, because our state was selected by the newly politicized Justice Department as a testing ground. Fortunately, some of the tactics here were fought in court and declared illegal. But there are other fronts:
In Ohio and elsewhere, many folks have lost their homes in the new unregulated Republican economy. Now people who have been thrown out of their homes are targeted for disfranchisement. Republicans have gone public in Ohio, actually expressing interest in preventing former homeowners from voting. After all, they no longer live at the addresses they had spent lifetimes working to possess. Wrong address means a challenge at the ballot box.
Students in Virginia, Georgia, and Texas have been threatened with legal action if they attempt to register as they work their way through college.
Those in the military still tend to support McCain, although not nearly in the proportion that once could be counted safely in the pocket of Republican politicians. Among the exceptions have been those wounded fighting for their country. Those hospitalized and in nursing homes tend toward Democrats, so they have been told they cannot register to vote while confined for treatment. John McCain refused to agree to a bill to allow combat heroes to register while receiving treatment. Fortunately, this last group won the right to register just recently. The administration got so much pressure that they were forced to reverse their policy.
Long ago, the U.S. Department of Justice was actually devoted to protecting voting rights. And once upon a time, Republicans honored combat heroes.
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